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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.
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.
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
Schedule a time when you can take your Golden Retriever for a walk for an hour or more. Multiple walks a day are best.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Search and rescue
Consisting of scent work and retrieval, search and rescue dogs are well trained and can use the work to stay busy.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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