Goldendoodles have a sterling reputation among dog-owners as sweet, family-friendly animals. Even the name “Goldendoodle” is flamboyant and harmless-sounding. But as cartoonishly cute as the concept of a Goldendoodle is, at the end of the day, they are still dogs.
This means that they are individuals who need proper care and training. And they are still capable of developing behavioral issues under certain circumstances. You may be wondering about whether or not Goldendoodles are aggressive to other dogs, for example. Read on to find out.
Are Goldendoodles Aggressive To Other Dogs?
Goldendoodles can be aggressive towards other dogs, but there is nothing about their breed that makes them any more likely to have dog aggression than any other breed. Instead, they tend to be gentler and more sociable than some other breeds, but even a Goldendoodle may develop some aggression issues depending on their exact situation and history.
Why Are Dogs Aggressive To Other Dogs?
There are a lot of reasons dogs might show aggression to other dogs. They may do it because they believe they are defending their territory or their pack (including humans), it might be a reaction to fear, an attempt to dominate another dog, they might have poor social skills, or their hyperactivity could accidentally escalate into aggression
The propensity for dogs to show aggression towards one another is aptly called dog aggression. A dog with dog aggression may be completely safe and gentle around all humans but will display antisocial behaviors up to and including attacking when they see another dog.
To understand why a Goldendoodle might develop dog aggression, it is only necessary to explore the common causes of dog aggression for any breed.
There is some debate over whether certain breeds are more dog aggressive than others, but we will not be delving into it for this article. Goldendoodles are not usually considered to be one of those breeds anyway.
Dogs are hardwired to live in packs, whether their packmates be humans, other dogs, or even sometimes other pets.
Unlike cats, who descend from species that can live just as well if not better in solitude as in groups, dogs are designed to have a family unit and a home territory. Often, that means your dog feels some possessiveness towards you, your household, and your backyard.
This is the reason why so many dogs bark when there is a knock at the front door. Every perceived intruder or possible threat is met with defensiveness unless they learn otherwise. It is not always a bad thing – dogs have been valued and bred for centuries for their guarding abilities.
Nevertheless, these same instincts may kick in when you do not want them to, such as when you are simply walking your dog past other dogs, taking them to a dog park, attending a social event with other dogs, etc.
In these situations, even if you are outside your home, your dog may still believe other dogs are a threat to either you or themselves.
In response, they display aggression in the form of barking, growling, lunging, tense body postures, and more in an attempt to either deal with or scare away the perceived danger.
If your dog’s territorial behavior or defensiveness feels like it is excessive, a nuisance, or even a potential liability, you will want to address it through training.
Some dogs pose more of a challenge than others when it comes to lowering or training them out of their instinctive defensive behaviors, but it is still worthwhile to try.
Always seek help from a professional if needed when tackling challenging training issues like excessive dog aggression.
In our tendency to anthropomorphize our pets, we can frequently be mistaken about the true feelings and motivations behind their behavior.
When we see a dog acting aggressively towards another dog for seemingly no reason, we might think that dog especially mean-spirited. But, in reality, one of the top reasons dogs show aggression is in response to fear.
Think about small dogs and their reputations for being feisty, bitey, loud, and just plain old mean. Also, think about how much more terrifying the world around them must be when they are so little and weak compared to everything else around them.
A lot of what inspires the “meanness” of little dogs can be attributed to just a natural fear for their safety/ overcompensating aggression as large people and large dogs approach or tower over them.
That said, a dog does not need to be small to be afraid. Much like humans, any dog might just have been raised in an environment or weathered some trauma that created in them a certain amount of insecurity.
If they are not comfortable or well-socialized to meet strange dogs, their insecurity can flare up into full-blown fear when they see one, which triggers their fight or flight response. If they cannot get away (for example, when they are on a leash), odds are the reaction you see will be aggression.
Related to a dog’s instinct to live within a pack are its instincts to determine hierarchy. In the wild, wolves and wild dog packs have alphas in charge and a succession of roles from there from most dominant to least dominant.
If you have more than one dog, no matter how well they get along, you may notice that one is always somehow more “in charge” than the other. Maybe one of them plays a little too rough or always pushes the other away from the food if there is only one bowl.
In a healthy home environment, technically it should only be the human who is dominant and the dogs should be roughly equivalent with each other. In everyday reality, of course, it does not always work out that way.
When a dog meets another one for the first time and they are especially dominant, they might try to immediately dominate the other dog.
They may do this by holding their head higher, raising their tail, stiffening their body language, circling the other dog, or possibly mounting them. If the second dog on the receiving end of this behavior is completely submissive/laid back enough, it is not necessarily a problem.
But if the second dog is also dominant, or the dominant behaviors of the first inspire fear, the challenge between them can quickly spark a fight. Thus, an assertion of dominance by your dog may translate to aggression if it is challenged and they do not back down.
You might be questioning if these underlying reasons for aggression like dominance, fear, or defensiveness are just part of your dog’s personality or not.
To some extent, perhaps. Individual dogs do come with their own personality traits, and each one might be more or less susceptible to developing particular types of behaviors due to genetics.
On the other hand, in the case of dog aggression, nurture is probably a far more powerful force than nature. Any dog can theoretically be brought up well, socialized appropriately, and therefore never develop any severe antisocial issues.
If you got your dog as a puppy and they now have aggression problems, it may be that their training has not gone as well as you hoped; or, perhaps they have not been out much to meet other dogs.
It is also possible you got your dog when they were a bit older not knowing their history, as is so often the case when we adopt from shelters.
Either way, do not lose hope just because your dog is having trouble socializing with other dogs. There are always methods to try to help your dog learn better behavior no matter their age. As always, seek professional guidance as needed.
While it is less intuitive to think about, there is one other reason your dog might become aggressive besides those already mentioned.
Sometimes, when a dog has a lot of pent-up energy, it might end up playing too rough or becoming aggressive just due to a lack of control over emotions and actions.
This is why the foundation of any good training regimen is to first make sure your dog has had sufficient exercise. Otherwise, they will have difficulties controlling themselves and obeying your commands.
Even if they are not themselves aggressive, they could still start a fight with another dog by showing disrespect for the other’s space and/or warnings, thereby provoking it.
Any or all of the situations mentioned here could apply to your Goldendoodle – or maybe none of them will! If your Goldendoodle appears healthy, happy, and generally gets along with other dogs, then there is likely nothing to worry about vis-à-vis dog aggression.
If you do have issues with dog aggression in your Goldendoodle, consider what the cause might be and try to mitigate the problem if you can. If you become stuck, ask a certified dog trainer for help.
Whether this problem crops up for you or not, know that there is nothing especially aggressive about Goldendoodles in general – just the opposite. Nevertheless, Goldendoodles are vulnerable to flaws in training, socialization, or just genes controlling personality traits.
Ergo, you still need to treat them like the unique beings they are and meet their needs accordingly to ensure healthy relationships and quality of life.