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Hi everyone - I’ve been using this forum as a resource for awhile but this is my first time posting. My golden is now 12 months and about to get neutered. We tried to do everything right - I’ve wanted a dog for more than 10 years, and before getting him we moved into an apartment with a yard, went to the most responsible breeder we could find, and had him in weekly training classes from 8 weeks - 5 months. Ever since we got him, almost every day I’ve been anxious and stressed. Most of it comes from feeling like he’s not settling down at home, not listening on his walks, pulling on the leash, getting over excited, etc. We play fetch and do training games everyday, walk him 3 times a day for a total of 2.5 miles, bring him to daycare twice a week, never leave him alone for extended periods of time, and socialize him as much as possible - for the first few months, every day we brought him to a new place with unfamiliar noises and stimulation (home depot, parks, etc). He’s very friendly, doesn’t have separation anxiety and doesn’t bark. It makes me so sad and guilty to admit, but I do regret getting him. I went on vacation for a week and it felt like such a relief and I didn’t miss him at all. Sometimes I think back on my life before getting him and wish I could just go back. We’re working with a different trainer right now so hopeful that it helps, but I guess I just wanted to know if anyone else has gone through a similar experience. I just really thought I would enjoy having a dog more than I do.
 

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Kristy
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I'm so sorry that your experience hasn't been what you thought it would be. I understand being anxious and trying so hard to do things the right way. Unfortunately, Goldens are usually a long term project, a good 2-3 years to settle into the wonderful adult dogs that people typically think of when they decide on a Golden Retriever as the breed of choice. Stopping obedience classes at 5 months was a mistake. I strongly believe that Goldens need to be in obedience classes for the first 18 months minimum, especially if you're a first time dog owner. It is important to build a routine and partnership with you in charge and the routine and enforced practice of structured classes makes that much easier.

The second issue, leash walking is not exercise for a healthy young sporting breed like a Golden. They were bred to work and need a minimum of 30 minutes, preferably closer to 60mins, of hard work that leaves them tired and panting. Teaching a formal retrieve and a strong recall is the best way to exercise a Golden. The instincts they have are a gift if you learn to use them. The Bill Hillman videos on line are recommended for teaching it and Jackie Mertens dvd "sound beginnings" is excellent. This is different than just chasing a tennis ball. You use a long line for control and teach them to fetch a special retrieving bumper/toy and then return to heel and sit and wait till the next throw. They can learn to sit quietly and stay while you walk about 20 yards and throw the bumper, return to the dog and then release the dog to bring the bumper back. It's a thing of beauty and makes exercise and fun so easy. Find a church yard, fenced school athletic fields etc. with low traffic to work on it. It's worth every minute of time.

If you continue to feel that the dog is bringing no joy to you the kindest thing would be to open discussions with the breeder on returning the dog to her so she can place him in a home that will be a great fit for him. There are endless people who would love to adopt a potty trained and well adjusted young Golden and the dog would adjust in a few weeks. The beauty of Goldens is that they will bond with whoever feeds them and plays with them and trains them and loves them. You would not need to feel guilt over a decision to ask the breeder to help rehome him. I wish you nothing but the best with this, a Golden is a handful and a full time project. They require a ton of time and energy to make them great family dogs. It's ok to put his needs first if you feel that your mental health is being affected to the point where you're not able to give him the best possible home.
 

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Kristy
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Have you reached out to the breeder? An experienced long time breeder who is active with their dogs will have contacts and network to draw on to help you find people who know Goldens and can help you learn to channel your dog in the right direction. If your dog trainers aren't Golden or Lab people, it maybe that you're not getting the best help you could be. Also, your expectations: in the evenings, your dog may need to be crated with a chew bone for a half hour or so. Otherwise , you don't get to sit and put your feet up, he needs games, training and an outing. I don't think most people know how much mental stimulation they need. This could be a good time to take him to run errands or just practice obedience at a hardware store or tractor supply store, garden center. A tired dog is a good dog.
 

