Tips For Training A Golden Retriever Puppy: 8 Weeks To 2 Years

Timeline for Golden Retriever Puppy Training


Remember “The Golden Girls,” the long-running 1970s TV sitcom?Today’s version is also a good time, but it has gone to the dogs.
Golden Retrievers are a breed that knows what they’re doing. The brains and workhorses behind GoldenSoul Dogs, of Harleysville, Pennsylvania, and American Kennel Club Breeders of Merit, are Nancy Lewine and Jenny Cochran.
Nancy is in charge of show-dog management and breeding, while Jenny is in charge of training. And they’ve both been firm believers in puppy training since the beginning.
They describe the breed as a mix of valedictorians, Olympic athletes, therapists, and best friends.
“They want a ‘calm’ dog that loves/likes everyone and everything and naively believe they can almost ‘train’ themselves,” Lewine says when asked what the public’s biggest misconception of the breed is. They believe that a well-trained, well-behaved, and well-groomed golden is “born that way.” If you buy a puppy from a good breeder, it will be healthier and easier to raise than if you got it from a shelter or puppy mill.
“Their idea of a well-trained, mature, and active Golden Retriever is what they want their young puppy to be like.”
Sometimes they believe that all Goldens are the same, and that if they’ve had one, they’ve had them all, and are surprised to discover the breed’s differences. They’re now faced with the task of learning new and improved training and parenting techniques.
Until they are two years old, here is the Lewine/Cochran road map on the highway of several developmental and fear stages of Golden puppies:

Angelic Phase (2–6 months)

Puppy kindergarten and basic obedience training begin right away in a group setting. Goldens want to please their owners and are easy to train. Classes can help you meet their physical, social, and mental needs.
To successfully meet the challenges of the burgeoning teenager, it is critical to establish a working relationship from which to build a foundation of solid obedience skills. This is the time to develop a bond with your dog, build trust, explore their instinctual potential, and figure out which dogs your puppy will learn to play with. Not every dog is the same as the next! Our two-legged types are similar.

“It’s a piece of cake!” This is something I’ve done dozens of times!” Blue, a six-month-old puppy, is pondering something. He became accustomed to having his nails trimmed weekly with a Dremel at a young age.

Milestones in development:

Golden puppies have a short attention span at this point and require a variety of activities to burn off their energy. Right now, mouthiness (exacerbated by teething) is front and center. Keep in mind that Golden Retrievers were bred to carry things in their mouths, specifically waterfowl.
Goldens are great communicators. They can also have motor mouths, as evidenced by their whining, growling, and barking. At this point, you must concentrate solely on the manner in which it communicates, i.e., the difference between friendly and aggressive vocalizations. As a result, it’s critical that the owner understand the puppy’s entire body language.
Fear is a stage that puppies go through. With the help of group-based training, you can identify and work through the common fears that arise during this developmental period. Allow them to be exposed to loud sounds (babies crying, thunderstorms, fireworks, lawnmowers, vacuum cleaners) and unexpected movements (toddlers, young children, people with disabilities, unsteady elderly movements) and teach them coping skills (check it out, leave it and ignore it). This prevents behaviors from becoming permanently embedded.
A trash can, for example, might be passed by the puppy dozens of times without incident, only to find it suddenly barking at it. Remember, in the puppy’s eyes – and mind – what is old is new. My puppy doesn’t like to go in his crate, or in the car, or wear a leash, you might say, but this is a developmental issue that can be easily overcome once you learn how to work through it. This is when some people lose control and the puppy takes over the steering wheel as the owners give in to its demands.


Schedules, routines, rules, boundaries, and expectations should all be established at home. Explore and discover your puppy’s skills and interests. According to Lewine and Cochran, Fido needs to have “a job.” Families tell breeders that they want a calm Golden Retriever who will sleep on the couch with them. The Golden Girls respond that if owners meet their puppy’s intellectual, physical, and social needs on a daily basis, their golden will be ready to snuggle up to them at night.

Grooming and maintenance:

Lewine and Cochran suggest trimming nails once a week (it’s critical to keep them short), brushing several times a week, and deciding how you’ll take care of dental needs, such as tooth brushing and chewing bones that will descale their teeth. Handling all parts of the body, especially the ears, mouth, feet, and tail, helps the dog establish an early comfort zone that will last for the remainder of his life.
Bathing the puppy on a regular basis acclimates him to getting in the bath, shampooing, rinsing, and drying. And now is the time to decide whether you will groom yourself or hire someone to do it for you. Trimming around the paws, ears, and tail is part of the maintenance protocol at this age. They don’t usually have a long, thick coat at this point, but it’s good practice for when he or she is smaller and easier to handle. It also gives both the owner and the puppy a routine and a comfortable place to live.

