Golden Retrievers are among the most beloved dogs in the world. They’re affectionate, friendly, and intelligent, which makes them firm favorites for working or as companions. While the behavior of many adult Goldens is stellar, much of their good behavior is the result of dedicated training efforts by their owners.
Teaching your Golden Retriever to be an upstanding canine citizen takes time but is worth the effort. We hope that this step-by-step guide will help you get started.
Are Golden Retrievers Easy to Train?
First bred to be working dogs in Scotland, the Golden Retriever is naturally robust and incredibly intelligent. They’re eager to please and easy to train. However, this doesn’t mean that you can slack off on your training efforts. Their intelligence enables them to quickly pick up on what you want, but they also easily get bored and frustrated.
Keep training sessions consistent, positive, and fun — and intersperse treats with your puppy’s favorite toys — to keep your Golden Retriever’s attention.
You Will Need
While you don’t need expensive supplies to train a puppy, a few essentials can make your training sessions easier and more rewarding. A training leash, a good collar, and a treat pouch are all useful items to have, for example. Here are other important pieces of equipment to consider getting before you start.
Things to Remember
Before you start training, there are several things that keep in mind to ensure that all your training sessions are as successful as possible.
1. Be Consistent
Golden Retrievers might be a pleasure to train, but they’ll still get confused if you give them conflicting commands. If you’re new to training a dog, make sure you know exactly what you want your dog to achieve before you start.
By understanding the behavior that you want to enforce, you’ll be less likely to mistakenly praise the wrong thing during your training sessions. You’ll also be able to break the training into small sections for your dog before you work up to mastering the command.
2. Listen to Your Puppy
They might not be able to speak our language, but dogs can be talkative in their own way. The more time that you spend with your Golden Retriever, the more you’ll familiarize yourself with their personality, likes, and dislikes. Your puppy will also be more than happy to let you know when their training session is too long or if they’re just too tired from exploring.
For the best results, pay attention to your puppy to make sure your training sessions are short and fun.
3. Positive Rewards
Many dogs, including Goldens, are food oriented. Keeping a handful of treats in your pocket or a handy treat pouch is a quick and easy way to deliver rewards when your puppy succeeds. Mark the good behavior with a clicker or a cheerful “yes!” or “good!” and offer a treat. As your dog gets better at the trick, you can phase out the treats and use their favorite toys instead.
Don’t scold them for mistakes or for losing interest. Try again, or give your puppy a break for a while before attempting the command again later.
4. Start Early
When you first get a new puppy, you may want to put off training until they’re bigger. However, the earlier that you start teaching your Golden Retriever how to behave, the easier it will be to encourage the behavior. It’ll also prevent you from having to correct wrong behaviors when your puppy inevitably learns bad habits.
How to Train a Golden Retriever: Step by Step
Proper obedience training is the first step for any well-behaved dog, including Golden Retrievers. Basic obedience commands, like “sit,” “stay,” “come here,” “leave,” and recognizing their name, are all necessary for future training efforts. Not only can they make your life much easier when you need to direct your dog, but they also teach your puppy how they’re expected to behave, even in new situations.
Take your time, and introduce each command in separate training sessions so you don’t confuse your puppy.
2. House Training
One of the most difficult tasks that you face as a new puppy owner is house training. Some dogs catch on quicker than others, while others might take a bit longer. Golden Retrievers are naturally eager to please, but they’ll still need guidance regarding when and where it’s appropriate to relieve themselves.
Teach your dog to use puppy pads if you don’t have a yard, or take them outside regularly so they can go to the toilet. Keep a close eye on your puppy while you’re house training so you can interrupt any unwanted toilet trips and redirect them to the proper place.
A good rule of thumb is to take your puppy outside after meals, regularly throughout the day, and before you go to bed.
3. Crate Training
An optional addition to your puppy’s training is crate training. While it’s controversial in certain circles, it can be incredibly useful. A crate gives your puppy somewhere quiet to sit if they feel overwhelmed or a place for you to keep them safe if you have guests.
You mustn’t use the crate as a punishment, though. Crates work best when your dog sees them as a safe space rather than a cell that they’re locked in when they’re in trouble.
4. Leash Training
Taking walks with your four-legged friend is perhaps the best thing about being a dog owner. But Golden Retrievers can be excitable, energetic, and easily distracted, which is why leash training is so essential. You need to teach them to walk by your side and not lunge at cars, other animals, or people they pass to ensure their — and everyone else’s — safety.
Start by introducing a harness or collar, and let your dog’s leash trail behind them as they wander the house. Once they’re used to the feel of it, you can practice holding the leash and directing your puppy to walk at your side. Slowly progress to a closed yard if possible, and then tackle the street.
5. Socialization and Desensitization
Something that many people don’t consider when training their dog is socialization. This is when you introduce your puppy to as many situations, animals, and people as possible. By doing this, you’re teaching your puppy how to react to different situations.
The most well-behaved adult Golden Retrievers were taught how to deal with a wide range of things when they were puppies. Well-socialized dogs are also less timid and settled as they grow.
Desensitization is important too. Introducing your dog to loud noises like fireworks or grooming tools will teach them not to be fearful about such things. They’ll be more likely to accept the need for a good grooming session or stay relaxed during a storm when they understand that they’re safe.
Golden Retrievers are among the easiest breeds to train due to their versatility, intelligence, and eagerness to please. A well-trained Golden still requires a great deal of time and effort, though. Keep training sessions short and positive, and reward your puppy with plenty of treats and fun games.
Featured Image Credit: Rala3030, Shutterstock