Why Is My Golden Retriever So Needy? [10 Reasons Revealed!]

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You probably love it, as well as find it annoying at times! I’m talking about your Golden Retriever’s needy behaviour!

You know what I’m talking about, your Golden Retriever follows you everywhere, demands your attention 24/7, paws at you when you stop petting him, and whines when you leave.

If this sounds familiar to you, you’re probably wondering, why is my Golden Retriever so needy.

Part of your Golden Retriever’s needy behaviour stems from his natural instincts. Golden Retrievers were bred to work closely with humans, and they enjoy attention and affection from them. While needy behaviour is part of your Golden Retriever’s personality trait, it could also be caused by boredom, pain, anxiety, fear, or perhaps you unintentionally rewarded this behaviour.

That was the short answer!

Keep reading as we expand on the reasons for your Golden Retriever’s needy behaviour, as well as offer helpful tips on how to deal with it.

Let’s get started.

10 Reasons Why Your Golden Retriever Is So Needy

A Golden Retriever wearing a dog hoodie is sitting and looking up at a woman who is petting him.

If you’ve never owned a Golden Retriever before, you may be surprised at just how needy and clingy these dogs can be.

While it may be endearing at times, (I mean, who doesn’t want to have a dog look at you like you’re a “God”, and follow you everywhere?), sometimes it can be downright annoying!

So, let’s look at the reasons why your Golden is so needy below.

1. Golden Retrievers Were Bred To Work Closely With Humans

When we look at the history of Golden Retrievers, it tells us a lot about how these dogs have a strong desire to work for and please their owners.

Golden Retrievers were originally bred to retrieve fallen game for hunters in the Scottish Highlands.

They were bred to be obedient and devoted to their owners.

Working closely with hunters in the field all day performing physically demanding tasks, and doing a good job, has given them an inherent desire to be around humans.

So, next time your Golden Retriever follows you around everywhere, relax, as part of his needy behaviour is an inherited trait.

2. Your Golden Retriever Is Bored!

A Golden Retriever puppy laying on the floor chewing on a plaid blanket.

Also, because of their history as working dogs, Golden Retrievers have high energy levels and require plenty of physical activity as well as mental stimulation to stay happy.

Without enough attention, exercise, and stimulation, your Golden Retriever will become bored and restless and will start to become needy and demand your attention.

If you haven’t read my previous article on mental stimulation, be sure to check it out for 10 great ways to provide it.

3. Your Golden Is Feeling Anxious

Golden Retrievers are very social and love nothing more than to be near their humans at all times.

In fact, Golden Retrievers don’t do well when left alone for long periods.

Many of them become distressed and suffer from separation anxiety when their owners leave.

You may notice your Golden amping up his needy, clingy behaviour, as well as whining when you are getting ready to leave.

Dogs with separation anxiety panic when their owners leave, and often display unwanted behaviour such as barking excessively, chewing, panting, pacing, whining, and having accidents in the house.

It’s important to train your Golden Retriever to remain calm and handle being apart from you. According to the American Kennel Club, there are a few steps you can follow, including crate training, desensitizing, and exercise.

Separation anxiety can also occur in your young puppy who is newly separated from his mom and littermates.

If you notice that your young puppy is clingy toward you, it’s likely missing its mother and seeking affection and reassurance from you.

This clingy behaviour in puppies usually subsides, once your pup adjusts and gets settled.

4. Pain Or Aging Can Make Your Golden More Needy

Pain, not feeling well, and aging, can all cause your Golden Retriever to become more needy and clingy, in order to seek comfort and reassurance from you.

As Golden Retrievers get older, their hearing, vision, and mobility may start to decline, and they become more dependent on their owners and more likely to seek out extra attention.

5. Your Golden Retriever Is Fearful

Your Golden Retriever feels safe around you, so naturally when he is afraid he will want to be near you to feel protected and comforted.

Fear can be triggered by loud noises, changes in your dog’s environment, or unfamiliar people or animals, and can cause your Golden to become anxious, and seek more attention from you.

6. You Unintentionally Rewarded His Needy Behaviour

A woman shown kneeling down and hugging her Golden Retriever.  There is a sunset in the background.

Golden Retrievers are super smart and quick to learn things! If you do something just once, chances are your Golden Retriever will remember it.

For instance, you may have given your Golden Retriever a treat or extra attention when he was being clingy or anxious, and now he continues displaying needy behaviour in order to get rewarded.

To break the cycle, it’s important to reward your dog for being calm and relaxed, instead of needy.

This way your Golden will learn that calm behaviour will get him more attention, and it might make him become more relaxed and independent.

7. Your Female Golden Retriever Is In Heat

Oftentimes, during your female’s heat cycle, she will become more clingy toward you. This is especially true if it’s your Golden Retriever’s first heat.

