Anxiety in Golden Retrievers — What You Need To Know

Golden retrievers are kind and gentle creatures. However, there may be certain things that can cause them to become anxious. Anxiety in golden retrievers isn’t normal and should be addressed as soon as possible so that your pet won’t develop any bad behaviors. Your golden retriever’s mental health will depend on several factors but it’s nothing that can’t be treated.

In this article, I’ll be sharing with you the several signs of anxiety in golden retrievers and how you can help your pet get better.

What is Anxiety in Golden Retrievers?

Just like human beings, dogs feel all sorts of emotions. These emotions are both positive and negative feelings such as happiness, excitement, calmness, anger, sadness, and even anxiety. The range of emotions that your golden retriever is experiencing is all perfectly normal. Even your golden retriever will have some bad or gloomy days just like us humans do. 

However, there’s no need to worry when you see that your golden retriever is anxious. There’s a ton of ways for you to treat your beloved pet. When you notice the anxiety symptoms of your golden retriever, it’s best to address that as soon as possible. As soon as you start treatment, you will be able to prevent your golden retriever’s condition from progressing to bad behavior.

What are the Symptoms of Anxiety in Golden Retrievers?

There are a lot of ways for your golden retriever to express his or her anxiety. Most of these ways tend to be misinterpreted as bad house behavior. That’s why as a responsible golden retriever owner, you should know what the symptoms of anxiety are in your pet. However, keep in mind that your dog may not show all these symptoms. Additionally, not all dogs will show these kinds of symptoms. 

In short, each case of anxiety in golden retrievers is a special one. Treatment also comes in different shapes and forms. In some cases, you don’t need to medicate your golden retriever as well. All you would need to help ease your golden retriever’s anxiety is to spend more time with them. Later on, we’ll be discussing the different causes of anxiety in golden retrievers. For now, let me share with you the list of symptoms that you can find when your golden retriever is experiencing anxiety.

Aggressive Chewing or Digging

The first on this list of symptoms in detecting anxiety in golden retrievers is aggressive chewing or aggressive digging. When you notice that your usually well-behaved golden retriever starts chewing on things he shouldn’t, it may be because of anxiety. 

This is sometimes interpreted as bad behavior or bad house manners in dogs. However, aggressive chewing or digging can be a sign that your dog has separation anxiety. Before you come to that conclusion, you should rule out the other factors that could cause your dog to chew what he’s not supposed to chew. Perhaps if you always come home to a lot of chewed up furniture, it could be that your dog has separation anxiety. 

However, if your golden retriever is chewing on things simply because he is hungry, then you can adjust your dog’s diet. That way, your golden retriever won’t go hungry until your next meal. Believe it or not, that act alone will significantly lessen your golden retriever’s aggressive chewing tendencies.

If it’s not because of separation anxiety, pet parents often choose to train their dogs to stop chewing and digging. 

They can also get a professional dog trainer if they are willing to spend cash. The cost of a professional trainer depends on group dog training and private training sessions. Depending on your location, group training usually costs $30 to $100 per class as private sessions cost $40 to $200 per hour. Meanwhile, classes in obedience training schools would charge $500 to $1,500 per week. These classes would help lessen your dog’s bad behaviors around the house.

Excessive Loudness

Unnecessary barking can be every pet owner’s worst enemy. Your dog may be howling or barking for absolutely no reason, but your pet may be trying to communicate with you about something. This loudness in the form of barking or howling is your pet trying to get your attention. It might mean that something is scaring them. Sometimes, it could mean that they are simply bored and want to play. 

In special cases, barking and howling could be a sign that there is anxiety in golden retrievers. However, do note that excessive barking and howling when your dog is anxious is usually coupled with other symptoms as well. Your golden retriever could be restless, aggressively chewing, or overeating. It’s hard to spot when there is anxiety in your golden retriever by just loud barking, so make sure that your dog isn’t in a stressful environment so that you can really pinpoint what is happening. 

