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For the past 35+ years, I have been the owner of cats, so getting a new golden retriever puppy has been quite a new experience. I got him at 9 weeks old, and I knew he’d be a handful, but...wow. He is more work than when I had my two sons back to back (11 months apart). My puppy is now 10 1/2 weeks old, and I plan to get him trained but are there any tips in the meantime for dealing with potty training and more importantly, nipping/biting? I was nipped at last night and though he didn’t mean to hurt me, I was bleeding across the right side of my nose quite a bit. Do Golden’s eventually calm down?
 

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For the past 35+ years, I have been the owner of cats, so getting a new golden retriever puppy has been quite a new experience. I got him at 9 weeks old, and I knew he’d be a handful, but...wow. He is more work than when I had my two sons back to back (11 months apart). My puppy is now 10 1/2 weeks old, and I plan to get him trained but are there any tips in the meantime for dealing with potty training and more importantly, nipping/biting? I was nipped at last night and though he didn’t mean to hurt me, I was bleeding across the right side of my nose quite a bit. Do Golden’s eventually calm down?
This was my experience as well with my boy who is now 9 months old so you aren't alone. They don't understand that the biting and nipping are unwanted behavior as they are used to that being part of playing with their litter mates. Their little brain doesn't understand much at that young of an age.

I started doing training with a gun dog trainer in my area and he had me on a 3 x 10 minute sessions of cut up cooked hot dog/sit training with my puppy. His method was that the dog only gets the hot dog piece when he sits. He was never told to sit as he had to figure it out on his own which he did(this is very import as they unlock the trouble shooting logic part of their brain which they aren't used to using and it also helps to control reactive behavior over time as well but it has to be done correctly). Any other behavior like jumping, barking, biting etc would not get a reward. Only a good sit would get a piece of hot dog. Over time this training solidified in my dogs brain that I was his leader and after 5 months when he got rid of his baby teeth the biting has pretty much disappeared all together. Once the sit is down you can start to use treats to lure him into heel which is the ideal spot you want him for walks. If he jumps I use my knee to gently pop him back down so he understands that jumping isn't appropriate. He doesn't jump on me or anyone else. The foundation is the sit. I would encourage you to work with a trainer anyways, as being shown proper technique is critical. Me telling you what I do isn't a complete knowledge transfer so take it for what it is worth.

edit I would also ask are you crate training? That was an essential tool for me and I still use it. I don't really think it's possible to potty train properly without a crate personally. Taking him out at regular intervals as well will get him into a habit of going outside but if he does go on the floor don't make a big deal about it as he will grow out of it.
 

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First: read this thread:
https://www.goldenretrieverforum.com/golden-retriever-puppy-up-1-year/511692-thread-first-time-puppy-buyers.html
It was written by one of the experienced breeders here on the Forum and will give you some tips and reassurance.


For training: It should start now, and it's important to know that training isn't just for the dog, it's for the human too. Look for a good puppy class that uses positive methods and teaches humans how to train pups. It will help you establish the right kind of relationship with your dog from the outset, and will make future training much easier.


For potty training: Whatever you do or don't do, your pup will become reliably clean in the house when he's between five and six months of age. So you have a while to go yet. Right now, he's like an infant child, in that he's not physically able to be house-trained because he has no control over the muscles that regulate elimination. When he's gotta go, he's gotta go. Control will come gradually over the next three to four months. Take him outside every half hour or so when you can, and praise abundantly when he pees or poops outdoors. Clean up any accidents quietly and don't punish them. To clean accidents, use a solution that removes odours. If you catch him in the act, scoop him up and take him outside to finish, then praise him. If you can, remove all rugs and carpets from your house for the next few months: it will make the cleanup task much easier. Always take him outside using the same door, and over the next few weeks, look for signs that he needs to go. For example, some pups will move close to the door, some will turn in circles, some will sit and stare at you, and so on. When you see a sign, take him out immediately and praise if he pees. Always take him out about half an hour after eating, and immediately when he wakes up from sleeping. Remove access to water at around 7 pm. The number of accidents should start decreasing when your pup is between three and four months of age.



