Golden Retrievers are easily one of the most popular family dogs, not just in the US but around the world. They are widely regarded as a friendly, affectionate, clever breed and are great with kids and other animals.
Just like any other dog, Golden Retrievers also love attention and treats, and will use their many skills to get what they want from their owners. So, do Golden Retrievers get jealous if they don't get your full attention?
Yes, Golden Retrievers do get jealous. They can form close bonds with family members, and as such, are known to suffer from other emotional behavioral issues such as separation anxiety. Jealousy can become an issue if you have other dogs or children and your Golden Retriever feels like he is not getting attention when he wants it.
So, what are the signs and symptoms you should look out for, and how do you cure jealousy in Golden Retrievers and dogs in general?
Why do golden retrievers get jealous
Golden Retrievers (and dogs in general) are social animals. They have an innate need to form social relationships with each other and with humans.
The dog -human relationship is a very important one for them. Most dog breeds have evolved to the stage that they would find it difficult to survive without us. They may not understand that we are the sole provider of food, shelter and safety for them, but it appears to be hard wired into their brain that they must be close to us, and that a relationship with a human is important.
If your Golden Retriever is acting in a 'jealous' manner; what he's actually doing is protecting this important relationship. I've seen this many times with my own dogs. If I give my attention to another dog or person, by playing with them, or hugging or sometimes just talking, my dog will go nuts barking and trying to get my attention focused back on him.
Do Golden Retrievers really get jealous?
In a study published a few years ago, study author Christine Harris showed that dogs in general do get jealous when they see their owners giving attention and affection to another animal or human compared to a nonsocial object such as a book. This study, just like similar human infant studies, lends support to the theory that jealousy exists in some “primordial” form in dogs, just like it does in humans.
So if your Golden Retriever is showing signs of jealousy, it's not that he's consciously thinking about why he's jealous, it's a primordial reaction to his feeling of being threatened that is hard wired into his brain. This is what causes him to snap or bark, or to get between you and whatever he is jealous of.
What are the signs that your golden retriever is jealous?
Dogs display jealousy in much the same way as humans. They can lash out unpredictably, causing them to behave in a way that they may not usually behave.
It's important to spot when your Golden Retriever is jealous, and nip it in the bud before you or a family member gets hurt.
Here are a few common signs of jealousy in Golden Retrievers, and is not happy that you are giving your attention to someone else.
1. Growling and Barking
Your Retriever obviously can't tell you when he's jealous that he's not getting the attention he wants, but he will let you know by barking or growling.
We all know that growling is usually the first sign that a dog is not happy, but it's not always easy to tell what exactly he's not happy with. Jealousy, especially between two dogs is often signalled by growling or staring.
A common scenario would be if you've got one dog on your lap and another comes over to you and you start giving the other dog some attention. Most of the time, the dog on your lap will not be happy and will start to growl to let the other one know that he was here first, and he wants you all to himself.
If this type of jealousy is not addressed early, it can escalate into barking and all out fighting between dogs.
2. Giving you lots of unexpected affection and attention
Golden Retrievers are usually less confrontational than other breeds. You may notice that rather than growling or barking, your Retriever may use body language to tell you that he wants all of your attention. This may include climbing up on top of you when you are watching TV, or in between you and your spouse when you are sitting on the sofa. My 50 lbs dog Alfie, likes to climb up on my chest and lie there like a baby when I"m watching TV, much to the annoyance of my husband!
3. Pushing other people or dogs away
Another subtle way that dogs, especially Golden Retrievers can show their jealousy is by using their bodies to physically push themselves in between you and another dog or person. Dogs use their bodies all of the time to let each other know if they are in their space and sometimes we can fail to pick up on this.
A classic example of this is if you are crouching down to pet one of your dogs or to hug your child, your other dog will come bounding over and squeeze himself in between you and your child (or other dog). His tail will probably be wagging and he'll be licking you, but the trigger for this behavior when there is a child, person or other dog involved is almost always jealousy.
4. Retreating to his quiet place
Not all dogs know how to express their jealousy, and some can become despondent. Golden Retrievers and especially older dogs often won't be bothered barking, growling or trying to get your attention. They may just retreat to the sofa or their crate instead.
This can also be a sign that they are not feeling well or that they don't want to be touched. If your dog is regularly hiding and avoiding contact you should investigate it further. Dogs can be in pain and not show it. Older Golden Retrievers often suffer from hip and knee problems and some develop heart and lung conditions that can make them lethargic.
5. attention seeking
Another very common sign of jealousy is attention seeking. Does your dog run around after you with his blanket in his mouth, or does he constantly steal your stuff looking for you to chase him?