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Hi everyone - I’ve been using this forum as a resource for awhile but this is my first time posting. My golden is now 12 months and about to get neutered. We tried to do everything right - I’ve wanted a dog for more than 10 years, and before getting him we moved into an apartment with a yard, went to the most responsible breeder we could find, and had him in weekly training classes from 8 weeks - 5 months. Ever since we got him, almost every day I’ve been anxious and stressed. Most of it comes from feeling like he’s not settling down at home, not listening on his walks, pulling on the leash, getting over excited, etc. We play fetch and do training games everyday, walk him 3 times a day for a total of 2.5 miles, bring him to daycare twice a week, never leave him alone for extended periods of time, and socialize him as much as possible - for the first few months, every day we brought him to a new place with unfamiliar noises and stimulation (home depot, parks, etc). He’s very friendly, doesn’t have separation anxiety and doesn’t bark. It makes me so sad and guilty to admit, but I do regret getting him. I went on vacation for a week and it felt like such a relief and I didn’t miss him at all. Sometimes I think back on my life before getting him and wish I could just go back. We’re working with a different trainer right now so hopeful that it helps, but I guess I just wanted to know if anyone else has gone through a similar experience. I just really thought I would enjoy having a dog more than I do.
I posted this video recently on another thread, but I believe it will help you think about your relationship to your Golden. Dogs need someone to take the lead and make the rules. Otherwise, they will be anxious and unhappy. I appreciate the way Tom Davis explains this in this video, and you can see one way (not the only way) that he helps a Golden learn to relax and enjoy their time together. I agree that it will help to return to a trainer. Your problem is fixable, and your relationship to your dog can be great. But it will take some work.
 

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I feel exactly the way you feel, OP, with my children....all four of them.

Every night I regret giving up my twenties and thirties for them and I miss my life before being a mom. And every time I go on a vacation, I dread coming back. What you described, OP, resonated with me as a mom. So needless to say, I definitely side with you, and think that you owe it to yourself to find your life back....while still being a mom. This is harder said than done, and I am still trying to figure it out.

But the one tangible advice I an give is this - you are your pup's perfect mom and leader, no matter what standard people on the forum or your trainer sets. Ultimately, it's the relationship that you've built in the past year, and that you will continue to build for the next decade, that makes you the perfect pair. My only other parting thought is: take more vacation - we all need a break from momhood.
 

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Hi everyone - I’ve been using this forum as a resource for awhile but this is my first time posting. My golden is now 12 months and about to get neutered. We tried to do everything right - I’ve wanted a dog for more than 10 years, and before getting him we moved into an apartment with a yard, went to the most responsible breeder we could find, and had him in weekly training classes from 8 weeks - 5 months. Ever since we got him, almost every day I’ve been anxious and stressed. Most of it comes from feeling like he’s not settling down at home, not listening on his walks, pulling on the leash, getting over excited, etc. We play fetch and do training games everyday, walk him 3 times a day for a total of 2.5 miles, bring him to daycare twice a week, never leave him alone for extended periods of time, and socialize him as much as possible - for the first few months, every day we brought him to a new place with unfamiliar noises and stimulation (home depot, parks, etc). He’s very friendly, doesn’t have separation anxiety and doesn’t bark. It makes me so sad and guilty to admit, but I do regret getting him. I went on vacation for a week and it felt like such a relief and I didn’t miss him at all. Sometimes I think back on my life before getting him and wish I could just go back. We’re working with a different trainer right now so hopeful that it helps, but I guess I just wanted to know if anyone else has gone through a similar experience. I just really thought I would enjoy having a dog more than I do.
Having a dog isn't right for everyone. You really have to enjoy the lifestyle a dog imposes on you - this is especially true when you choose a large breed that was bred to work, like a golden retriever. Large working breeds need such a lot of human input to function well. The problems you describe - pulling on leash, over-excitement, not listening (does this mean not coming back when called?) - are training failures, that's all. With a dog like a golden retriever, a couple of months of training simply isn't enough. Training is an ongoing process, lifelong in some cases.

It's tempting for dog-lovers like me to tell you to persevere and not give up. But in many cases it's just not in the interests of either the human or the dog to do that. If, after a year, you're still not enjoying the process and are happier when you're not with the dog, it might be time to consider re-homing. There's no shame in that. Dog ownership isn't for everyone and sometimes it's better to admit it and fix the problem, not only for your sake, but for the dog's sake as well. Dogs are very good a picking up on human emotions, and your dog will be well aware that he's not necessarily wanted or liked. It may be one of the reasons for his over-excitement. Remember, if all goes well, he will live for another 10+ years, and that's a long time for you and him to be unhappy.

