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Golden Retrievers make wonderful family pets because they are a very friendly, gentle, and loving breed. What you may not realize, however, is that the Golden Retriever is also a very talented hunting breed – this breed was developed as a gundog and retriever. If you want to teach your dog how to use his innate hunting skills, consider training him for hunt and field.
Training Tips for the First Year
Although Golden Retrievers are talented hunting dogs, it takes time to train them properly for hunt and field. Before you even think about starting your dog with hunt and field training, however, you need to do a lot of work during the first year to prepare him for this type of training. General obedience training and socialization are both incredibly important – they set the foundation for the hunt and field training that will come later on down the line. Your Golden Retriever needs to trust and respect you, so you should take your time in teaching him basic obedience (things like Sit, Stay, and Come). You should also teach your Golden Retriever to give you his attention when you call his name. Although being an effective water retriever requires some degree of independence, you still need your dog to look to you for direction, both during training and in the field.
Basic Hunt and Field Training Tips
Once your Golden Retriever has some basic obedience under his belt (he should be properly socialized as well), you can start thinking about taking your hunt and field training to the next level. For the Golden Retriever, one of the most important skills your dog needs to have is being able to come on command. This is an important aspect of basic obedience training but you will need to take things to the next level by teaching your dog to come when you call even in the face of distraction. Out in the field, your dog will need to respond to commands even when shotguns are going off and birds are falling from the sky. Not only is it a matter of obedience in this case, but also a matter of keeping your dog safe.
In addition to teaching your Golden Retriever when to stay by your side, you also need to teach him when and how to actually do the retrieving. You will need to work with your dog to teach him not only how to fetch, but how to bring back the bird and to drop it when you tell him to. For many dogs like the Golden Retriever, teaching your dog to chase and pick up the object is the easy part – the hard part is getting your dog to bring the item to you instead of running off with it and, when he does, to drop it. It will take a good bit of time and training for your Golden Retriever to learn and master these commands so be patient and consistent. The more often you train and the more consistently you reward your dog for doing what you want him to do, the faster he will learn.
Training your Golden Retriever for hunt and field is not something you can do over the weekend or even over the summer – it takes years for dogs to become master hunters. The key is to start early and to make sure your dog has a firm foundation of obedience training before you begin. Then, just make the training sessions fun and keep the rewards coming!
Photo credits: Franco Vannini/Flickr
The Golden Retriever is a gentle and mild-mannered dog but, like all dogs, they can be a little mischievous while they are puppies. You never know what your puppy might get into if you don’t keep an eye on him which is why many Golden Retriever owners utilize tether training. Placing your dog on a tether will help to keep him out of trouble without you having to confine him to his crate.
What is Tether Training for Dogs?
When you start housetraining your Golden Retriever puppy, you probably make use of a crate in order to keep him from having an accident in the house when you cannot supervise him closely. As your dog gets older, however, he will gain more control over his bladder and bowels so he may not need to be confined to the crate. It is still a good idea, however, to keep him in one particular area so he doesn’t wander around the house getting into trouble – that is where tether training comes in. By attaching your Golden’s collar to a tether you can limit his range without fully confining him.
The term “tether training” means different things to different people. One interpretation involves limiting the dog’s ability to roam, as described previously, but there is another meaning for the term “tether training”. The second interpretation for this type of training involves teaching your dog to walk or run on a leash (or tether) without having to hold the leash yourself. Instead, the tether wraps around your waist, leaving your hands free. Some dog owners even keep their dogs tethered to their bodies in the house to keep their dogs out of trouble.
Simple Tips for Tether Training Your Dog
If you want to tether train your Golden Retriever, your best bet is to start while your puppy is young. Puppies are highly impressionable during the first few months of life so this is the best time to teach them new things – it is just part of socializing your puppy. If you don’t start tether training early, your adult dog could be confused by the tether or he might become anxious about being restrained. The key to success with tether training is to start early and to get your dog used to the tether before you actually start using it for whatever your intended purpose may be.
