Golden retrievers are among the smartest and sweetest dog breeds. Training them, however, can be an arduous task if you don’t have the knowledge (or patience) on how to do it. How your training goes depends on the method you use, how consistently you practice, and his or her distinct personality.
Training a golden retriever, for example, is a completely different experience than training a German shepherd or beagle. The good news is that golden retrievers are highly intelligent, responsive dogs who are quick to learn and easy to please. Here is everything you need to know about training a golden retriever.
Is it Difficult to Train a Golden Retriever?
Every dog has his or her distinct personality. But as a breed, golden retrievers are some of the easiest and most rewarding dogs to train. They have a natural intelligence and a desire to please, so they are very responsive to proper training techniques.
Though your dog may be more or less attuned to your training than most, golden retrievers have a reputation for being extremely responsive and obedient dogs.
What Should You Know Before You Start?
The most important thing to know before you start training your golden retriever is that training is a process. It won’t all click immediately — for either of you! The key is to approach the process with patience and a sense of humor.
When Should You Start Training?
You can start training a golden retriever puppy as early as eight weeks. In other words, as soon as a puppy is ready to leave its mother and join a human family, it is ready to start training.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that training for a puppy is the same as an adult dog. Start small, approach the training with a positive attitude, and have fun with your pup!
Top Tips For Training Your Golden Retriever Puppy
So what are the basics for training a golden retriever? These top tips will help get the process rolling so that you and your puppy have successful training sessions and feel more bonded.
1. Make it Fun
Just because training is important doesn’t mean it has to be serious business. Golden retrievers love to play and a fun environment makes it easy to learn. Turning training into a game will help keep them engaged and impart the lessons you want to share.
This method works much more effectively than yelling or being stern, which can cause your dog to feel stressed or anxious.
2. Provide Rewards
Treats are one of the classic methods of training for a reason — they’re very effective! Golden retrievers respond to this kind of reward-based training, as they are loyal and eager to please.
When they listen and obey, reward them promptly with a dog treat, their favorite toy, or even just a good head scratch. Make sure to praise them verbally as well! This will get them excited and eager to learn.
3. Be Mindful of Your Dog’s Age
Just like human children, puppies aren’t as developed as adults. Temper your expectations based on your dog’s age. Keep things short at the beginning to help your puppy stay engaged.
When they are young, they can’t handle long training sessions and stay attentive or receptive. Just stay patient and go at your dog’s pace.
4. Make Training a Part of Your Daily Routine
Like any other skills, training takes practice! Your golden retriever will learn most effectively if you make training drills a part of your life together. That means teaching it to sit while it waits for dinner or to come when you go to get its leash for a walk.
There are many ways that you can teach your golden retriever simple commands throughout the day.
5. Communicate Effectively
Choose a solid communication method and stick to it. One of the best ways to do this is through clicker training, which is an excellent way to train not only dogs but many other animals too.
Clicker training uses a series of clicks to indicate to your dog that its behavior is right or wrong. When it follows its training, it hears the requisite clicks and earns a treat. You might find your dog responding and learning within just a few sessions.
6. Make it a Family Effort
It’s not enough for one person in the family to be in charge of dog training. When your golden retriever joins the household, make sure every person in the family knows what the expectations for training are.
You should also agree on commands. For example, will your golden retriever be allowed on the couch or the bed? Or should it learn not to climb on the furniture with commands like “Off”?
You should practice basic training commands and behaviors together or work on them with your puppy as a group. This consistency is key to helping your dog train effectively and learn its place in your household. The last thing you want is a dog that listens to Mom but ignores Dad and the other members of the family.
7. Be Consistent
This step goes hand-in-hand with the previous step. Be consistent with your rules of the house and how you express those with your golden retriever. This involves agreeing on how to handle these among your family members so that expectations can be consistent and your golden retriever doesn’t get confused, which can be counterproductive to training.
Of course, there will be some differences in how each person interacts with the dog, and that is just fine! But when it comes to the rules and how you help the dog understand them, you should all be on one page.
Examples of some rules you should agree on might include:
- The dog does not get on the furniture
- The Pup should return to its crate when told to do so
- Your dog waits patiently while you are preparing its food
- The dog comes when called for walks
- The dog goes to stand by the door to let you know it needs to go outside for the bathroom
8. Use the Right Tools
There are many tools that you can use during golden retriever training. Some of these depend on your method. For example, if you decide to pursue the clicker method, you will obviously need a clicker.
Dog training videos and websites can help you know what materials you need, such as toys, treats, leashes, and other items, to help teach your dog.
If you decide to use a training collar, which gives your dog a light shock if it disobeys a command or crosses a boundary, make sure that it is the proper size and style for your dog. This will ensure that it stays safe during use.
9. Adjust As Time Goes On
Your first training sessions will be very basic as your golden retriever learns simple rules, etiquette, and commands. But as time goes on, your training should evolve. Your dog will master the basics and then it is time to work on other skills together.
Examples of more advanced training include:
- Teaching your dog to hold a certain position until it gets the command to release
- Training it to go to its bed with a command like “Night-night”, “Go to bed”, or “Place”
- Training them to “touch”, which involves the dog touching its nose to an item to pick up its scent
10. Remember That Training is Never Over
Even after your dog has learned all its basic commands and is a well-mannered pet, you should continue your daily training sessions. This isn’t just to reinforce good behavior and obedience. It also helps keep your golden retriever mentally and physically stimulated.
This is especially important to the breed since golden retrievers are extremely intelligent. They have a lot of excess energy and need to be challenged so they don’t get bored.
Types of Golden Retriever Training
There are many types of training and different training methods for shaping your dog into a part of your household. These are too exhaustive to detail fully, but they are worth mentioning.
Behavioral training or obedience training refers to the process of teaching your dog to follow commands and the rules of your household.
Leash training teaches your dog to cooperate while it is on a leash, especially on walks. It needs to develop the discipline to walk alongside you and avoid running after cars, people, or animals.
House training is the process of learning how to toilet properly, either on puppy pads or out in the yard. This involves teaching your dog to communicate when it needs to use the bathroom.
Crate training teaches a dog to view a kennel or crate as its personal space. This might involve having them sleep there, stay there while humans are out of the house, or go there to avoid bothering guests.
Training a golden retriever might seem like a daunting task. But with the right tools and attitude, it can be a fruitful bonding experience that improves your relationship with your dog.