Later on, I’ll be talking about the possible causes why your dog is being excessively loud. By determining the root cause of the problem, you will be able to help your golden retriever get better. However, one of the most common reasons why there is anxiety in golden retrievers is because of separation anxiety. They will bark and bark to try catching your attention, only you’re not there. This has the potential to erupt into something more destructive, like aggressive chewing and digging. Thus, you come home to ruined furniture.

Excessive barking is also quite rude to your neighbors, especially if you live in an apartment. That’s why controlling your golden retriever’s barking is a good way to be a responsible neighbor as well as pet owner.

Hiding or Running Away

Even human beings tend to feel scared and anxious sometimes. Just like us, golden retrievers feel these negative emotions as well. That’s why when they are thrown into an unfamiliar or dangerous situation, they tend to hide under furniture or run away into a corner. This is a perfectly normal reaction towards fear. However, when you notice your dog do this, it may be a sign that there is something that is bothering them.

The moment you see this odd behavior in your golden retriever, try to look for the reason why they are acting that way. While they are hiding, check their body posture if they are showing other signs of fear such as shaking and a lowered head. Then, you can try to determine the reason why they’re hiding in the first place. This could be as harmless as a small item that they randomly found.

You need to check if they are scared of something they found or if they are sick. Animals who are sick tend to hide in corners as a way to avoid being vulnerable to being hunted. For golden retrievers, hiding and running away could be a sign that they are sick or dying.

Restlessness

When your golden retriever is running around like he has all the energy in the world, it could be a sign that he is simply hyper. However, there are times where restlessness is a sign of anxiety in golden retrievers. 

There is always a reason why your golden retriever is restless. It could be that he or she needs to release pent up energy from being caged up or leashed for too long. Another reason why your golden retriever could be restless is because of the lack of attention. They may be trying to get your attention!

A lot of stressful situations trigger restlessness in your golden retriever so that’s completely normal for a dog to run around.

What I suggest is for pet parents to pay attention to their dogs! Since there’s always a reason for everything, you could always get to the root of why your golden retriever is running about. The moment you determine the reason why your dog is so stressed, you will be able to help him or her get through this pent up energy. Simply accompanying your golden retriever will help them calm down. Alternatively, you can also try to play with your golden retriever until he calms down. This is a good way to direct his anxiety into a more positive energy.

If left alone, restlessness or pent up negative energy can express itself into other bad behavior like aggressive chewing, loud barking or howling, or excessive urination and defecation. 

Self-Destruction

Although rare, self-destruction is a sign of anxiety in golden retrievers. It can also be a sign of other mental illnesses in dogs such as depression. Self-destruction is usually expressed in your dog over-chewing, licking, or scratching himself to the point where he is raw and bloody. In some bad cases, self-destructive dogs also will run themselves into the walls. This is usually a sign that you should bring your golden retriever to the veterinary clinic.

Don’t worry! There are several medications that your veterinarian can prescribe for depression and anxiety in golden retrievers. There are a number of reasons why your dog could get depressed or anxious. The best way for you to help them is to give them the comfort and support that they need.  From time to time, make sure to give special attention to your golden retriever so that they can feel loved.

Shivers

When you see your dog shivering even when it’s not cold, it could be a sign of anxiety in golden retrievers. These shivers tend to signify that your golden retriever is scared of something. Alternatively, these shivers could be caused by something internal like injury or an upset stomach.

If there are other symptoms like diarrhea, excessive urination, or other odd behavior that is present while your dog is shivering, bring your golden retriever to the veterinarian clinic right away.

Your doctor will determine if your dog needs medication or treatment. That way, your dof will get better a lot sooner.

What are the Causes of Anxiety in Golden Retrievers?

There are a lot of factors that affect your dog’s mood. Anxiety in golden retrievers can be caused by a number of things but can be solved and treated properly so there’s no need for you to worry! Your golden retriever is most probably anxious because of unfamiliar places or situations. Let’s explore the different causes of anxiety in golden retrievers together.