To get your dog acquainted with the tether, simply attach the tether to your Golden Retriever’s collar then praise and reward him. Start off by standing right next to him and then, after a few repetitions, take a step back. Keep working with your dog until he remains calm while you move as far away as the length of the tether will allow. Once your Golden gets used to being on the tether you can start using it for walks and you can use it in the house to keep your dog in a certain area while you cannot physically supervise him. You can even keep your dog tethered to your body when you are at home, if you choose to. Just remember to keep praising and rewarding your dog for good behavior on the tether.
When your Golden Retriever puppy is still young you may find that he has a tendency to get into anything and everything. One way to keep your puppy out of trouble is to keep him tethered when you cannot watch him yourself. Tether training can also be a great way to teach your puppy how to walk or run on the leash without you having to hold it.
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Though many people consider the Golden Retriever to be the ultimate family pet, these dogs were actually developed for retrieving waterfowl. The Golden Retriever breed is also highly talented as a tracking breed with proper training. If you are looking for a fun way to build a stronger bond with your dog, or if you are looking for something to give him a little extra exercise, consider tracking or scent training for your Golden Retriever.
What is Tracking or Scent Training?
Tracking or scent training is exactly what it sounds like – it involves teaching your Golden Retriever to follow a scent trail. A dog’s nose is up to 10,000 times stronger than the human nose, depending on the breed, which makes your dog’s nose one of his strongest tools. Because your Golden Retriever already has the tools he needs to follow a scent trail, tracking or scent training really just involves teaching your dog how to utilize those tools effectively in a competition setting. When it comes to tracking and scent training, there are different skills which come into play. You can teach your Golden Retriever to follow a track or a trail on the ground, to follow a scent on the air, or to identify objects that have been scented. Each of these skills takes time and training to develop, but the Golden Retriever is a very smart and trainable breed which is why they make such good tracking dogs.
Tips for Getting Started with Tracking/Scent Training
There are a number of different ways to go about getting your Golden Retriever started with tracking and scent training. To teach your dog to follow a scent trail on the ground, use the following training sequence:
- Cut up a couple of hot dogs into 1-inch pieces and place a few of them on the ground in your backyard.
- Use your foot to step on the pieces, mashing them into the grass.
- With the hotdog scent on your shoe, walk in a straight line away from your Golden Retriever.
- Drop a piece of hotdog every couple of feet, moving a total of 20 feet away.
- At the end of the trail, drop one of your dog’s favorite toys so he has something to work toward.
- Place a piece of hotdog on top of the toy then go back to where your dog is.
- Encourage your Golden Retriever to sniff the area where the trail starts and praise him when he stars to follow it.
- Follow your dog as he follows the scent trail but don’t lead him – let him follow the trail with his nose until he reaches the end.
By using this type of training sequence you can quickly teach your Golden Retriever to follow a scent trail using food rewards. As your dog gets used to tracking you can start making the trail a little more difficult by adding corners, going over obstacles, and dropping objects along the way.
Training your Golden Retriever for tracking can be a fun and exciting challenge for the both of you. Not only will your dog be learning a new skill, but the two of you will be spending time together developing your bond or friendship. The better your dog gets at tracking, the more difficult you can make the trail – your dog may even get good enough to compete in tracking competitions!
Photo credit: Franco Vannini/Flickr
As mild-mannered and gentle as the Golden Retriever is, all dogs have a bit of a mischievous side at times. If your Golden Retriever sees something he wants, he won’t hesitate to do what is necessary to get it. Sometimes that means digging through the trash, jumping up on the kitchen table, or taking a toy away from your child. The most effective way to deal with these behaviors is to teach your Golden to follow a “Leave It” command.
Why is the “Leave It” Command Useful?
The way dogs explore their world and learn about new things is by using their mouths – this is why puppies have a tendency to chew on anything and everything. Though this behavior is most common in puppies, older dogs do it as well and it can lead to some unpleasant situations if your dog gets something nasty in his mouth and you have to try to take it away. Whether your dog is chewing on something he shouldn’t have or eating something he shouldn’t be, getting the item away from him can be tricky – especially if your dog thinks he is playing a game of keep away. The easiest way to get something away from your dog without having to chase him all over the house is to teach him the “Leave It” command. This command can work to stop your dog from chewing on something that isn’t a toy, to keep him from eating something potentially harmful, or even to stop him from exhibiting an undesired behavior. It is all just a matter of training.
