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Imagine standing in a line up with six other Golden Retrievers. The judge methodically walks up and down the line of dogs, evaluating structure, coat, and temperament, thinking about his options. He indicates for your pup and another dog to make a circle around the ring once more. He studies the two dog's movements as they strut around the ring. Your dog is graceful, strong, and elegant. You rejoin the group. The judge scratches his chin once more while making his final decision, then he begins to point, indicating his choices. You hold your breath, and in a heart-stopping second, he sends you and your dog to the front of the line up of dogs. You have just won Best of Breed!
Such a scene is what every dog show handler dreams of: winning, earning titles, beating the competition, climbing up in the breed rankings. Showing a dog can be a lot of fun. There is a lot of pride in showing a great representative of a particular breed. There is often great camaraderie among the handlers, who understand and appreciate the hard work and dedication that goes it breeding, raising, training, and showing great dogs. Many dogs feed off of all of the attention and treats that they get in the ring, and they thrive in such an environment.
Whether you are just getting started with conformation, have just brought home a new puppy that you expect to show in the future, or are simply looking to improve your current show dog's chances, winning a show is not just about successful breeding. Although that is a large part of it, it is also about training and preparation. While selecting the right dog is the first essential step in competing and winning, great training will help you go all the way with your pup.
Preparing your pup for conformation shows is very important. Not only will it increase your chances of winning, but for your dog it will also decrease or entirely eliminate the stress of being in a busy ring, around lots of people, being handled by an unfamiliar person. For you, it can eliminate the stress and embarrassment of being pulled halfway across the show ring when your pup sees a cute female Golden on the far side of the ring.
The easiest time to work on getting your pup used to being handled is when he is still a puppy. If your dog is well past that point, spend lots of extra time gently working on touching him while giving him treats. If he seems uncomfortable with being touched, then use treats that are especially exciting, such as real chicken. If your dog has ever shown any form of aggression, do not use 'The Touch Method' on your own. Find a good trainer in your area to help you. Do not corner your dog or force him to be touched. Instead, use your treats and praise to encourage him over to you. Go slowly with him if he seems unsure.
If you know anyone else who shows their dog, then you can create your own dog show training class, where you can both practice handling each other's dog, walking your dog with the distraction of another dog, and standing for an examination from another person. Doing this with one friend and her dog is good, but doing this with even more people and dogs is even better. If you have multiple dog show friends, then recruit several. Another great option is to find a class at your local dog club, that focuses on preparation for the ring. If you cannot mimic the surroundings of a dog show yourself or find a class in your area, or if you just want more practice, then you can take your dog to spacious public areas, such as parks, and practice your dog's skills around other people and animals there. The more things that you can do to prepare your dog for the distractions of the show ring, the more likely he is to remember his training on show day.
To get started you will need lots of small, tasty treats. The treats should be something that is quick and easy for your dog to eat. Freeze dried meat, real chicken, or other small, soft treats should work well for this. If you are using 'The Touch Method' then once Fido is comfortable being touched by you, you will also need assistants to help you desensitize Fido to being touched by other people. The more volunteers that you can recruit for this, one person at a time, the better the result will likely be.
If you are using 'The Stand Method' then the training will go faster if you pup already knows the 'down', 'sit', and 'OK' or 'free' commands. If you are using 'The Walk Method' then you will need a small Ziploc bag to put your treats into, and a pocket or treat pouch to hold the bag. You will also need a thin, slip lead type leash--the type that is typically used in show rings. You will also need a resource for viewing proper Golden Retriever movement in the ring, such as online videos or live attendance at a dog show. Finally, you will need a location where you can practice walking your pup in the presence of other people and dogs, such as a class setting, a public park, or your own self-created class, put on by you and other dog show friends. With all of the methods, you will need a positive and encouraging attitude to keep your dog happy, confident, and excited about training and showing.
The Touch Method
Call your dog
To begin, choose treats that your dog loves. If your pup loves his own kibble, then you can also use that for this. Call your dog over to you and show him a treat.
While your dog is standing in front of you, gently touch his ear while giving him a treat from your other hand. Repeat this with the other ear afterwards.
After you touch his ears, then touch his paw while giving him a treat. Repeat this with each paw.
Next, gently touch his abdomen while giving him a treat. Repeat this with both of his thighs, one at a time, and his chest.
Next, gently rub your hand down his tail while giving him a treat. Practice gently lifting the tail up and tucking it underneath him while giving him a treat.
Next, carefully open your dog's mouth and then give him a treat. If your dog is likely to bite you if you try to do this, then do not do this step on your own, instead hire a trainer in your area to work with you on this.