Dietary Problems

The first on this list of causes of anxiety in golden retrievers is dietary problems. It could be that an upset stomach is the reason why your pet is behaving differently. Your golden retriever could have eaten something that he was not supposed to, like dirt, debris, insects, or just random things that he or she found on the ground.

Golden retrievers typically have a good digestive system and their immune systems are also quite strong. However, if they accidentally eat something that they weren’t meant to, it’s bound to cause an upset stomach. An upset stomach could make your dog whine a lot, become panicky, lethargic, have a raised body temperature, or start aggressively chewing.

The pain and their struggle to move their bowels could be the reason why they’re being anxious. If left untreated, your golden retriever’s digestive problems could worsen into other conditions like vomiting or diarrhea.

Luckily, an upset stomach can be treated by a veterinarian. If you notice your golden retriever experiencing these symptoms, it’s best to bring them to the veterinary clinic right away. Alternatively, you can try to make some home remedies that will help ease your dog’s stomach aches. However, I do suggest that you bring them in for a checkup so that the veterinarian can prescribe the right medication or induce the correct treatment. That way, your golden retriever will feel a lot better sooner.

Inactivity

Anxiety in golden retrievers can also be caused by inactivity. By default, golden retrievers are a very active dog breed. Experienced pet owners know that by allowing a golden retriever to move a lot will bring them a lot of joy. These kinds of dogs love to play and run around. That’s why when they are dormant and haven’t had any kind of exercise for a while, they will become restless or even moody. This kind of behavior will lead to bad habits such as aggressive chewing.

Thus, it’s important to take your golden retriever out for a walk to the dog park to let them stretch their legs. Depending on their age, they require a certain amount of exercise per day.

A golden retriever puppy needs 5 to 10 minutes of exercise every day. As they grow older, golden retrievers need a lot more exercise than just 10 minutes. A full-grown golden retriever needs around 30 minutes to an hour of exercise per day. So if you’re not the type to go out and move around, a golden retriever may not be the kind of dog for you.

Inactivity will induce anxiety in golden retrievers if not managed properly. You can lessen these chances by exercising along with them so that you can build a lasting bond with your furry little friend. 

Remember that exercise doesn’t have to be a chore! You can have them exercise by playing fetch with them using their favorite toy. You can also hire someone else to walk your dog. This way, they’ll also be able to interact with other people.

Loss of a Loved One

Golden retrievers are more sensitive than you think. They react to a lot of things in their surroundings. That would include objects, people, and other animals as well. If they sense that a loved one is gone, it’s likely that they will feel loss just like humans do.

Thus, loss of a loved one can cause anxiety in golden retrievers as well. These loved ones can be in the form of accidentally ripping their favorite toy, saying goodbye to a friend after play time, or when they notice that someone in your household has passed away.

Yes, your golden retriever may get anxiety from the death of someone who had a special bond with them. This could either be their partner, a family member, or their fellow pet siblings. Just because they are animals does not mean that they can’t feel emotions as well. Like in humans, they can also express grief. 

However, their grief is expressed in the form of whining, lethargy, loss of appetite, or can be restless and even aggressive. This aggressive behavior is expressed in heavy chewing, growling, barking, and sometimes biting.

It’s important to realize when your dog is feeling anxious. If an owner fails to acknowledge an anxious dog’s feelings, your golden retriever may become self-destructive or worse — destructive to its surroundings.

You can help comfort your golden retriever by spending more time with it. Play games with your pet, pay more attention to its needs, and have them interact with other dogs. As long as you find time to bond with your dog, he or she will be fine. In worst-case scenarios, you can always bring your golden retriever to the veterinarian to have its anxiety or depression treated.

Separation Anxiety

Golden retrievers have very close bonds with their pet parents and guardians. Most of the time, if you leave a golden retriever alone for more than 5 hours it will start to get agitated. This agitation is usually a sign of separation anxiety. It is sometimes misinterpreted as a need for your golden retriever to be trained on house manners, but experienced pet owners know that the agitation is caused by separation anxiety in golden retrievers.