Teaching Your Dog to Leave It
There are a number of different ways you can go about teaching your Golden Retriever a “Leave It” command but the ultimate goal is to have your dog transfer his attention from the object of his desire to you when you issue the command. To do so, start by holding a treat in one hand with your palm up and hold it in front of your dog until he notices it. When he does, immediately say “Leave It” and close your fist then turn it upside down. Your dog will probably nudge at your hand and try to get at the treat – let him do this for as long as it takes for him to get bored. As soon as he turns his attention away from the treat (ideally wait until he makes eye contact with you), tell him “Good dog” and give him the treat as a reward.
Repeat this training sequence in this order until he consistently responds to the “Leave It” command by turning his attention away from the treat. The next step is to repeat the sequence without closing your fist so your dog can see the treat. After your dog masters this phase you can start putting the treat on the ground in front of you, moving it closer to or further away from your dog to reinforce his obedience to the command. Eventually you may even be able to place the treat on your dog’s nose and have him wait for you to say “okay” until he eats it.
Once your dog masters the “Leave It” command you can use it in a variety of different situations to redirect your dog’s attention from something he shouldn’t be eating or doing. You can also use the “Leave It” command to stop your dog if he is exhibiting an undesired behavior like playing too rough. Use the command in a variety of different situations so your dog learns to give you his attention each and every time you use it.
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The Golden Retriever is consistently ranked as the second most popular breed in the country according to American Kennel Club (AKC) registration statistics. Part of what makes this breed so popular is its friendly nature. Golden Retrievers love people and they make fast friends with strangers. While this can sometimes be a good thing, it could also put your dog into a potentially dangerous situation if the stranger he makes friends with means him harm. Keep reading to learn how to protect your Golden Retriever from this kind of situation.
The Downside of Your Golden’s Friendly Personality
The Golden Retriever is naturally a people-oriented breed and they have the ability to get along with anyone and everyone they meet. Usually this is a good thing but it could also get your dog into trouble one day if you are not careful. There are people in the world who steal dogs and sell them for a profit – many of these dogs are never reunited with their owners and many of them end up as bait for dog fighting rings or as test subjects in research facilities. If your Golden has an overly trusting nature, there is nothing to stop him from walking right up to a thief and being taken away.
Your Golden Retriever’s trusting nature could also get him into trouble even when you are around. Goldens have a tendency to become overly excited when they meet new people or other dogs and that excitement could keep them from noticing a potentially dangerous situation. For example, if your Golden sees another dog across the street that he wants to greet, he could run right out into traffic without even realizing the danger. There is also the risk that your dog might follow the commands of someone else over your commands and that should never be the case.
Tips for Training Your Dog to Only Listen to You
Many Golden Retriever owners express concern about their dogs being overly friendly around strangers, worrying that it might get them into a dangerous situation. It is a fine line to walk, however, between being friendly and being too friendly. The last thing you want is for your dog to spike toward the opposite end of the spectrum, learning to fear strangers. Instead of trying to teach your dog to be warier around strangers, focus instead on reinforcing his training so that he listens and responds to your commands over the commands of anyone else. Teaching your Golden Retriever basic obedience is one of your most important tasks as a dog owner but you should seriously consider taking your training a few steps further than just the basics.
The first step is, of course, to train your Golden to respond to the Sit, Down, Come, and Stay commands – work with your dog in all kinds of environments to reinforce his mastery of these commands so he responds appropriately each and every time. One thing you might try is teaching your dog to Sit when he is approached by someone other than you. Training your dog to sit and then wait for you to release him means that even if he is approached by a stranger, he will still look to you to tell him what to do. Teaching your dog to do this is actually fairly simple, you just have to be consistent about commanding your dog to Sit when someone approaches him and reward him for doing so. Wait for a few seconds then tell the dog “Okay” and let the person pet him at that point.
You cannot change your Golden Retriever’s friendly nature, but you can do some extra training keep him from becoming too friendly with strangers. The more you work with your dog, the stronger your bond will become and the more likely he will be to listen to your commands anyway – just be sure to reward him for doing so!