Look into eyes
Next practice looking into your dogs eyes to check for clarity while giving a treat. Also practice running your hands over your dog's entire body while giving him a treat, and gently touching him in any other location that a judge might touch him in, while giving him a treat.
Repeat touching your dog in all of those areas while rewarding him with food every time that you do. Do this frequently for at least two months, until your dog seems completely relaxed and happy about being touched.
Recruit a friend
After your dog is completely comfortable being touched by you, have a dog savvy friend repeat the touches and treats with your dog. When your dog is comfortable with that person's touch, then repeat the process with another friend. The more friends that you can get to touch your dog in a positive way, the more comfortable your dog will be with being touched by a judge.
After your dog is completely comfortable with being touched by multiple people, then continue to practice touching and rewarding your dog occasionally throughout his show career, to maintain his tolerance of being touched.
The Stand Method
Call your dog
To begin, call your dog over to you and show him a treat.
Command your dog to 'sit' or 'down' or simply wait until he chooses to do so. After he is sitting or laying down, then touch the treat to his nose and tell him to 'stand'.
After you tell him to stand, slowly move the treat on his nose upwards and then horizontal, so that he begins to stand up, in order to follow the treat. If your dog is trained to remain in the sit or down position without being told to stay, then tell your dog his release command right before you command him to stand.
As soon as Fido stands up, praise him and give him the treat.
Practice telling him to stand, luring him into the standing position, and then praising and rewarding him. Do this until he stands up when you tell him to before you have lured him with the treat. If your pup is struggling with this, then wait five seconds after telling your dog to stand, before luring him into the standing position, to give him time to think about what to do.
After your pup can stand when told to, before being lured into the position, then begin to add time. To add time, praise him right when he stands up but wait three seconds before you reward him with a treat. If he moves out of the 'stand' position, then simply repeat the process of getting him to stand, until he will stand for the three seconds in order to receive the treat. When the three seconds are up, tell him "OK" to release him from the position.
When your pup will stand in place for three seconds, gradually add more time. Add two seconds at a time, until you have worked up to thirty seconds. When you have worked up to thirty seconds, then add ten seconds at a time, until you have reached one minute. When you have reached one minute, then add thirty seconds at a time, until you have reached five minutes. When you have reached five minutes, then add one minute at a time, until you have reached fifteen minutes. When you have reached fifteen minutes, then your dog is ready to stand still for a full examination during a conformation show. Work on getting him used to touch using 'The Touch Method' as well.
The Walk Method
To begin, place lots of treats that your dog loves into a small Ziploc bag,and place the bag into your right pocket, then go to a calm location with your dog. It is important that the treats go into your right pocket, even though you will be rewarding your pup with your left hand, so that your dog does not learn to nudge or bite the pocket next to his head.
Say your dog's name, tell him to "Heel", then show him a treat, and hold the treat against your left hip.
With the treat against your hip, and your dog's attention on the treat, practice walking quickly with your dog by your side. Walk quickly enough for your dog's gait to become long and graceful, to show off the fluidity of his movement for the show ring later.
Praise your dog and give him the treat whenever he stays by your side, and especially when he stays by your side while facing forward at the same time.
When your dog will walk nicely by your side, then add a thin show lead. Slip the thin slip lead onto your dog's neck and arrange the collar portion of the leash high on your dog's neck, behind his ears, so that the slight pressure will encourage him to not droop his head down. Be careful not to pull up on the leash too much. You do not want to choke your dog or to make him uncomfortable. Practice walking quickly with your dog on leash while telling him to 'heel'.
When your dog walks in the correct position beside you, keeps his head facing forward, or elongates his stride the way that you want him to in order to show off his movement, then praise him and give him one of the treats from your right pocket.
Once your dog can walk gracefully with you, then practice heeling in open, public locations, to prepare Fido for busy show rings and crowds later on.