If, perhaps, golden retrievers are apart from their guardians or pet parents for too long, they will start to feel restless and anxious. This restlessness will express itself in the form of chewing, overeating, excessive urinating, barking, or digging.

Sometimes, a golden retriever who has separation anxiety will try to stop a pet parent from leaving the house. For example, when it’s time for you to leave for work, your golden retriever may block the doorway, cling to you, whine, or sometimes bark and become restless.

Separation anxiety is a tough nut to crack. Whether you like it or not, there will be times where you have to leave your dog alone, especially if you need to go to work. If your dog is used to you being at home all the time and you leave him or her suddenly, they might become destructive to your home.

To help anxiety in golden retrievers who are affected by separation anxiety, you can spend some time with your dog before you have to leave them for a long time by going on a walk. When you’re interacting with your dog, you have to be calm and assertive as well. This calm energy of yours will also pass onto them. It will take some time, but your dog will eventually be okay with being left alone.

Signs of Aging

Dogs such as golden retrievers are more like humans than you think. When a human starts to age, their physical and mental health starts to deteriorate. It is the same in all kinds of animals — dogs, especially golden retrievers, are not exempted. 

The average lifespan of a golden retriever depends on their size. For example, if your golden retriever is of a smaller breed, their lifespan is around 10 to 12 years but larger breeds usually live around 7 to 10 years. When your golden retriever starts to reach eight to nine years of age, they are considered old.

However, the signs of aging could start earlier depending on each dog. You’ll notice that your golden retriever will get less and less energetic and will enjoy lounging instead. He or she might move around a lot slower, forget any commands that you once taught, sleep more, and have increased anxiety.

One of the most effective ways to help the anxiety in golden retrievers who are old is through physical comfort. Spend as much time as you can with your beloved pet when you are free. Give them extra hugs and pets as those will calm them down significantly. Simply being there for your pet while it is panicking or feeling down will help a lot more than you think.

Alternatively, you can also spend time with your golden retriever by going on short walks. This will help his deteriorating muscles and joints. If your golden retriever has arthritis, exercise will also help him a lot.

Sponging Your Emotions

Golden retrievers, like many dogs, tend to sponge up their pet parent’s feelings. If you’re feeling hyper and happy, your golden retriever will most likely also feel hyper and happy. The same goes with negative emotions. If you’re feeling sad, angry, or anxious, your dog may also feel the same way.

That’s why you’ll most likely find your dog being sad around you if you’re sad too. Sometimes, your furry little friend will also try to comfort you by accompanying you while you’re feeling down. This is why you should also do the same for them. When they’re feeling down, being there for them is the best way for you to show that you care and want to comfort them.

Alternatively, you could also try to cheer your dog up by giving them their favorite snacks and taking the time to play with them using their favorite toys. Nothing will cheer them up more than spending time with their most favorite person in the world doing their most favorite hobby.

Taking your golden retriever on short walks will also be good for the both of you. It will give you the chance to breathe some fresh air and get some exercise. A short 10-minute walk will be good enough to take your mind off things. Plus, you’ll be able to spend some time with your goldie. However, keep in mind that golden retrievers are high-energy dogs which means that they need a lot more exercise than just 10 minutes.

Trust Issues

Trust issues could cause anxiety in golden retrievers. This is especially true if you have rescued a dog from an abusive household. Your golden retriever could not trust you at first. It will oftentimes show signs of trauma and abuse. At first, your pet might not show any signs that he or she is comfortable in their new household.

They will tend to cower and shiver, hide, or be extremely aggressive. All of this is caused by trust issues. What’s sad is that time is one of the only ways for your golden retriever to acclimate into their new surroundings. After a while, he or she will also get used to your companionship. It’s especially easier for your golden retriever with trust issues to adjust when there are other dogs who are comfortable around you as well. When your golden retriever sees that they trust you, their trust will eventually build as well.

