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Even though Golden Retrievers have a friendly relationship with humans, they may sometimes develop unwanted habits such as biting and chewing items.
As a prospective owner, you may have asked yourself ‘do Golden Retrievers bite?’ You will be surprised to know that these lustrous canines can develop a negative nipping behavior.
Normal play biting should not worry you because all dogs can indeed bite. But the issue should become a concern when it is done out of aggression, frustration, or fear.
Keep reading this post to discover the biting behavior of Golden Retrievers and learn a few practical tips you can use to prevent your Golden Retriever from biting people.
Understanding Golden Retriever Behavior
Golden Retrievers are well-known for their wonderful personalities which makes them a good family dog for most people across the world.
These fluffy dogs have a reputation for being gentle with humans and eager to please their handlers.
With all these wonderful traits of Golden Retrievers, coupled with their high intelligence, these dogs can be trained easily on command and behavior.
They can also be trained as service dogs and therapy dogs to provide comfort to patients in nursing homes.
Golden Retriever behavior towards people and other animals
Golden Retrievers can freely embrace humans and interact with them in fun activities. They are particularly good with children because they derive lots of pleasure in playing together.
The friendly nature of Golden Retrievers does not end with humans. These double-coated canines are also gentle with other animals including cats.
It’s not uncommon to see a Golden Retriever jumping with excitement when they meet other animals in the streets during an outdoor activity.
Why Do Golden Retrievers Bite?
Golden Retrievers were originally bred for retrieving waterfowl from the swamps and carrying them to their masters. They, therefore, have a strong instinct to interact with objects using their mouth.
You are likely to see a Golden Retriever puppy carrying objects with their mouths from as early as 2 months old.
These gundogs use their soft mouths to interact with the environment, and when they eventually start chewing, some may end up developing a biting behavior.
Aside from the instinctive drive to nibble into something, Golden Retrievers may also bite due to the following reasons:
1. Aggression & Fear
Golden Retrievers are not aggressive by nature, but they can sometimes be provoked into anger which may lead to aggression.
If your Goldie is fearful of something, or they feel threatened or cornered into submission, they will then resort to biting as a defensive mechanism.
Bites due to aggression are normally preceded by growling or snarling. These warning signs should caution you that the dog is not comfortable with the current situation.
2. Teething in puppies
Golden Retriever puppies will typically start teething during their 3rd week, and by the 7th week, all the deciduous teeth should have come out.
Teething in puppies is an upsetting and sometimes painful experience when they lose their baby teeth and grow permanent ones.
The puppies would always resort to nipping and biting on various items that can soothe their aching gums.
You can redirect this type of biting by providing your young dog with sufficient chew toys which are safe and comfortable for them to nibble.
3. Health issues
Your Golden Retriever may be experiencing pain from injuries and chronic medical conditions, forcing them to nibble on people when disturbed.
Some medical conditions such as hypothyroidism can lower a dog’s inhibition and incline them to make an aggressive bite when anxious.
It’s important that you take your fluffy Golden pal to the vet for a medical examination if they appear to show sudden changes in behavior.
Golden Retrievers can be territorial, and sometimes they may bite a person or another pet in an attempt to scare them away from their spaces.
This will normally occur when the dog is trying to guard their resources, such as toys, food, or even a warm spot on the bed.
They will bark, growl, snap, and ultimately bare their teeth when somebody tries to take something valuable from them.
Resource-guarding can be attributed to genetics, but most of the time it is a learned behavior among dogs who haven’t had social training.
When do Golden Retriever puppies stop biting
Golden Retriever puppies may get nippy and mouthy during the first two months when their biting behavior is at its peak. You should expect this behavior to diminish as they mature.
Between the third and fourth month, the puppy is likely to tone down their biting due to interactions and socialization with their mother and other littermates.
Another reason that can make your Golden puppy go slow on biting is that they have learned that they can be bitten back when they bite a fellow canine.
