Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds – known to be service animals, working animals, and sometimes even TV and movie stars.
Regarded as intelligent, social, adaptable, and playful–golden retrievers are one of a kind dog breed. However, when it comes to goldens, their high energy and social nature can leave owners wondering if two is better than one.
Does my golden retriever need a companion? While golden retrievers do very well with other dogs and animals, it’s not necessary for them to have a companion. They do, however, need ample attention from their owners, as well as plenty of time and room to play.
To make sure you’re knowledgeable when it comes to your golden retriever and the potential for it needing a companion, we’re going to walk you through why golden retrievers don’t necessarily need companions, reasons why you might want to consider getting a companion for your golden retriever, and even all the things to consider when getting a companion for your golden retriever.
What You Need to Know About Golden Retrievers and Companions
As you’ve read already, golden retrievers don’t need a companion; they function very well as an only dog when they get adequate attention and exercise.
However, in order to give you more understanding, it’s helpful to know more about golden retriever behavior and just why they don’t necessarily need companions.
So, let’s start with the basics before getting into more detail about golden retrievers and why they don’t necessarily need a companion – and reasons why you might or might not want to consider getting a companion for your golden.
A Look at Golden Retriever Behavior
One of the biggest things that factor into dogs needing companions is their behavior. This is especially significant when it comes to golden retrievers.
We could write entire articles on the behavior of golden retrievers alone; however, we’ll keep it brief and stick with the characteristics and behaviors that can affect if golden retrievers need a companion or not.
Goldens Are High Energy Dogs
First things first, golden retrievers are a breed with a lot of energy. If you’ve already got golden, this is likely a characteristic you’re all too familiar with. According to the American Kennel Club, golden retrievers were bred to do as their name sounds – retrieve.
Since golden retrievers were originally bred to retrieve waterfowl, they are powerful and full of energy. They are a breed that needs adequate exercise, and they need it daily!
Those familiar with golden retrievers know that a golden who don’t get enough exercise and playtime can begin engaging in activity that’s less than desirable – and no one wants that.
You may not have ever considered that a dog can get bored – but with golden retrievers, that’s something that can be all too common. When goldens don’t get enough exercise and mental stimulation, they can get bored just like people can, and that’s when destructive behaviors can begin.
Goldens Are Devoted and Eager to Please
One of the many reasons golden retrievers have been and are such a popular breed is due to their devotion. As we just discussed, goldens were bred to retrieve waterfowl. Who did they retrieve waterfowl for, though? People, of course!
Being bred to retrieve waterfowl for people led to golden retrievers essentially being bred to work with people – and that led to them being extremely devoted and eager to please.
Perhaps one of the best ways to describe golden retriever devotion is the way Golden Retriever Rescue of Mid-Florida puts it: they’re “velcro dogs” – always sticking by your side!
Goldens Are Extremely Social and Love Attention
Golden retrievers have been renowned by many as one of the friendliest and best family dogs. Not only are these four-legged friends well-behaved and friendly with people in general, but they’re also good with children when socialized around them.
You’ve probably heard the term “people-person” to describe outgoing and social people in your life, and if there’s an equivalent of that term for dogs, golden retrievers definitely fit the mold. Golden retrievers love people and need a good amount of attention from their owner(s) and/or others.
That’s no exaggeration, either; golden retrievers strongly dislike being alone! Orvis explains that while goldens can be left alone for a few hours at a time, the social dogs really need family time and attention from their owner(s) or others every day – or it could result in bad behavior.
Since goldens so much dislike being alone, you may automatically assume that, of course, one golden retriever needs a companion. While that can be a factor (we’ll discuss that later on), attention from people and family is sufficient enough for golden retrievers to stay happy and healthy – and some goldens may prefer it that way.
Reasons You Might (or Might Not) Want to Consider Getting a Companion for Your Golden Retriever
Now that you know a bit more about golden retriever behavior and where it stems from, you can better understand some of the reasons you might or might not want to consider getting a companion for your golden retriever.
