Are you getting a golden retriever puppy?
Or thinking about getting a golden retriever puppy?
Then you’re going to love this article.
You’ll learn everything you need to know about raising the best friend you always dreamed of, from how to find a breeder and pick a puppy, to bringing them home, to raising and training them.
Plus, you’ll learn some common mistakes that new puppies make (that could have lifelong implications).
Let’s dive in!
What To Do Before You Get A Golden Retriever Puppy
There are a lot of big decisions you’ll have to make before bringing your puppy home, including where to get them from, how to pick a puppy, and what to name them.
These next few sections will cover all of those decisions in detail, but there’s one thing that you need to make sure of before continuing on.
Do you really want a golden retriever puppy?
Yes, they’re sweet, adorable, fluffy balls of joy, but they’re also a lot of work and they’re not cheap.
Our Complete Guide To Golden Retrievers is a good place to start if you’re unsure about committing to a golden.
But if you are sure, here’s the first question to ask yourself…
Should You Get A Golden Retriever From A Breeder Or A Rescue?
If you want a golden retriever puppy, chances are you’ll have to get one from a breeder.
There are usually more people that want to rescue goldens than there are goldens that need to be rescued, and golden retriever puppies available to be rescued are rather rare (and highly sought after).
If you do want to rescue a golden retriever, check out this article to find a golden retriever rescue near you.
But if you want to get a golden retriever puppy from a breeder, you need to know how to find the right breeder for you.
How To Find A Golden Retriever Breeder
If you want a happy and healthy puppy, the best thing you can do is get your puppy from a good breeder who breeds happy, healthy adults.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of irresponsible breeders (this may be why golden retrievers have certain health problems), so it will take some research to find a good one.
Here’s why you should purchase a puppy from a responsible breeder:
- Health is largely inherited from a puppy’s parents (so make sure the breeder is breeding healthy dogs)
- Temperament is largely inherited from a puppy’s parents (so make sure the breeder is breeding dogs that have the personality you’re looking for)
- Socialization is one of the most important things to raise a well-adjusted puppy and the breeder will be the first one to socialize the puppy
- If anything goes wrong, you’ll want to be working with a breeder that has integrity and will do the right thing
And here are six tips to finding a good breeder:
- Ask about the parents’ health clearances
- Ask about the parents’ pedigree
- Ask about the parents’ temperament
- Ask to meet the parents
- Find a breeder that asks you as many questions as you ask them
- Try to get a referral from someone you trust
Click here to learn more about finding a reputable golden retriever breeder.
Now, once you’ve found a breeder, you’ll need to know how to pick the right puppy from the litter when you go to pick them up.
How To Pick A Golden Retriever Puppy From The Litter
I’m going to be honest here…
There are no tricks to getting the perfect puppy for you.
The most important thing is to find a breeder that breeds parents that resemble the dog you want.
Do you want a sweet, calm golden?
Then look for a breeder that breeds sweet, calm goldens.
Do you want a dog to go hunting with?
Then look for a breeder that breeds hunting dogs.
After finding a good breeder, talk with them and tell them what you want.
For instance, when my wife and I went to pick up our golden retriever, Oliver, we told the breeder that we wanted a big, calm golden.
It was obvious to see which of the puppies were going to be big, and from being with these puppies the previous eight weeks, they were able to help advise me on which ones seemed to be on the calmer side.
Here are a few other tips for picking a puppy:
- Watch how your puppy reacts with their littermates. Are they dominant? Submissive? This might give you some insight into their personality.
- Take note of their energy levels. If a dog is barking a lot and running around, that might be a warning sign if you want a calm dog. It’s at least something to talk to the breeder about.
- Observe how your puppy interacts with people. Are they fearful? Curious? A friendly dog will be outgoing and interested in you.
- Toss your keys or a toy. A puppy should at least watch a toy with their eyes, if not try to go follow it, to show that they’re alert.
- Put the puppy on their back. Either cradle them in your arms on their back or roll them on their back on the floor. A dominant pup may squirm a lot, but a well-adjusted pup should calm down shortly.
- Touch the puppy’s paws, ears, mouth, and tail. They should be ok with being handled.
(Thanks to Vet Street for a few of the tips above.)
Click here to learn more about picking a golden retriever puppy from a litter.
Now that you know how to pick out a puppy when the time comes, what will you name them?
Naming Your Golden Retriever Puppy
Whatever you decide to name your puppy, make sure you like it, because you sure are going to be saying it a lot.
