My Golden Retriever is Aggressive. What Should I Do?

By Britt Kascjak

All dogs can experience aggression but it’s important to never physically punish them and to be as patient as possible when working them into social situations. 

People don’t generally think of a Golden Retriever when they think of dogs with aggressive sides. That doesn’t mean that they can’t become aggressive. 

This breed is patient and fun loving. They also love having a family and enjoy the company of people so if you’re experiencing aggression from your Golden Retriever, it can be a sign of something more serious. 

Reasons for Golden Retriever Aggression and How to Handle it 

Here are some of the reasons why your Golden Retriever may be acting aggressively and what you can do about it. 


If your Golden Retriever comes from an abusive relationship with humans, it’s pretty clear why they would act aggressively towards you and others. If they were led down a path of hunger, violence, and isolation, it can take them a while to become okay with human contact again. 

What to do? 

Patience and a ton of positive reinforcement is the best way to handle an abused Goldie. It can take them years and this is especially true when strangers come to the house. 


Golden Retrievers can’t show pain like we do so instead of seeking help or telling us that they have a problem, they could become ornery and aggressive if we try to help. They won’t want us to touch the area that is bothering them and they could even snap at us when we do. 

What to do? 

Plenty of positive reinforcement will help and if your Goldie usually trusts you then chances are, you don’t have much to worry about. If you notice that they’re slightly more agitated than usual but you can’t seem to figure out the problem, it may be time for a trip to the vet because it could be an issue you can’t see. 

Poor Socialization 

Some Golden Retrievers don’t know how to interact. It’s not because they’re naturally aggressive or they’re actually angry, it’s simply because they were never taught. These dogs often live in fear of humans and in some cases, are always in survival mode because they feel threatened. 

What to do? 

It’s important that you gradually introduce a Goldie with this behavior to new things. Don’t take your Golden Retriever to the dog park on day one and expect it to go well. Introduce them to one person at a time and make sure it’s a person you trust. 

As they become more and more okay with people, increase the amount of people you bring around at a time until you can eventually bring them up to complete strangers without any concern. 

Diet or Feeding Schedule is off

A low protein diet can mildly affect some types of aggression in Golden Retrievers (mainly territorial aggression). It’s important to give your Golden Retriever plenty of high protein dog food.

Also make sure you giving your Golden Retriever enough to eat. Dogs get hangry just like people. If you’re not sure how much food to feed your golden retriever double check and consult with your vet.

Lack of exercise

If your Golden Retriever spends long stretches of time inside the house or in their crate, part of their aggression could be linked to a lack of exercise. As an active breed and Golden Retrievers need at least one hour of exercise each day.

Try setting aside a specific time each day either walking or playing with your Golden Retriever to help them get rid of any pent up energy.

Final Thoughts on Aggressive Golden Retrievers

If you’ve tried a lot of the things outlined in this guide and are still having issues with an aggressive Golden Retriever, consider trying a calming product like PetMD Hemp. 

Remember that patience is important and you can’t untrain a life of bad habits in a few days. Love your Golden Retriever unlike ever before and give them the time they need to grow and prosper. 

Photo of author
Britt Kascjak
Britt Kascjak has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering, and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. Her ‘pack’ includes her husband John, their 3 dogs – Daviana, Indiana, and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx.