How Hard are Golden Retrievers to Train?

Golden retrievers have been one of the top five favorite dogs in the United States for many years. These animals are gentle giants who are deeply devoted to their owners and make wonderful companions for both children and adults alike.

How hard are golden retrievers to train? Whether teaching these animals from a puppy to their elderly years, gold retrievers are amazingly easy to train. There are at least four basic methods of training these wonderful animals: 

  1. The reward system
  2. Using a clicker
  3. Leash training
  4. Crate training

This article will endeavor to answer many of the questions of those who are considering adopting either a puppy or an elderly golden retriever.

Check out this YouTube video to see how well-performed training can enhance the life and enjoyment of a golden retriever. (YouTube Link)

Four Types of Training for a Golden Retriever

There are dozens of ways to train a golden retriever, but for the sake of space, this article will concentrate on only the four above. 

1. Using the Reward System

Rewards for the good behavior of a golden retriever should include one or all of the following:

  • Praise
  • Playtime
  • Food Rewards

Praise is always the first line of defense when training any breed of dog. By giving the dog an excited shout of “what a good boy/girl” while vigorously petting them, the animal will understand they did something that pleased its owner.

Scolding and shaming a golden retriever when they have an accident on the rug is not nearly as effective as offering praise as the dog will not understand.

Playtime is a wonderful reward for a golden retriever that has obeyed its owner. All dogs enjoy rough-housing or playing ball with their owners, and goldens are certainly no exception.

Playtime offers a chance for the dog to enjoy itself and bond with its owner increasing the chances they will want to please and decreasing the chance of disobedience.

Food rewards, while the first thing most dog owners think of as the best reward, truly are not the best choice. Dogs, especially larger dogs like golden retrievers, need to maintain a healthy weight and eat foods that are good for canines.

However, food rewards are used to train, and they do work well if the owner is careful as to what they feed their pets during training. It is safe to feed your pet the following as a reward:

  • Cooked chicken
  • Broken up dog biscuits
  • Training treats from the pet store
  • Baby carrots

Avoid foods high in fat, and never, ever, feed dogs chocolate as it is poisonous to them.

2. Using a Clicker

When training with a clicker, golden retriever owners let their dog know when they have carried out a command correctly.

Using a clicker is highly effective because it is a unique sound that is always consistent and more likely to gain obedience than using the voice. It is okay, however, to add “yes” or “no” to the command to reinforce the clicker.

To use the clicker method, do follow the procedure below.

First, load your clicker and get a treat in your hand. Show the golden retriever the treat, and when they try to get it, close your hand.

Next, click and offer the treat to your dog, then allow the dog to have it. Repeat several times to help the animal acclimate to the idea that obeying the clicker means a treat. Afterward, the pet owner can use the clicker with a reward to train their golden retriever to follow a command.

3. Leash Training

Training a golden retriever is vital to help the dog remain safe and happy. Teaching a golden to walk by the side of its owner instead of tugging or chasing a squirrel gives the owner the peace of mind of having control over their animal.

A four to the six-foot fixed leash or long retractable leashes are harder to train with than using a shorter regular leash.

The reason for the difference is that a dog’s natural inclination is to pull as far as possible to extend its reach of objects or animals it finds curious.

Should the dog encounter something that frightens or alarms it, the owner doesn’t have the control with a retractable or long leash as they would with a normal one.

To train a golden retriever on a leash, take the dog for walks every day for at least thirty minutes. Always walk at a swift pace and remain calm should the dog begin to pull on the leash. Use a clicker with a reward to remind the golden that he is disobeying and to encourage it to obey.

4. Crate training

Using a crate to secure a golden retriever serves several functions and most relate to safety:

  • It gives the golden a place to calm down
  • Using a crave keeps the dog safe when traveling
  • A crate keeps puppies safe when they cannot be watched
  • A crate keeps the dog safe when the owner is not home
  • It keeps the golden away from visiting children and other pets

Golden retriever owners should never use a crate as punishment for their dog. When the golden achieve trust not to destroy items in the home, do not crate it when away. Always and only save the crate for special moments such as when there are guests in the house or when traveling.

