Yes, they’re irresistibly cute. But that’s not the only reason you see Golden Retriever puppies on dozens of TV commercials. Golden Retrievers are a famously people-friendly breed. They also famously have a lot of energy. However, puppy training a Golden Retriever may not always go off without a hitch.
Though Golden Retrievers are relatively easy to train, it helps to have a plan.1 You can teach a new dog new tricks — but you may have to learn some tricks yourself first. Read on to discover ways you can make training your Golden Retriever pup a little easier.
Why Should You Train Your Golden Retriever Puppy?
Life is simpler with an obedient dog. Well-mannered dogs make for happy people. But obedience training your Golden — or any dog — isn’t just good for you. It’s also good for your dog.
Obedience training may help your dog:
- Be more comfortable around other people
- Be more comfortable around other dogs
- Bond more closely with you2
Goldens are eager to please, which makes them well-suited to obedience training. In fact, that same eagerness means training is even more important. Goldens need something constructive to direct their energy into.3
When Should You Start Training Your Golden Retriever Puppy?
The sooner the better. You should try to socialize Golden Retriever puppies and start teaching them basic obedience commands before they’re six months old.4
As frisky as they are, Goldens are also eager to please, so take advantage of that impulse early. Obedience training will also serve as valuable bonding time with your pup. And remember: they’re only this young once, so make sure you allow yourself to enjoy it.
Are Golden Retriever Puppies Easy To Train?
Golden retrievers are a sporting breed, which means they have a lot of energy — even by puppy standards. Like other sporting breeds, they need a lot of exercise and stimulation.5 Your Golden pup is also likely to have a short attention span, which can be challenging.6 But raising a well trained Golden Retriever pup is far from impossible.
Along with exercise, obedience training may give your dog a constructive outlet for all that energy. When your dog is trying their best to understand you, it means their brain is working extra hard. That may help make for a happily tired-out dog.7
How To Train Your Golden Retriever Pup
The first and most important thing to note is the importance of positive reinforcement when it comes to training your dog. You should NEVER hit, yell at, or punish your dog. In fact, punishment may actually increase the incidence of problem behaviors in your dog.8,9,10
Keeping It Positive: Reward-Based Dog Training
Golden Retrievers learn behaviors by understanding the relationship between actions and consequences. When your Golden obeys a command or performs a desirable behavior, make sure to reward them immediately.
Dogs will do anything for a tasty treat, but food isn’t the only reward you can dole out. Other kinds of positive reinforcement include:
- Pats on the head
- Extra playtime
- A favorite toy
- A walk11
Your dog will perceive almost any form of owner attention as a reward.
Make sure you keep your reward system consistent. When teaching a new behavior, it can be useful to reward your Golden every time they perform the behavior. But once they’ve learned it well, you can reward them intermittently. This can actually strengthen the desired behavior. (Just remember not to stop rewarding them entirely).12
The Proofing Method
If you’re training your pup in a calm, quiet home environment, you might start to suspect it’s a little too easy. And you may be right. For dog behavior to stick, it has to be proofed.
Remember that a Golden Retriever puppy will likely have a short attention span.13 They’re easily distracted. And a distracted dog may be a disobedient dog.
That’s where proofing comes in. Dogs often associate behaviors with the environment they learn them in. Try practicing desired behaviors in a variety of situations — especially ones full of distractions. Get your dog out of their comfort zone.
- If you’re trying to teach your Golden to “stay” — and they’ve mastered the command, try increasing the distance between you. When the dog stays, they get a treat.
- If your Golden has mastered basic commands like “sit” at home, try taking them to the dog park or a friend’s yard (any different environment) and practice there.
- Also, proof yourself as their handler. If you have a trusted friend, have them try running your Golden through some commands to see if they’ll perform well with someone else as their pack leader. 14
With the proofing method, you may help your dog develop coping skills and self control. And their behavior may stay consistent even when their environment changes.15
Lay Down The Golden Rule
Golden Retriever puppies are adorable — that much is indisputable. But cuteness is only skin deep. Their bubbly personalities can be highly entertaining, but a badly behaved Golden can also be highly destructive. Unless you enjoy having your personal possessions chewed to bits, obedience training is a must.
Trained Golden Retriever puppies are more than just pretty faces. Train them with the attention they deserve, and you’ll unlock their full, irresistibly cute potential.