Ask Alecia: My Golden Nips!

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Dear Alecia,

My 1-year-old Golden Retriever mix (we are quite sure she is a mix but are not sure with what breed) named Goldy is very loving and kind to us at home, though she gets nippy at time (any solution?). However, she gets very aggressive and barks a lot whenever she sees a stranger or new person.

We are very worried. We keep her in another room and do not bring her near visitors because we think she will attack them. Please help.

We want Goldy to not nip at us and to be friendly to strangers and other dogs and not bark at them. Thank you. – Katie


Hi Katie,

A nipping dog can be a challenge not to mention a danger.

Let’s start with a few questions:

1. How old was Goldie when you adopted her?
2. Have you attended any training classes with her?
3. What type of training tools are you using for her? Neck collar? Pinch collar? Choke collar? Nose Halter?
4. Has Goldie been given unclear messages about who is in charge?  Her or you?
5. Has Goldie been checked by a chiropractor for any misaligments in her spine?
6. How long ago did this start and what was the cause?
7. Have you consulted with a professional trainer?

In a case like this where there is nipping involved and where you are worried as you are unsure how to handle the situation, I am going to recommend you working with a Professional Trainer that uses positive reinforcement techniques and in addition suggest that you see a dog chiropractor to make sure that she is not in any pain or discomfort which could lead to a lessened ability to deal with stress.

When it comes to dogs nipping there are generally a few reasons:

  1. they are stressed and uncomfortable in their bodies, so I always have a chiropractor check to see if there are any spinal or neck misalignments.
  2. something occurred and made them afraid which turned to biting or nipping and it was not addressed properly
  3. there was a lack of consistent training since puppyhood which has led to unclear boundaries and the dog is taking charge when they are not emotionally balanced enough to do so.

In addition, I highly recommend a front clip harness to take any pressure off her neck which will assist with the stress she may be feeling and allow her to have a better awareness of her body in space and time.   I recommend the Walk In Sync™ Humane Dog Walking and Training System.

It’s very important for you to feel comfortable being her leader and if you feel that there are places she goes that you are not comfortable being able to assist her out of a Professional trainer can really make a huge difference for her and for you as you will need to feel really confident to move her through these places and a trainer will show you how to do so with greater ease.  I am happy to consult with you via Skype but I think your best bet is someone in your area that can be with you in person and I would suggest this as soon as possible.

I look forward to hearing your progress,

Alecia Evans, HDT, Inventor

Do you have a holistic training question for Alecia? Send it in on our online form! And be sure to tune into our FREE five-part telecall series with Alecia starting on Monday, Jan. 14, when she’ll address some of the most common training issues and answer your questions live by phone!

Alecia Evans is the inventor of The Walk In Sync™ Humane Dog Walking and Training System with her exclusive 5 Minute Manners Makeovers using the Walk In Sync™ Harness and Accu-Grip Leash, along with her Walk In Sync™ 3 Easy Steps to teach any human/dog duos to Walk In Sync in just minutes.

The former host of the award-winning GrassRoots Aspen TV Series, The Whole Animal-An Alternative Approach to Animal Care, Alecia takes a natural approach to dog training and health care. Her work has been featured on Fox and Friends, The Sandra Glosser Show, NY 1, and in Aspen Magazine, DogTipper.com, The New York Daily News and Woof Report.

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About Paris Permenter

Paris Permenter is an award-winning author of over 30 pet and travel books. Along with her husband, John Bigley, Paris is the founder and publisher of CatTipper and DogTipper.