Is your Golden Retriever’s barking driving you a little crazy?
Would you like to train your Golden to stop barking?
You’ve come to the right place!
Barking is a part of normal dog behavior — it’s a way dogs communicate.
Sometimes, though, barking can become disruptive and stressful to dog owners.
Your family members, friends and neighbors may be put off by your chatty Golden Retriever.
It can also be a challenge to know how to effectively train your dog to be quiet instead of sharing their feelings out loud.
Maybe you’ve tried to get them to stop before, and it didn’t work.
That’s totally ok! There’s a lot of misinformation out there about Golden Retrievers and their barking habits.
But in this article, you will:
- Learn if Golden Retrievers bark a lot
- Understand why your dog is barking
- Learn how to train your Golden to stop barking
- Learn whether or not you should punish your dog for barking
- The biggest mistakes
- And much more
Do Golden Retrievers Bark a Lot?
Golden Retrievers are moderate barkers.
Goldens were originally bred to retrieve birds alongside hunters, and a dog that barked a lot could easily scare them away.
That’s wouldn’t make for an ideal hunting companion, therefore quiet dogs were selected for breeding.
These days most people aren’t hunting with their Golden Retrievers, so breeding for quiet dogs isn’t so important in our modern world.
It’s not uncommon for Goldens to bark at times, but they still aren’t particularly noisy, especially when compared to other more vocal breeds of dog.
It’s important to remember that your dog is a unique individual.
Your Golden Retriever might rarely bark, or they may enjoy using their voice more often.
Why is My Golden Retriever Barking? And How Do I Stop It?
There are multiple reasons why your dog might be barking and sometimes you have to become a bit of a dog detective to uncover the cause.
The top categories of barking for Golden Retrievers are:
- Request Barking
- Alarm Barking
- Excitement Barking
- Fear Barking
- Aggression Barking
- Resource Guarding Barking
Let’s look at each reason in detail, so you can identify why your Golden might be barking, and what you can do to train your pup to be quiet.
One reason your Golden Retriever may bark is to communicate a need or desire to you.
After all, you have thumbs and can make a lot of good things happen, which they can’t do for themselves.
Since they can’t ask you nicely in your own language, they may bark at you to request your assistance in fulfilling their heart’s desire.
Some dogs will request bark at night, perhaps if they need to potty outside, or if they haven’t had enough mental or physical exercise to be able to relax and sleep.
What Does a Request Bark Look and Sound Like?
A dog who is request barking may stare at you intently between barks, and their feet may be a bit dancey.
They may also run between you and the thing they want while barking, such as trotting to the door and then back to you to bark.
Your dog might bark in the direction of the thing they want, rather than at you.
Sometimes a request bark is accompanied by some whining and tail wagging as well.
How Can I Stop Request Barking?
An owner might unintentionally reward a dog for barking, which then can result in more barking.
For example, your Golden starts getting antsy because they know dinner time is soon, and they let out a few barks in your direction.
This prompts you to get up and feed them.
You can bet your bottomless pit took note of that and will be barking more to try to get you to feed them.
All dogs simply do what works to get what they want in life, and Golden Retrievers are very perceptive of their human’s behavior.
If a bark works to get what they want, they will keep barking because it has been proven effective.
One way to approach request barking is to stay a few steps ahead of your dog.
If you know your dog will need to go potty a certain amount of time after a meal, for example, take them out before they can start barking at you.
This prevents your dog from practicing the barking behavior and avoids you unintentionally rewarding the barking by giving them what they want.
Think about how you can meet your dog’s needs and cross off some items from their wish list in a proactive way so they don’t feel the need to ask you for stuff in such a loud way.
Another way to address request barking is to give them an alternative consequence.
If your Golden Retriever starts asking for dinner through barking, you can put a leash on them and bring them over with you while you finish up your emails, or put them in a covered crate.
In this example, you’re not giving your pup what they’re asking for, but you’re also not letting them bark until you can’t hear your own thoughts.
This solution helps the dog realize that barking isn’t going to get them what they want.