Barking and jumping around are not the only ways that Golden Retrievers and dogs in general can exhibit jealousy. Next time your dog steals your shoe, try and remember what it was you were doing before you gave him your attention. I bet you were probably interacting with someone else, or playing with another dog. Just like with young children, dogs will often do crazy things to get your attention.
How do you stop your Golden Retriever from getting jealous?
Some trainers will tell you to shower your dog with affection when he shows signs of jealousy as it can be a sign of separation anxiety. Golden Retrievers do not do well by themselves, especially if they are left alone or outside by themselves for a long period of time. If you are out at work all day and come home to an anxious and sometimes naughty dog that is acting jealously, it's easy to feel guilty and to give in and basically give him whatever he wants.
This is probably the worst thing you can do. Golden Retrievers are very smart, and rewarding any bad behaviour is going to leave you with a Retriever that is very unruly and difficult to live with.
As difficult as it may seem, the best way to deal with a jealous dog is to correct the behaviour with a simple command such as 'No' and to reward the good behaviour when it comes. Don't just ignore bad or jealous behavior, as this is not going to fix the problem and will only just reinforce its effectiveness as an attention seeking tool for your dog.
It's also a good idea to set things up to help avoid the jealous behaviour to begin with. Here. a few tips to help to avoid jealousy arising in the first place.
1. Plenty of exercise
As the saying goes, 'A tired dog is a good dog'. If your Golden Retriever has been cooped up all day then he's going to be looking for ways to burn off some energy with you. Regular, meaningful exercise is a great cure for lots of dog behavioural problems.
If your dog is exhibiting jealous behavior regularly, then he may not be getting enough one on one time with you. A great way to build a bond with your Golden Retriever, while exercising, is with agility training. Agility is an excellent method of training your dog to take commands and to be around other dogs with you.
2. Feed dogs separately
If you've got more than one dog in your family, then I would always recommend feeding them separately. Food is one of the top drivers of jealous behaviour among dogs and it can lead to fighting and other bad behaviors.
Feeding separately means feeding your dogs in separate rooms or one outside in the yard with the other in the house.
3. Praise the good behaviour
The worst advice when it comes to training dogs is to ignore the bad behavior and praise the good. Ignoring bad behavior is basically telling your dog that what he just did is ok, and then praising him for it.
The correct way to teach your dog that his jealous behavior is not ok is to use a simple command such as 'No' or 'Off' when he does something wrong. You may need to gently push him away, or use your body to block his advances. But as soon as he gets the message and retreats, then praise the good behavior. Don't overdo it with the praise, and be prepared to correct him a few times before he gets the message.
4. Make sure your dog has his own toys
If you've got more than one dog or if you've got small children, make sure everyone has their own toys to play with. Dogs don't share, and assuming that they will, is going to cause jealousy and possibly a confrontation.
5. Avoid over-excitment
Many dogs, especially young Golden Retrievers can get over excited very easily and this can lead to unpredictable and sometimes, bad behavior.
We all know what it's like to come home to your dog after being out all day. It can turn into a crazy situation with dog(s) jumping and barking and running around. Most dogs don't know how to control themselves when they get too excited and they often get jealous of one another while they try to get your attention.
If this is a common scenario in your house, try to keep things calm by ignoring your dogs when you come home rather than showering them with affection. It can also be a good idea to greet your dogs separately so that they both get proper attention and it reduces the chances of jealousy.
Some Related Questions
1. Is jealousy the reason for Golden Retriever Aggression?
Yes, jealousy can often the be the cause of Golden Retriever aggression. Jealousy can often be a difficult problem to diagnose as it can easily be mistaken for other behavioural problems. Sometimes a 'jealous' dog may just be a badly trained dog that is not respectful of boundaries or just cannot control his excitement around people.
Golden Retrievers are smart dogs and are not usually aggressive or dominant towards other dogs. Jealousy can often be the underlying cause of excessive barking or attention seeking behavior in Retrievers.
2. Are Golden Retrievers Good family dogs?
Yes, Golden Retrievers make great family pets and usually get on well with kids and other dogs. They are usually an easy going breed, and are easy to train.
Before getting a Golden Retriever you should ask yourself a few important question. Will you have enough time to train, exercise and feed a dog? Do you work long hours, or are you a stay at home parent? Do you have a baby or are you planning on starting a family soon? These are all questions you should be asking yourself before you commit to any new puppy or dog.
If you don't have enough time to commit to a Golden Retriever this can lead to jealousy and bad behavior, as I've talked about in this article.