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Our golden Ellie is 1 yr 4 months. I have taken her to a trainer who is a behaviorist for initial training, then to her kennel with refresher courses. She has a sweet golden personality, always aiming to please but pants a lot and appears anxious. although We haven’t been overly diligent with training we aren’t totally remiss either, having trained quite a few dogs. we have been having issues with her walking on leash. She turns around, grabs the leash and plays with it while we are walking her. she Gets overly excited when situations change (like going outside for a walk) and races toward whatever vehicle,she is getting into almost pulling the person on the other end of the leash over. She jumps mercilessly on anyone entering our home. the trainer has had her while,I am recouping from knee surgery for 5 days. She is considerably better there, always willing and ready to,play the 1,2,3 game where the trainer has her focus on 1, come toward her on 2, and sits for a treat by her side for 3. That being said, the trainer thinks we have a dog with very high anxiety level who may have to be medicated at some Point. this is my 4th golden, but I must admit I am somewhat perplexed. is this actually a stage they grow out of or am I looking at possibly having to medicate this girl for her own well-being? Looking for others experiences with this
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She’s very young. She’s more than likely being playful (assuming she gets plenty of exercise?)

Are you opposed to using a training collar like a Herm Sprenger? She should be polite on walks. Have you tried teaching her to sit and wait for you to exit the house first? Keep practicing until she does it or she doesn’t get to go out the door for her walk. I wouldn’t let her drag you to the car. One thing that helped when Logan (my Golden) was younger was to do one step/sit over and over if he was over-aroused about going into a new place. You could try that as you approach your car. It exasperates them, but too bad. Lol

It sounds like a lot of impulse control type work would help.

Fenzi Dog Sports Academy has a good course called Greeting Skills: From Friendly Tornadoes to Warm Helloes. It’s #FF490. When Logan was younger, I used a raised bed and made him “place” when people came over. Obviously, you teach them place before you use that. Even now, I put him in a sit so he doesn’t rush up to people when they enter our house. I don‘t mind him saying hello, but I don’t want an over the top excited greeting.

She sure is a pretty girl! Since you’ve had several Goldens before, do you think she’s anxious or young/over excited? Karen Overall’s Relaxation Protocol may help also. If you don’t want to download them, there are links to YouTube’s also as you scroll down:

 

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Have you spoken to her breeder? The breeder may have some insight on what to expect. Some dogs are super serious and focused when very young. Others take forever to mature. Right now I have 2 goldens. My boy super focused and was running hunt tests at 6 months old. My girl is like hey I'm still way playful and wanting to have fun, she's very soft.
Maybe more information on the parents of your pup might give you more information on what to expect.
Has your household size or location changed since your last pup? Has your job or your spouse's job changed since your last pup?
 

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All her behaviors sound completely normal.
Allow me to run a litmus test : Does your behaviorist/trainer recommend a pinch collar?
If yes, then proceed.
If no, please switch trainers to someone who actually trains the dog rather than placate them with ineffective "all positive" methods that don't work then recommend medicating them.
Your dog sound like a normal, young, active, under-exercised Golden Retriever. NOT an anxiety case who needs medication.
How often does she get to run off leash for extended periods of time?
 

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I would expect any golden that young to be chock-full of energy and youthful exuberance. She needs exercise (a LOT of exercise) combined with training. Medication for a 16 month old dog acting like a 16-month old dog? Fire the trainer. Find a trainer that can teach a retrieve. Even if you don't have a safe area to let her race around off-leash, she can get a lot of exercise retrieving in a reasonably sized fenced area.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
All excellent tips. Thanks everyone. she goes to the dog park daily along with a few miles walking so I think exercise is adequate. I think you are all correct. She’s a sweet, very lively, girl with some growing up to do and her owners have some more work ahead of them. It’s been a minute since we’ve trained from a pup, having rescued several dogs in the past few years. We will have to work at this a little harder. Thanks all!
 

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Don't let them medicate that sweet girl! She sounds like a normal golden puppy. Once your knee is all healed up take her to an obedience class where she can learn and bond with you. To find some good ones, do a google search for dog obedience club.
 

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It's easy for us "armchair quarterbacks" to make pronouncements based on what you've told us, but we're not there to see your dog or how she behaves in certain situations. I've had two dogs who are/were "worriers," so I'm not so quick to write it off as a dog that just needs more exercise and training (though both are good ideas, even if she is prone to be anxious). I would also look into doing things to build her confidence... even things like agility or teaching her tricks or even doing some nose work classes can give her a sense of success and a positive association with new situations.

I agree that she's probably far from needing pharmaceuticals at the moment though. I'd keep up the training and give her a few more months to mature and then reassess. I have my current anxious boy on Pro Plan Calming Care (which is a probiotic that is supposed to help with anxiety) and he does seem to do better when he's on it. Wouldn't hurt to give it a try...
 

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I have a somewhat anxious dog (a worrier) and he tends to express his anxiety in similar ways to your dog: panting, leash-biting, over-excitement, etc. I don't agree at all with the trainer who is recommending medication. It seems lazy and totally unnecessary at this point.

The first thing I'd suggest would be to cut out the dog park and replace it with an activity that the dog does with you: a training class, agility, obedience, rally, frisbee, whatever. But something that will help to build her bond with you. Dog parks are stressful places for many dogs; contrary to popular human belief, dogs don't necessarily enjoy being forced into an unstructured environment with a bunch of other unpredictable dogs. And regardless of whether or not your dog enjoys it, dog parks, where dogs do nothing but run wild, will tend to amp up the types of behaviours you don't like (excitability, jumping at people) whereas a human-focused activity will tend to reduce them.

What has worked well for my dog has been to build his self-confidence and his trust in me through consistency and predictability. For example, at home, to stop the frantic jumping on guests, I've taught him to run and sit on the staircase when the doorbell rings. It gives him a predictable job to do in response to the doorbell, reduces his anxiety in those situations, and allows him to "succeed", which makes him calmer and more confident.

As for the rest of his training, we started out with obedience and rally classes, followed by agility foundation, and have continued with agility ever since (he's nearly 7 years old now). What this type of training does is to create a relationship between the human and the dog where the dog learns to look to the human for direction. It builds trust and, eventually, confidence. If you had seen my dog in his early days of agility training, you probably wouldn't have given much for our chances of success. He was very "earnest" in his approach: slow and methodical, thoughtful, needing to understand, and horrified if he made a mistake (the first time he knocked down a jump, it took about 15 minutes to persuade him to do another jump). We did a lot of drills to introduce some predictability, and didn't push him for speed until he felt comfortable. I also had to work on my own attitude. I'm a fairly competitive person, but my anxious dog doesn't react well to pressure. It has to be a game for him. So that is what it is.

Did it work? Well, we're the reigning provincial agility champions in our class and won the National championship last time we competed in it.

For us, the key has really been training, consistency and trust. It's helped my dog to become an amazing companion, an outstanding agility partner and an enthusiastic participant in whatever activity I want to do. And not a drug in sight.

I wish you good luck with your dog and hope things work out well for you.
 
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