“When I bark to ask mom for dinner, she puts a leash on me and it’s boring. I guess barking doesn’t make her feed me after all.”
Over time, your Golden will realize that barking is an ineffective strategy and will stop trying it.
The key here is to make sure you’re only giving your dog things they want when they’re acting in ways that you like.
Wait until your pup is chilling on their bed, then pick up their favorite toy for some playtime.
This will teach your dog that if they act in calm, quiet ways, good things happen.
Some Golden Retrievers will bark to announce the presence of something, usually a person or animal, near their house or property.
They’re letting their human know that there is something out there, and want to bring attention to it.
It’s important to know that alarm barking does not mean your dog is aggressive.
Aggression is much more complex than just barking at someone outside the front door, so don’t think your sweet Golden is turning into Cujo because they holler when your Amazon order is delivered.
What Does a Request Bark Look and Sound Like?
Alarm barks can vary by dog, but are usually a sequence of one or two barks, a pause, and then more barks.
Some dogs may bark incessantly while the object in question is within sight outside the house, and others may mix in some growls too.
Many dogs will run to the door or window where the potential threat is located, and some pace around a bit too.
Your Golden Retriever may also run to the door and bark, and then come over to you, to make sure you’re aware of what’s happening outside.
How Can I Stop Alarm Barking?
Alarm barking is a natural behavior for dogs, but if you prefer your dog respond in a calmer way to the daily occurrences outside your home or yard, there are some things you can do.
An easy fix is to put up some frosted window film on windows where your Golden Retriever plays neighborhood watch.
This film is cheap, easy to install and remove, and lets the light in, but it obscures your dog’s view so they can’t react to things outside.
Alternatively, you can use gates to block your dog’s access to doors or windows that have become alarm barking hot spots.
Another solution is to train a positive interrupter.
This can work well for dogs who alarm bark at things they see, and also for dogs that alert to noises.
How to Train a Positive Interrupter for Barking
Step 1: Pick a word or phrase that you can say in a positive tone of voice, as this isn’t a scolding. “Thank you” works well.
Step 2: In a low distraction setting with your dog in front of you, say “thank you,” pause for half a second, then drop a couple of yummy treats on the ground in front of you. Repeat a few times in a row.
Step 3: Practice this in different rooms at different times of day for a couple of days.
Step 4: Gradually add more distance between you and your dog so they have to move toward you upon hearing “thank you” and then drop some treats on the ground.
Step 5: When your Golden is consistently coming to you when you say “thank you,” you can switch from having the treats in your hands or pockets to rewarding from a jar. Station several treat jars around the house so you’re never too far from rewards.
Step 6: Practice the “thank you” routine in front of windows or doors where your pup often alarm barks, but during times when there is nothing outside.
Step 7: Now that the cue is well-established, it can be used to interrupt alarm barking! At first use it when you’re nearby where the dog is barking, so it’s easy for your dog to come to you. As they show success, you can call out from further away in the house.
With time, you may notice your Golden Retriever skipping the barking and simply coming to find you when they see or hear something.
If they do, be sure to reward them with some treats!
Don’t use the cue to interrupt barking until it’s fully trained and you’ve rewarded them for coming to you a lot.
If it’s not strong enough, it won’t work, and you don’t want your dog to ignore the cue.
Follow all the steps and be generous with the rewards before using it in a real-life situation.
You may notice that your Golden Retriever starts barking when they get excited.
Perhaps it happens when you come home from work, or when guests come in through the front door, or when you pull into your friend’s driveway for a doggy playdate.
If your dog barks once or twice out of excitement, that may not be so much of an issue for you, but if they get ramped up and can’t stop sharing their joy with the world, there are some steps you can take to help them quiet down.
What Does an Excitement Bark Look and Sound Like?
A Golden Retriever who is barking out of excitement shows wiggly, loose body language.
Their tail is wagging and they may be doing that trademark Golden “smile.”
These barks are typically high-pitched and can be repetitive with short breaks in between.
How Can I Stop Excitement Barking?
