Why Is My Golden Retriever Puppy Aggressive

Why Is My Golden Retriever Puppy Aggressive?

Last Updated: August 18, 2023

In this article you will know the answer to the query “Why Is My Golden Retriever Puppy Aggressive?“.

Towards the end of this article I talk about my own experiences with aggression in golden retrievers. It is something I have had to deal with and sometimes it was horrible. 

Nonetheless at the end of all that I am grateful for my experience because it helped me become a much better dog owner. It took me a while to learn new approaches and appreciate just how wonderful a dog with a different temperament could be. My relationship with him is very strong.

Why Is My Golden Retriever Puppy Aggressive

We “rescued” Sylvie when she was four months old after some of her behavior caused concern among the family who owned her

Sylvie on the other hand is from us. We owned her mother and grandmother and in all those years of ownership we never saw the slightest hint of aggression.

Golden retrievers after all are not they? 

Nature or Nurture?

The nature versus nurture debate (which we hear about in a number of different contexts) is alive and well when it comes to dogs. Do aggressive dogs have a genetic predisposition to aggressive behavior? 

Well both sides have good arguments. There is the fact that dogs are one of the most diverse species on the planet and that they were all bred for some kind of function up until recently. 

Originally golden retrievers were bred to retrieve water or land birds. Although German Shepherds were originally bred to herd sheep and Doberman Pinschers to guard property both breeds have a reputation for being fearsome.  

I am personally much more of a nurturing man as I hate to label any dog so negatively. 

There are millions of people who own breeds of dogs such as German shepherds and Doberman pinschers who will tell you what “softies” they are. 

In addition all of us have probably experienced that vicious smaller dog in the park or at the house of an elderly relative that threatens to take a chunk out of our ankles.

In addition the arguments put forth to support the assertion that the way a dog was raised and trained (or not) determines whether they turn out to be aggressive are compelling.

There are 9 behaviors devices and contexts in this article that make any dog aggressive. 

The following are two of these behaviors that stand out for me:


Dogs picking up on nerves

The experience of yelling at an aggressive dog has happened to me before. We must learn to control this instinctive and in some ways understandable reaction to aggression.

After we had to rescue Sylvie from her original owners due to her very aggressive behavior my first reaction was to yell at her.

Food was involved in the incident. After returning home I fed her and then I tried to take away her food bowl which resulted in her baring her teeth at me. 

After I shouted at her and continued to take the food bowl away from her she snapped at me. 

What did I get from yelling? Rather what did yelling ever accomplish for me? Absolutely nothing. As Sylvies anxiety levels were high when I brought her back yelling at her only increased her options. 

Additionally the article mentions that nerves are a trigger for aggression as dogs pick up on their owners’ nerves. 

In the article the author discusses dogs reacting to a nervous owner while walking on a leash. 

My experience is that my dogs do not react to my stress levels with aggression but I am reminded almost every day of how in tune my dogs are with my state of mind.

My dogs will pick up on my stress and become slightly more stressed if I am slightly stressed.

This is true not just when we are out walking together but whenever we are together. 

The way I move can give my dogs a clue as to when I am stressed without hearing my voice. 

Even though aggression can manifest itself in many ways and in many different situations fear seems to be at the heart of it all. 

How do dogs display aggression?

There are eight forms of aggression discussed in this article many of which overlap.

The following are among them:

Fear (lack of proper socialization and bad experiences with previous owners and other dogs)

Possession guarding (i.e. toys balls sticks)

Changes in the physical environment or in household members.

There is a pecking order in a dog pack where the dominant dog must discipline the other dogs. 

Leish aggression



Pain & illness

Is aggression in puppies different than aggression in adult dogs?

Generally I would say that the types of aggression displayed by puppies and adult dogs are the same. 

In adult dogs aggression is often viewed as being worse since the dogs are bigger and have probably been aggressive for a longer time. 

Generally however the 8 types of aggression described above apply to both youngsters and adults. 

In this article the author describes a type of aggression that occurs between puppies of the same litter that is an interesting exception to this rule. 

Littermate syndrome refers to a range of fear-based behavior that can sometimes be displayed when two or more puppies from the same litter are kept together beyond the eight-week period. 

It is common for the puppies to exhibit aggressive behavior when they are separated from one another which can result in a massive increase in anxiety and can also result in aggressive behavior on one or both of the puppies’ parts.

The second aggressive behavior occurs when the siblings are a little older becoming mature and their play becomes so intense that it can be dangerous.

How to calm an aggressive dog?

You can calm an aggressive dog in two ways. The first way is in the here and now when the dog is misbehaving in front of you.

If you like you can use it as a get-out-of-jail card. 

A second example is when you devote days and weeks to extinguishing aggressive behavior in your own dog.

You can improve aggressive behavior by trying these six steps described in this article.

You should visit your veterinarian create a plan and avoid punishment among the six steps.

Creating a plan and making sure you make your aims attainable by taking small steps is very helpful advice. 

Just as success breeds success failure breeds failure.


Rather than sticking to a plan for a few days you should think about sticking with it for weeks and months. Stopping aggressive behavior is unlikely to happen overnight.


You will not see improvements every day even if you are committed to the long haul. Sometimes you may feel like you are going backward.

Love It

I also learned to love the process. 

In order to get rid of aggressive behavior in your dog you will have to spend more time with them it will not be like taking the dog for a walk it will be more focused and intense.

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Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

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