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Golden Retrievers and Their Training Needs

03/02/2022 - Breed Specific Advice

Golden Retriever Traits and Training 

Established in the 19th-century, the Golden Retriever is an iconic and popular breed originating from Scotland. A gentle, affectionate and intelligent breed, they are commonly kept as pets as well as employed as working gundogs and are regularly found competing in obedience trials. Alongside their cousins the Labrador Retriever, they are a common choice for use as guide dogs due to their trainable and steady nature.
Average Lifespan: 12-13 years
Height: 20-24 inches (51-61cm)
Weight: 55-75lbs (25-34kg)
Temperament: intelligent; gentle; affectionate; calm; biddable
Training Needs at Different Life Stages

Puppyhood
During puppyhood, our focus should be on our pup’s socialisation and building their confidence. Socialisation is not just about exposing our dogs to lots of things, people and dogs thoughtlessly – it should be about ensuring they are not overwhelmed, have positive experiences of all these things and learn how to be calm, relaxed and confident around them.
Golden Retrievers are wonderful family pets and, generally, want to be everyone’s friend! However, this lovable temperament doesn’t mean our goldies will automatically know “the rules” of human social interaction! Why not get stuck into our Dogversity course on Visitor Training to make sure they learn to contain that happy exuberance and greet new people appropriately!
While they are undeniably sweet dogs, most Golden Retrievers LOVE to carry things around – they are retrievers, after all! This is usually no problem and can be an incredibly cute behaviour, but it does mean they can also be prone to developing some resource guarding issues. Our Puppy’s First Steps course includes information on manners around food and how to prevent resource guarding.
Group classes are a great place to start getting your puppy used to being around other dogs in a controlled environment and learning how to stay engaged and focused on you, as well as instilling a solid training foundation before they have a chance to learn any bad habits!
 
Adolescence
Adolescence can be a trying time, both for us and our dogs. Our dogs are still growing and their perceptions and feelings will change as their hormone levels rise. Often, training we thought we had perfected a while ago can start to deteriorate – a reliable recall can become, well, less reliable. This is completely normal, and the best thing we can do is acknowledge this and focus on revising the foundations we worked so hard on during puppyhood.
It can be disheartening to have to pop that longline back on our dogs after months of carefree off-lead walks, but life will become a lot harder if we allow our teenage dogs to practice running off after wildlife or up to every dog they see! You will get back to those idyllic walks soon; as long as you are patient, and remember this important step!
Now is a good time to consider a Masterclass, to brush up on those important life skills!
Our Golden Retrievers are intelligent and biddable dogs, but they were bred for a purpose! It’s important we give them outlets for their favourite behaviours and keep their minds as busy as their bodies. Our Scent Detectives course is perfect for this incredibly sniffy breed! And, with the basics established in your Puppy Classes, you can start looking into attending our fun gundog classes – yes, even for your pet dogs! As we mentioned earlier, Golden Retrievers still have a strong retrieving instinct even if they are not destined to be working dogs. Your pup will love learning things like formal retrieves, and you will love seeing what your dog can achieve when they’re in their element!
 
1 Year Old
This is when your troublesome teen will be reaching physical maturity and you can start to consider more physically demanding activities, such as agility. The solid training you have done over the past year will make it easy to transition into training more for fun than just for practicality – engaged dogs who can work with their human off lead are halfway to Crufts already!
You can also start refining some of the basic training you’ve been working on so far, as your dog starts to mature mentally, too. As a popular choice for many service dog roles, we know the Golden Retriever in an incredibly intelligent dog who can learn a huge variety of things. Our Advanced Classes are perfect for continuing their education and keeping them busy!

2+ Years Old
You’ve been a dedicated dog owner for the last 24 months, investing time and effort into their ongoing education and development – by now, you should be starting to see the result of all that hard work in the form of an engaged, well-rounded companion. Hopefully those vital foundations that we spent so much time focusing on are starting to feel less like work!
Your clever four-legged friend has dutifully learned everything you’ve imparted on them, and now it’s important that we don’t forget to reward them with continued mental enrichment. We showed them how much fun training could be and, while we may now have reached our own personal training aspirations, they deserve to continuing experiencing the joy of using their nose, brain and body to navigate the world and learn new things.
Activities such as Trick Training are great ways to keep making the most of our precious time with our four-legged friends. For those of you who got stuck into scent training and saw how much your pup loved it, you can look to continue learning together and see just how impressive their noses are with our advanced Scent Work Course.
 
OAP (7+ Years)
As our pups reach their golden years, their needs will change. It’s important we remember to adjust their physical activity to suit their health. This will be different for every dog and doesn’t necessarily mean slowing down – many dogs continue to be active until very late in their lives and it can in fact be beneficial to keep our dogs moving to stave off muscle degeneration and general loss of fitness and mobility. Pay attention to your dog’s behaviour, noting if they are less keen to head out on your longer walking route or seem a bit stiff the next day. Speak with your vet for advice if you are unsure what level of exercise is right for your dog.
Cognitive exercises like puzzle games and scent work are great ways to continue providing your dog with fun enrichment without being too physically demanding. 
 

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