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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Gracey

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Golden Retriever

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Two Years

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Gracey gets very excited to go in the car to the park. She loves her walkies. In the car, she starts barking ( she is restrained with a seatbelt in the back of the SUV ) and lunges until we get to the park. It is really annoying and difficult to focus. Especially since she is not much of a barker on a day to day basis. On the ride home she is relaxed. Today, I played frisbee with her before we went. She still did her barking routine. She did this before when she was one for 6 monthes. She stopped then started up again 2 weeks ago. She just turned two.

Jan. 28, 2023

Gracey's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, It sounds like she is probably getting too excited/aroused in anticipation of the park and needs to be desensitized to that outing again, and develop a habit of keeping calm leading up to the park. To work on desensitizing pup, I would work on both desensitizing pup car riding in general and working on a Quiet Down-Stay in the car. Start by simply feeding beside the car while its off, then feeding treats along the runner with the door open, then inside the car with it still. For at least a couple of weeks practice the Down Stay command on the middle seats' floorboard or seats (if a row seat). Gradually move to practicing with the car in the driveway but still while on - don't turn on in the garage for gas breathing reasons. The idea here is that pup gets used to being in the car without going anywhere, and the experience is pleasant but just another location to practice obedience commands and focus. When pup is completely relaxed in the car and can do a solid down-stay, recruit a second person to drive or train, so the driver can only focus on driving. Have the person training enforce Down, while the driver simply pulls out of the driveway and back in again. When pup can stay relaxed during that (which will require a lot of repetition before pup relaxes then too - once pup sees that the driving is boring through repetition), then drive down the block and back. Gradually increase the distance and level of excitement as pup improves, only moving onto further distances or more exciting locations once pup can stay relaxed at the current level of training. Sometimes a bark collar can be needed in addition to the desensitization for dogs who bark for the love of barking itself. It doesn't sound like that's probably the case here since she doesn't normally bark at other times though. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Jan. 31, 2023

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Tobie

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Golden Retriever

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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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