While this won’t work for every Golden Retriever and every situation, many dogs can be quieted by simply giving them a toy to hold in their mouth.
A pup who is carrying their favorite ball or stuffed toy is unlikely to bark.
Keep a stash of toys near locations where your dog tends to bark out of excitement so you can help calm them down.
You can also train your dog to go find a toy, which creates a positive new routine in exciting scenarios.
Rather than barking like a happy fool, they know to grab a puppy pacifier.
If your dog is overexcited, a short time-out can also help them learn to be quiet.
They learn that barking means they lose access to the thing or situation that’s got them so excited.
Calmly guide them to their crate, your car, a mat, or just further away until they can show some self-control.
This helps them understand that calm and quiet behavior is what gets them back to having fun.
Another solution for excitement barking is to teach your dog to focus on you.
This works well for when you’re out and about with your Golden Retriever and she sees something that sparks excitement, such as another dog, a person, geese, etc.
How to Train Focus to Quiet a Barking Golden Retriever
Step 1: Place a delicious treat by your feet and let your pup eat it. When your dog looks up at you, say “yes,” then place another treat at your feet.
Step 2: Toss a treat a couple of feet away, let your dog eat it. When they turn back and look at you, say “yes” and feed a treat from your hand. Toss another treat to repeat the pattern.
Step 3: Take the game to new locations, starting with low distraction spaces and building up to more challenging places.
Step 4: Add in other distractions. Instead of tossing a treat, use an easy distraction to play the game, perhaps a family member walking by, or a toy set on the ground at a distance.
Step 5: Build up to more challenging distractions. Practice this focus game in increasingly hard situations, working up to the situation that causes them to bark out of excitement.
If at any stage, your dog is able to offer you sustained engagement without looking at the distraction, that’s great!
You can reward at a high rate for their focus.
If not, it’s fine for them to look at the thing and then look back at you.
You want your dog to be successful at each step, so you may need to keep distance from the thing that’s causing the barking at first, and keep sessions short.
P.S. Getting a golden retriever puppy? Check out the Golden Retriever Puppy Handbook!
Sometimes Golden Retrievers will bark out of fear.
There may be something in their environment, such as a person, dog or object, that causes them concern or stress.
In these situations, barking is a way for them to communicate to that thing that they’re uncomfortable and they’d appreciate more space.
Golden Retrievers are known for being very friendly dogs, but some may be more sensitive than others and will exhibit fearful barking.
What Does a Fear Bark Look and Sound Like?
Barking that comes from fear can look differently depending on the dog.
Some dogs may lunge forward while barking at whatever is causing them discomfort.
Others may retreat from the scary or weird thing while looking back and barking.
Fearful barking may also be accompanied by growling, bared teeth, and raised hackles.
How Can I Stop Fear Barking?
First, get your dog some space from the thing that’s causing them to bark out of fear.
When your dog is experiencing that much discomfort, they’re not in a state of mind where they can learn.
Identify what triggers your dog’s fearful response.
Is it men with beards? Kids on bikes? Large dogs?
Then be proactive in keeping distance from those triggers while you work on changing your dog’s feelings and behavior in response to that thing.
There are two games you can play to help your fearful dog feel more calm and confident: Look at That and Treat and Retreat.
Both games use treats to begin changing your dog’s fearful feelings about their triggers into more positive associations.
How to Use the Look at That Game to Stop Fear Barking
This game was created by trainer Leslie McDevitt.
Step 1: When the dog looks at the trigger, say “yes” and feed a treat.
The dog doesn’t have to do anything. Simply give them a treat. Repeat this ten times.
Step 2: Delay the “yes” until the dog looks back at you.
Then say “yes” and treat.
Your dog will now be expecting to get a treat after they looked at the trigger and will likely look back at you to see what’s taking you so long.
The moment they look back at you, say “yes” and treat. Repeat this another 10 times.
Play steps one and two a few times at home.
You can use different people or dogs that your dog is comfortable with to start.
The person or dog can also do increasingly distracting things, so long as the dog doesn’t find them scary.
