Golden retrievers are great dogs and make great companions. This breed is full of energy, love, and excitement. Plus, many people love the way golden retrievers look with their golden coats of fur and floppy ears. That said, golden retrievers are also known for being rowdy and rambunctious. For this reason, it’s important to train your golden retriever property.
While training a golden retriever isn’t always easy, it’s something that every pet owner can do. With a golden, you don’t need to bring them to a trainer for any fancy routines–unless you want to, of course. When it comes to training a golden, you just need a little bit of patience and a commanding tone. Oh, and tons of treats.
If you’re getting ready to train your golden retriever but don’t know where to start, we’re here to help. Read on to see our top 10 tips to help you train your golden retriever.
Safety First! Starting With a Collar and Leash
Before we jump into some of the more hands-on tips, we want to spend some time on safety. Safety always needs to come first, and it’s not just about your safety. Before training your golden, it’s important to spend some time on things that will make both of you feel safe, like a leash and collar.
To begin, make sure your golden has a comfortable collar. There are many options to choose from but it needs to fit comfortably around its neck. The collar acts as an anchor for other training techniques, so starting with a collar is a great way to start with safety.
Another safety concern is taking your golden out for walks. If you want your golden to walk without a leash, you’re still going to need a leash to get started. So, make sure the leash is comfortable for you and your dog; you don’t want to strangle them while they’re walking but it should be tight enough to keep them close. You’ll know it’s time to get rid of the leash when your golden no longer tugs at it or decides to run in random directions whenever they see something.
Potty Training Time
If you don’t want your golden to make your kitchen its personal bathroom, you’re going to have to potty train them. Just like people, dogs need to learn where it’s appropriate to use the bathroom. The good news is that dogs are easier to potty train than people. It takes less time, effort, and energy.
Most goldens will have an instinct to pee or poop outdoors, so potty training is easier than it seems, although it’s still a slow burn. To start, make sure to take them outside as often as possible, to prevent accidents in the first place. If you don’t have access to a yard or your puppy is especially accident-prone, we recommend using pee pads, instead.
Whenever it seems like your golden is ready to do its business, take them outside or put them on the pee pad, and say “go potty.” This way, they’ll learn to associate the behavior with the command. You’ll know it’s working when your golden starts to stare or bark at the door. For even more advice, check out our complete potty training guide.
Cage/crate training is one of the most important components of puppy training. With goldens, crate training isn’t harder than it would be with any other dogs. The only difference is that goldens are known for having high energy levels, both in youth and adulthood, so it’s best to get them acclimated to their crate early on.
To crate train your golden, you’ll need a sturdy crate that’s big enough to hold them. Goldens can become big, so we recommend getting a cage or crate that’s on the larger side, so you can use it for the long term. Once you have the crate, make it comfortable with some old blankets, and lure your dog in with a treat; it also helps to leave a toy or two in the cage to make it more appealing.
This is why we recommend leaving the cage in a busy room so your dog knows you’re around. While goldens will have a hard time getting used to the cage they will come to love it. Most dogs sleep in their cages, even with the door open, because it becomes their safe place. For more tips, check out our full guide to crate training.
Stick to a Schedule
Goldens are high-energy dogs, so precision is important for training sessions. If you don’t make instructions clear or present rewards at the right time your golden can become rowdy and unruly.
First and foremost, we recommend setting a time each day for training. You don’t need to train your golden at a specific time, as long as it’s around the same time each day. This will prepare your golden for training sessions and make them more responsive. In other words, your dog will know it’s time to get down to business if you’re precise with your routine.
Furthermore, make sure you’re consistent with your methods. While it’s okay to change things up sometimes, if you give your golden a treat after they perform a task successfully the first time, continue giving them treats following other successes. You want to remain consistent or your golden might become unresponsive to training.
Bring the Energy
As we’ve mentioned many times, goldens are high-energy dogs. They always want to run around, play, and explore their surroundings. So, if you’re going to be successful with your training methods, you need to match their energy. This can be challenging, especially after a long day of work, but we know some secrets that will help–the key here is to appear energetic.
