Why Are Golden Retrievers So Clingy and 5 Effective Solutions


It is really adorable for your golden retriever to follow you everywhere until you desperately need your space.

Following you around the house is all cute and adorable until you can’t take a step without looking under your feet to make sure you are not getting trampled by your dog or stepping on their tail.

Every golden owner wi9ll ask the same question one day; is this normal? Are all goldens this clingy? Well, let’s find out.

So, why are golden retrievers so clingy? Goldens are very attached to their owners by nature but if they are too clingy then they may have separation anxiety, they were mistreated in the past, you may have encouraged this kind of behavior, or they just want attention.

They need to be trained if they are being clingy because it could lead to aggressive and destructive behavior over time.

That was the short answer but of course, there is more to it, keep reading to learn more.

Signs Your Golden is Too Attached To You (Too Clingy)

Picture of golden retriever with owner to answer why are golden retrievers so clingy

There are a few signs that you and your dog have a strong bond (maybe too strong) that made them attached to you a little bit more than expected.

Here are the signs your dog is clingy or too attached:

  • They are checking where you are constantly
  • They have a strong desire to be near you
  • When they are off-leash they are always keeping tabs on your location
  • They will do whatever you ask them
  • They will make the greatest effort to find you in hide and seek
  • Their favorite thing is physical interaction
  • Strong ability to communicate with you
  • They will protect you with their life
  • They will cry or bark when you leave them alone
  • They will follow wherever you go
  • Destructive behavior if you leave them more than 6 hours by themselves such as aggressive chewing)
  • Howling if you leave them alone
  • They can be aggressive if you are around another dog ( or if you smell like another dog)
  • They always respond to you ( also they can be just well-trained)
  • A high level of focus on you ( just looking at you more than normal)

If you can see some of these signs, then your dog maybe a bit too attached to you indeed and you need to do something about it. Although you may think it’s cute, you should know that it is not an okay behavior and it will lead to other unwanted, more serious, and even destructive behaviors in the future.

Let’s first start by identifying what is causing this behavior.

5 Possible Causes your Golden is Too Attached 

The first step in managing their clinginess is to find out why they are too attached to you in the first place and then working on fixing the problem from its roots.

Here are the 5 possible causes your golden is too attached to you

  1. Separation anxiety
  2. Looking for more attention
  3. Mistreated in the past
  4. Nature
  5. You rewarded the behavior

Let’s discuss each of these causes on its own and see how they can cause your golden to be so clingy and what you can do about it.

Separation anxiety

Separation anxiety is the most common cause that makes golddens seem to be so clingy and too attached to their owners.

It is more likely if they become more attached to you when you are about to leave and they become more anxious, but as long as you are at home and around them they are acting normally.

Separation anxiety is quite serious and is the root cause of many other undesired behaviors such as destructive chewing, biting, and even aggression. Take the time to train them and work again on socializing them to manage their separation anxiety.

Looking for more attention

Sometimes they become more attached because they are seeking more attention from you.

They are more likely to become more attached when you are busy and not giving them any attention. For example, when you are working, cooking, talking with your guests (or anyone), and playing or petting another dog (which will make it much worse than any other reason).

In this case, they are seeking attention, and there are a few simple training sessions you can do to help them to be more independent.

Mistreated in the past

It could be that they do not like to be alone because someone mistreated them when they were younger, so if you adopted them from a shelter then this probably the reason why they are too attached to you.

However, they will be less attached when they are getting older but still, there is some training you can do to make them feel more secure and less anxious. 

Nature

It is known that golden retrievers are one of the most loyal, kind, and lovable dogs. It is in their nature to be attached to their owner so they can be too affectionate.

If they are acting this way from the moment that you saw them, that is probably just their nature but you can train them to be less attached.

You rewarded the behavior

If you reward your dog with attention, praise, and treats when they follow you everywhere, you are essentially the one training them to be so clingy.

If you tend to give them extra attention when they are being around you, following you, or even giving them treats when they are acting that way, it could be that they connected the dots that being around you or following you all the time is a good thing and it makes you happy so they are just behaving that way to make you happy and satisfied.

