Why is My Golden Retriever Scared of Everything? 11 Causes & Solutions

Golden retrievers are just like babies, they are adorable, need constant care, and they also get scared of everything.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone really. If you are new to the world, it makes sense to not know what you should trust and what you can’t trust.

So, to answer your questions;

Why is my golden retriever scared of everything? Your Golden Retriever could be scared of everything due to the lack of proper socialization, physical trauma (the previous owner mistreated them), phobia, injury, emotional trauma (the previous owner abandoned them), new environment,  pain, or they were neglected.

Now you know some of the possible reasons why they could be scared, but still, there is more to the answer, keep reading to know the rest.

11 Causes Why Your Golden is Afraid of Everything? 

Golden looking into distance to illustrate the answers to why is my golden retriever scared of everything

There are 11 main reasons why your golden retriever could be acting scared of everything, and here are those reasons:

  1. Physical trauma (abuse)
  2. Phobias 
  3. Lack of socialization 
  4. Emotional trauma 
  5. Pain (injured or an illness)
  6. New environment 
  7. Encouraged the behavior 
  8. Neglected 
  9. Genetic predispositions
  10. Separation anxiety 
  11. Age-related problems

Physical trauma

Your golden retriever could be scared because they experienced physical trauma in the past. For example, they were abused by their previous owner, or if you adopted them from a shelter, it could be that someone mistreated them there. 

A single traumatic experience is enough to create lifelong fear responses in dogs, but it could be reversed if you take the time and effort needed to invest in helping them cope and adapt.   

The dog could also form an aggressive response to anything that reminds them of this trauma, and I’ve discussed this more in this post on Golden Retriever aggression, so make sure to check it out when you have the time.


If they get scared all of a sudden then it could be a phobia. Dogs do not form memories like us but they can remember negative and positive experiences strongly.

Symptoms that your dog has a phobia

  • Signs of anxiety and stress
  • Pant 
  • Pace 
  • Whimper 

They can develop a phobia of places or objects, if they had a bad experience during playing, running, walking, or doing anything it will make them refuse to do that activity or be scared to get close to anything similar to that activity.

Lack of socialization 

Lack of socialization is one of the most common reasons for fear in dogs because they were not exposed to new people or other dogs, they didn’t get familiar with them, and have not been taught that these experiences are okay and not threatening. So it’s not normal for them to assume the worst and be scared of new people, other animals, and unfamiliar environments.

That is why you should take them to socialization training when they are still puppies, or you can train them yourself.

You should start socializing your puppies when they are between 8 and 16 weeks, and they need to interact with new people, dogs, other animals, and experience new environments, smells, sights, and feelings. The point is to get the dog exposed to the world.

If they do not have positive exposure to the world around them while young, they are more likely to be scared of little things when they grow up, be anxious most of the time, or worry about everything.

Emotional trauma

If their former owner has abandoned them, they might be suffering from emotional trauma so they get scared whenever you leave the room or do not give them attention, also if their previous owner was an aggressive person they can get scared whenever you have anger or disappointment in your voice.

They can be either shy or aggressive for that reason, and they can be more scared than usual if someone reminds them of the person that abused or abandoned them.


If it is sudden fear, it could be that they are ill or in pain, in general, any sudden change in their behavior is a red flag for their owner.

When they are not feeling well, they tend to hide until they are better so they might look scared or sad.

Look for other signs to tell if your dog is in pain or ill such as 

  • Diarrhea 
  • Lack of appetite 
  • Vomiting 
  • Fever 
  • Hurting noises 

If you can find one or a few of these symptoms in your dog, you will need to take them to the vet.

New environment 

It is normal for dogs to be scared if they moved to a new place, so if you just adopted them or you guys moved to a new house in a new neighborhood it is natural that your dog becomes more anxious or scared of noises, people, children, or unfamiliar objects.

If the dog is scared of their new environment, they may also try to go back to their familiar environments by running away. You can learn why and how golden retrievers run away here and how you can stop your dog from running away and even catch the signs to stop it before it happens.

However, if this is the reason why you need to make them feel safe and eventually they will get used to it and they will be more confident in their new home. 

Encouraged the behavior

It could be that you accidentally encouraged the behavior.

For example, if they get scared and you give them lots of attention, love, care, and even treats they might act that way again to get your attention or that treat again.

As they say, if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it, and your dog will repeat whatever has worked in the past to get your attention if it works every time.

What you should do in this case it to teach them that they can get attention with positive behaviors and they can’t get it if they’re scared of every noise or light.

You need to give them more attention throughout the day, not just when they are scared and coming to hide in your arms. Also, give them treats whenever they are being brave or behaving the way you want them to. 


If they feel neglected they can show signs of anxiety and fear, which could lead to separation anxiety at the end, or if they were neglected in the past they could be insecure and will have problems of being alone and they will try to get your attention.

So they will be scared of little things such as you leaving the room talking to someone and looking at them for a while, or playing with another dog.

Genetic predispositions  

They could have a genetic predisposition to shyness and fearfulness, if their mother was anxious and fearful too, then her puppies are more likely to be fearful as well.

If you think this is the case, try to find the parents and learn more about them. If you have gotten your dog from a breeder or a shop, they will have this information, but if you adopted the dog from a shelter, this is unlikely to be the case.

Separation anxiety 

 Dogs who are suffering from separation anxiety will be scared of one thing: being away from you or you abandoning them.

Dogs with separation anxiety become extra clingy when it’s time for their owner to depart.