Your female will experience all kinds of changes to her body, and her hormones will fluctuate.

She likely feels confused and scared as to what is going on, and will seek comfort and more attention from you.

8. Your Golden Retriever Is Clingy Because You’re Pregnant

Many pregnant owners notice an increase in their dog’s needy and clingy behaviour.

Dogs are very perceptive and will notice changes that occur during your pregnancy.

Changes in your mood, and behaviour, as well as your scent, can be sensed by your dog.

Some dogs become more affectionate toward their pregnant owners and never leave their side, as a way of protecting them.

For some dogs, all of these changes might make them become clingy in order to seek comfort and reassurance.

9. It Is Believed That Male Golden Retrievers Are Needier Than Females

While there is no evidence to suggest that males are needier than female Golden Retrievers, many owners experience their male dogs to be more affectionate and attention-seeking.

I hear this quite often from fellow Golden Retriever owners.

In the video below you can see just how needy Kobe the Golden Retriever is, and I’m sure many of you can relate.

Having only experience with a female Golden Retriever, I can say that my female likes to be petted and given attention, but also prefers her independence. In all honesty, she’s probably annoyed with my clingy behaviour toward her, LOL!

All Golden Retrievers regardless of gender can display needy behaviour due to anxiety, fear, boredom, or any other reasons mentioned above.

10. Your Golden Retriever Is Clingy Because You Have Food!

A woman with her arm around a Golden Retriever that is trying to see what she has in her hand.

Alright, so I threw this reason in there for fun!

But, if your Golden is anything like mine, and I’m betting they are, they’re always right by your side as soon as you have food.

I swear I can never eat an apple or banana by myself!

Tips To Manage Your Golden Retriever’s Needy Behaviour

The following tips will help you to manage your Golden Retriever’s needy behaviour, and give you some much-needed personal space!


Accept that all Golden Retrievers love attention, it’s just part of their personality trait! Some are even downright demanding of it!


Maintain a regular routine for your dog that includes feeding, playing, walking and quiet time.

Sticking to the same routine gives your dog a sense of security, and will help him feel calm and relaxed.


A Golden Retriever running towards you with a rope toy in its mouth.

Provide plenty of physical activity and mental stimulation each day.

Remember, Golden Retrievers are working/sporting dogs that need to be stimulated.

This keeps them happy, relaxed and calm.


Train your Golden Retriever using positive reinforcement techniques such as praise or treats. This way your dog learns what behaviour is expected of him.

Training shouldn’t stop once your dog learns basic commands. Older dogs can always learn new tricks, and it keeps their minds stimulated.


Ignore your dog’s needy behaviour, especially when it becomes too much for you. This will prevent your dog from seeking extra attention, and discourage the behaviour.


A man sitting in a chair reading a book.  A Golden Retriever is laying beside him on a bed.

Give your dog plenty of love and attention, and spend quality time with them. This will give your Golden Retriever the comfort and security they need, as well as strengthen your bond.

Final Thoughts

All Golden Retrievers display needy behaviour of wanting attention and affection. It’s one of the traits of this breed.

You can’t change a Golden Retriever’s basic desire to be with you, and it shouldn’t be something to be alarmed about.

However, if your Golden Retriever is becoming needier than usual, it could be a sign that something else is going on.

Boredom, anxiety, fear and pain can all cause your Golden Retriever to become needy.

It could also be that your Golden Retriever outsmarted you by being rewarded for his needy behaviour. Don’t feel bad, it happens to the best of us!

If you follow my tips mentioned above, exercise, train, follow a routine, and give your dog plenty of love, your Golden Retriever will feel calm and happy, and less needy of your attention.

Would you describe your Golden Retriever as needy? Do you find your Golden Retriever’s needy behaviour annoying or endearing?

Let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!

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2 thoughts on “Why Is My Golden Retriever So Needy? [10 Reasons Revealed!]”

  1. Hello, I loved your article! Personally, I enjoy having a needy dog. I do not have a golden retriever (just yet) but I do have 2 chihuahua puppies and a Doberman pinscher and they are very very needy. I always enjoy reading about dogs.

    I wish you all the best in your journey as a dog mom:)

    Thanks for your article:)

    • Hi Katherine,

      I just had to do a quick Google search to see if Chihuahuas and Doberman pinschers are needy, and it says they are both notoriously needy!  LOL!

      I guess it’s not just Golden Retrievers that are needy.  

      Most people do enjoy having needy/clingy dogs, as compared to dogs that just want to be left alone.  It’s sort of a confirmation that their dog loves and adores them.

      It just stresses the importance of researching a breed of dog before you decide to commit.  Anyone who prefers time alone and their personal space should not even consider getting a Golden Retriever, or any other needy dog breed.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and I wish you all the best as well!

      Take care,



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