However,  you can turn the whole thing around and reward them when they are behaving more independently and staying calm when they’re alone.

5 Ways to Train Your Dog to Be More Independent (and Less Clingy)

Here are five ways or steps you can try to make your dog less attached to you.

  • Leave your dog with another person

If your dog has separation anxiety, you can leave them with another person for a brief period of time and let the person (preferable to be a stranger) spend time with them.

Increase the time gradually and before you walk into a room go in and out of the room several times while counting to 10 before re-entering.

This is just one training method to teach your dog to be alone, but I have discussed a few more in much more detail in my post on can goldens be left alone here. Make sure to give it a read and follow the methods and tips discussed here which have proven very effective to me over the years.

  • Play hide and seek in new places 

Just like the first training you walk away but this time you leave them with someone you know but they don’t and let that person release your dog to go and look for you.

  • Leave them at home

When they are staying down at home and stay calm, or when they leave you and go into another room or anywhere without you, give them the treat to make staying at home and not being too close to you a good thing.

  • Socialization & training

If they were mistreated when they were younger in a shelter or something you should take them to socialization training when they are still puppies ( socialization training is recommended for all puppies not just mistreated ones because it teaches them to be around other dogs and to be not aggressive).

You can do this training at home but you will need some help from some friends, your friends should play with your puppy and occupy them while you (the owner) step out and return to the room and every time stay away longer but keep all the sessions very short and upbeat.

  • Here or not it doesn’t matter

Show them that going out and coming back is not a big deal. For example, show no great displays of sadness when you guys are parting and no signs of happiness or celebration when you come back.

That way they, will connect that it’s a normal process that you leave because you always come back.

Does Your Golden Retriever Have Separation Anxiety? 

If your dog has separation anxiety they will probably have a few of these symptoms.

Here are some signs and symptoms of separation anxiety to watch out for:

  • Barking and howling

If your dog has separation anxiety, they might bark or howl when they are separated from you or when you leave them alone.

This barking or howling is persistent and doesn’t seem to be triggered by anything except that you are not around them.

If you’re not sure why your golden barks, check out the post on why do golden retrievers bark a lot here and it will help you find out why.

  • Destructive chewing

As a result of separation anxiety, they may chew on objects such as pillows, window sills, clothes, or door frames and they will just destroy household objects when they are separated from you or when they are home alone.

This behavior can cause them self-injury such as a cut in their paws, damaged nails, and broken teeth.

If this behavior appeared because of separation anxiety they will not act that way in front of you ( their owner).

  • Urinating or pooping

If they are alone and they urinate or poop it’s probably because of separation anxiety but if they do it in your presence (their owner) it is probably caused by something else.

  • Coprophagia

Some dogs who are suffering from separation anxiety may defecate and then consume all or some of it, this behavior will never be in front of their owner but if they do it, it is not separation anxiety and you should take them to their vet.

  • Escaping

Dogs who are suffering from separation anxiety will try to escape from where they are confined when they are left alone, and they will attempt to chew through the doors and windows which can hurt them and will result in self-injury such as broken teeth, damaged nails, and cut in their paws.

If this kind of behavior occurs because of separation anxiety it will not happen in front of their owner.

You can learn all the reasons why golden retrievers run away here and follow the tips discussed there to ensure your dog doesn’t escape.

  • Pacing

Some dogs walk a specific path when they are left alone such as moving in circles, they can walk back and forth in straight lines or any different walking pattern. just like all the other symptoms, it will not occur when their owner is present. 

Other Dog Breeds that are too clingy 

The following dog breeds are also prone to being too clingy or too attached to their owners:

  • Labrador retriever 
  • Vizsla
  • Maltese
  • Border collie
  • German shepherd
  • Pug
  • Shetland sheepdog
  • Doberman pinscher
  • Australian shepherd
  • Italian greyhound

Related Questions 

Do golden retrievers have a favorite person?

Yes, they do, golden retrievers have a favorite person, and they like to spend more time with their favorite person more than anyone else, however, golden retrievers are excellent family dogs and they love literally everyone.

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