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Are Golden Retrievers Stubborn?

Are Golden Retrievers Stubborn?

Golden Retrievers are known as the ultimate family dog. They’re goofy, intelligent, gentle, and sweet, but also have a lot of energy and love to play. While these personality traits make for an engaging and fun pet, most dog owners only find out down the line just how stubborn their Golden Retriever can be if they aren’t handled properly

In this article, we’ll look at some of the characteristics of Golden Retrievers to understand where their stubbornness comes from. Then, we’ll offer some tips and tricks on how to train your high-energy dog to be less stubborn.

Golden Retrievers’ Personalities: Man’s Best Friend?

When Golden Retrievers first came about in the late 1800s, they were selectively bred as hunting companions. Their owners adapted their traits to ensure that they were loyal, agile, and athletic, with a good sense of smell and great swimming skills…and not too much stubbornness!

These traits all culminated in a dog that is easy-going and emotionally intelligent, but also eager to please its owners. In general, Golden Retrievers are great listeners (unless they struggle with an ear infection) and tend not to be too stubborn, unlike Huskies, which are notoriously hard to train. Let’s take a deeper look at these Golden Retriever traits to understand how they are not as stubborn as people think.

Golden Retrievers are very smart dogs

When you start to train your Golden Retriever, you’ll notice that he or she can pick up commands quickly. In no time at all, your dog will be sitting, staying, and rolling over! With the proper training techniques and motivation, your dog will learn to listen to you in no time at all.

Some will say that this intelligence makes a dog stubborn, but for Golden Retrievers, their intelligence is used to build trust and companionship with their owner. Their intelligence can help them understand your emotional state just by hearing your tone of voice and seeing your body language. They can even sense your mood swings by smelling the chemical changes happening in your body.

This is what, ultimately, makes Goldens such skilled service dogs. They are empathetic and perceptive, which is key for helping their owner out in a medical or psychological crisis.

Other intelligent dogs like Huskies are also highly independent, making them much harder to train than Golden Retrievers. Goldens are much more connected to their owners, making their intelligence a key reason why they are such a beloved dog breed.

Goldens are eager to please

Dog breeding is an interesting process that has changed a lot over the last hundred years or so. These days, most people are looking for obedient dogs or family dogs, which makes companionship and loyalty highly sought-after features. Dogs with these features will be the ones who are encouraged to reproduce, forcing the breed to keep these traits strong in their genes.

As new generations of Golden Retrievers are born, this eagerness to please gets stronger and stronger. This makes for a very easygoing dog who will easily listen to your commands if trained properly. They are also generally not aggressive, making them a great dog for a first-time dog owner, but not the best guard dog overall.

Reasons Why Your Golden Retriever Is So Stubborn

While these qualities mentioned above are true for most Goldens, they could also work against your relationship with your furry friend.

Training your Golden Retriever is like a tricky puzzle that’s difficult to get exactly right. They have a lot of qualities that make them fun companions, but if not trained properly, they can make them stubborn and difficult. Let’s talk about a few!

Your Golden Retriever has a lot of energy

While most puppies will outgrow their puppy phase after they turn one year old, your Golden Retriever is a bit different. Their playful and energetic personality is likely to last until they are about 3 years old! This makes them a lot of fun to be around, but it also means that they require a lot of work to expel the puppy energy they have built up inside them.

If they don’t get that energy out during the day, it might result in them acting out. Let’s say you leave your Golden at home all day while you work with no walks in between. When you come home, you shouldn’t be surprised to find a pillow torn up or to find your pup won’t listen. All of that energy has to be taken out somewhere! Goldens are one of the most active dog breeds and when their energy is pent up, they are harder to control.

Your Golden needs structure & stimulation

My Golden operates on a very strict schedule. It’s almost like she can tell time! Every morning, she wakes me up at the same time for a walk and to be fed by licking my hand and wagging her tail. Every afternoon at exactly 5:30, she comes back again, asking for the same thing.

