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8-month-old Golden Retrievers are fluffy, cute, and sometimes crazy teenagers.
Just like humans, dogs become teenagers before they grow into mature adults.
And similar to human parents, dog parents can find this time a bit rocky, as your sweet puppy goes through lots of changes on their way to physical, social, and reproductive maturity.
It’s not uncommon for dog parents to feel like their teenage dog is kind of obnoxious, a bit destructive, and seems to have selective hearing at this age.
Understanding this stage in your Golden Retriever’s life will help you be better prepared for what’s ahead.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- What to expect from an eight-month-old Golden Retriever
- How big an eight-month-old Golden is
- How much sleep a dog needs at this age
- What kind of exercise an eight-month-old Golden Retriever needs
- How to train your eight-month-old pup
- How much an eight-month-old Golden Retriever should eat
- How to handle chewing
Eight Month Old Golden Retrievers: Doggie Teenagers
You might not be prepared to hear this, but you’re now the parent of a teenager.
Yep, your fluffy little nugget has grown up and they’re now in canine adolescence.
Puppyhood goes by so fast!
For most Golden Retrievers, the adolescent phase starts around six months of age, so by eight months, your pup is definitely a teenager.
Every dog is a unique individual, so this stage can look different for each dog, but there are some common changes and behaviors that you might observe with your eight-month-old.
During adolescence, your pup’s body starts producing hormones that initiate physical and behavioral changes.
For male dogs, these hormones can sometimes prompt them to start urine marking.
Rather than peeing all at once like when they were a pup, they might want to mark on trees and fire hydrants on your walks, and sometimes even on furniture indoors.
While marking is more common in males, it’s normal for females too.
You might also see your eight-month-old humping their dog friends, human friends, or even you.
Females typically have their first estrous cycle, also known as a heat, between six and eighteen months old if they are not spayed, so if you have a female Golden, be on the lookout for that.
Males, both neutered and intact, will likely be extremely interested in females when they are in heat, and intact males can get females pregnant.
Another common change for pups this age is that they might be less compliant to your requests and might even seem to ignore you or blow you off.
This study found that dogs in the teenage phase show a decrease in obedience towards their owners.
And there is actually a totally valid explanation for this frustrating behavior.
Their brain is undergoing a total reconstruction from puppy brain to adult brain, and they’re flooded with hormones, which can make learning hard for them.
It can also impact their impulse control, and you might see your pup engaging in some less than desirable habits like grabbing things off the table or barking out the window.
Adolescence can also bring about changes in how your dog interacts with other dogs.
It’s not uncommon to see an increase in reactive behavior in eight-month-old Goldens, even though they are a notoriously friendly breed.
Reactivity can show up as barking and lunging toward other dogs or people, often out of frustration that they can’t say hi or play.
If your dog goes to dog parks or play groups, they may also be a part of some scuffles here and there as they navigate adolescence and how to communicate respectfully with other dogs.
Life with a teenage Golden can feel a bit overwhelming at times, but this is all a normal part of your puppy growing into an adult dog.
- Click here to download the potty training cheat sheet to make potty training faster & easier!
Eight-Month-Old Golden Retriever Puppy Size
Most eight-month-old Goldens will weigh between 40 and 60 pounds.
You’ve probably noticed that there can be a lot of variation within the same breed, or even the same litter, so your pup might be smaller or larger than this.
Some Goldens will just be built with a lighter or heavier bone structure, and this can impact their overall weight.
Focus more on keeping your teenager at a lean, healthy weight.
As your pup grows, you want to continue to protect their joints, as this breed is unfortunately prone to joint issues.
Maintaining an appropriate weight is one of the best things you can do to support their joint health.
You might also observe that your eight-month-old has some odd proportions.
Different body parts grow at different speeds, so it’s common for dogs of this age to look a bit goofy — like having big paws or long, skinny legs.
If you’re ever uncertain about your Golden’s weight or appearance, consult your veterinarian.
How Much Sleep Do Eight-Month-Old Golden Retrievers Need?
Eight-month-old Golden Retrievers should ideally get about 16 to 18 hours of sleep and rest per day.
When teenage dogs don’t get enough sleep, they can often become more unruly and obnoxious.
Because they look more and more like adult dogs, it can be hard to remember that they still need a lot of sleep.