Published: 03/21/2018, edited: 01/08/2021
More articles by Caitlin Crittenden
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Training Questions and Answers
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My aim is to teach her tricksshe knows how to give pawfirstly I wanna teach her how to listen to her ownerand then how to jumpshe does fetch but when she comes with the ball in her mouth she doesn't give it to us in hand
Dec. 10, 2020
Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer
1133 Dog owners recommended
Hello Reeya,To teach pup to respond to her name better, practice saying her name and holding a treat next to your eye. When pup looks toward your eye, praise and give a treat. Practice often until pup consistently looks at your eye when you say her name.Next, pretend to hold the treat by your eye with your hand but actually have it hidden behind your back in your other hand. Say pup's name and praise and reward pup with the treat from behind your back when they look at your eye. Practice until pup looks consistently. Also, practice at random times throughout the day when pup isn't expecting it.Next, simply point to your eye and do the same process until pup is good at looking at your eye then even at random times during the day.Finally, simply say pup's name without pointing at your eye and reward with a treat hidden in your pocket throughout the day at random times of the day - you can also use pup's meal kibble as treats kept in a ziploc baggie in your pocket.For the jumping, check out the article I have linked below.https://wagwalking.com/training/jump-over-obstaclesFor the ball dropping, I recommend teaching the Drop It command. Check out the Drop It section from the article I have linked below.https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-to-fetch/https://wagwalking.com/training/drop-itBest of luck training,Caitlin Crittenden
Dec. 11, 2020
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Keep the sessions short, as Goldens do not have a long attention span. Three or four short, say 5-minute, sessions a day will get you farther than one long session. Work on one word at a time. Teach him sit, then move on to down once he has that firmly in his memory.What age are golden retrievers most difficult? ›
The adolescence period starts about the age of 5 months and lasts until they are about two to three years old. The most difficult is usually between 8 and 18 months (which is when most dogs are surrendered to rescues and shelters).Can Golden Retrievers be easily trained? ›
Goldens are eager to please, easily trainable, and classes provide the opportunity to meet their physical, social, and mental needs.What is the best age to train a golden retriever? ›
The best time to start training is from 8 weeks of age. According to research, golden retriever puppies should not be separated from their mothers before then.How do you discipline a golden retriever? ›
To discipline a Golden Retriever, use positive reinforcement to reward good behavior, such as giving treats, toys, affection, or attention. You can also use negative reinforcement by removing something the dog finds unpleasant. We aim to increase the frequency of response in both methods.What is the mental age of a golden retriever? ›
“Their stunning flashes of brilliance and creativity are reminders that they may not be Einsteins but are sure closer to humans than we thought.” According to several behavioral measures, Coren says dogs' mental abilities are close to a human child age 2 to 2.5 years.What age do goldens calm down? ›
When Do Golden Retrievers Calm Down? Golden Retrievers are a hyper dog breed, however, like most dogs, they tend to calm down after their puppy phase, around 2 or 3 years old. Golden Retriever females of the breed tend to mature faster obedience-wise than males, so they are more likely to be calmer overall.Is it too late to train my golden retriever? ›
You may be asking yourself, “Is my dog too old to train?” Despite popular belief, you can teach an old dog new tricks. If you're wondering when it's too late to train a dog, the answer is never! Training a dog as an adult can be beneficial in some ways — he may be less distractible and energetic than he was as a puppy.Why is my golden retriever so hard to train? ›
Besides being mischievous puppies, another reason golden retrievers can be hard to train is that they love everything. What is this? For example, golden retrievers love people so much that if you're trying to train your golden to walk on a leash in public, they can easily be distracted trying to say hi to everyone.What retriever is easiest to train? ›
Considered sporting dogs, golden retrievers are happy, friendly, and intelligent. Their stellar obedience makes them some of the best-behaved dogs and easiest dogs to train. They also make great service and therapy dogs, Burch says.
Although all puppies are officially considered adult dogs once they reach one year old, puppies continue to grow in height and size while their bones are still developing, which takes anywhere from 6 to 24 months. Their skeletal growth is what determines how tall they will become as adults.Can you still train a 1 year old golden retriever? ›
Although some adult dogs might learn more slowly, it's never too late to teach an older dog to listen and obey. Some adult dogs might even learn better because they're less easily distracted than when they were puppies.How often should a golden retriever be bathed? ›
In general, we advise bathing your golden retriever once every six to eight weeks. An appropriate, regular bathing schedule can keep infection, matting and dandruff at bay and keep your golden retriever's mane shiny and fluffy.What are the 3 D's in dog training? ›
The three Ds are duration, distance, and distraction, and they affect almost any behavior. Dogs don't generalize well, meaning if they learn to sit in front of you, they don't automatically know that “sit” means the same thing when you're on the other side of the room.What is the dog calming code? ›
Instead of your dog doing his own thing, he will be watching you and focused on you and what you want him to do. With The Dog Calming Code in place and a solid relationship set up, you'll find your dog is LISTENING to you, wanting to FOLLOW your lead and TAKE DIRECTION.Why do Golden Retrievers misbehave? ›
Because of their innate friendly, family-oriented behavior, goldens may suffer from separation anxiety at a higher rate than some other breeds. Their need to be with us can lead to some unwanted behaviors. Dogs with mild separation anxiety may drool, pace, whine, and generally behave in a distressed manner.What is a Golden Retrievers favorite thing to do? ›
Golden Retrievers love to run around and play outside. They love water and tend to jump in whenever they get the chance! Golden Retrievers also love to tug on things with their mouths, whether sticks or toys.Do Golden Retrievers forgive? ›
Golden Retrievers are kind, loyal, loving dogs who make great family pets. They're one of the best choices for a good family dog. Not only are they cheerful and trustworthy, but they're also very forgiving of mistakes made by inexperienced owners.Do golden retrievers defend you? ›
Although golden retrievers aren't typically the first breed you think of when you think of a protective dog, golden retrievers can be protective. Because of their loyalty, intelligence, and their size, yes, golden retrievers can protect you.Are girl or boy golden retrievers better? ›
It's a matter of preference. Males do mature physically faster than females, especially when it comes to potty training. Because of this, most females are easier to obedience train than males. They normally have their commands down sooner than male English Goldens.
