Want to learn how to train your golden retriever puppy?
In this article, you’ll learn techniques and strategies to teach them basic obedience, like:
- drop it
- leave it
And life skills, like:
- potty training
- crate training
- not jumping on people
- how to walk on a leash
- not to bite people
- not to chew up the house
Plus, you’ll also learn the common mistakes new puppy owners make that hold them back from having a well-trained puppy.
If you’ve never had a puppy and you’re tackling puppy training for the first time, or if this is your tenth puppy and you want to brush up on your training skills, you’re going to love this article.
Let’s dive in!
Training Your Golden Retriever Puppy
Here’s puppy training in a nutshell:
Golden retriever puppies want to please you, and they want to have fun, so they respond best to positive reinforcement training and learning games.
When teaching any new behavior, you want to start with baby steps and have them be successful at each step.
Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that, and we’ll get into it, but first, if you’re here because you just brought your puppy home and they’re a lot more difficult to manage than you expected, don’t worry, that’s totally normal.
It’s a good thing golden retriever puppies are so cute because they’re quite a handful!
But just because your puppy is difficult now doesn’t mean that they’ll be difficult forever.
Before you know it, they’ll be a well-behaved adult and you’ll miss their naughty puppy days when they were small and fluffy.
Now, many people don’t put a lot of work into training their puppies when they’re young, but instead, hope that their dog just ends up being a good dog.
That’s a big gamble because even though golden retrievers are great dogs, they were bred to be working dogs retrieving birds in the field.
If they’re not being mentally stimulated and given a job or a purpose, a lot of problems can occur, such as jumping up on people, tearing up the house, etc.
But all that being said, if you have a golden retriever, you’re in for the ride of a lifetime.
They’re so sweet and loving and you will have a blast watching your puppy learn and grow into a well-behaved adult dog.
But before we dive into how to train your golden retriever puppy, let’s hammer home why you should train them, which will help you push through when times get tough.
Why Should You Train Your Golden Retriever Puppy?
Before I got my golden retriever, Oliver, and I thought about training him, one of the things that went through my mind was that I didn’t want him to be a robot that just followed my commands and didn’t live or enjoy his own life.
As it turns out, I was thinking about it completely the wrong way.
In fact, training Oliver has helped him enjoy life more, and here are three reasons why:
1. More freedom
The better trained your dog is, the more freedom they will have.
For instance, when Oliver was a wild, untrained puppy, we couldn’t take him to public places like coffee shops.
When we finally started getting him under control, he was able to go more places with us and spend more time with us.
Another example is when we had guests over.
Oliver would jump all over them when they first came over, so there was a time when we had to put him in the backyard and then slowly let him greet people one by one.
He hated being out there when he knew people were over, but by us training him, and him being a good student, he now doesn’t jump anymore and gets to experience the joy of greeting people when they come in the house (and our guests get the joy of not being jumped on by a 75 lb dog).
Training can have huge safety implications for your dog.
For instance, let’s say you drop a pill on the ground and your dog is right there under you.
3. More enjoyable
In addition to more freedom and safety for your dog, have a well-trained dog lets you enjoy them more (and whenever you’re happy they’re happy).
It’s no fun (nor safe) when your dog is chewing up your furniture or your shoes.
It’s no fun when they’re peeing in the house or barking in the crate.
And it’s definitely no fun when they’re biting your fingers so much that you can’t even play with them.
So all in all, the more your dog is trained, the safer they’ll be, the more freedom they’ll have, and the more fun they’ll have.
Now let’s cover the question most people have about training golden retrievers…
Are Golden Retriever Puppies Easy To Train?
Golden retriever puppies are easy to train for a few reasons:
- They’re very smart (they’re the fourth smartest dog breed)
- They love pleasing people
- They love food
- They love games
Because of this, goldens are relatively easy to train if you use lots of treats and make training fun.
However, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies when it comes to training golden retriever puppies…
Why Golden Retriever Puppies Are Hard To Train
One of the things I love about golden retrievers is that they love everything.
But that also makes them difficult to train sometimes.
Oliver LOVES other people, so when we see people on walks, sometimes he wants to pull and say hi.
That’s totally understandable (it doesn’t help that everyone inflates his ego and tells him how handsome he is), but then there’s story…
One day we were training and a leaf blew by…
Yes, a leaf.
But he was overjoyed at the sight of this fun leaf somersaulting down the street and he really wanted to go play with it.
It totally took us out of training mode, but that’s a golden retriever puppy for you…
When Should You Start Training Your Golden Retriever Puppy?
Puppies are surprisingly smart and you can start training them as soon as you bring them home.