When choosing a crate, the decision is between the wire and durable plastic types, but the most crucial decision is in the size of the crate.

If the crate is too small, the dog will be uncomfortable and not cooperate when it is time to enter. Choosing a crate that is too large for the animal achieves the space that all dogs need to feel at home.

For a typical golden retriever, a forty-two-inch crate is sufficient even if they are still a puppy.

Reasons to Train a Golden Retriever

Golden retrievers, like all other dogs, aren’t born understanding the rules of a household. They don’t have the wiring to understand the difference between a brand-new rug and a patch of grass in the backyard.

Goldens are easy to train at any age and make very obedient pets.

There are three distinct reasons to train a golden retriever:

  • Housetraining
  • Socialization of the dog
  • Obedience training

Golden retrievers are easy to train in all three areas and each method is examined below.

House Training A Puppy

House training begins when the puppy is taken home. First, it is vital to feed the puppy on a regular schedule and take the dog to the designated space in a grassy area near a home.

Only take the golden retriever puppy to the spot specified for the animal to potty and allow the dog to sniff around. If the dog urinates or defecates where you have taken them, offer a ton of praise and a reward.

Remember to take the puppy to the same potty spot every twenty minutes, if possible, and make a huge celebration from each time the dog is successful.

This technique teaches the animal whether a spot is acceptable or not and will save your carpeting in the process.

Watch the golden retriever for signs they need to be taken outside to potty and confining the animals during times you cannot do so.

Socialization of the Dog

Whether going for a walk with a golden retriever along a beach or a large dog park for recreation, socialization can make life much easier for both dog and owner.

Socializing a golden retriever is important for two reasons:

  • It creates a happy dog
  • It creates a happy owner

A dog is happier if it doesn’t feel fearful when out in a dog park or on the leash for a walk. Taking a golden to a park or other public place, especially when they are puppies, allows for the animal to acclimate well to a world of noises and other dogs.

Socializing a golden retriever also makes for a much happier and more relaxed dog owner as of the worries of their pet becoming aggressive, and a nuisance drops dramatically.

Obedience Training

Teaching a golden retriever isn’t just easy; it is vital for the protection of the animal. Anyone can learn to train a golden and to control them whether in private or in the public.

It is useful to have the golden follow several commands, beginning with the most important first. Obedience training should be started early, but even elderly golden retrievers learn quickly and easily.

There are many aspects to obedience training that the owner needs to know for themselves, such as:

  • How to deliver a command with consistent and clear words and to avoid using the incorrect words for the dog to perform an action
  • The owner must become the leader of the pack using their eyes to command obedience
  • How to anticipate problems and to prevent them, so they do not become unpleasant habits such as biting or barking

When begun early, a golden retriever enjoys pleasing their master so much they almost salivate in pleasure when they follow a command and receive their reward.

Teaching a golden to fetch and to leave objects alone that they should not grasp with their jaws train the golden to “bring it” and then to “drop it” after the object has been fetched.

Knowing this obedience trick is vital to the safety of the dog should it encounter something it thinks is food but is poisonous or improper to eat.

Some Interesting Facts About Golden Retrievers

The American Kennel Club (AKC) states that golden retrievers are intelligent, friendly, and devoted companions.

A golden can live up to fourteen years and are outgoing, loyal, playful, and easy to train. Also, the AKC calls the golden retriever the ‘Peter Pan’ of dogs because they never outgrow being playful and obedient.

Golden retrievers love hanging out with the family seeing them as their pack. This makes sense since in the wild dogs naturally form and live in pack groups. Goldens will see anyone or anything who lives in their home as part of their pack and will defend them fiercely if needed.