If you haven't got a crate, you might want to think of buying one. Have him sleep in it - he will learn to "hold it" overnight much more quickly. My pup was able to sleep through the night without going outside from 12 weeks of age, but he still needed to go out frequently during the day, when he was active.


For nipping: You need to teach bite inhibition. This is how I do it. Put the puppy on your lap and allow him to mouth your hand or arm. As soon as he bites too hard, squeal or say "ouch" in a high-pitched voice and put him on the floor and ignore him for about 30 seconds. Repeat frequently, until he starts to be more gentle. This system has worked well for both my Golden pups, and the last one was a real crocodile when he first came home.


Goldens are very mouthy pups. They are retrievers, which means that they explore the world through their mouths. Give your pup plenty of things to chew: Nylabones (the very hard ones) are good. Kong toys stuffed with treats (peanut butter, kibble) are also good. Make sure your pup doesn't take your stuff. I have a box of dog stuff in the kitchen (toys, chews, tugs, etc.), and my dogs know they can take whatever they want out of the box, whenever they want to. So they leave my stuff alone.


Because they are so mouthy, it's important not to tolerate biting. If the pup bites you, there should be a consequence. Short time-outs in the crate usually work well.


This is also the time to teach your pup how to walk nicely on leash, without pulling. It's much easier to do at this age, when the pup is small, than in four months' time when he weighs 60 lbs and has an adolescent brain.


Goldens do "settle down", but they need a lot of human input in the first couple of years, to turn them into the kind of family pet people expect them to be. Training class, lots of practice at home, lots of physical activity to give him the exercise he needs - all these things are pretty essential.



Best of luck, and enjoy your pup!
 

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Hi AnnGart, I moved your thread to the puppy forum where you may get more responses to your concerns! Best, Richard
 

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Yes, it gets better -- much, much better. Goldens are mouthy dogs. Teething lasts about six months. I redirected the teething (toys) and also used Bitter Apple Spray on the woodwork and furniture legs when those were enticing. Keep puppy well exercised via lots of play time. I went with short walks during puppyhood to protect joints. Crate training helps with a lot of issues (don't use the crate as punishment.) It's invaluable while potty training. Consistency is key. Don't scold harshly for the teething or accidents.

Sorry about your nose.

Are you crate training? Make that a positive experience and your dog will eventually go right in if you say "crate." Teach them at first w/treats. Make sure the crate suits his size -- so he can lie down, stand up, and turn around. Too big and he might potty in it. Some dogs like bedding and some don't. The dog might chew the bedding if he's/she's teething. I never left soft toys as I thought it was a possible choking hazard. I also did not let my dogs wear their collars in the crate. When you take your dog out of the crate, immediately take it outside. Also remember your dog is a puppy, so don't leave it in the crate for long periods of time. Goldens like being around their people.

I was lucky when potty training Luke (my sweet Golden who passed away in August) because I caught him in the act (peeing) early on, told him no (firm, but not mean/loud) and potty outside. I picked him up mid-stream and out in the yard we went. Lots of praising for pottying outside. It seemed to have left an impression on him because he easily potty trained. I read somewhere it helps if you're lucky enough to catch them in the act. I was also at home (stay at home mom), so I could take Luke out often. I took him to the same place and used "go potty" for his command. As a young puppy, definite times I took him out were after I saw him drink a lot of water and also right after his meals.

This is a personal opinion and I don't know if people here share it, but I hate pad training once the dog is old enough to be away from his/her mother. I don't want to teach my dog to go in the house. I realize I'm saying that from the viewpoint of being able to stay home with my dogs. I bought my Cavalier King Charles at six months old and the lady was still letting her go on pads. It took six months to get her completely potty trained. She would go to my back doormats (rubber backed thank goodness) and pee. She was fine after about six months though and lets me know if she needs to go potty. It could be small dogs are harder to train or it individually varies.

