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Discussion Starter #1
Hi!

A bit of a newbie question.

We live in a hilly, rocky and forested area. I've noticed on our hikes that left to his own devices Cooper (at 5.5 months) will clamber up the mountain to the highest elevation he can get to and look around and sniff the air.

Cooper looks and behaves like a little fuzzy mountain goat bouncing around on some sharp inclines. If I don't follow him he will come back down but if I do he will continue until he's at the highest elevation possible

Two quick questions:
- This quirk got me wondering if this is a puppy thing, a funny Cooper trait or a thing golden retrievers do when hunting? Is he instinctively seeking out vantage points?

- Should I be worried about his hips and elbows at this age and restrict the jumping around/clambering up things? I figure this is in nature vs forced jumping and landing on hard surfaces but thought it might be worth checking

Thank you!
 

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Stanley's Dad
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At that age, I will be cautious. That is right smack of their growth spurt period. When my now 3yr old golden was <1 year old, I let him play and run with dogs, but always on grassy, flat, even surfaces. I limited his jumping and walking time (especially on concrete). At home, I have hardwood floors and lined the living room area with pillows and area rugs to minimize any sliding and impact on his joints. I figured when he got older, he can have his fill of running, hiking and jumping -- as he does now ! Even with all that precaution, he developed a slight limp around the 1 year mark but luckily, with rest, that went away.
 

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Fly free, my sweetheart
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Does he have excellent recall? I would guess that at his age, no. I would be very concerned, too. He may catch a scent a be off like a flash before you know it. In a mountainous area like that (or any open area), you may never find him again.

Please keep him on a long lead. Although he is obviously enjoying himself, it just takes a moment for the fun to turn to tragedy.
 

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I'm pretty cautious with a pup's (or dog's) jumping down onto hard services, jumping up isn't really much of a concern of mine.
In a mountainous, rocky area, I'd actually be more concerned with a pup sticking its foot in a hole and twisting a joint.
BUT, I feel that a puppy needs to be a puppy and do puppy stuff ... they learn so much when they go on "puppy walks," from how to negotiate different terrain, climb over a log, follow their nose, move along the side of a hill, learn new smells.... And I believe that they develop courage and self confidence/self reliance that way.
FTGoldens
 

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I didn't let Piper off a long lead until I was really really really convinced of her having a solid recall. She was probably a year or so old before I really let her off leash--and she was the type who always hung around me. She's never strayed out of eyeshot really, and her recall was great for her age, but I didn't trust her. But that age is when dogs can start to act like teenagers and be independent and a little less mindful, so I didn't want her running off and getting into trouble.

We have only done pretty light hiking up til this point, and not a lot of climbing up rocky surfaces where she would have to jump up (and eventually she'd have to go down). I'm a believer in not doing a lot of jumping and hard exercise until a dog is 2 (so no going for runs with me etc, no strenuous hiking). But especially at that age dogs are young and their joints can be vulnerable, since there is some thought that joint dysplasia can be exacerbated by that. Piper would run or hike until she collapsed. I didn't wrap her in bubble wrap, she would jump for balls, wrestles with dogs when playing, and has absolutely biffed it on my hardwood floors before, but we tried not to overdo it.

She turns two in a week and I'm excited to start doing that stuff with her this spring. She's much more likely to want to jump and leap now than ever before. Her recall is really solid at this point, so I feel like I can trust her more.

She's got a great nose though, and does the same thing Cooper does with high vantage points. But she's always sniffing things out--she tracks rabbits who live in the green space by my apartment, sniffs footprints and pawprints in the snow. She runs behind people to sniff the scent they leave in their wake, sniffs the wind. If I throw a ball and she doesn't see where it lands, she runs around sniffing the ground until she finds it (and 99% of the time, does).
 

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the party's crashing us
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Meh, I usually don't even put a puppy on a leash until they're about four months old. They are off leash as much as reasonably possible. The quickest way to get a leash-wise dog, is to constantly keep them on a leash!
I don't think goldens use height/altitude as a vantage point when hunting, although that's a unique thought. :) Your photos are gorgeous, enjoy your hikes!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you all! I'll be more mindful of the outdoor jumping and keep him on mostly flat areas/ slight inclines as a puppy.

He needs to run around though- we asked for an active dog and boy did we get it ?

This is the face he makes when he's allowed to bounce around:
 

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