How to Train a Golden Retriever to be Calm

How to Train a Golden Retriever to be Calm
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon2-4 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

By nature, working dogs are meant to work. They’re typically high energy and require a big time commitment to keep them happy and healthy. Born and bred to keep going until they have no energy left, the working dog can be found in many breed families. Shepherds, pointers, and retrievers are all examples of this working class of dog, though one of the more common breeds that people tend to gravitate towards is the Golden Retriever. Praised as the ultimate family dog, the Golden Retriever is found in many homes throughout the world. They get along well with children of all ages, are receptive to obedience training, and often form steadfast and strong bonds with their owners.

Despite their pristine reputation, they still fall under the name “retriever”, and as such, require plenty of maintenance to cut down on behavior issues that may crop up from an excess of energy. Golden Retrievers can be hyperactive and bouncy when left to their own devices, but luckily there are ways to help owners channel that energy.

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Defining Tasks

Every dog needs some sort of mental or physical stimulation to be happy and healthy. Depending on the breed of dog, they may need one type more than the other, but Golden Retrievers are very dependent on physical stimulation. Beginning this type of activity early on when they are puppies can help curb poor behavior later on, but having a hyper or overactive Golden Retriever is not the end of the world and going for mile-long hikes is not the only way to tire one out.

If you struggle with your Golden Retriever’s energy level, there are multiple ways to get him to calm down. These methods work for a dog of any age, though it may take some extra work to help break your Golden of bad habits if he is a little older. Your Golden will likely need about two weeks to a month to adjust to a new routine for him once you get started, so consistency is key.

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Getting Started

To begin, you’ll need to establish a daily routine for your dog. This routine should consist of regular physical activity, obedience training, and some type of free play time to create an even balance. With a routine in place, your Golden Retriever will eventually know what times of day are reserved for being calm and relaxed while the rest of the time should be spent working off that energy.

If you work or are busy most of the day, consider hiring a dog walker or sitter, or think about asking a neighbor or friend to come by to take your dog out for a while. Leaving your Golden Retriever in a crate or small room all day will guarantee that he is nicely wound up and excited when you walk in the door and will make it harder for you to get him to calm down.

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The Exercise Method

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1

Walk daily

Schedule a time when you can take your Golden Retriever for a walk for an hour or more. Multiple walks a day are best.

2

Go running

Golden Retrievers make excellent running partners. Wear your dog down quickly and effectively by going jogging or running with him a few times a week.

3

Play fetch

Even simple active games like fetch can be an effective way to handle your dog’s energy level. Fetch is a classic game and easy to do in any open area.

4

Socialize

If your Golden Retriever is social and gets along with other dogs, get together with other owners of well behaved and dog-friendly dogs in order to provide some play time and socialization. This can help provide valuable physical stimulation while also providing good social time.

5

Go swimming

Golden Retrievers tend to enjoy the water. Going swimming can be valuable exercise for your dog. Be sure to supervise all activity in the water and provide your dog a way out when he is done.

The Job Method

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Work on advanced obedience

Obedience training can come in handy to teach your dog multiple things. It can also provide positive physical and mental stimulation.

2

Try a sport

Sports like agility, frisbee, flyball, or dock diving can all provide the exercise that your Golden needs to stay occupied and exercised. These sports can also act as a valuable tool to bond with your dog.

3

Search and rescue

Consisting of scent work and retrieval, search and rescue dogs are well trained and can use the work to stay busy.

4

Therapy work

Therapy work provides dogs with socialization skills and exceptional obedience to be used in hospitals, children’s centers, or retirement homes for people who may be in distress. A therapy Golden Retriever will get lots of walking in during the typical work day and can practice prolonged commands on a daily basis.

5

Duck hunting

Retrievers are excellent hunting partners and can get plenty of physical exercise when out in the field. Long hunting trips involve plenty of walking, scent work, running, and swimming. This work is enough to wear out even the most active of dogs.

The Quiet Time Method

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Ignore bad behavior

Your Golden Retriever will work for your attention, whether it is negative or positive. Bad behavior should be ignored and not acknowledged, as paying any sort of attention to it can convince your dog that this sort of behavior is the key to getting your focus.

2

Designate time to relax

Once exercise and physical activity is done for the day, pick a time of day where you can both sit and relax for a time. Having this regular time each day can help your dog adjust when you need him to.

3

Reward calm behavior

Any time your dog settles down, reward him with plenty of treats or physical affection like pats or belly rubs. Encourage him to continue to relax with positive reinforcement.

4

Offer distractions

Keep your Golden Retriever quietly busy with a puzzle or chew toy when it is time to relax. This can keep him occupied without any high energy activity.

5

Stick to routine

Have the same time of day every day for your dog to relax. The more you stick to a routine, the easier it will be for your dog to settle down each day when you need him to.

By TJ Trevino

Published: 02/20/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Tobie

Dog breed icon

Golden Retriever

Dog age icon

1 Year

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Question

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He is in a cage all day and when he gets out he jumps all over the kids and runs around chewing everything up.

Feb. 28, 2021

Tobie's Owner

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Alisha Smith - Alisha S., Dog Trainer

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257 Dog owners recommended

Hello! There are quite a few modifications that can be made to help your dog become more calm. I am sending you a link to a great article. https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/behavior/training-a-hyperactive-dog-to-calm-down/

Feb. 28, 2021

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Appa

Dog breed icon

Golden Retriever

Dog age icon

6 Months

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Question

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He bites A LOT even has chew toys and i practiced the ignore method but nothing works. He also gets very hyperactive when he receives a lot of pets or when you play with him and because of that he jumps to bite your arm or just jumps towards you. I've tried to burn his energy by going to a park but when we arrive he doesnt want to play or run (he doesn't run unless i do but sometimes he thinks its bc im running away from him and proceeds to jump and try to bite) only when we are at my house but my garden is not big enough for him to run freely. I've tried taking him on runs on leash but he rans so fast i can't keep up. What should i do to make him stop biting and be more calm?

Feb. 7, 2021

Appa's Owner

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Alisha Smith - Alisha S., Dog Trainer

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257 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Here is information on nipping/biting. Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment.

Feb. 8, 2021


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