The pain of being nipped will condition them to interact calmly with others and only bite when they feel threatened.
How to Prevent a Golden Retriever from Biting
If your Golden Retriever continues to bite people and things for fun, you should take active actions to discourage the behavior.
When the dog develops a frequent biting tendency, they may also start chewing on items in the house which is both dangerous and destructive.
You can do the following to prevent your Golden Retriever from biting:
1. Early socialization and training
As soon as the Golden puppy is weaned from their mother, you should start exposing them to their new environment.
This will help the puppy adjust properly and know how to interact with other pets and everyone in the house.
Early socialization and training will help the puppy build confidence and reduce the likelihood of being fearful, which may lead to frequent bites.
2. Teaching bite inhibition
Bite inhibition refers to the training you give your dog on how to bite smoothly without exerting lots of pressure.
This will reduce the chances of your Golden Retriever causing injuries when they bite somebody. You can do this by showing your dog how painful it is when they bite you too hard.
Start by offering your shielded arm to the dog and once they bite it, say ‘ouch’ and remove your hand while yelping in pain.
Golden Retrievers can read our emotions, and they don’t like it when their human caregivers are sad. Try this method a few more times until your Golden pal bites you gently.
3. Providing proper exercise and mental stimulation
Golden Retrievers are highly energetic dogs who require positive outlets to expend their energy. A docile Goldie will stack up unused energy and pour it into unwanted behavior such as chewing and barking excessively.
One way of keeping your Golden busy and entertained is by providing them with proper physical and mental stimulation.
Take your dog out for regular walks while exposing them to other people and animals. You can exercise their brains by providing puzzle toys and interactive games.
A tired Golden Retriever is less likely to engage in unwanted activities such as biting and chewing on items.
Setting aside between 30 to 120 minutes of consistent exercise will also make the dog fit and with a healthy weight.
4. Identifying the triggers and avoiding them
A well-trained Golden Retriever could still bite people if they are triggered to do so. Avoid doing things that may threaten your dog, hence causing them to be defensive.
If your Golden pal is highly motivated by food, then you wouldn’t want to mess with their food bowl during meal time.
Likewise, you should know where and how to pet your dog to avoid touching places that may be uncomfortable for them.
Whenever you notice your dog expressing fear or aggression towards specific triggers, you need to avoid such and redirect the dog to comfort.
Treatment of Golden Retriever Biting
1. Medical treatment for underlying conditions
As we saw earlier, your dog might be nipping on people and other animals because of a health problem.
If your Goldie is low in mood and has an abrupt behavior change, you should take them to the vet for immediate attention.
The vet will carry out a physical examination and proceed with blood work to determine any underlying issues.
If the dog is found to be suffering from any medical condition, then the vet will recommend an appropriate treatment plan to restore their health.
This will alleviate the pain and discomfort in your dog and it should also cure the persistent biting problem.
2. Management techniques for aggressive or fearful behavior
If your Golden Retriever is biting due to fear or aggression, then you can implement some strategies to keep them comfortable.
Start by creating a safe environment for your dog at home and providing them with the accessories needed to keep them happy.
Make sure to introduce all newcomer pets at home to ensure they get along with ease and to reassure your resident Golden of their space.
You should also subject your dog to a clear routine to make them familiar with what is expected at all times.
This will keep your Golden Retriever relaxed and prevent them from having to deal with the fear of unknown activities that may arise during the day.
3. Consulting a professional trainer
If your Golden Retriever is displaying intense biting behavior despite trying to retrain them, then you should reach out to a qualified canine trainer.
These professionals in dog behavior will assess your Goldie to determine the underlying cause of their frequent biting.
Once the root of the problem is ascertained, they will craft a training program to correct the behavior.
If the underlying cause is found to be defensive behavior, then the trainer will assess the dog to find out why they are defensive.
How To Train a Golden Retriever to Stop Biting?
1. Discourage the behavior
Whenever your Golden Retriever opens their mouth to bite on something, say a firm ‘No’ to express your displeasure.