There are no real guidelines, although most people try to at least avoid intense names, like Killer, because golden retrievers are… well, golden retrievers.
Some people go with human names, like Doug, others go with plant names, like Aspen, there are food names, like Cashew, and there are the names of other animals, like Bear.
If you need some name inspiration, check out our giant list of golden retriever names here.
Things To Get Before You Bring Your New Puppy Home
When you bring your puppy home, the last thing you want to do is wait for Amazon to deliver something that you need right away, like poop bags or pee cleaner.
It’s best to get these things before you bring your puppy home.
Here’s what you’ll need, as well as links for where to get them:
- Car harness
- Food & water bowls
- Nail clippers
- Puppy shampoo
- Pee cleaner
- Poop bags
To learn more about these products, like why we chose these specific ones, or why they’re necessary, check out our article about golden retriever puppy supplies.
Next up is another thing to do before you bring your puppy home…
How To Puppy Proof Your House
When puppy-proofing your house, think like a puppy.
Crawl around on the floor and take note of what you see.
Puppies will chew nearly anything, so make sure that there are no valuables down at puppy-height, or things that could be poisonous to them or be a choking hazard.
Make sure there are no open cabinets or pantries where your puppy could get into food.
Be careful of small trash cans that could hold some smelly trash that would be enticing to a puppy.
And hide your cords and cables and make sure your puppy can’t shock themself by chewing them.
Your puppy should be under supervision or in a crate or playpen at all times until they’re mature enough to not ruin your house or cause themselves harm, but puppy-proofing the house will help keep them safe, too.
And finally, next are a few other random tasks to do before you bring home your new puppy.
P.S. Getting a golden retriever puppy? Check out the Golden Retriever Puppy Handbook!
Other Tasks To Do Before You Bring Your Puppy Home
So you have everything you need and your house is puppy-proofed.
That’s it, right?
Here’s a quick list of some final things to do to better prepare yourself for when you bring your new puppy home.
Find a vet.
You’ll definitely want to bring your puppy to the vet within the first day or two of bringing them home so that they can be thoroughly checked out and get on track for their vaccines.
Find the closest emergency animal hospital.
This is not something you want to wait until you need it before looking it up and making a plan.
Find a list of local poisonous plants and animals.
Talk to your vet and do some research so that you know which plants and animals to avoid.
Set up the puppy’s crate and water bowls.
The last thing you want to do is bang around a large crate and scare your new puppy as you’re trying to figure out how to set it up.
Find a puppy kindergarten class.
This will help with training, socialization, and general learning how to be a puppy parent.
Check your yard or house for any escape routes.
Before you bring home your puppy is a great time to fix that hole underneath the fence…
What To Do When You Bring Your Puppy Home
Now that you’re all prepared to bring your puppy home, it’s time for the fun part!
This next section will cover everything from what to expect with a puppy, what to do the first 24 hours of bringing them home, how to train them, and more.
What To Expect With A Golden Retriever Puppy
When I told my mom I was going to get a golden retriever puppy, she asked me this: have you been around puppies much?
I was a little curious about why she asked me that, and honestly, I hadn’t been around them much, but I just shrugged her off and told her how excited I was.
A week after bringing Oliver home, it was very obvious to me why she asked me that.
Puppies are hard work!
I wasn’t sleeping, spent most of my waking hours taking him out to pee or making sure he didn’t chew up the house, and whenever I tried to pet him, he would just try to bite me.
Of course, there were nice moments, too, like cuddling with him on the couch, watching him sleep, or seeing how happy he got when we came home, but I’ll be honest…
I was completely surprised and overwhelmed.
And so you’re not blindsided, too, here’s a little about what to expect…
Waking up in the night
Most puppies will wake up one to three, and sometimes four, times per night.
Their little bladders can only hold it for a few hours, so this is expected.
Hating the crate
Most puppies will hate the crate at first, and that’s totally expected, but that doesn’t make it much easier when you’re trying to sleep and they’re whining or crying.
Puppies will try to chew any and everything.
Puppies have not learned the phrase, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you…”
Peeing in the house
Accidents will happen, but the best way to stop them is to take them out often. Like every thirty minutes often.
Putting everything in their mouth
When you’re on walks they will try to put everything in their mouth, even disgusting things like cigarette butts or dog poop, and you better believe you’re going to reach in there and pull them out (so keep a close eye on them!).
