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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20173
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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Hi I am looking for some advice. I have a golden retriever

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Hi I am looking for some advice. I have a golden retriever who is 1 year 7 months old. She is a lovely dog most of the time, although we do have issues with her being hyper when taken to someone's house or guests coming which we are working on. However she has one particular behaviour problem we cannot seem to fix. Both myself and my partner love in the property. However when my partner goes out, to work etc and I am in alone with her she turns on me. She will jump at me nipping me, not actually biting but mouthing and nipping, all the while barking at me. I have tried so many solutions and cannot seem to calm her down when she starts. If I put her out of the room or I leave the room she barks constantly. I must say although it seems aggressive while she is barking and nipping she is wagging her tail. But there is no calming or stopping her. Can anyone help as I feel I can't sit in my own home with her, and I am now 5 months pregnant and would like to resolve this before the baby arrives. Thanks.
Hi JaCustomer,
My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.
In order to supply you with the best information, I do need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your answer, it will likely take me about 30-45 minutes to type up your response. I hope you can be patient.
Has she had formal obedience training?
If so who handled the dog during training?
You say you have tried to distract her with training. Do you mean that when she does this, you start doing commands with her?
If you totally ignore her does it get worse?
Is she allowed on the furniture?
When she is mouthing you, what have your tried to stop it?
Do you vocalize when she nips at you?
Is it high pitched?
I really need to know specifics as to what has been tried so I don't give you things to try that you have already done as I want you to be satisfied with the answers I have.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Hi thanks for your response.
Yes she has had obedience training at mypetstop puppy classes and passed. She answers commands such as sit, lie down, paw, recall etc.
We both handled her during training, however my partner seems to be the one she listens to in the home.
Yes, when she starts I try to make her sit or lie down, which she will do but then jump straight back up at me. If I make her lie down and then give her treats as praise she will stop for as long as I have treats, however I don't want to feel like I am rewarding the behaviour.
If I ignore her she will nip my hands and arm and bark incessantly. I have tried to stand and turn my back on her where she won't nip but will continuously bark.
Yes she has always been allowed on the furniture, however this is as when my partner is in she lies next to me curled up very calm. This is something we are trying to change with the baby coming.
When she mouths me she puts her teeth around me, she does not bite down to hurt me but will keep hold of my hand/wrist with her mouth. I have tried pushing her away - where she jumps back up. I have tried saying no in a calm and firm manner. I have tried yelping in a high pitched voice but she does not acknowledge. I have got up and left the room, or put her out of the room, where she again barks none stop. I have tried holding her until she calms but that seems to make her more wound up. I have tried squirts of water but again this winds her up more.
Yes I have vocalised both in a calm but firm voice, and yelped in a high pitched voice (this is what I used to teach her a soft mouth when a puppy) but neither seem to have affect.

Other extra information: when she starts like this she also will seem to attack our cat, she runs and pins her down, however when my partner is in with us they play together and sleep together with no issues. We walk her 3 times a day so that she burns off energy, also she has previously acted like this towards me and then stopped for a few months, and now has started again.

Thanks so much.
I've got your response and am working on your answer. It will take me at least 30 minutes to type it up as it is long and involved.



I'm sure you are aware of pack hierarchy. There can be a male and female alpha but not two female alphas. As a pup you were the boss, now she is not as sure. She can disobey without much reprimands so to speak from you, but she can intimidate you with the nipping. This might have her thinking she is the boss. I couldn't say for sure without seeing the interaction myself though it does seem like this is a contributing factor. So to help stop that, you need to do more training with her on a daily basis. At least 15 minutes of training preferably before she acts up and without your partner there. This helps reestablish you as the boss and who she has to listen to. You can use treats as reward, but not all the time. It has to be alternated with praise as the reward.


I want you to work on a release command. She sits well and knows down but jumps up. If you haven't taught her a command saying it is ok to get up, she uses her own judgement. With a release command, you can make her sit or lay down for longer periods of time before giving the treat, thus stretching out your treats and the length of time she is good for. You just have to remember and tell everyone (partner) that they have to use the release command and not leave the dog in that position indefinitely or she will stop waiting for it and you will be back where you are now.


I also want you to start the speak and quiet commands. . It seems easier to teach the quiet command after the dog has learned the speak command. The following site explains teaching speak and quiet commands.


If this doesn't work, you may have to try a citronella bark collar or a shock collar. Try the training first. I really think that will be your best bet to stop the barking issue.


Also I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.


She may be trying to get you to play and doesn't realize it is not fun for you. Dogs often bark and jump in and nip or even mouth another dog to enlist them in play. Another dog responds with high tones of response which the dog interprets as them wanting to play, so you can not use the high pitched cry. That is really only for very small pups If she is mouthing you, shove your arm or hand in further. Not forcefully, just push it further in to make her uncomfortable. They seldom keep exhibiting a behavior that results in discomfort to them, so if she mouths your hand, put it in far enough that she might get that gag look. She will stop quick. Right now when your partner leaves, she thinks it is play time since the boss is gone and has figured out that if she comes and starts mouthing you, barking and nipping, you stop what you are doing and play with her. To a dog obedience training is play. You show her attention when she acts in that manner.


So instead, have special times already set up in which you train with her and then when you are not training, you can use those commands to cut down on her interruptions. But if you have her sit and wait for the release, remember to release her every 5 minutes or so and give the treats and then extend it over time so she continues to want to obey. Use good treats like hot dog slivers for this. You can use other treats for other times, but use these high value treats for the stay, down, release and quiet commands. You really want her to listen to those and that will get her attention.


You might also want to consider getting a basket muzzle for her as well. It will help you be less anxious and not have to worry about her nipping. If you are relaxed, she will be more relaxed.


You want to do all of this now as you will have a baby soon and she needs this basic obedience to you down because once the baby is here, you need to teach her to stay away from the baby completely or she may start reprimanding the baby for getting close to her toys or touching her or even want to play with the baby. So teaching them to stay totally away from them is the best thing. When you are ready to tackle that training, just contact me again and we will go over that training. I have rotties and they will all get up and move away from a baby or toddlers approaching them. It certainly helps avoid any conflict.


I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .





Jane Lefler and other Dog Training Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Hi thanks for your answer will try your suggestions. Have you any advice on what I can do in the mean time when she does start. To stop it at that moment I mean. Thanks
The only thing you really can do is when she starts is to take her out of the room and crate her or segregate her for a minimum of 10 minutes. When she returns, if she does it again, put her back again. Initially she is going to be worse because it has worked in the past. You have paid her attention. It won't take her long to realize that now when she does it, she is put in her crate or the bathroom or away from the people. I think it will likely take a day or two of you constantly putting her away before she starts to understand. You can also start by rewarding her good behavior when your partner is around. Give a treat every once in a while when she is being good and he is there. It will help her learn the behavior you want her to display as well.

When putting her away, if she comes out and doesn't immediately start the behavior, reward her with the treat. That also helps her understand what you want. Definitely get the muzzle on her and keep your voice lower in tone like a man's voice.