Keep your dog at a distance where they can be successful as they learn how the game works.
Step 3: Take the game on the road.
Set up the situation as best you can so that your dog doesn’t feel the need bark.
Perhaps you can chill in a quiet corner of the park where your dog can spot a trigger without reacting.
If your dog will not eat food, you’re too close to the triggers.
And if your dog is growling or barking, you’re also too close.
Find a way to create more distance and try again.
As your dog shows success, you can gradually get closer to the trigger.
As you progress with this game, your dog will begin to point out triggers they see in their environment and then check back in with you, rather than reacting.
How to Use the Treat and Retreat Game to Stop Fear Barking at People
This game was created by trainer Suzanne Clothier.
It’s specifically for dogs who fear bark at people.
Step 1: The person throws treats away from your dog.
Give the person a supply of treats.
Ask them not to make direct eye contact with your dog.
When they enter your house, or your general vicinity if doing this outside, have them toss a treat behind the dog.
The dog will have to move away from the person to get the treat.
Not only do they get a yummy snack, but they also get more distance from the person.
And that distance is what they want.
So they are getting double rewards!
Step 2: The person alternates tossing the treat behind the dog, and between them and the dog.
Start with a treat toss behind the dog.
Then have the person toss a treat in front of the dog.
The dog will have to move toward the person to get it.
Then another toss behind the dog.
Go back and forth between these two treat placements.
Again, repeat this with different people and environments.
You want to see your dog looking happy and confident with this.
Loose body language and easy movement are good signs.
As they show success, the person can toss the treats closer and closer to their feet.
Some Golden Retrievers may bark out of aggression in certain situations.
Aggression is a broad term to describe a wide variety of dog behavior, but in general can be defined as threatening or intentionally harmful behavior directed toward another dog or human.
Goldens are notorious for their friendly demeanors, but aggression can show up even within this typically social breed.
Aggression is complex, and sometimes a dog may bark aggressively in an attempt to avoid a potential conflict, rather than trying to start one.
A dog may bark aggressively if someone infringes upon what they perceive as their territory, such as a home, yard or vehicle.
Your Golden may also bark aggressively at other dogs due to a social conflict.
Pain can also result in aggressive barking, as a dog may not want to be touched or approached out of fear of making the pain worse.
These are a few examples of instances that may trigger aggressive barking, but it’s not a comprehensive list.
What Does an Aggressive Bark Look and Sound Like?
Typically an aggressive bark is loud and deep, though it can vary from dog to dog.
You can usually hear a difference in an aggressive bark compared to other kinds of barks – it sounds more intense and serious.
It’s important to look at other signs that accompany the barking to know if the barks may be due to aggression.
A Golden Retriever who is barking aggressively may also growl, show their teeth, lunge, snap or bite.
Their body may be stiff and they may give a hard stare in the direction of the person or other dog.
You may notice your dog’s hackles going up, which is when hair along the back and neck stands upright, or the whites of their eyes showing.
Your Golden may also pin their ears back and quickly flick her tongue or lick her lips.
How Can I Stop Aggression Barking?
The first thing to do in order to stop barking due to aggression is to prevent the behavior from happening.
If you know your dog acts aggressively in a certain scenario, do everything you can to avoid putting them in that situation.
Behavior that is practiced will continue to happen, so it’s extremely important to prevent your Golden Retriever from rehearsing aggressive behavior.
Then, get help from a certified professional, such as your vet or a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.
Aggression needs to be taken seriously, so that you, your dog and the public remain safe.
You can find a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant here; many work virtually, so even if there is not a professional in your city, you can get the help you and your dog need.
Resource Guarding Barking
Sometimes a dog may bark because they don’t want to lose possession of something they find valuable, such as a food bowl, bone, toy, or person.
This is a form of aggression (sometimes called possession aggression), but unfortunately it is not uncommon in Golden Retrievers, so it’s worth highlighting.
If you, another person, or another dog approaches the valuable thing or reaches for it, your dog may bark and show other signs of aggression.