Some things puppies may lick or eat might make them sick, plus they have developing immune systems, so they may get a few tummy aches and you’ll be very familiar with the route to the vet’s office.
Pulling on the leash
Puppies haven’t learned to not pull on the leash, and they don’t exactly like to be restrained, so expect a lot of pulling when they’re learning to walk on the leash.
If you don’t know what zoomies are yet, when you have a puppy, you’ll soon witness them firsthand, so please leave a comment when you do!
Now, for the most important expectation of them all…
You will miss puppyhood!
Yes, you will miss the sleepless nights and puppy bites.
You’ll miss their soft puppy fur and puppy smell.
You’ll miss being able to scoop them up with one arm.
And you’ll miss the goofy way they bounce around.
So make sure to take lots of videos and pictures.
And when it gets tough, and it’s two in the morning and they’re keeping you up, remember that you’re incredibly lucky to have a golden retriever, you will miss them being a puppy, and it will be worth it.
Alright, now that we’re all crying (or is it just me?), let’s talk about the first 24 hours of bringing your puppy home.
The First 24 Hours
Imagine you’ve been taken from your home, your family, and everything you’ve ever known.
The people you’re now around don’t speak the same language as you.
You’d be pretty scared, right?
Well, that’s what it’s like for your new puppy.
Of course, you already love them very much and they’ll soon love you, too, but at first, it will be pretty scary for them.
I know thinking like this makes you feel a little uncomfortable, but it’s helpful so that you can put yourself in their paws.
How would you like to be treated in this situation?
Here are some tips to help your puppy get comfortable in their new home.
1. Let your puppy make decisions
When you get to your house, set them at your open front door and let them choose to walk inside.
Don’t be overbearing and smother them with cuddles, but instead sit down on the floor and let them decide to come to you.
Let them explore their new home on their own terms.
Letting them make decisions can give them a sense of confidence, hope, and control, and ease into their new home.
2. Limit visitors
Now is the time to build the bond with your puppy and let them get to know you, not overstimulate them with a lot of people.
3. Show them where to eat, drink, and pee
You might even want to take them to their new pee spot before you let them in your home so that they don’t potty as soon as they step inside.
4. Limit their access to your home
Getting used to a new home with two rooms will be a lot easier than getting used to a new home with five rooms.
Only let your puppy have access to a few rooms so that they get acclimated to their new area quicker, then as they get more comfortable you can allow them to explore new areas of the house.
You can use baby gates to restrict access to sections of the house.
(Bonus benefit: this will also decrease the chances that they leave you a present in the guest room).
In general, just keep things low key when you bring them home and let them get used to their surroundings.
Don’t force them into a collar with a leash right away, don’t put them in their crate right away, and don’t overstimulate them.
Training Your Golden Retriever Puppy
Training your golden retriever puppy is one of the best things you can do both for them and with them.
- It’ll help the two of you bond and communicate
- It will give them confidence as you challenge them and they overcome those challenges
- It will mentally wear them out (a tired dog is a good dog)
- It’ll help them learn what’s appropriate and what’s not, and everyone will be happier for it
- It’ll give them more freedom as you learn they can be trusted
Puppies are surprisingly smart and you can start training them as soon as you bring them home.
They have short attention spans and like to have fun, so short training sessions and training games work best.
There’s a lot that goes into training that we can’t cover in this article, but you can read more about training your golden retriever puppy here.
P.S. A lot of people think that training is just obedience training, like sit and stay, but it also includes life skills like crate training, potty training, how to not jump on people or bite them, and how to not pull on the leash.
Socialization is something that is not talked about as much as it should be.
It’s incredibly important, especially for very young puppies, because it will have a huge impact on the rest of their life.
It can help mitigate fear and aggression and help them become confident, well-adjusted adult dogs.
Here’s how socialization works…
There are three categories of socialization:
- Dog to dog
- Dog to other living beings
- Dog to stuff
Dog to dog is pretty explainable.
You can socialize your puppy with other dogs by setting up play dates with gentle dogs that you know are vaccinated and by going to puppy kindergarten.
Dog to other living beings includes humans, cats, and other animals.
You can socialize them with other people by taking them to a pet-friendly store like home depot, and you can socialize them to other animals by taking a walk by the neighborhood cat (with lots of distance between them, so neither animal gets overwhelmed).
Dog to stuff is the broadest category, but no less important.
Here’s a quick story about what can happen if you don’t socialize your puppy to “stuff” correctly.