Their brains and bodies are undergoing a lot of growth, and sleep is absolutely crucial to their physical and behavioral health.
Typically, eight-month-old pups sleep well through the night, but you may need to be mindful of how much downtime they have during the day.
Teenage dogs aren’t always the best at settling themselves down for a nap, so it’s okay to intervene and help them settle in for some rest.
When it’s time for them to take a nap, you can have them go in their crate, or behind a baby gate, which can help them chill out and sleep.
Just like human teenagers, canine teenagers may also need more sleep on days when they are having a growth spurt.
They might be feeling some discomfort and it can come out as restless or annoying behavior.
Of course, it’s hard for you as a human to know for sure what they’re feeling, but remember that sleep is a big need during this stage.
What Kind of Exercise Do Eight-Month-Old Golden Retrievers Need?
At eight months old, Golden Retrievers typically need one to two hours of exercise a day.
It really depends on your individual dog, as some Goldens are very athletic and go-go-go, while others have less endurance and are content with less activity.
You don’t want to overdo exercise, as they are still growing, but appropriate exercise is absolutely necessary to maintain your sanity with your teenage pup.
An under-exercised teenage pup is a recipe for disaster!
Sometimes it can feel like you have to drain all their energy and physically exhaust them so that they will sleep at home and you can get stuff done without them pestering you or getting into trouble.
While exercise is an important part in helping your pup settle at home, remember that there are two aspects to energy and exercise: physical and mental.
It can be easy to focus a lot on physical energy, especially if you’ve got a fetch-aholic, but providing your eight-month-old Golden Retriever with outlets for mental stimulation is critical.
If you’re constantly trying to wear your dog out physically, you might be creating a super-athlete with ever-increasing endurance, which will be even harder to exhaust.
Additionally, you don’t want to have to exercise your dog to the point of exhaustion in order for them to be able to settle in the house.
It’s important for your pup to learn how to settle themselves in the house without every cell in their body being completely drained of all energy.
You don’t want to accidentally create a dog that needs constant activity and entertainment in order to be content.
Balance physical exercise with mental exercise, such as puzzle toys, scent games, and enrichment activities.
Here is a simple game that can make your Golden use their brain and their nose:
With your pup in their crate or behind a door, hide some kibble or treats all over the living room.
Then release them and tell them to “find it.”
At first, you might have to help them seek out some pieces so they understand the game, but pretty quickly, you’ll see them catch on.
Sniffing is excellent mental exercise for dogs, which makes this game a great brain workout.
You can also play this in the yard, by simply scattering kibble or treats in the grass and letting them sniff out their treasure.
If your Golden has a favorite toy, you can also hide the toy and then encourage them to go on a search and rescue mission to find it.
Hide and seek around the house can also be a super fun game that can tire them out mentally.
Puzzl Toys For 8-Month-Old Golden Retrievers
Puzzle toys are great toys for teenage Goldens because they use up their mental energy.
The Bob-A-Lot Toy is an interactive feeder toy that engages your dog both physically and mentally, as they work to get the food out, with options to make it easier or harder depending on their skill level.
This Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel game is a fun, non-food enrichment toy, and if your Golden is into squeakers, they will love working to get the squeaky stuffed squirrels out of the tree trunk.
It can really help to have these sorts of toys on hand, especially for days where you simply cannot get them out for their regular exercise, like when it’s pouring rain or you’re sick.
Physical Exercise For 8-Month-Old Golden Retrievers
Fetch can be a great exercise outlet for Golden Retrievers, but sometimes it can have the opposite effect.
Rather than tiring your dog out, the repetitive nature of the game can actually hype them up into an almost obsessive state.
Of course, plenty of Goldens do just fine with a classic game of fetch, but observe your dog to see what effect fetch has on their behavior.
One of the best ways to exercise your adolescent pup is off-leash adventures.
You might have to do some research to find a safe way to give your pup an opportunity to stretch his legs and frolic, and always check the leash laws for your area, but some areas do have designated off-leash spaces for dogs.
You can also check out Sniffspot, where you can find private dog parks for rent.
Empty baseball fields can work well because they’re grassy and fenced in, but you might want to see if dogs are allowed first.
Dog parks are also an option for off-leash time.
There is always a risk when you take your pup to a dog park, as you just don’t know how the other dogs at the park will behave towards your dog.
Plus not all dogs do well at dog parks — some get too overwhelmed or overexcited.