In fact, it’s encouraged to start training them as soon as you bring them home.
For one, it will help build communication and a bond between you two.
It will also help build their confidence as they’re challenged and they overcome those challenges.
Plus, it’s great to start training them before bad habits start.
If your puppy learns that jumping up on people gets him pets and attention, it’s going to be very hard to train her not to do it.
And if your puppy learns that crying in the crate gets them out of it, it’s going to be very hard to teach him not to do that.
So now that you know puppies are (relatively) easy to train, and you know you need to start training them asap, how do you actually train them?
Let’s get into the training strategies now.
Every time I do the dishes, my wife tells me how thankful she is and how clean the kitchen looks.
I like making her happy, so now I do the dishes more often.
Maybe it actually does make her happy, or maybe she’s just training me to do them, but either way, she’s using positive reinforcement to get me to do the dishes more.
Positive reinforcement is simply rewarding behaviors you like and ignoring behaviors you don’t, and is the cornerstone of most of the dog training that you’ll do.
For example, if you say “sit,” and your dog sits, you positively reinforce that good behavior with a reward, such as a treat.
Rewards can vary, but for the most part you’ll be using treats, playing with toys, or praise.
It’s also important to note that positive reinforcement doesn’t just deal with good behaviors.
You can also, usually accidentally, reward bad behaviors.
For example, if your puppy cries in the crate and you let them out, you’re positively reinforcing them to cry in the crate.
So as your raising your puppy, it’s important to always think about what behaviors you’re reinforcing, whether on purpose or accident.
One way to provide positive reinforcement is through marker training.
When you walk up to the door to grab your keys or the leash, does your puppy get super happy because they think they’re going on a walk or a car ride?
This has happened through classical conditioning.
There’s nothing particularly exciting about you grabbing a leash, but when it’s always followed by a fun walk, just the act of grabbing the leash is exciting for your dog.
In this scenario, your dog has been conditioned to get excited about you grabbing the leash.
We use the same concept for marker training.
When your dog does something good, you mark it with a word like, “nice” or “yes”, or a click from a clicker, and then give them a treat.
Your dog will learn that every time you say your marker word or click, something good is about to happen.
Eventually, just the word or a click will be a rush of good feelings for your dog, so you won’t need to give them treats every time.
And here’s a quick note about using a marker word: whatever you choose, make sure to stay consistent with it.
If you keep switching words, your dog won’t associate it with treats and get a conditioned reaction to it.
This was a really brief overview of marker training, to learn more about it, watch this video from Simpawtico Dog Training.
There are many techniques to training your puppy, but three of the ones you’ll find on this blog are:
Luring is getting your puppy to follow a treat in your hand.
For instance, to teach your puppy to sit, you lure them to sit by moving a treat up over their head so they have to sit their butt down.
Capturing is positively reinforcing a behavior that your puppy voluntarily does — you “capture” that behavior.
An example of capturing is if your puppy jumps on you when you walk in the door, you ignore them until they sit.
Once they sit, you capture that behavior and reward them for it.
Eventually, they’ll learn that they don’t get attention when you walk in the door unless they’re sitting politely.
Redirection is when you redirect your dog away from doing something you don’t like to doing something that you do like.
For instance, if you see them chewing your shoe, you redirect them to a chew toy, and then positively reinforce them for chewing on that by praising them.
After a few rounds of this happening, when your dog has the urge to chew, they’ll look for a chew toy instead of your shoe.
Teaching Your Dog To Obey In Every Situation (Even While Distracted)
I remember teaching Oliver to sit pretty quickly.
I’m not going to lie, I was a little proud of how fast he learned, but when we took him to my parents’ house and I tried to show him off, he would not sit no matter how hard I tried to get him to.
Then when we returned home that night, he was sitting perfectly every time!
Dogs don’t generalize well, meaning that even though Oliver knew “sit” means sit in my living room, he didn’t know that “sit” means sit in my parents’ living room as well.
Eventually, he learned that “sit” means sit no matter where we are, but then we faced another problem: whenever other dogs were around he wouldn’t pay attention to me and sit when I asked him to.
So here’s how to get your puppy to obey you in every situation, even with distractions: practice.
Practice in different rooms in your house, in the backyard, in the driveway, on your walks, at the park.
Also, practice with different distractions around, like around other dogs or people.
And here’s a note for when you practice: take baby steps.
You want your dog to obey you every time you ask them to, so slowly teach them new behaviors in new environments, and slowly add in new distractions.
For example, if you just taught your puppy how to sit in the living room, teach them to sit in the kitchen next, not at your local park.