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The Golden Retriever is a breed that is naturally friendly and full of life. Unfortunately, this often correlates with over-excitement, especially when new people come to the door. If your Golden Retriever has developed a bad habit of jumping up or barking at new people, you may need to work with him a little bit to reduce these behaviors.
Why Do Dogs Jump Up on People?
If you have ever visited the home of a fellow dog owner, there is a good chance that you were greeted by their dog in a very enthusiastic and energetic way. Even if your friend tries to hold the dog back, he may have just been too excited to contain himself and that excitement frequently manifests in the form of jumping, licking, and barking. Seeing this kind of behavior in someone else’s dog may make you realize that your own dog has the same issue. What you may not realize, however, is that you probably played a role in reinforcing that behavior. Think back to when your Golden Retriever was a puppy – how did you react when he got excited to see you? You probably returned that excitement by speaking to him in a positive tone, petting him, or even picking him up. In doing so, you reinforced his over-excited behavior and taught him that jumping up and barking at people gets him the attention he craves. To curb this behavior, you will have to work with him to teach him that this behavior won’t get him what he wants.
Teaching Your Dog Not to Jump Up
The key to curbing undesired behavior in dogs like the Golden Retriever is to stop rewarding the dog for exhibiting that behavior and, if applicable, to teach him that said behavior does not get him what he wants. To teach your dog not to jump up on people when they enter the house, you may need to enlist the help of a friend and work through a training sequence to teach your dog that he will only receive attention when he is calm. Start by asking your friend to step outside then stand with your dog on the other side of the door. Have your friend ring the doorbell and as soon as he starts to get excited, tell him to Sit. If he complies, praise him and reward him with a treat. If he doesn’t, repeat the sequence until he gets the hang of it.
Once your dog has learned to sit when the doorbell rings you can actually have your friend enter the house and start working on your dog’s overly excited greeting behavior. Have your friend step into the room – your dog will probably make a beeline for him and start jumping up. Instruct your friend to freeze as soon as the dog starts jumping up and to turn around, ignoring the dog. Your friend should avoid engaging with the dog in any way until he calms down, at which point your friend can turn back around and pet him calmly as a reward. Repeat this training sequence until your dog learns that jumping and barking will not get him the attention he craves – he will only get that attention when he remains calm.
Curbing your dog’s overly excited greeting habits may take some time, but if you are consistent with it you will be successful. You can also adapt this training sequence for other situations, making sure to only reward your Golden Retriever for the behaviors you desire and to stop reinforcing bad behaviors by giving your dog what he wants.
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The Golden Retriever is generally a healthy breed that lives for ten to twelve years, on average. As your dog gets older, however, his risk for developing serious health problems gets higher. One of the more common conditions seen in senior Golden Retrievers is a progressive spinal cord disease called degenerative myelopathy. This disease progresses rapidly and it can lead to some very severe symptoms so take the time to learn about this disease so you can seek treatment for your dog at the very first sign of trouble.
What is Degenerative Myelopathy in Dogs?
Degenerative myelopathy is a type of progressive spinal cord disorder that leads to weakness in the hind limbs and, in many cases, lameness or paralysis. This condition typically manifests in dogs that are middle-aged or older (between 8 and 14 years) and it begins slowly but progresses over time. The type of degeneration that occurs with this disease consists of the demyelination of the nerve fibers that transmit signals from the brain to the limbs and back (demyelination involves stripping away the insulation that protects these nerve fibers). In some cases, these fibers are actually damaged or destroyed which cuts off communication between the dog’s brain and his limbs, affecting his ability to walk normally.
Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options
In Golden Retrievers, degenerative myelopathy is a non-inflammatory and non-painful condition that affects the white matter in the dog’s spinal cord. The disease usually begins with weakness in the hind limbs that contributes to an altered, often unsteady gait. In the early stages of the disease, it is easy to confuse the symptoms of degenerative myelopathy with an orthopedic injury, but as the condition progresses over the next 6 to 12 months it becomes increasingly clear that this is not the case. Unfortunately, this disease can lead to complete paraplegia in some Golden Retrievers which means that the dog may need to be euthanized. As the dog loses its ability to walk, it has a high risk for developing bed sores which, if left untreated, can lead to dangerous secondary infections.