When Oliver was very young we were on a walk and a FedEx truck drove by.
He had never heard a big truck like that and was terrified.
For the next year (he just recently got over this), whenever he heard a big truck, even if he couldn’t see it, his tail would go between his legs and he would get very scared.
So make sure that your puppy is comfortable with trucks, cars, the garage door, buses, umbrellas, and whatever other objects they may encounter.
And here’s a quick note before we move onto how to socialize…
Socialize your puppy to whatever you expect they might regularly come across in their life.
For instance, if you live in Chicago, get them used to trains, buses and crowded streets.
If you live on a farm, there’s no need to socialize them to trains and buses, but you will want to get them used to cows and chickens.
Now, let’s talk about how to socialize your pup.
How To Socialize Your Puppy
Dr. Pachel, who’s a veterinary behaviorist, has a very simple way of socializing your puppy.
Every day, separate out five special treats for your puppy.
You’ll give them one of these treats in a new situation.
For example, you might let your neighbor give your puppy a treat, or maybe you take your puppy to a bus stop and when the bus goes by you give them a treat, or maybe you introduce them to a cow and give them a treat.
The treat helps them have a positive experience with these new things and people, plus it helps you easily remember to expose them to lots of these new things.
Do this for the first four weeks of their life and before you know it, your puppy will have been exposed to 140 new dogs, people, things, or environments, and will be well on their well to becoming a well-adjusted adult dog.
Your Golden Retriever Puppy’s Health
When it comes to your puppy’s health, here’s the most important thing you can do: have a good relationship with your vet.
They’ll be the ones get you started on vaccines, help you choose an appropriate food, and prevent or treat any illnesses or injuries that may occur.
In addition to having a good relationship with your vet, here are some other tips to keep your pup healthy:
- Don’t let your puppy eat poop (or anything else besides their food) which could potentially be infected with a virus, bacteria or parasites
- Don’t let your puppy drink from standing water, which can often hold bacteria and parasites
- Choose a good food to help strengthen your puppy’s immune system
- Avoid places with other dogs, like the dog park, before your puppy is fully vaccinated
- Talk to your vet about supplementing with vitamins
- Talk to your vet about vaccinations
You can read more about common golden retriever health problems here.
Puppy Raising Mistakes
Below are some mistakes that new puppy owners make that could make it harder to train and raise their puppy into a happy, confident adult.
Letting your puppy build bad habits
It’s important to start training your puppy early and build good habits because it’s much easier to build a good habit than break a bad one.
Not confining your puppy
Puppies need to be watched 24/7 both for their safety and for the safety of your home.
Not remembering how young they are
Puppies are like little toddlers.
They have short attention spans, tiny bladders, and they don’t know wrong from right yet, so be patient and understanding.
Not doing puppy kindergarten
Not socializing your puppy enough
If you don’t socialize your puppy, it can lead to your puppy being a fearful adult, which could manifest itself in aggression, excessive barking, or other unwanted behaviors.
Waiting to train your puppy until they have a problem
Training your puppy before they have any behavior problems will make life so much easier for you.
It’s much easier to train a new habit than to break a bad one.
Focusing on tricks over life skills in training
When you’re training your young puppy, you want to focus more on life skills or life-saving commands, like crate training, potty training, walking on a leash, come, drop it, and leave it, over tricks like shake, roll over, or even sit.
If you let your puppy get away with things like jumping or peeing in the house sometimes, then they’ll learn not to do those things a lot slower.
Comparing one dog to another
Every puppy is different, so no matter what your previous puppy was like, or what your friend’s dog is like, the puppy you have now is the one you need to raise and train, no matter how difficult it is.
Forcing things too quickly
Things like crate training and potty training take time.
Don’t try to keep your puppy in the crate for too long, or go too long without taking your puppy out.
Setbacks hurt more than stretching their limits will help, so be patient and take things slowly.
Golden retriever puppies might just be the best living beings on the planet.
They’re cute, fluffy, goofy, and loving.
However, they are a lot of work and can be quite naughty sometimes.
They require a lot of training and attention, and you’ll sacrifice a few nights of sleep, but they will be more than worth it.
Have any questions about golden retriever puppies?
Let me know in the comments below!
And if you know someone who is thinking about getting a golden retriever puppy, please share this with them.
P.S. If you’re about to get a golden retriever puppy, check out this list of all the supplies you’ll need for a golden retriever puppy.