Golden retrievers are smart dogs and they love to play games. So, play some games like fetch or tug-of-war to keep your golden engaged. Still, if you have little to no energy, communicating with your golden in a happy voice is enough to make them happy and excited.
Always Have a Cookie Handy
goldens love rewards. The more rewards they get the harder they work. So, think of rewards as your golden’s version of compensation. When they do a good job, it’s time for them to get paid with a treat. Treats are valuable assets during each stage of training because it creates a positive feedback loop and helps your dog learn. Still, there is more to it than that.
Like us humans, dogs have reward systems wired in their brains. So, when something good happens after a type of behavior, your dog will want to achieve that something good again. For this reason, using treats as a reward for good behavior will help your golden enjoy the good behavior for its own sake.
The good news is that cookies and treats can be used for just about anything. If your dog did a good job with potty training, feel free to give them a treat. If your golden did well socializing with other dogs, reward them with a treat. Using treats is simple as long as you award your dog for good behavior.
Work With Linear Progression
Most training routines fail because they’re not linear. If a training routine lacks a linear progression it fails because your golden won’t understand why things are becoming more challenging. That’s why you need to instill a training routine that has a linear progression and reward system. This way your golden will know that certain routines will increase in difficulty.
When it comes to a linear progression you want to start while your golden is a puppy. Begin with simple training commands like “sit,” “come,” “stay,” and “down.” Once your golden gets acclimated to simple commands, you can start to ramp up the difficulty. Don’t hesitate to start with more complex training techniques while they’re still young.
Additionally, goldens are great at helping humans with tasks, finding things, and tracking scents. If you’re looking for more advanced techniques feel free to experiment with your golden to see what they’re capable of. There is a good chance they will surprise you.
Don’t Go at It Alone
If you don’t live alone it’s time to get everyone involved with your golden retriever training. Even if you’re the one who spends the most time with your companion, it’s important to introduce your golden to other people. This will help your golden maintain a calm demeanor at all times. In fact, if you have a few people that live with you they should get involved in the training.
Make sure others who train your golden do so the same way as you. This will make it easier for your golden to learn and prevent confusion with commands.
That said, while getting people involved is important, it’s not something you should force. Make sure you pay attention to your golden’s behavior. If they seem frightened around other people, you might want to focus on socialization training before you get others involved.
One thing many dog owners fail to do is social training. While social training is more advanced training, it’s something worth pursuing with your golden. If you want to take your golden to a dog park or if you want to improve their interactions with people, proper socialization steps need to be taken. Luckily, teaching a golden how to socialize is simple because the breed is social, even without training.
You can start by bringing your golden to your local dog park. Make sure the leash is tight, so there aren’t any accidents, and keep your distance from other dogs at first. Take some time to observe your golden and see how they feel. If your golden looks anxious, it’s best to try socialization with a smaller group of dogs or a single dog. If your golden looks excited, feel free to bring them further into the dog park and closer to more dogs.
Goldens are easy to train with socialization because they’re typically good at it. While they’re protective over their owners, they’re excited to interact with other dogs. So, simply monitor your golden’s behavior to make sure they’re not causing any issues with other dogs. If one arises, remove your golden from the park. Once this happens enough, your golden will start to figure out which types of behaviors are appropriate in a social setting. Like people, it takes some trial and error!
Always Be Training
Lastly, our final tip is to be consistent with training throughout your golden’s life. Many people will only train a dog during its puppy years or rebellious teenage years (6-18 months) but this isn’t the best approach. Contrary to popular belief, you can teach an old dog new tricks. In fact, it’s beneficial to teach an old dog new tricks because it keeps both of you engaged and builds on the routines developed during earlier training.
So, what should training during adulthood look like? While there are many training plans, we recommend taking a more relaxed approach this time. You should still keep the energy high, or match the energy of your golden, but when your dog has a few years of experience under its belt you can start to take your foot off the gas during training.
While training any dog is challenging, golden retrievers are known for being easy dogs to train. This is because they have a good response to rewards and have enough energy to spend time on training each day. Training a golden will take time but if you follow these tips you and your golden will have a good understanding of each other. Remember, every good relationship is commitment; your relationship with your furry little friend is no different.