As we’ve mentioned a few times, it’s not absolutely necessary for golden retrievers to have a companion. In fact, most golden retrievers are happy to be around only humans; they just need ample attention from their owners and plenty of exercises.
That being said, golden retrievers can have a companion if you decide yours would do better with one (or even if you’re just looking to add some more golden retriever love to your life).
All that being said, let’s take a look at some of the reasons you might want to get a companion for your golden retriever and some of the reasons you might want to hold off on getting one.
Reasons to Get a Companion for Your Golden Retriever
First things first, every dog and every owner is different. These reasons and ideas are all great food for thought, but at the end of the day, you’ll have to make the ultimate decision on whether or not to get a companion for your golden retriever – you know him or her best!
However, there are, of course, some things to consider when it comes to thinking of getting a companion for your golden retriever.
A lot of them have to do with golden retriever behavior, and some of them have to do with owner preferences and abilities. Let’s take a look.
A Companion Can Help Get Energy Out
Like you read previously, these socialites of the dog world are high energy. Two dogs mean twice the play and exercise time, but the good news is, they can help each other get that energy out!
Getting a companion for your golden retriever can help your golden get more energy out as he or she plays with the companion. This is great, considering just how much they love to play and how much they need to exercise.
Not only that, but the companion will also, of course, be getting energy out as well. Having a companion of the same kind to play with, exercise with, and ultimately expend energy with is a great benefit for many golden retrievers.
A Companion Means Less (or No) Alone Time
It’s pretty clear that these socialites of the dog world really dislike being alone. When being alone can result in destructive behavior, a good remedy can often be a companion.
You may want to consider getting a companion for your golden retriever so that he or she doesn’t have to be alone – even when you’re away.
Having a companion for your golden retriever means not only more play for them but less boredom too – and of course, none of the dreaded alone time.
Even if your golden retriever and new companion need to be in crates while they’re left home alone, having the crates close to each other (even so the dogs can touch through the sides) can help immensely.
You’re Just Ready for Another Dog
Even if you’ve got a golden retriever whose content being an only dog, maybe you’re ready for another. That’s totally fine, and a great reason to consider getting a companion for your golden retriever (as getting another dog essentially means getting your golden a companion!).
Golden retrievers are companion dogs through and through, and not only do they get along well with people, but they also get along well with other dogs (and even cats and other animals).
If you’re ready for another dog, it’s likely that your golden retriever will enjoy all the benefits of having a companion, just as you’ll enjoy the benefits of having another dog around.
Your Golden Retriever Can Help Train the Companion
Lauren Brown notes that if you get a companion for your golden retriever, your golden can actually help “train” the companion (even if they might not totally be aware they are doing so).
No, it’s not “training” in the traditional sense, but since your golden has already established their routine and place in your home and is likely already trained, he or she can pass on those behaviors to their new companion.
Getting a companion for your golden retriever will mean your companion will likely more easily pick up bathroom routines, bedtime routines, food routines, and even some behaviors – thanks to your golden.
That undoubtedly makes the process of taking on another dog easier for you. So, while your golden gets all the awesome benefits of having a new furry friend around, you get some nice perks too.
Reasons to Not Get a Companion for Your Golden Retriever
There are some pretty good reasons to consider getting a companion for your golden retriever. You’ve likely even thought of some that aren’t listed here that are specific to you and your golden.
However, there may be some reasons to actually not get a companion for your golden retriever. To make sure you’ve got both sides of the story, let’s discuss some of those.
You’re Not Ready to Take On Another Dog
This is one of the most prominent and popular reasons for not getting a companion for your golden retriever.
If you’re not ready to take on the responsibility of another dog, you shouldn’t consider getting a companion for your golden retriever (or at least not yet).
Things to consider when it comes to this are things like if you have enough time to devote to caring for two dogs if you’ve got the funds to pay for double the food and vet visits, and if you’ve got enough space to add another dog to your family.