As a golden retriever has quite large and floppy ears, they aren't as expressive as the ears of some breeds, but they do still show emotion.Which dog has highest IQ? ›
1. Border collie. According to The Intelligence of Dogs, which ranks 131 dog breeds in terms of their relative intelligence, the border collie is the smartest dog breed known to man.Do golden retrievers mind being left alone? ›
Golden Retrievers do get lonely. They are very affectionate and social dogs and have inherited a working drive that includes a desire to be with and please their owner. When left alone for long periods and deprived of companions, they can suffer from separation anxiety and engage in destructive behavior.Can golden retrievers sense sadness? ›
Dogs' ability to communicate with humans is unlike any other species in the animal kingdom. They can sense our emotions, read our facial expressions, and even follow our pointing gestures.Do goldens like hugs? ›
Yes, golden retrievers like to cuddle, hug, snuggle and lean up against those they love or anyone that needs a friendly companion. Golden retrievers like to cuddle because they have this innate sense or what some call an intuitive bond with their loved ones and family.How do you calm a hyper Golden Retriever? ›
It can also be managed with lots of playtime, fun toys, and exercise that stimulates both the Golden Retrievers' mind and body. Providing enough exercise and a physical outlet for their energy can work wonders to calm them down naturally.Do goldens love the cold? ›
Many golden retrievers love the snow and they don't mind the freezing temperatures. I know my goldens will lie out in the snow and love making snow angels. When temperatures get extremely frigid, this can be very dangerous for the dogs. Golden retrievers have thick hair coats that can help keep them warm when outside.How many walks should a golden retriever have a day? ›
They need to have hard consistent exercise daily (20-30 minutes twice a day is usually sufficient) or they may have difficulty adjusting to the “calm house pet” role expected by most owners. A fenced in yard is especially important in providing the dog enough exercise.How many times a day does a golden retriever need to go out? ›
The Short Answer
On average, dogs need to go outside at least 3 to 5 times per day to have the opportunity to relieve themselves. Veterinarians recommend that adult dogs go no more than 6-8 hours between trips outdoors.
Sometimes, Golden Retrievers will bite in response to fear or distress. Dogs bite as a reaction to something. If the dog finds himself in a stressful situation, he may bite to defend himself or his territory. But he may also bite because of pain.
Walking Or Running
The most obvious way to exercise with your golden retriever is to simply take them for a daily walk. Your pooch will gladly walk alongside you for an hour or more a day since this breed is very athletic. If you enjoy jogging or running, take your dog with you next time.
If your dog isn't getting enough physical activity, he may put on too much weight, become bored or frustrated, or release his pent-up energy in undesirable ways. Keep in mind that individual dogs have different needs. Your dog's age, breed, size, and health status will affect how much exercise he needs, says Dr.What is the calmest retriever? ›
They have earned their spot as one of the top calmest dogs for “their intelligent, playful personalities that bond well with children and other animals,” says Klein.
