Golden Cocker Retrievers don’t bite without reason, at least in their minds. Unless your dog has been trained as a Police or Military dog and knows attacking or biting is done only on command, it is never acceptable for a dog to bite at all. To stop dog biting you have to do is convince him of that. You are always responsible for the actions your dog takes in any situation, therefore it is your responsibility to train him, or have someone else train him, so that he never injures or causes harm to any other animal or any person. He must be trustworthy at all times.
The best way to begin is to understand the reasons why he may even consider biting. Notice I said, “CONSIDER it”, not act on that consideration. You must remove all doubt from him that biting will be tolerated for any reason. Biting must never be tolerated, and certainly not encouraged.
Dogs bite for a variety of reasons, one being out of fear. Biting is a defense mechanism for them when they feel threatened, and it’s usually not something that’s thought out. It’s simply their first inbred reaction. Puppies are notorious for getting overexcited during play time and nipping at feet, fingers, clothes, or faces. It might seem cute at first, but it must not be overlooked. Nipping whether during play or not is still biting. If it’s let go when they’re puppies, they’ll never learn to stop and it will carry over into their adulthood. As a puppy grows, he’ll become larger and stronger and cause serious injuries, even during good-natured play if it’s not stopped and kept in check.
Then too, if some visiting toddler isn’t supervised, that dog may react with biting when his fur is inadvertently pulled or his paw is stepped on. How many times have you yourself tripped over him rushing to answer the phone, or stepped on his paw while cooking? It happens. You must make sure he’s not going to respond with a quick bite to your ankle or to a young child’s arm when things like that happen.
Haven’t you snapped at your spouse or child only realizing after the fact that kind of response was not correct? However, it was too late. The damage was done and required a heartfelt apology and the drying of tears.
Your Golden Cocker Retriever can become nervous and react wrongly as well. He might be a perfectly calm and comfortable dog under ordinary circumstances, but become nervous under certain conditions like during holidays filled with company and noise. So, you need to be aware of him and his surroundings at all times and allow him a place to quietly slip away where he can feel safe without any upsetting intrusions or noise. Even the most well behaved dog needs solitude sometimes.
In training to stop dog biting, you must override his first response by teaching him biting is absolutely not acceptable. Help him to overcome his fears by exposing strangers to him in a controlled environment. For example, if he’s uncomfortable with other people petting him, take him outside of a shopping mall to watch the people passing by. Many owners are unhappy seeing a dog with a muzzle, but you need to have one on him. It should be fitted so it’s snug but still loose enough to allow him to breathe comfortably. Keep in mind, this is only temporary, and it’s for both his safety and those around him. Have a good hold of his leash allowing only about a foot between his collar and your hand, and let it droop slightly so he has freedom to turn his head but you are still in control.
Speak to those walking by explaining that you are training your Golden Cocker Retriever, that the muzzle makes him completely secure so they don’t need to be afraid, and ask if they’ll help train him by petting him. It’s important to tell them to pet the top of his head without allowing him to smell their hand first. In this way, your dog is being dominated by them which he sees as a humbling experience. By allowing him to smell them first, they’re essentially asking your dog for permission which gives him the impression he’s dominant over them. This is sending the wrong message and undoes what is trying to be taught. It is important that your dog be humbled to remove the dominant attitude he carries toward people.
Let as many people pet him as possible, hundreds if you can. If you’re able, do this for a few consecutive days for an hour or so each day. You’ll begin to see his eyes soften, his tail and ears go down in submission, and he’ll become much calmer overall. Later on, he’ll even begin to wag his tail as he sees people coming toward him. By being consistent, he’ll be learning to associate people with good things, which then helps him to overcome any fears he has. Will it take time? Only a little, but you’ll both be so much happier and confident in his behavior it will be well worth your effort!