The golden retriever breed has long been ranked as one of the top ten most intelligent dog breeds in the world, and for good reason. A well trained retriever could be taught upwards of 200 verbal commands, a number of non-verbal commands or even commands made with a clicker or a whistle. And it’s not just the regular commands like “sit, stay, roll over and play dead” that golden retrievers can learn, they can also learn how to track people in disaster sights, sniff out bombs and become seeing-eye dogs for the visually impaired.
However, one must always remember that the retriever, along with being very intelligent, is a very active breed. If not taught good manners at a young age, golden retrievers tend to grow up into unmanageable, hyperactive and stubborn adults. A stubborn golden is a hard thing to get off the couch, or grab a slipper from, especially if he/she is bracing his/her entire 90 pounds into thwarting your efforts. Simply put, the manner in which you raise your pup and teach it how to act, will determine how your golden retriever will behave as an adult. So if you think your dog is unmanageable as a 10 pound puppy, how difficult will it be when he/she is a fully-grown but still misbehaving adult?
So, the first step into managing golden retriever behavior is to start young, or at least the moment you acquire it. If a retriever is taught at a very early which behaviors are acceptable and which are not, you can be sure that these are lessons your pup will retain as an adult. Behaviors such as leaping up on people, peeing and pooping all over the house and chewing objects indiscriminately, are all examples of bad behaviors that a puppy can learn to be taboo from a very young age.
Golden retrievers are very sensitive animals as well. Not only do they listen to your words, they also take notice of your tone, your volume and sometimes even your body language. If for example, your golden commits a mistake, for example, it chews your slippers, then point to the slippers and firmly and loudly say “No. Bad dog”, over and over again. Slowly, the golden retriever will make the connection between the deed and the harsh tone of your voice. However, never hit your dog no matter how angry or frustrated you become, because not only will he not understand the gesture, you will have caused unnecessary pain.
Another way to manage retriever behavior is through positive reinforcement. By giving out treats or affection every time your dog does something good, it will learn to associate these deeds with pleasure and treats. If your dog is slowly learning to relieve itself outside, then reward it with a dog biscuit or let it have its favorite toy.
The most important thing about managing golden retriever behavior is the consistency of your teaching. By reacting the same way to both negative and positive actions, the dog will learn faster, and you’ll have a smart, manageable and obedient ‘best friend’ in no time.