This condition is the most important and serious one because your dog can hurt themselves.

Here are some of the symptoms that tell you that your dog may have separation anxiety:

  • Destructive chewing 
  • Howling 
  • Escaping 
  • Destructive behavior 
  • Peeing or pooping 
  • Always knowing where you are
  • Following with their eyes wherever you go

If they do have separation anxiety, please train them or take them to a behaviorist or a professional trainer because they can hurt their paws, teeth, or cut themselves while the destructive chewing.

You can learn how to train your dog to be left alone here.

Age-related problems 

For older dogs, their senses are not as sharp as they used to be, they can be scared all of the sudden because of age-related problems (dementia) such as not knowing where they are all of the sudden or what is happening.

Symptoms of dementia

  • Loss of direction 
  • Aggression 
  • Aimless wandering 
  • Staring off into nothingness 
  • Mood swings

Why Has Your Golden Suddenly Become Afraid of Everything? 

Your golden retriever can suddenly become afraid of everything because they have a phobia, golden retrievers do not form memories as we do, they tend to remember positive or negative experiences.

They can have a phobia of noises which is common in dogs in general, so they get scared of loud noises such as thunder, cars, trains, trucks, fireworks, or vacuum cleaners.

How to Make Your Dog Less Scared? 

Here is a list of some things you can try t make your dog less scared

  • Expose them to their fear in a controlled setting 
  • If they are scared, avoid encouraging the fear
  • Take them to the vet 
  • Reward them whenever they are being brave
  • Take them to a socialization training 

What dog breeds are prone to anxiety?

Here are some dog breeds that are prone to general anxiety 

  • Labrador retriever 
  • Border collie 
  • Bichon Frise 
  • Cocker spaniel 
  • German shepherd 
  • Vizsla 
  • King Charles spaniel 
  • Australian shepherd 
  • Shorthair pointer 
  • Havanese 
  • Greyhounds 

How can I calm my dog’s anxiety naturally?

Here are some remedies to help your dog’s anxiety 

  • Put a few drops of CBD oil in their food, it will soothe nerves, relieve joint pain, and can improve their heart health.
  • Anti-anxiety clothing, according to the AKC they have a calming coat for dogs which applies gentle pressure on their chest while they wear it, the coat reinforces a sense of security
  • Music can help dogs to chill, it can stop them from barking and will help them spend more time lying down ( soft rock and reggae)
  • Put relaxing herbs and vitamins in your dog’s treats.
  • You can try mixing powdered formula with their food or even their dry food.
  • You can brush or massage your dog when they are stressed for example, after fireworks or a thunderstorm 

Can you give your CBD oil to calm them down?

Yes, you can give your dog CBD oil to calm them down, they can not get your dog “High” as most people think, but it has lots of positive effects besides calming their anxiety such as lessening the frequency and intensity of seizures, improves heart health, pain relief, soothes the nerves, and relieves the pain on the joint.

I love the HEMP pet oil and I give them to my dogs when needed, and I can testify that it has always worked for my dogs. I have to tell you to first consult with your vet, though.

As for me, I found that they could indeed calm my dog’s anxiety and help them with the pain in their joints. The one I’ve been using lately is the Hemp Oil Dogs Cats – 100 000 MG which you can check on Amazon here or click the image below to check it out as well.

How much CBD oil should I give my dog for anxiety?

You can start by giving your dog 3 mg of CBD oil, but also it depends on their age and the severity of their condition, for a behavioral condition such as anxiety or poor appetite it is recommended if you give your dog 3 mg of CBD oil twice a day, but you should consult your vet first to make sure that it is the best option for your dog.

What happens if you give your dog too much CBD oil?

If you give your dog too much CBD oil they may vomit or have some diarrhea, also it is more likely they will just sleep but do not panic, even if you give them too much CBD oil nothing is going to cause permanent damage to your dog. 

Consult your vet to find out the right dosage of CBD oil for your dog as every dog is unique in their needs.

Related Questions 

Why is My Golden Retriever Scared of Random Objects? 

Your golden retriever can be scared of random objects because of the unpredictable noises they make, or they may have a negative experience with one of the objects or a similar one, for example, if they stepped on a sharp toy the pain they felt can cause a fear of anything that looks like that toy.

Why is My Golden Retriever scared of everything outside? 

The reason why your golden retriever is scared of everything outside can be a lack of proper socialization with humans or other animals, physical trauma, pushed too much at an early age, emotional trauma, neglect, phobia, genetic predispositions, age-related problems, new environment, or illness.

Do golden retrievers have anxiety?

Yes, golden retrievers can suffer from anxiety and depression, they can also engage in nervous behaviors like scratching the floor or constantly chewing furniture, also anxiety could lead to separation anxiety that could lead to bigger problems.


Why Is My Dog Scared of Everything?

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Hey there, I'm Matt, the author behind Retrievershub.com. With a deep love for dogs and a dedication to strengthening the bond between owners and their retrievers, I've created a hub of resources for enthusiasts like you. Through engaging articles, training guides, and product reviews, I aim to provide practical advice that makes a real difference in your life as a dog owner. Whether you're a seasoned pro or new to the world of retrievers, my approachable and informative writing style ensures that you'll find valuable insights. Join me on this incredible journey of discovering what makes retrievers tick, unlocking their potential, and creating an unbreakable bond with your furry companion. Let's embark on an adventure of dog ownership together. Thank you for visiting Retrievershub.com and being part of our vibrant community.

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