Goldens are excellent hunting animals. Indeed, the breed was first established to retrieve birds for hunters at the Scottish estate of Dudley Majoribanks.

The breeders at the estate wanted to breed an animal with an intense sense of smell and loyal to its hunting companions. Thus, the world became blessed with the golden retriever breed.

Because golden retrievers are easy to train and are loyal to their owners, the dogs make excellent therapy companion dogs.

They are also excellent rescue animals and are trainable to find people trapped inside buildings or to sniff out the location of someone who is lost.

Reasons to Adopt an Older Golden Retriever

If you believe the adage that you ‘can’t teach an old dog new tricks,’ you would be wrong when it comes to adopting a golden retriever.

No matter what their age, goldens learn quickly and are strongly motivated to obey their owners. Their loyalty to their new owners is intense once they have become established in the family.

Older goldens are far less likely to chew up a favorite piece of furniture or a pair of new shoes as that is puppy behavior, not that of an elderly animal.

Older animals have slowed down, as all humans do when they age, so elderly goldens are more settled and thus are less excitable. For this reason, goldens make excellent pets for the elderly or a growing family.

Because older goldens are so easy to train, they offer a great excuse for exercising by going for long evening walks. This encourages elderly people to get out of the house and enjoy socializing with their adopted golden and other pet owners in the dog park.

Four Considerations When Choosing a Golden Retriever for a Pet

There are at least four important things to consider when thinking about choosing a golden retriever for a pet.

  • The Possible Health Problems of a Golden Retriever
  • The size the dog will become in the future
  • The shedding habits of goldens
  • The extreme faithfulness of the golden retriever breed

A brief explanation of each consideration may make it clearer.

Possible Health Problems of a Golden Retriever

Golden retrievers are prone to many conditions and diseases, including cancer, skin problems, hypothyroidism, and a genetic glaucoma disorder.

Although all these diseases and conditions are severe, buying from a reputable breeder who can show you pedigree and DNA papers to prove the animal is healthy. Buying animal medical insurance will mitigate the large costs associated with any health problems the animal might form.

The best way to avoid problems with a goldens health is for the dog’s owner to learn the warning signs of the diseases goldens are known to exhibit. Also, taking the animal for regular check-ups can also head off problems before they become severe.

The Size the Dog Will Become in the Future

Golden retrievers grow to become medium to generously sized dogs and can weigh from 65-75 pounds. Goldens have incredibly long, bushy tails that are highly active and well-suited for knocking over small children and a favorite Knick-knack.

The Shedding Habits of Goldens

Golden retrievers shed all year round so brushing them every other day is encouraged to keep the hair in the house to a minimum. Goldens shed on the furniture, on rugs, in your food, and will clog up your vacuum cleaner.

However, the shed fur of a golden retriever will lie in clumps on the floor and doesn’t cling to items in the house like some other breeds.

The Faithfulness of the Golden Retriever Breed

On a more positive note, golden retrievers are faithful companions and will never leave the side of its owner. They often will follow their humans from room to room and frequently be so close in proximity they pose a tripping hazard.

They will keep their owner’s company in all their daily actions from lying next to their feet in the evenings while their humans watch television to nuzzling close at night in bed.

Goldens love to be stroked and petted, and these actions are known to improve the health of a dog owner and to increase happiness for both the dog and human alike.

Golden retrievers are rather needy animals relying on their human companion for holding, petting, and reassurance.

Clearly, golden retrievers are not only easy to train, but pleasant and faithful animals to have as a companion. Choosing a golden as a pet ensures years of loving devotion and easy care for the lifetime of the dog.

Being aware of the health problems a golden may face is a deciding factor in whether to adopt a golden retriever, but the benefits of easy training and the pleasure they bring to a home outweigh any of the negatives of the breed.

Potential dog owners cannot go wrong, adopting a gold retriever.

How Hard are Golden Retrievers to Train