If you got him from a good breeder, the breeder will take the dog back and will re-home him. There are plenty of people looking for dogs like yours: young, partially trained, well-socialized, fairly well-behaved for a dog his age. If your breeder won't help, I would suggest that you contact a golden retriever rescue organization, which will vet potential homes and make sure he goes to a suitable family.

Dogs aren't children. You can re-home a dog successfully, and when it's done right, it's much better for both the dog and the human. You each only get one life, and there's no point in either one of you being miserable when solutions exist. Better for you to have the lifestyle you want, and much, much better for the dog to go to a new home where he won't end up being relegated to the yard, ignored or treated as if he's a burden instead of a source of joy.

I wish you the best and salute your courage in admitting that dog ownership might not be for you.
 

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Hello! Boy do we have a lot in common. My puppy is 9 months old and is in constant motion!!! When we walk he pulls on the leash and chews on sticks and jumps on people! It is CRAZY! This is the third dog that we've owned and none of our other goldens were like him gosh what a challenge. We are coping and this is what is working for us.

1. He goes to canine good citizen class once a week! Our instructor rolls her eyes in the back of her head each week and desperately wants us to invest in a prong collar. We tried it and he cried so that is out. He won't pass the class but training sessions make him think and he comes home tired so we will continue.
2. We walk and walk and walk some more. Yes its rough he pulls and tugs but you should see our biceps! Typically we do 2 miles at a time. Walk fast it works.
3. We have discovered a sledding hill near by and nothing gets him more tired then playing fetch running uphill!!! As everyone has said a tired dog is a good dog. With my first dog we had an apparatus that hooked onto a bike it had a break away clip and was a very sure fire quick way to get the energy out.
4. Lastly, give yourself a break. A frozen kong with some crate time can recharge your battery.
5. Of course we can rehome our little spite fire but I love the challenge.
 

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I went on vacation for a week and it felt like such a relief and I didn’t miss him at all. Sometimes I think back on my life before getting him and wish I could just go back. We’re working with a different trainer right now so hopeful that it helps, but I guess I just wanted to know if anyone else has gone through a similar experience.
Humn. I view mine as being another flawed person, just one that is trapped in a dog's body, and I agree it can feel like a burden to care for these poor souls but there is a reward for doing the right thing ;)
 

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Why torture yourself?
Goldens are in such high demand that you need not feel guilty if this just isn't working for you. If you were only a few weeks or months into this, maybe it would make sense to try a bit longer. But you sound like you have put forth significant effort and its nearing a year.
I admire you for being honest about your feelings. Your golden will readily adapt to a new home and your breeder is definitely the place to go for this. You're probably aware that puppy raisers raise the puppies for one year to 18 months and then turn them over for final service training and their new home. A year old golden will certainly adapt and your golden sounds like an easy placement.
You've thoughtfully expressed your feelings and its better for both of you to make to change sooner rather than later.
No guilt. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Reaching out to goldenlover96. Wondering how things worked out for you?
Hi! Thank you for following up. I read every response in this thread and it definitely helped me formulate a plan for next steps - we did a few private lessons with a trainer and got him neutered (he was a bilateral cryptorchid, so it was recommended by our vet). I’m not sure if it was these 2 things or the fact that he’s maturing, but he has gotten SO much better. He’s not nearly as excitable, so much more biddable and actually pays attention to me, and settles down so easily. I finally feel so much more of the bond that I was expecting and so much happier in general. Our relationship has improved 10-fold and I actually look forward to our daily walks and play sessions! He’s also gotten so cuddly at home which I enjoy.

This being my first golden, I think I underestimated how energetic and excitable they can be in the teenage phase. To be honest, I don’t think I could put myself through it again and would likely choose a different breed for my next dog because of how stressful it was, but I am so happy to be on the other side.

Thanks for everyone’s advice!
 

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This being my first golden, I think I underestimated how energetic and excitable they can be in the teenage phase. To be honest, I don’t think I could put myself through it again and would likely choose a different breed for my next dog because of how stressful it was, but I am so happy to be on the other side.
Glad to hear it got better for you. I think of raising puppies like child birth. You're so excited for the new addition, then comes the pain of puppyhood. I'd bet that if you keep up with the training, by the time your Golden is 4, you won't be able to imagine life without one. Then someday you'll end up as crazy as those of us that have multiples. lol
 
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