For Golden Retrievers and other dogs, a diagnosis of degenerative myelopathy comes with a poor prognosis – most dogs are euthanized within six months to three years of when symptoms develop. Symptoms of the disease include progressive weakness of the hind limbs, difficulty rising, dragging the feet, tremors or seizures, sudden collapse, and discernible pain. Unfortunately, there are no treatments available to slow the progression of degenerative myelopathy – most treatments are aimed at reducing pain and maintaining quality of life. The cause for this condition is unknown, though there does seem to be a genetic link. Some breeds like the Golden Retriever, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, German Shepherd, and Irish Setter seem to have a higher risk for developing degenerative myelopathy.
Because degenerative myelopathy can be very severe if left untreated, you should take your Golden Retriever to the vet at the very first sign of trouble. Keep in mind that this is generally not a painful disease so you may have to keep an eye out for changes in your dog’s behavior and gait in order to identify the problem.
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We have all been there. You are sitting on the couch in the evening after dinner enjoying your favorite TV show when a stomach-churning odor wafts your way. As the only person in the room, you know it didn’t come from you and that leaves just one possible culprit – your Golden Retriever. Gas is fairly common in dogs, especially as they age, but it could be an indication of a larger health problem so you should have your dog checked by your veterinarian.
What Causes Gas in Golden Retrievers?
In many cases, gas in Golden Retrievers is the direct result of something they have eaten. While you probably already know that dogs are carnivores, you may not completely understand what that means. It means that your dog’s body is adapted to digesting and utilizing animal products (like meat, fish, and eggs) more than plant products. Because your dog’s body has a limited ability to digest carbohydrates, eating too much of these hard to digest foods can cause gastrointestinal upset and gas. Many low-quality pet foods are made with high levels of carbohydrates, especially things like corn, wheat, and soy, which are low in nutritional value for dogs and hard to digest.
Even if you feed your Golden Retriever a grain-free and gluten-free diet, he could still experience gas as a result of something he eats. Many dogs are sensitive or intolerant to dairy products and, for many dogs, rich or fatty table scraps can cause gas as well. Your dog could even be allergic to a number of healthy ingredients that are commonly used in high-quality dog foods – things like beef, chicken, or lamb. Artificial additives like colors, flavors, and preservatives can contribute to gas as well.
Tips for Reducing Gas in Dogs
A little flatulence here and there is normal in dogs and it is generally not something to worry about. If it becomes a frequent issue, however, it is not something you want to ignore because it could be more than just a food sensitivity – it could be an indication of a larger underlying health issue. If your Golden Retriever develops chronic gas, you should take him to the veterinarian to determine the cause of his flatulence and to make sure it isn’t something serious. Once you’ve determined that your dog’s flatulence isn’t anything to worry about, try these tips to reduce his gas:
- Switch your Golden Retriever over to a high-quality, highly digestible dog food made with healthy ingredients and devoid of artificial additives.
- Avoid feeding your dog table scraps, especially foods containing lactose, high levels of fat, or a high number of calories.
- Try to keep your Golden Retriever from eating too quickly – if he eats too fast he could end up swallowing a lot of air that might contribute to gas.
- Keep an eye on your dog’s stools to gauge his gastrointestinal health – his stools should be firm and well-formed, not overly soft or runny.
- Take your Golden Retriever to the vet if his flatulence persists or gets worse after you try some of these tips.
It is completely normal for your Golden Retriever to let one loose once in a while but you should be concerned if it becomes a chronic issue. As long as your veterinarian is able to confirm that your dog’s flatulence isn’t anything to worry about you can try using some of the tips provided above to reduce the frequency and severity of your dog’s gas.
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Retrievers are one of the most popular choices for a family dog and companion dog. They are also in high demand with game hunters, since they are the perfect hunting companion. Chances are you have fallen in love with an adorable Retriever and you want to bring him or her home immediately. While this is understandable, you should learn more about Retrievers before you choose to own one.