You can also help your dog by training your dog to be more docile. Alternatively, you can also send them to obedience schools so that they can get the proper training. After a couple of weeks in training, you will see the significant progress in your dog’s behavior around you and the people in your home.

Unfamiliar Surroundings or People

In the case that you move to a new house, you may notice anxiety in golden retrievers. This is because they are unfamiliar with their surroundings. New faces could also make them wary and anxious. 

Sometimes, a new family member or a new person who starts living in the house will cause agitation in your dog. Your golden retriever may not react well to your new house or the new person in your household. For a while, they will seem very panicky or they will also display some aggressive behavior such as chewing, whining, digging, barking, and howling among other things.

In some cases, your dog will also express his anxiety when you bring them to new places like the park or the veterinarian clinic. When they are exposed to things that they are not comfortable with yet, they won’t behave like they usually do. In case this happens, don’t worry. You can help them work these negative emotions.

With enough positive reinforcement, you can change your golden retriever’s reactions or behavior by making your trip to somewhere new into a fun trip. So that instead of fear, your goldie will feel excited. You can offer your dog’s favorite snacks and have them play with their favorite toys so that they won’t feel as sad, scared, or uncomfortable.

What you can do to Ease Anxiety in Golden Retrievers

The first step to being a responsible pet parent to your golden retriever is understanding that they also have feelings. This is a big part of knowing how to help them when they feel bouts of anxiety. Remember that each dog’s case of anxiety is different. Therefore, you could try a variety of things to help ease anxiety in golden retrievers.

Exercise!

Exercise helps ease anxiety in golden retrievers. Remember that if you don’t give enough exercise to a golden retriever, they may start to become agitated or develop symptoms of anxiety. This is why you should help them expend their energy by giving them enough exercise.

How much exercise your golden retriever needs will depend on how old he or she is. For example, a full-grown golden retriever will need an hour of hard exercise. However, senior dogs don’t need as much exercise. Simply walking them for at least 30 minutes is good enough.

Physical Contact!

Golden retrievers are much like humans. From time to time, we need affection from our family, friends, or loved ones. That’s why physical touch (like in the form of petting and cuddling) is essential to help ease anxiety in golden retrievers. 

Try to spend some time grooming your golden retriever yourself instead of having them groomed by a pet salon. When they feel taken care of, they will become a lot calmer. Another way for you to give them physical contact is simply being in their presence even if they’re just asleep. Allow them to sleep on your bed sometimes, especially when they’re feeling sad. This won’t only comfort them but you as well.

One-On-One Time!

Special one-on-one time will strengthen your bond with your golden retriever. This encompasses a lot of activities like exercising, playing fetch, going on walks, chilling on the couch together, napping together, and more.

Anything you can think of that involves your dog is one-on-one time with your furry little friend. When you spend time together, this helps ease their anxiety. 

FINAL WORDS

Now that we’ve covered the different symptoms and causes of anxiety in golden retrievers, I believe that you now have ideas on how to help your dog. Knowing what to do in these kinds of situations makes you a compassionate and responsible pet parent. Your bond with your golden retriever will only grow stronger as you help him or her through their tough times.

Did you find this article helpful? What are your experiences with anxiety in golden retrievers? Share with us your experience down below in the comments section!

About Tom Thorpe

Tom Thorpe
Tom Thorpe has overtime interacted with different species of dogs mostly through breeding and training; according to him, man’s best friend is yet to find solace in the company of man, as they are continuously mistreated. He, therefore, runs a rescue center that provides shelter to stray dogs, and has been advocating for the rights of animals; the Golden Retriever dogs are among his favorites, the reason he came up with the extensive excerpts to help educate the society on the right treatment and care of the respective breed. Tom spends most of his time running his dog shelter; he is a husband and proud father of two boys and loves to go fishing during his free time.

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