Training the Golden Retriever Puppy

A solid education in obedience and leadership is essential to teach your Golden Retriever the rules of his new human world.

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Golden Retriever puppyGolden Retrievers are smart dogs; after all, isn't that one reason why you chose this breed? They love to learn and are easy to teach, but the key word here is teach. They are not born pre-programed to be obedient. Teaching house rules and good manners is your job with your new dog, and this job starts the day you bring your puppy home.

All dogs are pack animals and, as such, they need a leader. Your Golden's first boss was his mother, and all of his life lessons came from his mom and littermates. When he played too rough or nipped too hard, his siblings cried and stopped the game. When he got pushy or obnoxious, his mother cuffed him gently with a maternal paw. Now you have to assume the role of leader and communicate appropriate behavior in terms that his young canine mind will understand. Human rules make no sense at all to a dog!

The first 20 weeks of any canine's life are his most valuable learning time. His mind is best able to soak up every lesson, both positive and negative. Positive experiences and proper socialization during this period are critical to his future development and stability. Know this: the amount and quality of time you invest with your Golden youngster now will determine what kind of an adult dog he will become. Wild dog or gentleman or lady? A well-behaved or naughty dog? It's up to you.

Canine behavioral science tells us that any behavior that is rewarded will be repeated. That's called positive reinforcement. If something good happens, like a tasty treat or hugs and kisses, a puppy will naturally want to repeat the behavior. That same research also has proven that one of the best ways to a puppy's mind is through his stomach. Never underestimate the power of a treat!

This leads to a very important puppy rule: keep your pockets loaded with puppy treats at all times so you are prepared to reinforce good behavior whenever it occurs. That same reinforcement principle also applies to negative behavior or what we humans might consider negative, like digging in the trash can, which the dog or puppy does not know is wrong. If the pup gets into the garbage, steals food or does anything else that he thinks is fun or makes him feel good, he will do it again. What better reason to keep a sharp eye on your puppy so you can catch him in the act and teach him which behaviors are not acceptable to you.

You are about to begin Puppy Class 101. Rule number one: The puppy must learn that you are now the alpha dog and his new pack leader. Rule number two: You have to teach him in a manner he will understand (sorry, barking just won't do it.). Remember always that he knows nothing about human standards of behavior.
Word Association
Use the same word (command) for each behavior every time you teach it, adding food rewards, petting and verbal praise for positive reinforcement. The pup will make the connection and will be motivated to repeat the behavior when he hears those commands. For example, when teaching the pup to potty outside, use the same potty term ("go potty," "get busy" and "hurry up" are commonly used) each time he eliminates, adding a "Good boy!" while he's relieving himself. Your pup will soon learn what those trips outside are for.

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Andrea   Germantown, MD

5/9/2010 4:10:57 PM

omg i just got a golden retriever puppy he is a boy named Bear he is just the best puppy ever he hasn't had too many accidents and NEVER chews or bites people or things he shouldnt. He is extremely affectionate, and gets along with my boyfriend's german shepherd Riley
Best dog ever, want a dog get a G-retreievr

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Gale   Leicester, NC

11/2/2008 8:35:57 PM

I raised and trained two Golden's at the same time. They were litter mates and since I couldn't decide which of these last two I wanted, I took both. Bonnie and Clyde came home with me at about 8 weeks old and the training

They both learned at about the same rate, but one thing Clyde never did was chew things he wasn't supposed to. Bonnie on the other hand was fixated on the fringe of the throw rug in the front hall and it took quite a while to break her of that destructive habit. She actually wore a piece of it around her neck until she got the idea.

They were two of the most loving, loyal dogs I've ever owned and I've had dogs since I was 10. Quick to learn [except Bonnie's rug episode], and eager to please, they were a joy. As an obedience trainer, I wouldn't recommend anyone training two pups together, but these two Golden's learned together and learned quickly.

They passed within a year of each other; Bonnie first, followed by Clyde who held on for my sake the vet said. I finally made the decision to let him join his sister and to this day, I feel my Clydie was the best 4-legged companion I've ever had. There will never be another dog like him.

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Tracy   Pittsburg, PA

5/31/2008 6:11:50 PM

It was very informative!

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Zoya   Los Angeles, CA

12/16/2006 1:35:55 PM

Please I always wanted one mail me at 10303 hass ave 104 st I am a girl i am ten please

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