And if your dog is great with obeying while there are no other dogs around, take him to a park, stay 100 feet away from other dogs, then try to get him to obey.
Once they can obey at 100 feet away, try again at 80 feet away.
Taking these baby steps and slowly adding in more distractions and new environments will help your puppy learn to be obedient in every situation.
How Long & How Often To Train Your Golden Retriever Puppy
Life is hectic with a new puppy, but here’s the good news: you can have a well-behaved puppy and train them in as little as five minutes a day.
Puppies don’t have long attention spans, so it’s actually unproductive (and can potentially backfire) to try to train them for more than five or ten minutes at a time.
In fact, when your puppy is young, it’s better to keep training sessions as short as two to five minutes.
This way, your puppy has fun the entire time and keeps a positive association with training sessions.
As far as how often to train them, having three to five of these short training sessions is recommended.
Now, you might be thinking, how am I going to train this wild puppy with such little training time?
Well, in reality, every moment with them is a teaching moment.
You spend the “formal” training sessions teaching them the basics, and then take advantage of little moments here and there to practice.
For example, let’s say you’re taking your puppy on a walk and you’ve been working on “come” and “sit”.
When you walk up the door you can ask your puppy to come, and then before you put the leash on, ask them to sit.
Then, when you get back inside, you ask them to sit while you take the leash off.
This isn’t adding any real extra training time, but practicing behaviors as part of your everyday routine will help your puppy learn fast.
Getting Professional Help
If there’s one thing that all puppy owners should do it’s this: take your puppy to a puppy kindergarten class.
Even if you’ve had dogs before, puppy classes are great for your puppy.
Not only will you learn about the basics of owning and training a puppy, but you’ll also get to socialize your puppy with other puppies, which is worth the money and time alone.
Socializing them in a puppy class will help get them comfortable with other dogs, other people, help with puppy biting, and will give them a positive experience going out in public.
Plus, having a puppy is hard, and it’ll be helpful to talk about things with a professional trainer and other puppy owners.
Common Golden Retriever Puppy Training Mistakes
The tips above will help you train your puppy, but if you make the mistakes below, you’ll make it much harder for your puppy to learn.
If you don’t consistently train your puppy, it will be hard for them to progress because they’ll have to relearn it all every time.
Also, you need to be consistent with your house rules.
Don’t let your puppy chew on your shoes sometimes because it’s cute, then take it away from him other times.
Punishing your dog
Punishing your dog can hurt their confidence, making them not want to try to do something because they know they’ll get punished if they get it wrong.
It can also make them not want to listen to you because they’re scared of you or don’t like you.
Training too long
You want your puppy to enjoy training, and you want them to be successful when you try to teach them something.
Because puppies have such short attention spans, training for longer than five or ten minutes can lead to them getting bored and/or getting things wrong.
If they get bored, they may start to not like training with you, and if they continue to get things wrong, they’ll be very slow to get them right.
Expecting too much
Puppies are like toddlers.
Would you expect your toddler to master every challenge you give them right away?
Of course not, so treat your puppy the same.
Make training fun and challenging for them, praise and reward them for making short progressions, and forgive them when they get it wrong.
Waiting to train your puppy until behavioral problems occur
The worst thing you can do is wait for a bad habit to form to start training.
Instead, teach your puppy good habits from the start and continue to positively reinforce them.
Obedience Training & Life Skills
Now that you have the gist of puppy training down, it’s time to get into the nitty gritty.
Below are links to articles that will go into more details about training specific behaviors.
- How To Potty Train Your Golden Retriever Puppy (In Just 2 Weeks)
- How To Crate Train Your Golden Retriever Puppy Step By Step
- How To Stop Your Golden Retriever Puppy From Biting & Nipping
- How To Teach Your Golden Retriever To Walk On A Leash (Without Pulling)
- How To Teach Your Golden Retriever To Stop Jumping
- 10 Best Chew Toys For Golden Retriever Puppies … (this will help them stop chewing up the house)
- 5 Steps To Train Your Golden Retriever Puppy To Sit & Stay
- How To Train A Golden Retriever To Come When Called (Every Time)
- How To Train Your Golden Retriever To Drop It (And WANT To Drop It)
- How To Train Your Golden Retriever To Leave It (Step By Step)
Training your puppy is one of the best things you can do for and with them.
They love to be challenged, love doing things with you, it will help them be more pleasant to live with, and, most importantly, they will love all the treats you’ll give them!
Have any questions about training your golden retriever puppy?
Let me know in the comments below!
And if you know someone who has a new golden pup at home, please share this with them!
P.S. If you liked this article, you’ll love the Complete Guide To Golden Retrievers.