Why does your Golden Retriever attack other dogs?

why does my golden retriever attack other dogs

The Golden Retriever is known and loved worldwide as a friendly family dog. However, it can happen that your Golden Retriever attacks other dogs and becomes aggressive. In this article we want to clarify why does your Golden Retriever attack other dogs and how you can prevent it.

Why does my Golden Retriever attack other dogs? It depends on why your Golden Retriever is aggressive toward other dogs. One possible cause is lack of socialization. If your Golden Retriever never learned to communicate properly with other dogs, he may become aggressive upon dog contact. But past mistreatment, not enough exercise, or a strong protective instinct could also be the reason your Golden Retriever attacks other dogs.

Is a Golden Retriever aggressive?

A Golden Retriever is basically not aggressive. The Golden is considered friendly, active, intelligent and fond of children.

When I think of a Golden Retriever, I always see a friendly dog who, to exaggerate, is happy about everything.

However, a Golden Retriever can also be aggressive or show aggressive behavior towards other dogs, people or even towards you. But no dog is aggressive by nature and a Golden Retriever certainly not.

Usually there are reasons why your Golden Retriever shows aggressive behavior.

Reasons why your Golden Retriever attacks other dogs

A Golden Retriever is basically not aggressive (no dog is by nature). But there are causes or reasons that can lead to a Golden Retriever attacking other dogs and showing aggressive behavior.

Too little exercise and activity

In my opinion, the most common reason why dogs and therefore of course a Golden Retriever is aggressive and wants to attack other dogs is too little exercise.

If your Golden Retriever has too little exercise and mental activity over the long term, he will become frustrated and may exhibit aggressive behavior by attacking other dogs.

A Golden Retriever needs a lot of exercise. In his native country he is a hunting dog, which is out with the hunter all day. 2 walks of 30 minutes are much too little in the long run.


If you have your Golden retriever not from a reputable breeder, but from a shelter you don’t always know what the dog has been through in the past.

If he has been beaten, starved or tied up for days, this can be the reason for aggression, resulting in him attacking other dogs.

Lack of socialization

It is important that you socialize your Golden Retriever properly from the beginning. This means, among other things, that your puppy has contact with other dogs and learns to interact and communicate with them.

Even if your Goldie has grown up with 6,7 or more littermates in the first few weeks, it is important that you continue to work on socialization.

If your Golden Retriever never has contact with other dogs, he will not know how to behave when contact does occur. He has never learned.

It can happen that your Golden Retriever wants to attack the other dog, because he thinks there is a danger from him or your Golden Retriever is just insecure.

Your Golden Retriever does not accept you as pack leader

Your Golden Retriever may think that you are not up to the situation when you encounter other dogs and he needs to take the lead.

We had this situation with our Cane Corso. One morning she was bitten unexpectedly and that was probably the trigger that she became aggressive towards other dogs on the leash afterwards.

Our dog trainer thinks that in these situations – dog encounters – she doesn’t see us as pack leaders anymore. She no longer trusts us to confidently go ahead and control the situation in these situations.

So we have specifically worked on our leadership role and we are basically where we were before the attack.

Dominance Behavior

Even though the Golden Retriever is generally considered friendly and cheerful, there is still a chance that your Golden Retriever may be dominant and try to intimidate other dogs by acting aggressively on the leash.

If that is the case, you should work on the behavior. My recommendation is an online dog school or a professional dog trainer one-on-one.

He just wants to play

Who does not know it? A dog runs towards you and its owner shouts from afar “He just wants to play” 🙂 .

This can actually be the case. Your Golden Retriever may play so wildly with another dog that aggressive barking and growling is the result.

Still, you can’t make a blanket statement that your Golden Retriever will attack the other dog just because he growls. The overall picture of what is happening is crucial.

When our two dogs “play” with each other in the backyard, it’s also more of a scuffle and a stranger who has no experience with dogs might suspect aggressive behavior as well.

Your Golden Retriever guards his territory

Even though Golden Retrievers do not have a strong guarding or protective instinct, it can happen that they want to protect you from other dogs and strangers.

If it gets out of control, a visit to a dog trainer is also recommended.

golden retriever attacks other dogs
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Get your Golden Retriever not to attack other dogs

If your Golden Retriever attacks or wants to attack other dogs, you should work on this behavior.

