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Golden Retriever Training Guide: The Basics

Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds in America – and it’s easy to see why! Golden Retrievers are generally outgoing, happy, and very trainable.

What’s The Best Way to Train My Golden Retriever?

Working dogs by nature, Golden Retrievers were originally bred to be obedient hunting dogs. Golden Retrievers want to please their owners, so giving them a job to do is essential. You can use treats or play fetch as a reward; like their name implies, they love to retrieve things!

Potty Training Your Golden Retriever

House training your Golden Retriever can be one of the most frustrating parts of dog ownership. However there is good news – Golden Retrievers tend to be easier to potty train than other breeds, due to their intense desire to please their owners. Lots of positive reinforcement is the best way to ensure that potty training your Golden Retriever is a quick, successful process. House training can take anywhere from 4 months up to a year before your Golden Retriever no longer has accidents inside the house, so don’t get discouraged if it takes a little longer than you anticipated! You should start house training your Golden Retriever between 12 and 16 weeks old (which is probably right around the time you are able to take them home). Other tips and techniques to house train your Golden Retriever are below.

Define a space

Until your Golden Retriever is house trained, give them their own space that is “theirs.” This can be a room, on a leash with you at all times, or a crate (more about crate training your Golden Retriever below). All dogs consider their space their ‘den,’ and they will instinctively avoid soiling it. Never put your dog into it’s space as a form of punishment, as it will no longer view it as a safe place, and will not have the same instincts to avoid urinating and
defecating there.

Start a routine

When you’re potty training your Golden Retriever, keeping their meals on a schedule is ideal. By starting a routine, they know when to do their business outside, and you will know about what time they will need to go out. Staying consistent with your Golden’s schedule will make training him exponentially easier.

Take them to the same place

Take your Golden Retriever outside to the same place, or use puppy pads in the same spot in the house, if you choose to do so. Their scent, and the habit of going to the same place, will reinforce when they should go to the bathroom. Remember to clean up your dog’s poop – a dog will still be able to smell where they went, and too much waste in one spot may discourage your dog from going in the same area.

Reward with positive reinforcement

Golden Retrievers LOVE positive reinforcement and respond to it more than many other breeds. Be sure to give your puppy lots of praise each time they go potty outside.

Never rub their nose in it

It’s a myth that rubbing your dog’s nose in it when he relieves himself inside teaches him not do. This can backfire, causing your dog to hide when he needs to go potty and he may make even more messes inside.

Crate Training Your Golden Retriever

Every dog has a natural instinct to create a den. Crate training is a great way to give your Golden Retriever their own space, and is a wonderful way to stop any destructive behaviors as well as aid you in house training. Crate training can be a fast process, or may take a little longer, depending on your dog and method of training.

Their crate is a reward, not a punishment

Many dog owners make the mistake of using the crate as a way to punish their dog when they do something bad. A cra te should never be used as a way to punish your Golden Retriever for bad behavior.

Don’t leave your Golden Retriever in their crate too long – If you leave your Golden Retriever in their crate for extended periods of time, it may cause them to be anxious about entering it at all. Keep Golden Retriever puppies in their crate for no longer than three hours at a time until they are at least six months old. They may not be able to hold their bladders and bowels any longer than that, and being forced to relieve themselves in their crate can cause distress.

Choose the right size

Your Golden Retriever should be able to stand up, turn around, and lay down in their crate. Get the correct size for an adult Golden Retriever, even if you have a puppy – they grow fast!

Crate training steps

To make crate training a quick and easy process, follow these steps, using lots of positive reinforcement!

Introduce your Golden Retriever to their crate

When you introduce your Golden Retriever to their crate, be sure to keep an upbeat attitude, and act excited. Golden Retrievers will get excited with you! Keep the crate in a high traffic area, such as your living room, and place a soft towel or blanket that smells like you inside. Leave the crate door all the way open, and see if your Golden Retriever enters on their own. If your Golden Retriever is apprehensive about the crate, put treats or their favorite toy inside. Do not shut the door to the crate behind them at this step; just let them get used to their crate and begin to identify it as their ‘den.’

Feed your Golden Retriever in the crate

Once your Golden Retriever willingly goes into their crate and is comfortable with it, begin placing their meals at the back of the crate. If they are still apprehensive, placing their bowls at the entrance to the crate is fine. Their crate should always be a positive experience. Once they are used to having their meals in the crate, you can begin shutting the door behind them until they are done eating. Each time they eat, increase the time they are in the crate until they are able to stay in the enclosed crate for ten minutes comfortably.

Begin crating for longer periods of time – Once your Golden Retriever is enjoying their crate while they’re eating, you can train them to enter the crate on command (many owners use phrases such as crate, kennel, go to bed, or house). Use a treat and positive reinforcement to get them to enter the crate, close the door, and leave the room for 10 minutes or so. When you come back, calmly let them out of the crate, and give them low energy, positive reinforcement. Gradually increase the time you leave the room.

Crate your Golden Retriever when you leave

After several weeks, your Golden Retriever may be comfortable enough being left in the crate so that you can leave them crated when you go on short trips, such as to the store.

Crate your Golden Retriever at night

You can place your Golden Retriever’s crate in your bedroom, and crate your puppy at night to reinforce the positive feeling of having their crate be their ‘den.’

Training Your Golden Retriever Not to Jump

Golden Retrievers, like many dogs, often want to greet you and your guests by jumping up on you. It is a submissive way of showing you that they love you, and also a frustrating problem that gets your clothes dirty and can be dangerous for guests or family members who are elderly, young, or just small. So, what are the best ways to teach your Golden Retriever to stop jumping?

Start as early as possible

For behaviors such as jumping, they are extremely hard to stop as your puppy gets older. Train your Golden Retriever as early as possible that jumping up is not allowed.

Be consistent

It is tempting to sometimes allow your Golden Retriever to jump up, such as when you come home after a long time away. However, they will remember how happy you were, and since Golden Retrievers respond to positive reinforcement and pleasing their owners more than most breeds, it can set your training back weeks.

Have an exercise routine

A good dog is a tired dog! Make sure your Golden Retriever gets plenty of exercise, and be sure to only put their leash on when they have four feet squarely on the floor.

Positive reinforcement

Golden Retrievers rarely respond to negative reinforcement, so praise and treats are the keys to training them quickly!

Counter commands

It is much easier to tell an excited dog to do something, rather than to not do something. When you enter your home, immediately tell your Golden Retriever to sit, then praise them! They will learn to sit when you walk in to get attention from you.

Training your Golden Retriever is a rewarding experience, both for dog owners and the dogs themselves. As much as Golden Retriever owners want a well-behaved dog, Goldens want to please just as much. Staying consistent, staying positive, and using lots of positive reinforcement will have your Golden Retriever trained in no time.

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