When we stick to the schedule, her disposition is much less anxious. If the schedule has to change for some reason or another, she gets visibly stressed. I might find her digging in the garden or she might be more likely to bark at someone walking by the house.

Because your Golden Retriever is so smart, they rely on their daily schedule to appropriately release their energy. Without that to rely on, they are likely to act out. This is where the stubborn Golden Retriever comes out.

Your Golden Retriever needs to be trained properly

Training your Golden Retriever is key to your companionship. Golden Retriever training, however, can be tricky.

Because Golden Retrievers are so clever, you might think you can go through training your dog quickly. This is not the case. Just like other dogs, your Golden Retriever’s training needs to be reinforced constantly. Dog training is something that never really ends when you have your dog.

A big reason why Golden Retrievers end up becoming stubborn is that their training is incomplete. While they are smart dogs, their training can’t be rushed.

It is also important to be conscious of the headspace they are in when you are doing training sessions. If your pup is in a distracting environment, it is less likely that the time you spend training them will make a difference. This might discourage you from training them further, which will also work against your favor.

In short, a big reason why Goldens are stubborn is that they aren’t properly trained. In the next section, we’ll outline some tips and tricks on how to avoid this.

How to Deal With Your Stubborn Golden Retriever

Lucky for you, teaching your Golden Retriever to be less stubborn isn’t impossible. It just takes some time and a bit of effort!

The best ways to do this are through positive reinforcement, training from a professional, a good diet, and plenty of exercise.

Discipline your dog, but avoid negative reinforcement

When your Golden Retriever is acting out, it is important to redirect its behavior so that they don’t continue doing it. Many dog owners will strike their dogs or take their food away. These forms of punishment are cruel and often useless. This is what we refer to as negative reinforcement training. It is almost impossible for your dog to understand what it’s done wrong, and, at the end of the day, this tactic is borderline abusive.

You can easily train a stubborn Golden Retriever instead with positive reinforcement training. This training technique is as simple as it sounds: when your Golden Retriever does something good, you reward them with a treat or its favorite toy.

By avoiding negative reinforcement in your Golden Retriever training, you can train your stubborn Golden Retriever without damaging your relationship with it. Each dog is different, of course, but you’ll notice that your Golden Retriever can learn to respond to commands through positive reinforcement training quite quickly.

Get help from a professional dog trainer

If your Golden Retriever is particularly stubborn or hard to train, it might help to get some professional advice. An accredited dog trainer has dealt with stubborn and obedient dogs, so they will likely be well-equipped to help you train your dog.

It is possible that your stubborn Golden Retriever suffers from separation anxiety or just has a lot of pent-up energy that it needs to expel. Obedience classes or private training lessons will help you, as a new dog owner, tackle these problems head-on.

Your Golden Retriever might even require more exercise than the average dog, so signing them up for agility training might help deal with their stubbornness, too.

A good diet and plenty of exercise are key

Most dogs are easy to feed and don’t react badly to any kind of dog food. I know that my Golden Retriever has a sensitive belly and needs specific food to keep her coat shiny and her energy up. If she switches food, she becomes moody and stubborn, which is something to look out for when caring for your Golden.

It is also important that your dog gets as much exercise as possible. Keeping on a schedule will help you and your dog’s relationship flourish and keep them from being so stubborn.


What age are Golden Retrievers most difficult?

A Golden Retriever puppy is particularly energetic and stubborn. Unlike most dogs, they stay in their puppy stage for up to 3 years! This is when they are most difficult.

Are Golden Retrievers aggressive?

Goldens are very docile and sweet dogs. Though they can be stubborn, they are very seldom aggressive. They love people – especially their owners – and generally are friendly, even to strangers.

Why won’t my Golden Retriever listen?

This could be happening for a few reasons. It’s possible your individual dog isn’t getting enough exercise, or it needs some more training! It’s important to get to know your dog to understand exactly what it needs.


Though Golden Retrievers are extremely smart and loyal companions, they need to be trained properly to prevent that intelligence from turning into stubbornness. So long as you train you are ready to do the work necessary to raise a Golden Retriever that is a good listener, you should be able to do it!

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