Aggressive behavior is not to be tolerated under any circumstances, especially if your Golden Retriever decides for himself when he is aggressive and when he is not.

Frustration tolerance

Your Golden Retriever needs to learn how to deal with frustration. If he experiences situations that are frustrating for him and works through them, he will become calmer when interacting with other dogs. This was a basic tip from our trainer.

Build up an expectation with your Golden Retriever, BUT do not fulfill it. Or not until later.

Your Golden Retriever loves to go for a walk and is incredibly happy when you just take the leash and put on your jacket.

Let him be happy, put back the leash and take off your jacket. This situation, the frustration, your dog must first process.

You can do all sorts of things. With every dog there are different points how to “frustrate” him. Over time, he learns to better handle frustration and better handle stressful situations like other dogs.

You don’t work directly on the problem and fight the symptom but you work on the relationship between you and your dog.

Work on your leadership role

In our case the problem was that Malou our Cane Corso is super well behaved (trainer’s statement) but didn’t pay attention to us in certain dog encounters (not all).

She was not aware of anything except the other dog and was fixating on him. So she was not responsive at all.

Our job now was to make sure she was fully oriented to us again and that we told her what to do and when.

We were then to incorporate the following exercise:

  • Stand somewhere and make sure your Goldie is standing quietly next to you.
  • If he takes a step forward to sniff or whatever, bring him back with the leash and press him lightly against your leg. Have him stand quietly next to you on a loose leash (so he can run away).
  • You don’t say anything. Bringing him back is quite sufficient as communication.
  • You determine that your dog should now stand quietly next to you. Point.

Later you will extend the exercise to the walk.

  • Just stop during the walk.
  • If the dog does not come to you of its own accord, bring it back with the help of the leash and press it lightly against your leg from the side.
  • You can repeat this several times.
  • The goal is that your dog is oriented to you and does not do what he wants. You are the boss and decide when to continue and when to be quiet.

Once you are standing, you can step back or to the side from the situation and your dog should follow you and stand right next to you again.

These are all situations that should make your dog follow you because you are the pack leader.

He needs to trust you and realize that it is not necessary to take the lead in certain situations and attack other dogs because he doesn’t trust you to do it.

Positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement also works for many dogs. This means that when you walk your Golden Retriever past other dogs without him wanting to attack them, you praise him.

This can be verbal, by petting or of course with treats. Depending on what is the greater reward for your Golden Retriever.

The goal is very simple: Your Goldie learns, when he shows a certain behavior he gets a reward. In this case, calmly walk past other dogs.

Stay calm

If you are crossing the street with your Golden Retriever and he wants to attack another dog, you need to stay calm and just get out of the situation. That is, try to move on.

Your Golden Retriever does not understand what you are yelling when he goes crazy.

Your “no” “leave it” “off”…etc what you are yelling in the situation may just be cheering for your Golden Retriever and reinforcing his behavior.

He thinks when I bark at other dogs, my owner is behind me cheering me on and is also all excited


If there is a possibility, just try to avoid the dog. This does not solve the problem in general, but it does not necessarily provoke the situation.

Then you can, what I recommend anyway the next tip to heed

Seek professional advice

It is always better to get tips and tricks on the Internet than to do nothing at all. Final, however, every dog is different and you can not give a blanket answer.

A professional dog trainer will see much better why your Golden Retriever wants to attack other dogs and can take direct and specific action.

Frequently asked questions:

Does a dog need a garden?

No, contrary to popular belief, a dog does not need a garden. Extensive walks in nature and head work are important. A garden is just a great bonus but normally not a compelling reason if you want to have a dog.

Why does my dog want to sleep in my bed?

Dogs are social creatures that prefer to be near their owners all the time. It is natural for dogs to sleep together in a pack. Therefore, it is not unusual if your dog wants to sleep in bed with you. This can also have advantages.

Conclusion: Why does my Golden Retriever attack other dogs?

Your Golden Retriever may attack other dogs for a variety of reasons. Lack of socialization, dominance behavior and protective instincts are all possible reasons. Or he may think you are not up to the situation and he needs to take the lead and chase or bark at the other dog.

© Photography by Adri-stock.adobe.com


I am Marco and I have the pleasure of living with 3 large Mastiff-type dog breeds. I would like to share my dog-related experiences on this blog

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