The Tucker Files: Golden Retriever Aggression?

I have to admit, Tucker has been more of a challenge than my previous dogs (except for a male alaskan malamute)  He is very dominant and I am pretty good at keeping him in check.  He has never shown aggression meeting another dog, and has never growled or snapped.  I can take a raw beef bone from his hands and stick my hand in his food bowl.  He hasn’t had a lot of exposure to young children, and when he did he approached them with a little too much “zest”

I managed to capture Tucker making his “killer face” tonight. (bared teeth, crinkled up nose)  At first I thought it was cute and was trying to teach him to smile, but as you can see, he actually sort of snapped at my finger, even though he didn’t bite hard.

On our last visit to the vet, when the vet reached for Tucker’s head, he made this face.  Needless to say, the vet immediately went for the muzzle.  Tucker took it well, and it was removed before the end of the exam.  I told him Tucker sometimes makes this face while we are playing.  The vet set he couldn’t take the risk.  I told him I didn’t blame him one bit.  I think it had something to do with the high strung vet tech who tried to weigh Tucker and backed him in a corner and he peed on the scale.  She continued to try and force him on the scale and you could tell he was avoiding the pee and not wanting to step in it.  I eagerly offered to clean up the pee and told her he wouldn’t get on the scale like that.  She shoved us into the exam room and told me we were “holding up progress”  This made me both irate and embarrassed, and our visit had not started off on a good note.  I’m not making excuses, but the place was literally packed and I think it was a bit much, even for Tucker.  I ended up crying on the way home and thinking that I was a failure in terms of having an obedient, well trained dog.  (When I have a treat in my hand Tucker is actually extremely smart and obedient!)

I am curious as to your thoughts golden experts!  Is this a sign of aggression?  If so, any suggestions on correcting this behavior?

Does Your Golden Retriever Use The “Gentle Leader”?

When we go for walks, we either take Tucker in the car to the trails to run off leash or take him to the local school yard to run and catch the ball.  Sometimes the start of the walk is a little stressful, because he pulls, but after he has had his run, Tucker is the perfect gentleman on leash.

gentle l

Photo: Pawcurious

When I owned Malamutes, we always used the “Gentle Leader” which, I believe, we called “The Halti” at the time.  I always felt it looked like the dog was muzzled, and I am not alone in this.  It almost seems like you are accepting defeat, and in order to exercise your dog, you must do what you have to do.  I don’t condemn this.   I just don’t want to have to result to it.  I am fairly stubborn and assertive, (mixed with lots of love) and know how to stop dead in my tracks and change direction etc.  Tucker is a bit of a challenge.   He is very exuberant.  He wants to check out everything.  There is also the prong collar I still have hanging on my hook by the front door, but with Tucker’s extreme need to explore everything (he is still a baby) I would never bring myself to use it on him.   There is a time and place for prong collars, but this is not it.

So, In order to look like the perfect dog person in my neighborhood, (people must think we never walk our dog because we do it late at night or drive him to the trails) do I result to the Gentle Leader to mingle with the other folks?  Do I wait about 6 more months when I know he will be able to deal a little better?

What are your thoughts on such a beautiful, gentle and friendly breed using the gentle leader?

Here is a video of a golden puppy trying to get used to his Gentle Leader.  Is this torture?  Or not?  I think once they get used to putting it on, and know what the end result is, they will wear it with pride.  I still can’t bring myself to do it!

What do you think?