The only other thing I can think of is pay attention to any signal your dog may be giving you that he or she needs to go out. I learned, over time, my dogs are telling me things and I just had to learn to be attentive and learn their cues. Abby was obviously telling me by going to the back door, but if I didn't see her pee she did. :)
 

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Thank you for your advice. Yes, I do use a crate, and that has definitely helped. I'm going to go back and read your suggestions; I think they will help out a lot.
 

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Thanks everyone for your suggestions. There are some things I can try that I think might help. Otherwise...I wait until his adult teeth come in! I'm currently looking for a trainer as well. I do enjoy my new pup, he's just very energetic compared with cats and I guess I have to adjust some.
Thanks again!
 

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Hi, I know it is a bit of a shock to realize how quickly the pup gets into everything, wants to taste (chew, destroy) everything, while that adorable ball of terror is melting your heart the next minute!
It helps me to look at some of it as 'game on' - let's see if I can figure out how to distract, divert, or engage the pup to minimize the bad while working on the good training...
Of course, it is not as easy as that, but it can be a bit 'fun' (ok, I am weird), to come up with the next 'solution or approach and see some things work!
The right trainer at home and in class is really important- getting objective advice so you help the puppy understand what you want in a way that they want it too (eventually).
Just remember this is a journey, as everyone has said, that first year can have a lot of challenges, but so worth it!
 

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For potty training get a bell that hangs from the door you take your puppy when going outside. Can purchase on chewy or get at petsmart. Each time you take your pup outside hit their paw to it and say potty then take her out to potty. Treat her and praise her for pottying. It took my 9 wk old puppy 36 hours to learn to use the bell when she needed to go outside. She is now 14 wks and has had 2 accidents in the house since learning to use the bell. That's one smart pup in my opinion!
 

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Oh, the puppy weeks!!! Golden pups are *not* easy keepers, that's for sure! You've gotten excellent suggestions, and I'm going to add to try to find a puppy socialization class - most are only open to vaccinated pups that are typically under 4 months. You'd be surprised at how 30-40 mins of chasing other pups around will really tire your little guy out!

We went 3x/week when Barkley was young - I think from 12 weeks to about 18 or 20 weeks. It was a Godsend for us! We did ours with a trainer at our local Pet Food Express. I think Petco or Petsmart does something similar, but what I liked about PFX is that there was a variety of trainers to chose from to work with, and that all our dogs were vaccinated. It was great to socialize with other pup parents too, as well as the trainer (we worked with her for 3 different 6-week class sessions but are now working with a golden retriever specific trainer to fine tune things).

Hang in there; it really does get better once they hit around 6 months. But while his teeth are coming in, make sure to have a variety of chew toys for him. Barkley loves antlers, a couple of Nylabone scented bone things, and this weird wood stick thing. Have several on hand and switch them out.

Good luck!!
 

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You have a lot of very good information on this post. I would like to add a few points from my experience.

Regarding the crate, dogs generally will not pee or poop where the sleep. So we use this to help the pup learn to control themselves until they are outside. The crate should only allow room for the pup to sleep in. If you only have a larger crate, you can put a box in the far end of the crate to limit his space. Many pet store also sell a crate wall divider that can be used for the same purpose. If you use a box, plastic or cardboard, the pup might chew on it. If he/she does replace it right away.

We always keep the crate in our bedroom, knowing that the pup cannot go all night and we may not hear them moving around, we take turns getting up and taking the pup outside. One trick that you need to know, if you have the space in the crate reduced enough, if the pup wakes up and has to go, you will hear him moving round, when you hear them moving move quick...you will be rewarded! Also, with Goldens we do not put any bedding or padding in the sleep area as they get to hot and will possibly chew and eat some of it. All that fluff keeps them real warm no blanket needed and at this age they sleep fine on a hard crate floor. Another trick we learned is right before we put our pup down for the night, we have an all out play time, until they clearly are tired. Then a quick outside trip and to bed. First night we tried that, we were rewarded with 2 more hours of sleep! She slept a full 6 hours that night and all nights after...