Golden Retriever Females are Easier to Train and Tend to be Smarter. Intelligence is a trait highly prevalent in Golden Retrievers, and this shows much faster in females. They are very intelligent at a young age, and while the males are easier to potty train, females do much better in obedience training.What is the hardest puppy age? ›
Stage 5: Adolescence (6 – 18 months) This can be the most difficult time during a puppy's development – adolescence. Your cute little puppy is becoming a teenager and will start producing hormones which may result in changes in behaviour.At what age do Golden Retrievers bark? ›
Let it mature first. It will start barking from 11 months and gradually the bark will be louder and louder. But it will bark in order to let its master know that some stranger has dropped in the house.What is the biggest Golden Retriever? ›
Canadian golden retrievers have broad, well-defined heads, dark, slightly tapered eyes, and their ears are set further back on the head. And these dogs can stand taller than the other varieties by as much as two inches. This is the biggest difference between this type and the other two.How do you get my dog to come to me when I call him? ›
You need an incentive to encourage your dog to come back - a really tasty treat or a fun game with a toy. Show your dog the toy or food. Run away a couple of paces then call your dog's name and say "come" in a friendly, exciting tone - getting down low can also encourage them to come back.Do golden retrievers get calmer with age? ›
Golden Retrievers calm down at around two to three years of age. Each dog is individual and will reach this more mature milestone at a different time, but it usually happens when they are three years old. There are some instances where Golden Retrievers take until around four years old to calm down.Is 6 months too late to train a puppy? ›
Well, when it comes to the bare basics, it is never too late to train a dog. A dog can learn simple commands such as “Sit”, “Stay” or “Run” no matter how long they are as long as the owner is patient.
“With regular shedding, brush once a week, but don't use a bristle brush as it won't get through the thick Golden coat.” With tangled tresses, Talbott recommends spraying the coat with water or using a coat conditioner to make the job easier. For a smooth coat, it's okay to brush it dry.Can I let my Golden Retriever air dry after a bath? ›
Drying your dog, like wetting and shampooing them, is an important component of the bathing process. If you're wondering if you should let your dog air dry, the answer is no, you shouldn't. You should consider drying your pet to be an integral part of the bathing process, just like scrubbing your dog is.How do you dry a Golden Retriever after a bath? ›
Once all surplus water is removed, wrap your Golden Retriever in a Large Super Absorbent Dog Towel making sure to gently dab the towel all over until the coat is just damp. It is important that you do not vigorously towel dry your Golden Retriever as this can result in frizz, split ends and matting.What is the most effective dog training method? ›
Almost all vets agree that positive reinforcement training is the most effective method of dog training. Positive reinforcement training essentially focuses on rewarding your pet for good behavior, rather than punishing bad behavior.Is agility training good for Golden Retrievers? ›
Golden retrievers tend to enjoy doing dog agility training and is a good way to keep your pooch occupied in every way possible, both their body and mind. It also helps you build a bond with your golden as you work together towards a common goal. Depending on where you live, it should be easy to find an agility group.What methods are used to train dogs? ›
There are two common methods of training a dog. The first is the aversive-based method. The second is the reward-based method. Aversive-based (discipline) training is when you use positive punishment and negative reinforcement techniques with your dog.What is the hardest thing to train your dog? ›
Doing nothing is the hardest part of dog training. But sometimes it's the only way to show our dogs how to choose better. Pay close attention to your own reactions to your dog's silly/obnoxious behaviors.What is the hardest part of training a dog? ›
Striking the correct balance is the challenging part. You see, it's easy to assume your dog knows something and stop actively practicing it. It's ALSO easy to ask too much and get upset when your dog fails.At what age can a dog begin agility training? ›
Through the tunnel, over the jumps, and around the weave poles – the canine obstacle course known as dog agility is fun to watch and even more fun to do. However, although both pure-bred and mixed breed dogs are welcome, they must be at least 15 months of age to compete.At what age can you start agility training a dog? ›
Eighteen months old is the minimum age for competing in agility. However, you can start agility training at just under a year old, starting with jumps at a low height. Make everything fun. Dogs and owners need to enjoy themselves.
Golden Retrievers do get lonely. They are very affectionate and social dogs and have inherited a working drive that includes a desire to be with and please their owner. When left alone for long periods and deprived of companions, they can suffer from separation anxiety and engage in destructive behavior.Why do Golden Retrievers rest their head on you? ›
They want affection
A healthy dog which has been appropriately domesticated, however, will often crave attention. By resting their head on you, they may simply want you to give them a pet. It is not only a common habit of dogs, but a wonderful opportunity to express love for our canine.
According to Ray, the basic commands that every dog should learn (in this order) are: heel, sit, stay, and come. Heel – With the dog at knee level on your left side and the leash in your hand, start walking with your left foot first as you give the "Heel" command, using the dog's name.What are the 4 stages of learning dog training? ›
It's imperative to keep in mind the four stages of learning: acquisition, fluency, generalization and maintenance.What is the most training Command taught to dogs? ›
McMillan always teaches Sit first because it's the most natural concept for most dogs. It's therefore also one of the easiest for them to learn, so even pets who are new to training can get the hang of it within a few sessions.