If you’re on the fence about if you’re ready to take on another dog (and therefore get a companion for your golden retriever), it might be beneficial to ask yourself some of the following questions:
- Do you have enough space to accommodate a companion for your golden retriever?
- Do you have enough time to pay attention to and care for more than one dog?
- Do you have the funds to pay for more food, equipment, and medical care?
- Are you able to train another dog?
Being ready to commit to another dog is a huge key in getting your golden retriever a companion.
Your Golden Retriever Isn’t Good With Other Dogs
Wait, how could a golden retriever not be good with other dogs? Didn’t you just say how social and friendly they are?
When it comes down to it, some dogs just aren’t the best around other dogs. That can happen for a variety of reasons, and it can indeed happen with golden retrievers! Not all dogs are the same, and that’s perfectly okay.
You know your dog best. Are your golden retrievers good around other dogs? If not, or if you’re golden really shows apprehension for other dogs in general, you probably don’t want to get a companion for them.
Putting another dog in the mix with a golden retriever who is already not the best with other dogs just isn’t a good equation.
This can have the potential to make both dogs feel uncomfortable, apprehensive, and tense, and maybe even encourage undesirable behavior.
You’ve Got Very Young Children
Golden retrievers are great with children, but if you’ve got really young children – especially ones that are learning to walk or just learned to walk – you may want to wait on getting a companion for your golden retriever.
Goldens are naturally playful and energetic (as you already know), especially when they’re young or newly introduced to an area and family. Likewise, dogs also have a tendency to run or jump, especially if they’re excited; therefore, they can knock children over.
Your young ones taking a spill and potentially getting hurt because of your golden or a new companion dog could be a possibility, so take that into consideration before deciding whether to get a companion for your golden retriever.
What to Do If You’ve Decided to Get a Companion for Your Golden Retriever
By now, you know more about golden retriever behaviors and reasons why you might (and might not) want to consider getting a companion for your golden retriever.
Now we’re going to walk you through some things that are even more fun: what to do if you’ve decided you do want to get a companion for your golden retriever! Let’s take a look at things to consider, what to prepare for, and how to welcome another furry friend into your family.
Consider the Dog Breeds That Are Good Companions for Golden Retrievers
If you’ve decided your golden retriever needs a companion, it’s probably safe to say the next thing that popped into your mind was just what kind of dog to get.
A big influence will likely be a breed you already know, like, or are interested in. But there are actually some other things you can consider, like dogs that are known to make the best companions for golden retrievers.
Purina has an awesome list of the best dogs for multi-pet homes, meaning dogs that get along well with other dogs, other people, and other types of pets.
If you want to get a companion for your golden retriever, but aren’t sure which breed to get, the following dogs can make good companions for golden retrievers:
- Golden Retrievers (of course!)
- Labrador Retrievers
- Australian Shepherds
- English Springer Spaniels
- German Shepherds
- Boston Terriers
You can, of course, choose a companion dog that isn’t on this list; these breeds are simply the ones that are known to more easily adapt to living in a home with another dog or pet. ‘
Tips for Introducing Your Golden Retriever’s New Companion
Once you’ve decided what type of dog would make the best companion for your golden retriever, it’s time to consider the next step: introducing the companion to your golden.
If you’re a dog person at all, it’s pretty likely that you know introducing dogs to one another isn’t always as simple as one, two, three. You’ll need to take some precautions and have some patience as you ease your pups into their new lives with each other.
So, what are some of the recommended things to do when introducing your golden retriever’s companion to your golden retriever and the family? Let’s dive in and go over some of them.
Introduce Your Golden to the New Companion’s Scent First
You may not be able to do this tip in all cases, but if you can, it’s a big help. Before you bring home the new companion and introduce him or her to your golden, bring home the new companion’s scent.
This can be on a blanket, a toy, a collar, or something that’s been around the new companion for a decent amount of time. Often, it’s easiest to wrap the new dog in a blanket or rub the blanket on the new dog to pick up the scent.
