What will teach your Golden Retriever puppy some good manners and overall the ability to know and obey what you’re commanding him to do is some obedience training. This, like crate training, can be an ongoing experience for a few months. You’ll need some patience, fun, and consistency the same way you needed them in the last chapter.
In this article we’ll focus on introducing your pup to training, some training devices you may need or could use, teaching your pup to come, sit, stay, down, heel, and loose-leash walking.
By the end of this article, you’ll have all of the knowledge you’ll need to bring your pup up to speed and become one of the better-behaved pups in your neighborhood, or maybe even whole town!
Introducing Training To The Young Golden Retriever
When you start the obedience training process, you’ll need to introduce it to your pup the right way. This starts by introducing the pups to the tools you’ll be using, including the treats. Puppies don’t start out just knowing that treats are rewards, or what a leash is. These are all taught to the puppy through consistency and action.
Start with something your pup is already getting the hang of, like going potty outside and start giving him treats when he does it. You can also start by playing the name game, which is simply saying your puppy’s name and giving him a treat when he responds.
This is a great way to kill two birds with one stone actually because it teaches your pup what his name is as well as what a treat is.
To introduce your pup to him a collar, simply let him sniff it and then swiftly put it on him. He’ll be a bit frustrated with it at first, scratching at it and so forth.
Leave it on for a couple of hours and then take it off. Let the time he has it on the increase until he’s comfortable with it on overnight.
After he’s well acquainted with his collar, introduce him to leash. Leashes can be scary for a young puppy, meaning captivation and restriction if not introduced properly. Let him sniff and inspect it, and then put it on him.
Let him run around in the house for a bit with it on and dragging the floor. Then, pick it up and let him lead you around the house for a little bit so he doesn’t become upset with the leash when he learns you’ll be connected to the other side.
Needed Training Devices
Overall for training all you’ll really need is a leash, collar, and some treats, but you may want to invest in a clicker or a whistle, which are aides to help your dog recognize correct behavior.
It’s quick and concise and only used during training to help your pup recognize what behavior leads to reward, aka learning what behavior is the right behavior.
Teaching Your Dog To Come
To teach your pup to come to you, start with the name game. Start in a quiet room with no distractions when he’s not feeling relatively hyper, but is awake enough to interact and pay attention (after playtime but before nap time). Take your pup out for a potty break before training time to avoid any accidents and interruptions.
Have him sit close by and say his name over and over until his ears or head perks up, and quickly lay a treat right in his mouth. He’ll get the hang of looking at you every time you say that word that leads to treats.
Afterward, put him a little farther away from you and say his name, and tell him to come to you to get him treat. “Bailey, come!” Be sure to pause between words so he understands that come is the command he’s getting rewarded for.
The next step is to start walking away from him to make him follow you around for his treat. Make him follow you a little longer between each treat. If he looks like he’s regressing or losing interest, start over with a shorter time or take a break and get back to it later.
Take baby steps to avoid your pup losing interest and to avoid you being frustrated that he’s stopped listening. It’s bound to happen.
Practice the name game and “come” every day once or twice a day for a couple of weeks until you can start to wean him off of treats. Then, you’ll want to start adding distractions and calling him at random times. When he’s playing with a toy, call him.
When he’s sniffing something, call him. When there are visitors over and he wants their attention, call him over to you. Give him treats for coming instead of being distracted, and eventually, you’ll want to take him out in public to do the same thing.
Eventually, you want to replace treats with joy, which he’ll love just as much.
Never punish your dog when he comes when called. If he got in the trash and you call him to come to you, you must reward him for coming, not punish him. If he runs off and he comes back when you call him, you must reward him for coming.
If you’re not careful to abide by this, he will think that if he comes he will get punished, and decide to stay away or hide from you instead. Only if you catch your dog in action and go to him are you allowed to tell him he’s done something wrong and he understands what it is.
Teaching Your Dog To Sit & Stay
Teaching your pup to sit and stay is just as rewarding as teaching your pup to come and know his name.
- Take a treat and show it to your pup. He may try to jump to get it or expect it when he comes to you, but if he’s weaned off of treats for the “come” command not giving him one shouldn’t be a major disappointment.
