Being a responsible dog owner includes caring for the health, safety, enrichment and training of your golden retriever. While you no doubt already perform many of the actions listed in this article, read on to see if there might be a few more you want to add!

Health and Wellness

Regular vet checkups are crucial – consider scheduling one in September. These visits will identify and provide the right vaccinations for your dog’s stage of life. Vets will do an overall checkup and can recommend the right nutrition based on your golden retriever’s age, weight, activity level, medical issues and allergies.

Regular dental care and nail clipping are also important.

Safety

Golden retrievers need accessible fresh drinking water and shelter from the elements. Their collar, harness and leash all need to fit appropriately. Puppies chew on everything, so puppy-proof your house and yard with appropriate fencing, elimination of harmful objects, poisonous plants, fertilizers, wires, chemical pesticides and small children’s toys. Pick-up that dog waste or your dog may munch on it.

Training

Every golden retriever needs basic training. It provides the skills they need for everyday life. The Canine Good Citizen program is a great way to verify that the basic level of training has been achieved. More advanced training in dog sports such as agility, nose work and dock diving is also available.

Socialization

Dogs need to gain positive exposure to humans and other dogs.

  • Puppies – Puppies between 3 and 20 weeks are the easiest to socialize. They are naturally curious and outgoing. They haven’t yet learned to be fearful. It’s the perfect time to involve them with new things!

First, teach basic obedience using treats and praise. Professional training may help. Cuddle and allow different people to handle your puppy every day. Expose him/her to different sounds. Approach their food bowl to avoid resource guarding. If they get nervous, drop a tasty treat in the bowl. Teach the puppy to be alone at times. Introduce him/her to new people. Prevent biting by loudly saying “Ow” when it happens and stopping the play session. Expose puppies to unfamiliar dress and objects such as hoods, jackets, sunglasses, masks and hats, vehicles, skateboards, bicycles, strollers, etc.

  • More Mature Dogs Most of the same principles apply but achieving success may be more difficult depending on the dog’s early learning experience.

Loud, running children can scare dogs. Some children may not be trained to ask if they can pet your dog. Unless you know them, it’s best to stay away from groups of youngsters.

It is best to begin socializing by walking with a single dog partner. Find a friend with an easygoing dog. Meet in a neutral place. Walk together at an appropriate distance. If all goes well, allow the dogs to sniff and interact. If there is any aggressive behavior, talk to the dogs in a calm voice until that behavior stops. If this walk is a success, let the dogs play off-leash in a fenced area.

Dog Parks – Safe or Not Safe? Be careful about using dog parks. They can be unpredictable. If your dog stays close to you, avoids other dogs and growls – it’s probably not a safe place.

There are problems with unleashed dogs attacking leashed dogs. Stay away from unleashed dogs. If one tries to attack your dog, throw some treats in its path. This may stop it from coming. Move away.

Distract your dog when it barks at another. Call its name or use a treat or toy to distract it. Remove the dog from the situation. Remember to praise your dog for remaining calm – offer treats as reward. Don’t punish your dog for being scared – offer an alternative command, i.e. “Sit”.

Exercise

Find the kind of exercise your dog loves. Not every dog is satisfied with a walk around the block. Golden retrievers are active dogs and some thrive on playing, swimming, or agility!

Travel Preparations

Have a dog care plan when you need to travel. As Good as Gold’s Dog Sitting Program is an alternative as are professional dog sitters and kennels. If you take the dog with you, scope out pet friendly hotels in advance. If driving, remember never to leave your dog in a hot car – it can be fatal!

Emergency Preparedness

Install window stickers indicating a dog is inside your home. Consider getting a canine first aid kit and a “go bag” in the event you need to evacuate. Keep a list of pet friendly hotels.