Lucky Dog Animal Rescue recommends bringing home one of these items with the new companion’s scent on it and placing it where the new dog will be sleeping. Let your golden retriever smell it and check it out.
This process will allow your golden to become comfortable and familiar with the new dog’s scent; that way, they won’t feel as bombarded as if a new dog were just to show up.
Introductions on Neutral Ground Are Best
As a dog owner, you’ve probably heard this one a few times too: introducing dogs in a neutral location is often the best way to go about the introduction process.
When we say neutral location, we mean an area that neither dog is familiar with. This eliminates either dog feeling threatened over territory, and therefore wanting to defend that territory.
Lucky Dog Animal Rescue notes that a good technique for introduction is for a separate person to hold each dog on a loose leash, and to make sure not to “force” any interaction between the two dogs.
It’s important to note that one of the dogs might outright ignore the other; in fact, both dogs may ignore each other.
In a blog post by All About Goldens, an owner of three golden retrievers shared her experience with exactly this.
When the owner introduced her third golden retriever to the family, one of her other goldens “took to” the new golden retriever in only a few days. However, her other golden just acted like the new golden retriever didn’t exist – for three whole months!
Don’t fret, though – her other golden eventually came around to the newbie (and acknowledged its existence).
Pay Attention to Behavior Between the Two Dogs
Behavior and body language can tell you a lot about what dogs are feeling and thinking. This is especially true in the introduction process!
What does body language between newly introduced dogs look like if they’re getting along? What about if things aren’t going so well? There are some general behaviors we know fall into these two categories.
Body Language That’s a Good Sign
You’ll know your golden retriever and his or her new companion are beginning to get along, and things are going well if the dogs exhibit the following body language:
- Relaxed bodies and relaxed movements
- Open (relaxed) mouths
- General playfulness or playing
Body Language That’s Not Such a Good Sign
Somebody language and behaviors are a sign that you need to take a break from the introductions and let the dogs recuperate. Proceed with caution if the dogs have any or all of the following body language:
- Stiff bodies and stiff movements
- Teeth baring
- Tense mouths
- Hair standing up on the back and/or neck
- Acting startled
- Staring for a long time
- Snapping or attempted biting
Watching the behavior between your golden retriever and the newly introduced companion can tell you a lot about how they’re feeling and how you should proceed with the process. It’s important to pay attention to!
Separation During Feeding Times Is a Good Idea
Golden retrievers don’t tend to get territorial over their food, but during the introduction phase, it’s a good idea to separate your golden and his or her new companion during feeding times.
You can do this by placing a dog gate or baby gate between the two while they eat; this allows them to be near each other and see each other but still have a healthy boundary.
Having your golden and the new companion be near each other during feeding times is important because that way, they’ll become familiar with the other eating when they do; this leaves less room for them to develop food protecting habits.
Prepare Home for the New Dog
According to an article by The Humane Society of the United States, it’s a good idea to do a few things to prepare your home for the new furry friend who will be joining it.
Before you bring home your golden retriever’s new companion for the first time, make sure any food bowls, toys, treats, and even beds are picked up and put away. This will help avoid any fights over possessions or over-excitement.
It’s also a good idea to give your new dog a “tour” of the home when you bring him or her back for the first time. Put your golden retriever and any other pets in a different room while you show your new dog, “the lay of the land.”
Show the new dog where he or she will sleep and eat, and just allow him or her to get a little acclimated to the new area. Before you know it, your “guest” will feel right at home.
Remember: Set Reasonable Goals and Stay Patient
Just like with getting your first dog, it’s important to set reasonable goals and stay patient when you’re introducing a companion to your golden retriever. Don’t expect to have everything back to normal and back in the routine on day one – adjustments take time!
Additionally, remembering to stay patient and calm will help everyone involved – including your golden retriever and his or her new companion. You’ve got this!