How to Train a Golden Retriever to be Calm

Medium
2-4 Weeks
Behavior

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.

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.

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.

The Exercise Method

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Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

The Job Method

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Step
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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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

The Quiet Time Method

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Step
1
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Shelby
Golden Retriever
2 Years
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Question
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Shelby
Golden Retriever
2 Years

Hi! Shelby is 2 years old and is constantly crazy. She never seems to calm down, jumps on everybody that walks through the door, and is crazy for tennis balls. I’ve tried basic calmness training on her and nothing seems to work. What can I do?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
817 Dog owners recommended

Hello Corinne, Her energy probably won't change until she gets a bit older but you can teach a dog to stay still on command for long periods, listen better, not pull, not jump, ect...which helps manage the energy. Also, when you exercise her focus on things that also challenge her brain. Mentally stimulating exercise has been proven to wear a dog out better than physical exercise alone. Tricks, games that incorporate obedience, agility, and commands that require a lot of focus and self-control. When you take her on walks also require her to heel beside you and focus on you so that she is working for you during the walk - stop and work on commands like Down Stay and Sit Stay periodically - she is more likely to be calmer when you get back home from that type of walk. To help manage the energy and teach better manners and self-control I highly suggest working on the following commands with her (be patient and very consistent): Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo For the jumping check out the article linked below and focus the most on the Step Toward Method. You may need to use the Leash method too with guests. When she will not jump on you when you come home anymore, then work on acting really exciting, like doing jumping jacks and making funny noises to get her excited, then use the Step Toward Method if she jumps then as well - this is to teach her to not jump when she is excited as well - since guests will be especially exciting. Jumping: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Riley
Golden Retriever
11 Weeks
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Question
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Riley
Golden Retriever
11 Weeks

Chewing on rugs.
Growls and barks when we try to put on the leash.

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, Golden Retrievers have a lot of energy and a young one, in particular, will expend their energy by chewing. Buy Riley textured toys that will work the teeth and gums. As well, interactive toys are a great way to stimulate a busy puppy's mind. Try feeding Riley 1/2 of the meal in the bowl and the other half in the feeder (with supervision). If there is frustration, give assistance the first few times. Take a look here for tips on carpet chewing: https://wagwalking.com/training/not-chew-the-carpet. As for the leash: https://wagwalking.com/training/accept-a-leash. See if any of the tips are helpful. Make sure the leash is not heavy and bulky, even a cat leash at the beginning is fine and will seem less intimidating. You can move up to a larger leash later. Have Riley sit before many events, such as before the food dish is placed on the floor, before getting a toy, before a treat is given and also before the leash is put on. This may bring better cooperation. Give Riley lots and lots of exercise, too. Happy training!

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Question
Ollie
Golden Retriever
3 Years
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Question
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Ollie
Golden Retriever
3 Years

Ollie is a lovable golden retriever. He goes on a long walk everyday, and plays in our fenced in back yard. He is relatively calm when myself and my partner are home alone, but when guests come he goes crazy. We have a pet gate, that he has figured out how to get through. We ask guests not to pet him until he is calm, but he never calms down when someone else is in the house.

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, this can be a challenge for Ollie but can be overcome. Make sure that you are taking him on walks where he can interact with people on a regular basis. Obedience training is important, too. Enroll him in training classes as soon as you can. I've seen dogs who were completely unmanageable become very well-behaved when guests are around. In the meantime, this comes with consistent daily training. Start here: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you. Read the entire guide through for excellent tips! Teach your dog the "sit" command and work on it until he has it perfected. When visitors come over, have Ollie on a leash beside you, sitting until the visitor arrives and is inside. Guests can only pet Ollie as long as he remains sitting. If he attempts to move, have him go into the sit position again, and no treat. The guest can then approach Ollie again. Take a look here for more techniques: https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-visitors-calmly. I definitely recommend professional training, though. You'll have a new dog in no time. Good luck!

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Question
Summer Angel`
Golden Retriever
4 Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Summer Angel`
Golden Retriever
4 Months

The little sweethearr is a challenge, she never runs out of energy, constant, constant. It has become very very exhausting.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
817 Dog owners recommended

Hello, First, I recommend crate training her and giving her a dog food stuffed chew toy in the crate to give you a break and to keep her out of trouble and safe when you can't supervise. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Second, I recommend practicing short training session with her each day that you can. Training her brain will actually help wear her out more than some physical exercise. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZzFRKsgVMhGTxffpzgTJlQ Third, have her work for more of her meal kibble by putting her kibble in things like Kongs, kong wobbles, durable puzzle toys, ect... To stuff a kong you can either place pup's dry dog food loosely in it and cover 1/2 of the opening with a larger treat - so the dog food will dispense more slowly, or place pup's food in a bowl, cover with water, let sit out until the food turns to mush, mix the mush with a little liver paste, treat paste, or peanut butte (avoid xylitol! - it's extremely toxic to dogs and a common sweetener substitute), place a straw through the kong's holes, loosely stuff the kong with the mush, place in a baggie, and free overnight. Remove the straw before giving pup and grab the kong from the freezer as needed - for a time-released treat. You can also purchase several durable hollow chew toys and stuff them at the same time so that you have a stash in the freezer to grab from as needed. Maturity will also help. Puppies tend to have a lot of energy, especially when they "wake up" more around 3-4 months. Don't feel like you have to always entertain her. Spend intentional time training, exercising and socializing her throughout the day, but it's also okay to give her a chew toy to play with and give her some quiet time in the crate or an exercise pen when you need a break. Or tethering her to yourself with a hands free leash when you have to get stuff done around the house but she isn't safe yet to be left unattended. Practicing being alone and learning to entertain herself with dog food stuffed chew toys can help her develop an "Off" switch in the home as well. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Wish
Golden Retriever
8 Months
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Question
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Wish
Golden Retriever
8 Months

My dog is very hyper active and digs holes has ate all the flowers in my backyard and is really hard to control plus he is too friendly with strangers

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
817 Dog owners recommended

Hello Siddharth, I would start by stimulating pup more mentally - giving pup jobs to do, dog food in things like kongs, kong wobbles, puzzle toys, or automatic treat dispensers. You can also incorporate obedience into things like Fetch or Heeling Walks to wear pup out during those activities faster and help alleviate boredom. I would work on teaching things like Leave It and Out. Out - leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Check this article and the tips on teaching Leave It, using deterrents and confining when you can't supervise right now. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ For the excitement with people, I would recruit friends and practice the Passing Approach method - with people instead of other dogs in this case, if pup is friendly and not at all aggressive with people. Passing Approach: https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs Check out this article for helping with polite greetings if pup tends to jump, to teach pup to Sit instead. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump Finally, for longer guest visits and building self-control in general, you can teach pup a 1+ hour Place command and give pup a dog food stuffed chew toy on Place. Start small and work up to the longer time and distractions very gradually through frequent short practices. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Appa
Golden Retriever
6 Months
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Question
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Appa
Golden Retriever
6 Months

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?

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
219 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.

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Question
Tobie
Golden Retriever
1 Year
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Question
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Tobie
Golden Retriever
1 Year

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

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
219 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/

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