Basic Training Tools for your Golden Retriever
A Day at the Beach
Daisy is a great off leash dog. I taught her this by giving her a lot of freedom. It worked like a charm. Across the street from our house is a large park. There are some trails and fields where she can run and play without the presence of cars or traffic. As a small puppy, I took her to this park, and walked along as she scampered and played along the way, always keeping up and always coming to a call. When she arrived I always praised her. I always taught her that her return was my expectation of her and I always greeted her well, even if she delayed in smelling something interesting. Her return is always rewarded and thus, she stays close, comes when called, and I don't have to worry about her running off.
Its ironic that giving freedom makes a dog stay close. I was at the beach with Daisy one afternoon and we met a couple with a dog named Stella. Stella was pulling at the leash, only 4 months old, trying to smell and romp but being held onto by her Dad. I suggested they give her some freedom to play with Daisy, let her off leash but they were nervous. They thought she would run away and they wouldn't catch her. Finally, I pursuaded them to let her off and when she did she gallivanted nearby, smelling seaweeds, jumping on sand, biting sticks. She was having the time of her life! Her parents watched on, perched stealth like. I calmed them by saying that their dog wants to be with them, they are her pack. It is her natural habitat to stick with the family, to stay near. Especially a female dog. They walked her down the beach and I watched as the dog played in water and scampered alongside. Finally, they returned to where Daisy and I were playing on the beach. They were so relieved. Their dog stayed with them and seemed really happy! They said, "Thanks to you, we can do this now. And I think it will be better for all of us."
So, I wanted to share that story because those people suggested I speak more on the subject of how I got the best dog. :)
Developing a healthy relationship with your dog is possible through various routes. The one Daisy and I enjoy very much is fetch. Teaching a Golden Retriever is a bonus when playing fetch because your dog's natural desire is to retrieve.
So, we've established that your dog will run after and collect the ball, but does your dog know what to do when it is returned?
This is an opportunity to deepen the friendship and develop your dogs skills. So, that means there are some rules for you. Do not chase after the dog with the ball in his mouth. Do not under any circumstances let your dog think dropping it or letting you have the ball is a game. If you do this, good luck. If you can be serious with your dog, just at the moment of return, listening closely and paying attention, your dog will learn that your retreiving the ball from him is not part of the game. Demonstrate the game is from the throw to the dog's return. Then, Doggy, I get the ball so I can throw it again with you here to enjoy it! Don't teach this skill with children or distractions. Take this part of the training seriously, because its very hard to untrain and chasing a dog around for a ball gets tiring quickly. You both want to play the game, so emphasize the elements of the game, lots of praise, cheer, and when the dog exchanges with you the ball for the throw, be silent. Teach your dog this is a place where no negotiation is necessary.
So once your dog is big enough, and knows how to return, get a chucker and let him run free. You can use dog treats on return but its not a habit. Praise is healthy for your dog and should be used often, with treats as the occasion arises.
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There are specific rules you need to teach your dog for a harmonious relationship and home. Neglecting these things is likely to increase your dog's chances of ending up in the pound.