Barking or crying in the crate. We have the crate close enough to our bed that we can touch it. If the pup starts crying, we say quite! If that does not work, we lightly shake the crate, followed by quite. Some dogs you have to do this quite a few times before they stop. Others will stop the first time you shake the crate. DO NOT BRING THE DOG ON THE BED when crying, you will regret this if you do it. If the dog wines and you take them out, they quickly learn how to get out to play some more. Therefore you have to be careful and try to take the pup out when they are not wining, but realistically, you may have to take them out right away...but limit it as much as possible.

As far as collar and leads. We put a collar on our dog on day one and leave it on except for baths. We train our dogs for field tests and the collar is a big part of that training. I also put a piece of yarn, maybe 3 ft. in length. It is attached to the collar on one end, and let drag on the floor behind the pup. It will bother them for a day or so, after that they ignore it. Later we put a small piece of rope and then transition to using a full lead but not used on them all the time just when we want to go outside or for a ride. At that time it becomes a sign of fun and play to them.

The crate is a wonderful training tool. Dog learn to love their crates, they are dogs that like 'dens', let it be their rest place and safe space. If you travel with the pup you can bring a crate that they can sleep in where you are going. Crates are one of the best things for dogs....

Good Luck
 

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Thanks again for everyone's suggestions and advice. Lots of good stuff here! Can't thank everyone enough for all of your helpful advice!!
 

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I, too, am a first time Golden owner. While I had always had dogs, Shelties and Golden’s are VERY different. Bailey just turned 10 months old. He was a biter/nipper from day one. He even grabbed my earlobe and ripped it open. Unintentionally, of course. Yelping or saying “ouch” didn’t work for me, even when he was very young. Putting him in his playpen for a minute worked some. But his nipping went on for several months. he would do it when he got the “zoomies,” when I would tell him “no” if he did something, etc. He only nipped me, not my husband. My legs and arms looked like I was on blood thinners. The trainer explained golden’s were mouthy and that he saw me as his “best friend” like a sibling. We worked closely with a trainer since he was 12 weeks old, and still do. She stressed consistency was key, and it was. When he started nipping, I would remove myself. My cue to him was “mama leave” and I would get up and put him in his cage or leave the room for 30 seconds - minute. Within a week, his behaviors changed like someone flipped a switch.

He no longer bites or nips. I adore him and wouldn’t trade him for anything. The first 6 months are hard, but so we’re raising children. Try different suggestions and see what works for you. Like children, every puppy is different. The forum members will be a great support and provide an abundance of wisdom that “new owners” from which new owners can benefit.
 

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I agree with your comments, in general, about Golden puppies and nipping. They also can be chewers and destroy anything, so training here too is important.
Working with a trainer is always good and being consistent is key to changing behavior. So keep going....they do grow out of it, if you keep training consistently.

One thing you commented on concerned me, so I will comment based on my experience. We should never use the dogs crate/cage for punishment. Part the benefit of using a crate to teach a pup to go outside to do 'it's business'. Also, the crate training teaches the pup to sleep at night and to be quite. Finally, as the pup grows the crate becomes a 'den' where he/she can go and be safe and left alone to rest.

This all works so we can transport the dog safely, travel with the pup providing a safe familiar place for the pup to rest or sleep...etc. etc.

If you use the crate for punishment, in time the pup will never want to go in the crate.

My method of stopping the biting is to have some Nyla-bones (the softer ones) ready to go, when the pup starts nipping I put the Nyla-bone in front of his nose. He will take it and learn to chew on it...you may have to hold it for a time, but in time, if done consistently, he will use his toys and chews instead of feet and hands....
 
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