If you see that your puppy is not enjoying their time at the dog park, or that it’s having a negative effect on their behavior at home, it’s best to find other ways to exercise them.
Finding safe spaces for your dog to run around off-leash can be hard, so the next best thing is to get a long line and hit up a local nature trail with your Golden.
A twenty-foot long-line and a harness gives your dog more space to explore and sniff around, which provides better quality exercise than the typical six-foot leash.
It gives more freedom of movement, while still maintaining safety.
These types of walks aren’t as convenient as simply clipping on a leash and walking out the front door to walk down the block.
But if you make these adventures a regular part of your Golden Retrievers exercise routine, you will see just how much of a positive impact they can have on your pup’s behavior and your relationship with your dog.
Time outdoors is very important for this breed.
Historically, they were bred to love running through fields and splashing through water, and even though most modern Goldens aren’t hunting companions, they still have an inherent love of the outdoors.
Giving them regular opportunities for outside time will allow them to feel content and satisfied, which in turn will make them more enjoyable to live with.
- If you’re getting a puppy, grab the Golden Retriever Puppy Handbook here!
Training an Eight-Month-Old Golden Retriever
As you continue educating your Golden Retriever through the adolescent phase, keep in mind that their brain is literally under construction.
You may find that they suddenly have no idea what “sit” means.
Nope, never heard that word before.
Or maybe they’ve forgotten their name and ignore your voice as you attempt to call them over.
Maybe they’re engaging in frustrating behavior that seems more like how they acted when they were eight weeks old, such as snatching your shoes or playing keep-away with your glove.
Perhaps they’re even experimenting with behavior your precious angel previously never dreamed of doing, like eating your entire plate of scrambled eggs while you got up to get the salt and pepper.
This can all feel extremely frustrating for you as their human.
You’ve probably spent a lot of time training them since they joined your family, and now it seems like that’s all gone down the toilet.
The good news is that all that hard work hasn’t been for nothing, and what your puppy learned hasn’t completely vanished.
As they go through the changes of adolescence, their brain is rewired and this means that accessing all that knowledge can be difficult.
Additionally, adolescence can make other stuff in their environment super interesting, which means it’s hard for them to focus and listen to you.
Suddenly that other dog’s pee is the most fascinating thing they’ve ever come across and they just can’t come away from it when you call.
Or that other dog across the street is completely mesmerizing and those nice loose leash skills you worked hard to train are nowhere to be found.
It’s easy to get discouraged by this kind of behavior, but the key is to stick with the training.
Be consistent in teaching your dog the skills they need to be a good doggie citizen.
Some days will be amazing and you’ll be so proud of your pup, and other days will be a hot mess.
That is normal!
Do not give up on training because things are up and down.
Be patient and just know that your teen isn’t trying to give you a hard time, rather they are having a bit of a hard time as they grow into a mature adult.
Keep training sessions short and fun, always using positive reinforcement to teach them what they need to know.
And one trick you might want to use is to use higher value reward treat, especially in more distracting environments.
Kibble and the typical store-bought treats might just not cut it anymore.
Cooked meat, such as boiled chicken, and cheese tend to be hits with Golden Retrievers.
Additionally, set your pup up for success by managing the environment.
If they are barking out the front window at every person that walks by, perhaps put up some frosted window film to block their view while still letting the light in.
Maybe the trash can gets to live in the closet for a while so that your trash goblin of a dog can’t keep raiding it when you’re not looking.
While they may no longer be a baby puppy, baby gates can make your life a whole lot easier.
You can’t always be in training mode, so using some management strategies to prevent unwanted behavior is key.
When you can be in training mode, focus on rewarding behavior you want to see more of, especially calm behavior.
If you see your pup just chilling out on their bed, go calmly deliver them a treat.
Maybe they’re laying on the carpet, quietly watching out the window.
Go reward that good behavior!
Puppy is sitting while you make your lunch?
Pay them with a treat!
Good behavior gets repeated the more you reward it, so take note of the great stuff your eight-month-old is doing and reinforce them for it.
And as this breed tends to be highly social, teaching them how to greet people politely should be a top priority.
Continue working on the basics to establish a solid foundation.
Work on their obedience and manners in a variety of environments and around distractions to strengthen their skills.
Remember to reward frequently, and keep your expectations in line with what is realistic for a pup of this age.
