Are Golden Retrievers Good with Strangers?


Golden Retrievers are universally known for being friendly dogs. They have a reputation for being the perfect friendly dogs, not to mention that golden retriever puppies are the poster boys for cute puppies.

But does this reputation really hold up?

Are golden retrievers good with strangers? Yes, golden retrievers are good with strangers. A well-trained and socialized golden retriever will be the friendliest dog towards strangers as they don’t fear them or are suspicious of them. However, goldens are also known for jumping on strangers as they get too excited when meeting new people.

So while they are great with strangers, you still need to spend some time training them on how to keep it together and not jump on people when meeting them for the first time.

Keep reading to learn exactly why are golden retrievers good with strangers and how you can train them to welcome guests calmly in the house.

Why are Golden Retrievers Good with Strangers?

Golden retriever shaking hands with a man to illustrate why are golden retrievers good with strangers

Goldens are not just good with strangers, they are almost too good with strangers. They are so good that the people I know that are usually afraid of dogs are not afraid of goldens and know that goldens are kind of the exception.

And although any dog really can be great towards strangers, goldens have earned themselves the top spot in the friendly towards strangers list easily.

But why? Why are they so good with strangers?

Here are a few reasons why golden retrievers are so good with strangers:

  • Goldens are not wary of strangers
  • They were bred to be friendly to strangers
  • They are not territorial
  • They are affectionate
  • They are eager to please

Let’s go quickly over each of these reasons and see how they make goldens super friendly to anyone:

Goldens are not wary of strangers

Golden retrievers are naturally not wary of strangers. While most dogs – and most animals, in fact – would meet strangers with suspicious, goldens will meet them with excitement.

This quality makes them so good with strangers but so bad as guard dogs. In fact, it’s much easier to train your golden retriever to welcome strangers calmly than it is to be wary of them and to act as a guard dog. However, goldens can also become aggressive with unfriendly strangers, which you can learn more about in my post on do golden retrievers attack intruders here.

They were bred to be friendly to strangers

Goldens were bred by hunters to retriever their game, and one of the qualities they focused on was the friendliness towards strangers. Why? because this dog had to be around new people in every hunting trip, and it was not a very nice thing for the dogs to get into fights or be aggressive towards guests.

Remember, these dogs were bred by the nobility, so the dog absolutely had to be calm and friendly around new people.

They are not territorial

Most dogs become aggressive towards strangers to protect their territory, but goldens are naturally not very territorial.

A well-trained golden retriever, in particular, will not have any problems sharing their space with a lot of people.

Are they at all territorial? Yes, sometimes they can be territorial, and you can learn more about golden retriever territorial aggression here.

They are affectionate

Goldens are very affectionate dogs. They just want someone to shower with love, and while goldens can have a favorite person, they have no problem showering the whole family and their friends with love.

The more the merrier – is the motto of your golden retriever.

They are eager to please

Golden Retrievers are very eager to please their owners and when they see that being friendly to new people make their humans happy, they will keep doing it more and with more enthusiasm and energy every time.

In fact, goldens tend to welcome strangers a bit too enthusiastically and jump on them. This can not only freak people out, but is also potentially dangerous. Don’t forget that goldens are large dogs, and having a large, 75-pound dog jump on you all of a sudden as you step inside the house can easily knock you down.

So, instead of having to embarrassingly apologize for your goldens behavior with every new guest in the house, let’s learn how you can train your golden retriever to welcome strangers and guests calmly instead.

How to Train Golden Retrievers to Welcome Strangers Calmly

Here is how you can teach your golden retriever to welcome guests calmly

  • Teach them they must be greeted calmly
  • Ask a friend for help
  • Calm down your dog first
  • Ask the friend to come in
  • Ask the friend to leave if they get excited
  • Reward them when they get it right
  • Repeat with a new friend

Here is the explanation of what you need to do in every step:

Teach them they must be greeted calmly

You should start by teaching your dog that they need to sit down and wait to be greeted when they come home. Here is how to do that:

  • Get a mat they like and set it by the door they come in through
  • When they get in, ask them to sit right away (on the mat)
  • When they do, greet them, pet them, and praise them.
  • If they don’t sit, ignore them until they do.
  • Repeat this process until your dog learns to sit down politely once they get into the door

This teaches your dog that greetings by the door should be calm. You can also teaching them the same thing by teaching them to greet you politely when you come in.

Ask a friend for help

Now is the time for the real thing. For the actual training, you will need a friend to help you play the role of the guest or stranger. It’s preferred to have someone the dog is not super familiar with.

Please tell the friend in advance that this may take some time, so they will need to be free at least 30 minutes a couple of days this week to do the training.

Calm down your dog first

It’s going to be really hard to train your dog to greet people calmly if they are not calm to begin with.

The training must always be done when the dog is calm and has had their daily exercise already.

You should also not choose a time close to their usual feeding time, because dogs tend to get excited around this time as well. Your dog’s feeding spot should not be by the door, but if it is, you should move it to a new spot before this training begins.

Ask the friend to come in

Ask the friend to ring the bell or knock on the door as guests usually do at your house. When they do, ask your dog to “sit” next to the door in the greeting position.

Don’t open the door unless your dog sits down calmly. When they do, open the door and have your friend greet the dog by calmly petting them and talking to them in a soothing voice.

Your dog may start sniffing the friend, but as long as they do it calmly and don’t get too excited, it’s fine.

Next, ask your friend to go to the living room and sit on the sofa. After they do, tell your dog to come join you in the room.

Ask the friend to leave if they get excited

If your dog gets too excited at any point during this exercise, and they will most likely do, ask them to sit down and have your friend leave.

Take 10-15 minutes to let the dog calm down. Once they are calm and quiet again, ask them to sit in the same position again, then text the friend to come back again.

You should know that this can take some time, and you are likely not going to be able to get it right the first day. Some dogs are just enthusiastic about meeting new people which makes it difficult to control them during this exercise.

If your dog is too excited, do this exercise with them on a leash as this will give you more control.

Reward them when they get it right

When your dog gets every step right and the friend can get in the living room and sit down without the dog jumping on them, following them, or running ahead of them, reward the dog but do it calmly.

Tell them they have done good and let them to stay with you and enjoy your company.

About punishment
The only acceptable punishment is to have the friend leave and to ignore the dog for a while. You should never yell, scream, or hit the dog. You should only use positive reinforcement training methods.

Repeat with another friend

Once your dog is able to greet one friend completely quietly and calmly, you will want to repeat the exercise with another friend. You can also change the scenario to meeting people on the streets while walking them using the same principles.

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Related Questions

Are Golden Retrievers friendly with strangers?

Yes, Golden Retrievers are very friendly with strangers. Goldens are not wary of strangers and they love meeting new people, but sometimes they can get too excited and jump on strangers so you will need to train your golden retriever t greet strangers calmly.

You can learn why golden retrievers are so friendly with everyone here.

Are Golden Retrievers Confident?

Yes, Golden Retrievers are very confident dogs. Although no one is sure of the secret behind golden retrievers’ natural self-confidence, evidence points to it being the result of their trust in people as well as their abilities to handle different situations which they gain and are reinforced in them as they age.

However, any dog that has been well trained and socialized at an early age tend to show signs of confidence regardless of their breeds, it may just be more evident in golden retrievers because they are a very popular breed and tend to spend most of their time around humans.

Useful Sources

How To Teach Your Dog To Greet People Politely At Home

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