“Ouch, my mouth hurts!” Take a look inside my mouth! “I’ve got to chew something!” Tang, who is five months old, exclaims! As baby teeth erupt and fall out, young puppies’ gums become inflamed.

Adolescent rebellion (6-18 months)


This is the time to build upon the foundation laid in the Angel Phase. As a result, training is essential.
Lewine and Cochran have found that pet owners over-prepare for the baby stage (2–6 months) but under-prepare for the Terrible Teens, which obviously last much longer.
Your once-perfect angel’s emerging hormones will send her/him into cranky, feisty, subdued, and reclusive moods during this phase, and you will find yourself struggling. It’s time to find your puppy’s best friends. They can have fun frolicking, wrestling, and zooming with them. Expecting or forcing your puppy to “like” every dog is unrealistic. They will have preferences, just like children. I respect their decision.
While teething is usually over, Goldens still have a strong desire to have something in their mouth, which can be channeled with commands like leave it, drop it, give, and fetch. It’s time to explore your puppy’s increasing exercise requirements by exploring tricks, rally, agility, field work, dock diving, obedience, scent work, barn hunting, and other activities that foster teamwork and respect in your dog. At this point, the well-mannered Golden that everyone adores is firmly established.
The Golden Girls say that there is another stage of fear, and that using the skills you’ve already learned to deal with fear again stops permanent fear behaviors.

Blue, 6 months old, learns to stand patiently for a bath and rinse!

Milestones in development:

During this stage, goldens reach 80% of their adult size. The rebellious behavior begins to fade as the child approaches 18 months and closes in on 24 months. Bitches can expect to go through one to two heats.
They’ll need to increase their caloric intake between 12 and 24 months, in true adolescent fashion, based on their continued growth and exercise patterns. Goldens are athletes who must be kept in shape for the rest of their lives. Bitches should weigh 55-65 pounds, while males should weigh 65-75 pounds.


Brushing and combing your dog is a must to keep him neat and tidy. Tangles, burrs, and the amount of dirt and mud collected around the ears, feet, underline, and tail can all be reduced by trimming excess hair around the ears, feet, underline, and tail. Injuries and malformations are reduced when nails are kept short.
Regular grooming allows you to become familiar with the dog’s body, allowing you to spot any bumps, sores, ticks, injuries, and other issues that may require veterinary attention early on.

Jenny Cochran, the dog’s breeder, owner, and handler, works with 9-month-old “teenager” Sage in a puppy obedience class. Sage is learning the basics so she can get her American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen title.

Maturity Phase Signs (18-24 Months)


While this should have become second nature by now, If you haven’t yet earned basic obedience or performance titles, now is the time to do so. Collaboration becomes pleasurable and enjoyable.

Milestones in Development:

The breed has usually finished growing in two years, though males may take another year to complete their physical maturity, particularly head development. Males and females who are not participating in conformation should be neutered or spayed at this time. You should switch to adult Golden Retriever dog food at this time.
Because of the caloric needs of adolescent energy, maintaining breed standard weight can be difficult. They may require more calories, but just as their needs for more calories are reaching a peak, their metabolism changes (especially after sterilization), making weight management difficult.
This Olympic athlete’s exercise demands are still high. The dog’s personality and characteristics, which may have gone dormant during the previous stage, are now fully developed. With a smorgasbord of emotional, physical, and mental changes in the first 112 years, special personality traits occasionally take a back seat. Add Lewine and Cochran, and the puppy’s “head reattaches to the body” just like a Rock ’em Sock ’em Robot. But don’t worry, everything comes together at the 2-year mark.


This is the point at which the physical and emotional development of the team has reached its apex, and the owner should seize the opportunity to build on the strong team training and foundation. “If you do everything you can for the first two years of a puppy’s life, you’ll have the dog of your dreams for the remainder of its life,” Lewine claims.


The dog’s thick coat and feathering will require regular grooming and trimming. Nail trimming, teeth and ear cleaning, shampooing, bathing and drying, and coat trimming should all be second nature to it by now. The Golden Girls trim their nails once a week. The double coat of a golden retriever is nature’s way of keeping them cool in the summer and warm in the winter. That coat will blow twice a year, once in the summer and once in the fall. They should never be shaved!
The Golden Girls recommend getting a short-coated breed like a Labrador Retriever if you don’t want to care for your golden’s coat!
Remember, the breed’s gorgeous coat is its defining feature, so it should be a top priority in every owner’s pet care.