The bark is the dog’s way of communicating that they do not appreciate you coming near them when they have the valuable thing, and that they would like you to stay away, thank you very much.
Resource guarding is a normal, natural behavior for dogs, but it can become dangerous.
Your Golden can escalate from a bark to a bite if the behavior is not properly handled.
What Does a Resource Guarding Bark Look and Sound Like?
A resource guarding bark will look like an aggressive bark described above in the Aggressive Barking section.
You may see body stiffness, growling, snapping, and other aggressive behaviors accompany the barking.
You might also see your Golden Retriever bark and then pick up the item (if they are guarding a bone or toy, for example) and take it further away.
Your pup may put themselves in between the valuable thing and whoever they think may be trying to take it away while they bark.
How Can I Stop Resource Guarding Barking?
Resource guarding is a serious issue and can put your safety, as well as the safety of family members and other pets, at risk.
First, do what you can to prevent the guarding behavior from happening.
Perhaps that means not giving your dog a bully stick, or putting toys in a cabinet.
Then, get help from a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, which you can find here.
As mentioned previously, a dog who is barking or growling to protect a resource may bite if you don’t handle it properly.
It’s not an issue you want to attempt to fix on your own without professional help.
A very common solution that is recommended for dogs who guard their food bowl is to feed the food from your hand, or to stick your hand in the food bowl so they learn to tolerate your hand around their food.
Not only is this not an effective solution, but it can actually make resource guarding worse!
Always let your Golden Retriever eat in peace, without touching them or their food.
When you eat, you probably don’t enjoy being touched, or having someone else touch your food or remove your plate and then give it back.
Your Golden is the same way.
You can actually create a dog who barks due to resource guarding by doing this sort of thing, so it’s best to let your dog enjoy their meal without disruption.
Should I Punish My Golden Retriever For Barking?
You might think that punishing your dog will get them to stop barking.
Resorting to physically punishing a dog is not recommended by dog behavior experts.
It can really damage the relationship between you and your dog, and can create other behavior issues.
Yelling at or scolding your Golden Retriever for barking might seem like a way to make them stop, but it’s not a very effective solution.
Some dogs will actually bark more if you start making noise too.
And for other dogs, raising your voice simply doesn’t motivate them to be quiet.
They may hush up because they’re scared of you and your loud voice, but the next time that situation arises, they’re going to bark again.
And if your dog is barking out of aggression or resource guarding, trying to punish your dog may very well make the behavior worse and put you at greater risk of a bite.
You got your Golden Retriever because you want a loving, loyal companion, not because you want to intimidate or scare them.
It’s far more effective to spend time preventing barking in the first place, or training your dog to be quiet in the situations where he barks using gentle, positive techniques.
Getting help from a certified, professional trainer or a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant is also a great resource to help you work through the barking.
Barking & The Big Picture
If your dog is barking more than you’d like, take a step back and look at the big picture of your dog’s life.
How much and what kind of exercise are they getting?
Are they getting quality sleep?
Are they receiving appropriate mental stimulation?
Are they eating a healthy, balanced diet?
Are they experiencing pain or chronic health issues?
Is your home a stressful living environment?
A Golden Retriever whose needs are not met is more likely to resort to barking.
If your Golden is in pain or sick, they may bark more.
If your pup is living with a lot of stress or anxiety, barking may become their go-to behavior.
It’s always a good idea to consult your vet, and look at the big picture when addressing any behavior issue, barking included.
Have any questions about golden retriever barking?
Let us know down in the comments!
P.S. Getting a golden retriever puppy? Check out the Golden Retriever Puppy Handbook!
- 17 Tips To Manage Golden Retriever Shedding (& Keep Your House Clean)
- Best Brushes For Golden Retrievers (And Which Ones To AVOID)
- 5 Easy Tricks To Teach Your Golden Retriever That Are Fun, Cute & Simple
About the author:
Alisa Healy is a professional dog trainer in the Chicago suburbs, with a wide range of training experience from shelters to in-home training to dog sports. She is a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner and is passionate about helping people and dogs live fulfilling, harmonious lives together.