- They Crave Attention – Retrievers are not the type of dog you put in the backyard and forget about. Actually know dog deserves that, especially Retrievers. This is because they are highly sociable and crave attention and companionship from their owner. Whether you are seeking to bring home a Retriever to be a family dog, companion or to assist with hunting tasks, you will want to make sure you have plenty of time in your schedule to bond with your dog.
- Large Space Required – Retriever pups are cute small and furry, but these adorable creatures grow quickly and need plenty of space to stretch his or her legs. You will want to make sure you have a fenced in yard for your Retriever to exercise in or you may be an apartment dweller that has plenty of access to outdoor open space such as a park.
- They Chew on Objects – Retriever pups take about three years to become adults. During this time frame your pup will be going through stages in life that often times cause him or her to chew on objects. While these objects are usually toys, there are times your Retriever may chew on furniture, shoes, clothes and anything else in sight. You will need to puppy proof your home and keep objects out of reach during this time in your Retrievers life.
- Easy to Train – Retrievers are highly intelligent and easy to train. While every pup learns at his or her own pace, you can be assured that eventually they will understand and adhere to your rules. The training process will require dog owners to be patient as your Retriever learns at his or her own pace.
- They Eat Large Portions – Since your Retriever is going to quickly grow into adulthood, they are a large breed that requires plenty of healthy food. This means you will be purchasing dry and wet dog food and healthy delicious treats on a regular basis. Providing a Retriever with the required amount of food for their age, size and health status can become costly over the years.
Sweet, kind, gentle Retrievers also have an enthusiasm for life. This enthusiasm and energy needs to be burned off on a daily basis. Otherwise it can cause your Retriever to have negative behavior. Before you choose to own a Retriever make sure you feel confident that you will have time in your schedule to provide daily exercise such as long walks or visits to a dog park. Make your decision to own a Retriever carefully and feel confident that you can provide him or her with a happy, healthy life.
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It’s official, you have made your final decision to welcome a Retriever into your family and your home. The moment has arrived that you are beginning your journey of finding a reputable breeder. Finding a responsible breeder that has healthy dogs available can be a long task. The tips below will help you find a healthy, happy Retriever pup from a reputable Retriever breeder.
- Ask Friends and Family – Begin your search by asking those closest to you if they can recommend a reputable breeder that is trustworthy. Ask family members, close friends, co-workers and local veterinarian office staff. There’s a possibility that someone may have an excellent referral for you.
- Search Your Community – Search within your community by going online to your local community website. You can also broaden your search to surrounding communities. You will be searching for dog breeders that have Retrievers available.
- Contact the Breeder – Speak to the breeder of the telephone to see if they have Retriever pups available. If they do, set up a day and time to meet with them. If you have a variety of Retriever breeders in your area to choose from you can set an appointment with each one.
- Keep Your Appointment – When you arrive you will want to focus and observe the area where the pups live. Responsible breeders provide a clean environment and easy access to fresh water and food. They also exhibit caring emotions towards the pups. If you meet a breeder that has more than two litters available at one time, chances are it is a puppy mill. If this is the case remove yourself from the facility immediately.
- Interview the Breeder – When you meet the breeder ask for references from previous customers. Also take the time to get to know the breeder, ask why they enjoy breeding Retrievers, their interest in the breed, if they can provide medical documents from a veterinarian for the pup. Also discuss if there are any known health issues with the parents of the litter.
Remember that reputable breeders do not hand over a pup to the first person that gives them money. Responsible breeders take their time interviewing you and getting to know more about where you live and the type of lifestyle you are going to provide for the pup. They will ask questions that will help them get a clear picture if you will be a responsible Retriever dog owner. They also have the right to deny you a pup if they feel you are not suitable for a Retriever.
While the process may seem lengthy and even bothersome, especially since you are eager to hold your Retriever pup in your arms and take him or her home, it is essential to endure when dealing with a reputable Retriever breeder. To make things easier you may want educate yourself on the breed, learn the requirements they need to live a happy, healthy life and express your desire to become a pet parent to a Retriever. This will help the breeder understand you are responsible as a pet owner. Find a reputable Retriever breeder today and bring your pup home!
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