If they go ahead and disobey you, walk away from the dog. This will teach them that you do not approve of such behavior and it makes you sad.
2. Provide safe biting options
Give your Golden Retriever chew toys or tug toys as better options to nip and play with. This will keep them engaged and they will enjoy biting on such toys instead of biting you.
If your dog loves carrying items using their mouth, such as socks, make sure to play fetch with them.
Additionally, keep your dog active by engaging with them during playtime and providing them with short sessions of runs around the yard.
3. Positive reinforcement
Reward your Goldie for staying calm and behaving well. The dog will learn that being calm makes you happy and they will seek to please you.
Use high-value foods such as shredded chicken, praises, and cuddling to show your satisfaction and appreciation.
Dispelling Myths about Golden Retriever Biting
Myth #1: Golden Retrievers never bite people
Some people believe that Golden Retrievers are too friendly to bite humans.
Fact: Golden Retrievers are just like any other breed. They can bite anyone when defending themselves from a threat.
According to these statistics on dog bites, Golden Retrievers have been recorded to make at least 11 bites spanning 3 decades.
Myth #2: Golden Retrievers don’t require socialization
Due to their even-tempered nature and gentleness with humans, some people have held the misconception that Goldies don’t need to be socialized.
Fact: Even though Golden Retrievers have a natural inclination to love humans, they need to be socialized and raised in a friendly environment, just like any other family dog.
Field-bred Golden Retrievers who are mostly used for hunting may show a reduced liking towards humans, and they may be prone to biting due to lack of socialization.
Training your Golden on Social skills will help to develop their interaction with humans and reduce their likelihood to bite.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is it common for Golden Retrievers to bite?
No! Golden Retrievers have not been reported to frequently bite people when compared to other breeds.
2. Do Golden Retrievers bite their owners?
Golden Retrievers can bare their teeth and bite their owners in certain circumstances when they feel threatened or in pain.
If you unknowingly step on your Goldie’s tail without releasing your foot, the dog will certainly growl or even bite you to scare you away and to express frustration.
An unsocialized Goldie may also bite their owner when they get exposed to circumstances that instill fear and aggression.
3. Are Golden Retrievers more prone to biting than other breeds?
No! Golden Retrievers are not prone to bite people more than other breeds. In fact, they are known for their patience with humans even in stressful moments.
According to recent dog bite statistics in the US, Pitbulls, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds account for over 80% of the documented dog attacks on humans.
4. What should I do if my Golden Retriever bites me?
Slowly back off from the dog, and do first aid care depending on the level of injury. A typical first aid procedure involves washing the area with clean soapy water and covering it with a clean cloth.
Once the inflammation or bleeding has stopped, you can apply a topical antibiotic ointment such as bacitracin and cover the area once again.
If the bite drew blood from your skin, make sure to seek immediate medical attention from your doctor. Don’t forget to carry your dog’s vaccination history card.
Conclusion – Do Golden Retrievers Bite?
Yes! Golden Retrievers can bite you as a defensive method when threatened, cornered, or when experiencing pain due to an illness.
These dogs are known for their lovely interactions with humans but you should not confuse their gentleness with weakness.
Golden Retriever puppies may bite persistently during their teething phase, but with the right training, they can tone down the habit within 2 months or less.
Make sure to keep your Golden Retriever active with plenty of physical exercises and mental stimulation to redirect their nipping tendencies.
Providing appropriate chew toys is another way of offering your Goldie a safe and comfortable place of chewing without developing unwanted habits.
Laura is the founder of Furs'n'Paws. She is a also a pet writer and expert with more than 20 years of experience of working with dogs and cats. She developed a very strong love for animals at a young age. Her passion led her to establish a thriving pet sitting and dog walking business in Dubai. As an expert in pet training, behavior, and nutrition, Laura is committed to helping pet owners and pet lovers by offering high-quality information on a wide range of topics.