If you are considering adding a golden retriever to your family and are interested in learning how to handle accidents and potty train your new pet, I have good news.
Are golden retrievers easy to potty train? Yes, they are easy to potty train. Golden retrievers are sensitive, intelligent dogs that respond well to positive reinforcement and are one of the easiest breeds to potty train. They are often used as service dogs for this reason.
When I got my first puppy, I will admit that I was a bit unprepared for potty training. I spent more than a little time cleaning my carpet. Luckily, I can save you a great deal of time and frustration with a few simple tricks I picked up along the way.
What Makes Golden Retrievers so Easy to Train?
Golden retrievers are known for their docility and intelligence. Their intelligence is the main factor in making them so easy to potty train. They can quickly understand that they are being rewarded for going potty outside.
Golden retrievers are also known for their enthusiasm and high energy levels. This can be a little less helpful when you are potty training them, but don’t be discouraged. With the right training, your dog will respond quickly.
Keep in mind that your puppy needs to be a few months old before it can hold in its urine long enough to be trained.
All you need to train your dog is some treats, a bell (if you would like to have your dog signal when they need to go outside), and a little patience.
How Often Does my Dog Need to go Outside?
If your puppy is under eight weeks old, they need to relieve themselves about once an hour. Puppies can be a lot of work, but remember that this is temporary and you just need to hang in there a few months.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, a good rule of thumb is that until your dog is six months old your dog can hold in their urine for one hour for every month of their age.
A puppy can be a major time commitment and may require you to hire someone to watch the puppy in your absence.
You might want to look into hiring a dog walker or taking your dog to a doggy daycare if you need to work and no one will be home.
Potty Training Basics
You can usually tell when a dog needs to relieve itself by observing the dog closely.
They may begin pacing or sniffing the ground. When you notice this behavior, take your dog outside.
- Dogs also often relieve themselves after eating.
- You will want to feed your golden retriever on a fixed schedule and allow them to go outside after they eat.
- Pick a command that you want them to recognize when it is acceptable to relieve themselves.
- Tell them to “go potty” or “use the bathroom” and then give them verbal praise and a treat when they go potty outside.
It sounds so easy, right?
The praise and treat your dog receives for doing their business outside is the most important aspect of their potty training and is critical to their success, as I will explain in the next section.
The Importance of Using Positive Reinforcement When Training Your Dog
Your dog does not understand at first that relieving itself indoors is unacceptable. Rubbing your dog’s face in its urine or feces is not going to potty train the dog. This only makes the dog afraid of you.
Dogs don’t understand cause and effect the way we do. When you are cruel to your dog, you only teach him or her that you are not to be trusted.
This also applies to yell at your dog.
When potty training your dog, positive reinforcement is going to be your best friend, in this case, positive reinforcement would be praising your dog and giving them a treat when they go to the bathroom outside.
Negative reinforcement would be yelling at your dog or rubbing their face in their urine or feces if they have an accident.
If you were at work and your boss decided that the report you turned in was not good enough, would you prefer that they yell at you or give you feedback on how to fix the report? Wouldn’t you feel much better if they thanked you for your hard work when it was corrected?
The ultimate goal of potty training is to prevent accidents indoors and reward your dog with positive reinforcement when they go to the bathroom outdoors.
How Can I Prevent Accidents?
If your dog has an accident, it is because you didn’t take them out often enough or you were not watching your dog closely enough when he or she was sniffing around and looking for a place to go.
- The best thing to do at that point is to clean up the mess and move on. Your dog will not understand why you are upset.
- If you find a wet spot, soak up excess urine with a towel or paper towel and scrub the carpet with an enzymatic cleaner.
- If you catch your dog urinating on the carpet, clap your hands. This will startle the dog and cause them to stop going to the bathroom so that you can carry them outside to finish up.
- You can prevent accidents by watching your dog closely for behaviors that indicate they are about to relieve themselves and rushing them outside when they are.
- You also want to make sure you are taking them outside at the appropriate times to give them the best chance at being trained quickly (once an hour for puppies under eight weeks, etc.).
How to use a Bell to Train Your Dog
You can make your training even more effective with a bell. You may have an old Christmas ornament with a bell you can use laying around, or you can purchase a bell at a pet store or online.
When you begin training your dog, keep the bell on the back of your door so that they hear the bell every time you go outside. They will begin to associate the bell with going outside, and with getting a treat and some praise! The bell will quickly become a good sound for them.
As your training progresses, place the bell where your dog can reach it with his or her nose. Take the dog to the door and wait for them to nudge the bell before taking them outside. You may need to show them how to ring the bell a few times before they catch on.
This will save you a lot of time. Your dog will now be eager to tell you when they need to go outside, and you will not have to watch them always.
Addressing Problems With Potty Training
If your dog is male, they may begin urine marking when they are around six to nine months old. Urine marking is your dog’s way of letting other dogs know he is available to mate. You can prevent this by having your dog fixed before he is three months old.
If your dog is flying through his or her potty training with flying colors and then suddenly begins to have accidents, you may need to take your dog to the veterinarian to find out if they may have a health condition, like a urinary tract infection, that could be causing this behavior.
If you practice positive reinforcement, your golden retriever should be potty trained in no time, and you will be able to enjoy the company of your smart, lovable companion.