At eight months, you can be working on:
- Sit, down, stay
- Focus and attention
- Loose leash walking
- Settling on a mat
- Cooperative grooming
- Drop it and leave it
- General manners around the house and in public
Training is also a great way to maintain a positive bond with your teenage pup, so keep things fun and light!
If things aren’t going well, take a break and revisit it later.
Remember that ups and downs are to be expected.
Seeking help from a certified, professional trainer, or a certified behavior consultant is never a bad idea, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed or confused by your dog’s behavior.
How Much Should an Eight-Month-Old Golden Retriever Eat?
Eight-month-old Golden Retrievers usually eat about three to five cups of food a day, split between two meals.
And just as the size of dogs this age can vary, so will their nutritional needs, so talk with your vet to find an appropriate amount of food for them.
Most adolescent Goldens are voracious eaters and tend to wolf down food as fast as they can.
Using something like a slow feeder bowl, or an interactive toy feeder, can help slow down their eating.
You have to feed your dog, so why not burn some mental energy while you’re at it?
As your pup matures physically, you may need to adjust their caloric intake accordingly.
If they’re looking a little thin, you can increase their daily portion.
Likewise, if you notice them getting a bit chunky, decrease the amount of food.
How to Deal with Chewing in Eight-Month-Old Golden Retrievers
By the time your pup hits eight months, the bulk of their teething will be over.
Those big adult teeth, which are thankfully not nearly as needle-sharp as their puppy teeth, are still settling in though and so your teenager will need lots of “legal” outlets for chewing.
If they don’t have enough suitable chewing options, they’ll find their own “illegal” chew toys like your new slippers and the fringe of the rug.
Bully sticks and yak chews are excellent options that are edible, but long-lasting and enticing.
If you notice your dog chewing something inappropriate, redirect them to something you would prefer they chew.
Rubber toys like kongs and toppls stuffed with something yummy and frozen are also nice options for chewing.
In addition to the fact that eight-month-old’s adult teeth are still getting settled, Goldens are notorious for being a “mouthy” breed.
When you consider the breed’s original purpose of retrieving a shot bird to the hunter’s hand, this makes sense.
Generations of breeding selecting for dogs that would happily carry a bird has resulted in dogs that just love having things in their mouth.
You’ll need to meet this need, or else they will meet it for themselves.
Some Goldens really love large stuffed toys that they can carry around, which can help satisfy this “mouthiness.”
These goDog Stuffed Gator and goDog Furballz toys are hits with most Golden Retriever pups.
If this need for chewing and mouthing aren’t met, you might find that your dog is seeking out your hands, arms, and furniture with their mouth in an attempt to satisfy the itch.
You can really reduce your frustration with your teenager by consistently providing lots of chewing options.
Don’t Worry, It’s Just a Phase
As you and your eight-month-old pup navigate canine adolescence, try to remember that it will not last forever.
Your patience and sanity might be tested, but this teenage phase will end, typically between 18 months and 3 years of age.
Yep, it’s going to be a while, so hunker down and commit to building a positive relationship with your dog, despite the challenges you might encounter.
Celebrate the great moments and take a deep breath when things are a bit rough.
If you’re consistent with training and demonstrating that you are a kind, trustworthy human who can open doors (both literally and figuratively) to cool, fun experiences, you’ll come out on the other end of adolescence with an amazing companion.
Have any questions about eight-month-old Golden Retrievers?
Let us know down in the comments!
Read the rest of our Golden Retriever puppy series here:
- 6-Week-Old Golden Retriever Puppies
- 8-Week-Old Golden Retriever Puppies
- 3-Month-Old Golden Retriever Puppies
- 4-Month-Old Golden Retriever Puppies
- 5-Month-Old Golden Retriever Puppies
- 6-Month-Old Golden Retriever Puppies
And if you’re about to bring home a Golden Retriever puppy, check out the Golden Retriever Puppy Handbook!
- 5 Best Vacuums For Golden Retriever Hair
- How To Groom Your Golden Retriever (Step By Step)
- The Complete Guide To Raising A Golden Retriever Puppy
About the author:
Alisa Healy is a professional dog trainer in the Chicago suburbs, with a wide range of training experience from shelters to in-home training to dog sports. She is a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner and is passionate about helping people and dogs live fulfilling, harmonious lives together.