The Golden Retriever; the ideal breed for domestic life. Loveable, well behaved, unrelentingly happy and unwaveringly charming. They are the epitome of ‘bark bigger than bite’, they can be very noisy but have little to no guarding instinct making them ideal for a household with small children. Golden Retrievers also have a beautiful, cream colored coat that sheds and therefore requires a lot of care and regular brushing. Looking to make a house a home? Then look no further.
|Good With Other Dogs|
Stories From Real Life Golden Retriever Owners
10 Years With My Golden Retriever
My golden retriever was the happiest and most docile dog I've ever owned. I have three young children who she loved as if they were her own. Many times I would find them playfully climbing all over her and she seemed to enjoy it just as much as they did. She had a heart that was full of love and was ready to give it out to whoever would take it from her. Everybody she met instantly became her best friend. She was also bounding with energy and enjoyed playing fetch outside with her favorite pink ball or tug of war with her rope knot. As she got older, she slowed down a bit but she could still always be found right by my side with a smile on her face.
My golden was very easy to potty train. She was 10 weeks old when I brought her home, so I had to bring her outside every two to three hours to accommodate her smaller bladder. I made sure to have treats ready to give her as soon as she used the bathroom so that she would eventually be conditioned to go outside. I also gave her lots of praise so that she knew that going potty outside was a good thing. My happy reaction made her so excited that it seemed as if she liked pleasing me even more than she liked her treats. I would also bring her outside first thing in the morning and right before bed so that I wouldn’t have to get up in the middle of the night to take her out. I continued this routine but increased the time interval by thirty minutes every week until she could go six hours without an accident. After about a month, she was completely potty trained and never had another accident again!
A daily walk was necessary to help my golden retriever release some of her endless energy. During those walks, I was frequently complimented on her excellent behavior and asked about how I trained her. The truth was that she'd had no obedience training but was just a naturally amazing dog. She would sit when strangers came up to pet her. I could put my finger to my lips and say "shhh" and she would tip-toe out of a room. She was very gentle to take treats and could even balance them on her nose till I gave the “okay” to eat them. I did teach her the basic dog commands like “sit” and “stay” by using treats and praise, but all of her other endearing behaviors were just her natural intuition. Truthfully, training her felt effortless.
My golden retriever saw me through all three of my pregnancies and she loved to lay her head on my growing belly. After each of my children were born, we sent one of their hats home from the hospital for her to sniff before we came home. She carried each hat around with her everywhere she went and kept it safe until she officially met her new baby.
When I was in college, she always stayed up with me and kept my feet warm while I worked on my assignments. I called her my “study buddy” because she kept me company even into the early morning hours.
Why I loved my dog
There were so many endearing qualities about my dog that I could talk about why I loved her for days. All she wanted was to make me happy and all she required in return was to be loved. She was always excited to see me when I came home and she stayed by my side until I left the house again. She loved to cuddle and often laid her head on my feet or in my lap. It was never a question that I was her favorite person. Her love for me was unconditional and that’s all anybody needs from a pet; to love and be loved.
Other Helpful Information About Golden Retrievers
Before someone adopts a golden, they should know that these dogs can easily get their feelings hurt, so it’s important to always treat them gently. Also, they are a whirlwind of energy and need to be able to run and play on a daily basis. Overall, If you have a heart that’s ready to give and receive a lot of love, then you’re ready to own a golden retriever.
My Golden Retriever Named Autumn
Golden retrievers are amazing dogs that love people and are always ready to play. I had a golden named Autumn who was amazing in every way, even if her white fur coat never really matched her name.
Temperament of Golden Retrievers
First and foremost, golden retrievers are almost always happy and love to interact with people. My golden always ran to the door when the doorbell rang, super excited to greet visitors. On walks around the neighborhood, she would always strain at the leash to go and meet fellow walkers and joggers, immediately lying down on the ground and rolling on her back to get her belly scratched. After the initial, albeit long-lived, excitement of some new person or surroundings, my golden would also calm down and be completely happy to just hang out. Although in humans this could come across as bipolar disorder, in Autumn it was great because she was always ready to go play but was also completely content to have relaxed days just spending time with me. When she was very young, she had a lot of youthful energy and wasn’t as content to just sit and relax, but for most of her life she was equally happy either playing outside or lounging indoors. Once she reached old age, she slowed down quite a bit and had shorter bursts of energy before getting tired and wanting to just lie down on the lawn. It was always a joy for other people to meet Autumn, because she was always so happy to meet them and gratefully, if not graciously, accept their love and pets.
Toilet Training a Golden Retriever
One of the toughest parts of dog ownership is training them to use the toilet when and where you want them to. Thankfully, Autumn was also incredibly food and treat oriented, so I could use her gluttonous demeanor to positively reinforce good latrine habits. When I first started training her, I would simply reward her with treats and praise any time she went to the bathroom outside. I was also very responsive to her ‘asking’ to go outside by standing by the door and nudging the door handle with her muzzle. This positive reinforcement of treats, combined with some scolding and pointing when accidents happened inside the house, had Autumn completely toilet trained within about four months. After she was trained to go to the door and ask to go outside by nosing the door handle, I got more specific and started only rewarding her for going to the bathroom in a certain area of the yard. I also would pick up her droppings and move them to the correct area of the yard. It took a little while, but eventually she got the idea and would go to lighten her load in that spot even if we were in another part of the yard playing fetch.
