Training Your Golden Retriever
“Bad behavior” is the biggest reason that pets are relinquished. Sadly many dogs don’t even realize their behavior is inappropriate. According to David Haworth, DVM, PhD, and president and CEO of Morris Animal Foundation, dogs thrive on having limits.
As pack animals, dogs need a lot of structure—and as the owner, you need to provide it. You need to be aware of (and decide for yourself) what normal canine behavior is and what behavior is unacceptable.
For example, Golden Retrievers were bred to retrieve, which means they instinctively desire something in their mouths at all times. This is normal Golden Retriever behavior; however, it’s up to you to decide what’s appropriate for your dog’s mouth.
“Golden Retriever puppies can make bad choices on their own,” says Dr. Haworth, whose puppy, Bridger, recently walked into the living room with a bottle of nail polish remover in his mouth. The bottle was promptly replaced with a more appropriate toy.
As an owner, it’s your job to make sure your dog knows what’s right and wrong and to be consistent. Also, don’t be afraid to seek professional help if you have a problem you can’t handle on your own.
Dr. Haworth says many problems can be avoided if you put in the time when your dog is a puppy. Early socialization is critical to good behavior later on, but the window of socialization closes at about 4 months of age.
Car rides, walks, exposure to loud noises and trips to the veterinarian are all excellent training activities for your puppy. Taking your dog to obedience classes is also a great why for you and your dog to learn how to relate to one another.
Many people are afraid to expose a puppy to other dogs because of concerns over infectious disease. Dr. Haworth says that as long as you know the dogs are healthy, getting socialization with all shapes and sizes of people and dogs is the best thing you can do for a puppy.
Additional simple things include setting a bathing and grooming routine early on. If the first time your dog sees a tub is when it’s 2 years old, the experience will likely be traumatic for everyone.
“If you socialize a puppy early on and you make sure you set up clear boundaries, you have to work a lot less to correct behavioral problems later in life,” Dr. Haworth advises.
To learn more about Morris Animal Foundation and our other programs please visit morrisanimalfoundation.org.