- While saying “Bailey, sit” raise the treat up and above his head. He should automatically sit, and you can praise and treat him.
- If he has a different reaction, like trying to jump for the treat, simply raise the treat out of reach (but not out of sight) and say “no”. This will be enough to tell him he’s not doing what you want him to do for his treat.
Most puppies understand what they have to do to get their treat after just a handful of tries, but you’ll want to keep practicing every day for a week or so and then wean him off treats. Then, do the same thing you did with “come”, which is adding distractions into the mix leading to public obedience.
One of the best ways to teach your pup what the word “stay” means is actually with his food. Once he knows to sit, all you have to do is slowly lower the food bowl to the floor while he’s in the sitting position.
Put your hand up, allowing him to see the face of your palm and say “stay” as you lower the bowl. The moment he moves position, raise the bowl back to the heightened starting position.
The first few feedings you’ll want to tell him good girl (releasing him from the command) as soon as his foot hits the floor, but starting around the 5th feeding you’ll want to start making him wait.
By the time he has this down, he should know what the hand and verbal command mean. It’s time to practice it with other things, and you can incorporate treats. The same concept applies: when he stays until you say, good girl, he gets rewarded.
If he doesn’t stay until you say, good girl, he gets told “no” and is put back into starting position. You’ll also want to incorporate your moving away from him until you can get him to stay when you leave the room.
If you can get a puppy to stay for a full 60 seconds in a busy public setting, consider your training a success. He’ll get better with maturation.
Teaching Your Golden Retriever “Down” And “Heel”
Teaching your pup “down” and “heel” can be very important in terms of obedience and self-control.
To teach your pup the down command, start him out in the sitting position. Take the treat and as you say “down”, slowly lower it to the floor at his front feet, and move it away from him. Use a soft tone, because the down position is a submissive one. You’ll want to teach your pup that it’s not a bad thing, and you definitely don’t want to use punishment with this command.
If your puppy swats at the treat, or pounces on it playfully, or otherwise moves position and isn’t headed in the right direction, simply say no and place him back in the sitting position without giving him a treat.
Teaching down can be gradual. The actual down position requires your pup’s chest and elbows to be on the floor, however, if you want to treat him as he learns the steps that’s okay.
Treat him when his elbows hit the floor to let him know that he’s headed in the right direction, and treat him when he gets a bit further down the next time. If you do this he will eventually be in a full down position.
Take the same steps about distractions. Start with none, and end with several while weaning your pup off treats for each.
For the heel, you’ll want to start indoors with no distractions.
With the lead attached to your pup, (or without a lead if you prefer) stand with your pup closely next to your left leg while facing the same way. Have the treat in your left handheld at your waist and not in front of your pup.
Say your pup’s name and get his attention, then say heel as you take two steps. If he walks forward with you, praise and treat him. Repeat this process several times with two steps. If your pup, at any time, doesn’t heel to you or strays away from any position, tell him no and start over.
Slowly increase the number of steps you take until your pup seems to understand that staying close to you is the right thing to do.
Once he gets comfortable with this inside, take him outside, add in turns and direction changes, and even obstacles. Ultimately you want your pup to stay by your side no matter the distraction.
Training Your Puppy To Walk On A Leash
If you didn’t use a leash during heel training, then you’ll need to leash train your pup starting from scratch. With knowing heel on a leash your pup will already have some basic manners during leash training.
The point is to keep your pup from tightening the leash. Your pup may freeze on a leash or he may run ahead.
If your pup freezes on a leash put the leash down and get him to come to follow you around with the “come” command while the leash is dragging the floor. Eventually, pick up the leash and use the same command until he gets more confident. Then he will likely graduate to being distracted and not wanting to walk beside you.
If your pup walks or runs off to tighten the leash, simply stop in your tracks, allowing a bit of tension to make it uncomfortable but nor hurt the puppy, until he comes back and loosens the leash. Then walk again and stop again when the leash is tightened.
It’s important to consistently stop when you feed a tug in the leash so your puppy understands that pulling gets him nowhere. Once he starts to walk without pulling for long enough, be sure to reward him to let him know which behavior is expected instead.