Golden Retrievers: Great for Playing With
In addition to loving people and constant attention from them, goldens also are fantastic dogs to play with. They’re not called retrievers without good reason and Autumn was no different. We would play fetch for what seemed like hours a time, without her losing interest or focus the entire time. In addition to throwing sticks in the backyard, Autumn also learned to retrieve the newspaper every morning from the driveway. She also loved to swim, and I remember one trip to a local river trail where I tried my hand at skipping stones across the water; Autumn thought I was throwing rocks for her to retrieve and had a blast hopping into the water, dipping her muzzle down into the water, and blowing bubbles while looking for the rock I’d thrown! Autumn was also an incredibly gentle dog, allowing me to wrestle with her on the carpet of the living room without ever losing control or biting me.
Good for Cuddling: Not Your Average Lap Dog
Golden retrievers are not small dogs and Autumn was probably around 60 pounds, but just because they’re large doesn’t mean they can’t be lap dogs! Continuing the theme of Autumn loving people and getting attention from them, she was more than happy to jump up on the couch with people, sit between their legs, and fall backwards so that her back was on their chest and they could rub her belly. More than a few nights were spent with this giant fluffball of a dog lounging away on top of me, or one or my relatives, while we watched a TV episode or movie.
Protective of Owners
Although I’ve heard stories of dogs protecting their owners from muggers or in dangerous situations, I was fortunate enough to avoid any life-threatening situations while I owned Autumn. Autumn’s perspective on what was life-threatening may have been different from mine, however! While I had Autumn, I lived in the Southeast, and although we did occasionally get snow, it wasn’t so common that Autumn ever got used to it. One winter it had snowed quite heavily, and the whole neighborhood was out sledding down the local cul-de-sac. Autumn was quite concerned at how fast we were going and seemed to think we were in danger, because every time we went down the hill, she ran alongside, barking continuously and then pawing at us after we had finished the run. Although this was cute and entertaining for a while, eventually I decided that she was having too much anxiety from the chosen activity and put her inside for the rest of the sledding session.Another time that Autumn showed her protective nature was when I went swimming with my family at a local lake. We were all lounging in the water, floating on pool noodles, but Autumn was constantly worried about people getting too far away from shore. Instead of barking or just acting anxious, she decided to do something about it, swimming to the person farthest away from shore, grabbing their pool noodle in her mouth and towing them in towards shore! Needless to say, after all that tugboat work, she slept incredibly well as soon as we got home that evening!
Golden Retrievers' Intelligence
Golden retrievers are so happy and full of love that sometimes people say they’re not intelligent, but I have found this to be completely untrue. Autumn was a smart dog and sometimes even too smart; in her later years she got more stubborn and would ignore commands unless she knew you had a treat to reward her. Once, when she was a puppy, she had started getting taller and wasn’t completely aware of how this changed her interactions with the environment; she used to run under the porch outside the house at full speed, but because she had gotten taller, she ended up knocking her head on the wooden porch. After she ran into the porch a single time, she resumed her rambunctious sprinting under and out from the porch, with the newfound knowledge to duck her head so she wouldn’t hit it on the overhang. Pain is a powerful teacher, but it only took Autumn one experience to figure out how to avoid that particular source of it, proving that she was quite a smart pup.
Bird Hunting With a Golden Retriever
My family enjoys all sorts of outdoor activities including hiking, kayaking, fishing and more. One additional activity that we enjoy is to go hunting for birds. Every year when the season opens, I try to go out and sit in a field to hunt for doves. By tying some of the bird wings to a dummy, I trained Autumn to know the scent of the birds and to get used to the sound of a gun. First, I started with clapping when I was throwing the toy, then moved on to a cap gun before finally introducing her to real gunshots during target practice. It was important to wait until she was a little grown up before starting this training, since puppies have a period of extreme sensitivity in the early weeks of their lives; if anything scares them during this period, they are left with a strong fear of that experience for the rest of their lives. In addition to not being gun-shy, Autumn really loved retrieving the dummy with bird wings tied to it. When we were out hunting, there were numerous occasions when I would shoot a bird and have it land deep in the woods or a corn field; Autumn would be watching the whole time and would have a general idea of where the bird had landed, then enthusiastically sniff it out and bring it back to me.
Hip Dysplasia: The Danger of Bigger Dogs
As with many large dog breeds, golden retrievers are known for a tendency to get hip dysplasia, which is an abnormal development of the hip joint. Autumn had hip dysplasia, and for years I worried that she would lose her ability to walk, run and jump; thankfully, by managing her weight and exercising with her regularly, she was able to live a full and happy life. After about twelve years of loving her, Autumn passed away after being diagnosed with cancer.
Overview of Golden Retriever Ownership
In summary, Autumn was a fantastic dog that I had a lot of fun years with, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I would highly recommend golden retrievers to anyone considering a new dog, with the one caveat being that they do shed a lot! One way to turn this minor downside into an advantage is to sweep or vacuum your golden retriever’s fur and put it outside for local songbirds to make nests with.