Updated: August 10th, 2022
© Depositphotos.com / Raywoo
Your Golden Retriever was brought into the world not knowing how to live by our human rules. They are a dog and have their own little wonderful…and some not so wonderful…doggie ways and rules.
In order for your Golden to integrate nicely into your life, be able to be taken everywhere, be well-behaved and abide by the rules that you create for them, it’s up to you to teach and train them.
The best way to show the possible difference between a well-trained dog and one that isn’t is to give a few examples.
How An Untrained Dog Might Go Through Life
Because an untrained dog hasn’t been taught how they’re supposed to behave, they go through life with a lot of restrictions.
They will constantly beg and try to steal food from tables or kitchen counters so they’re removed from the room when the family sits down for a meal.
They’re locked out of the way when people come to visit because they cannot be trusted not to jump up or go wild with enthusiasm to say hello.
Nobody enjoys taking them for a walk because they pull like a steam train and there’s no way you could let them off the leash as they chase all other animals and never return to you when called.
And if the family goes away, they’re crated at home with a visitor coming to walk them twice per day, or boarded in kennels. You couldn’t possibly take them with you as they’re such a nuisance that no friends or hotel would possibly allow them to stay.
Now let’s contrast this with how a well-trained dog goes through life.
How A Well-Trained Dog Goes Through Life
They can stay in the room as the family eats because they’ve been taught not to beg or to pester at the table.
They’re a joy to take for a walk and people frequently volunteer because they’re so well-behaved and so fun to walk. Never pulling on the leash, always returning when called and nicely behaved when meeting other dogs and people.
They’re taken on visits to see friends and even holidays to ‘dog-friendly hotels’. They can because they’re so well-behaved. They know not to climb furniture, pick up objects in their mouths or play with other peoples belongings.
Sounds a much better life than one of a dog that’s not been trained doesn’t it?
Dogs Naturally Learn How To Behave Though Don’t They?
Hmm, yes and no.
Dogs are very skilled at learning new behaviors but without training and guidance, there’s a very high chance that the behaviors they learn aren’t exactly how you’d like them to behave.
Dogs are reward seekers. That is they will try a variety of things and repeat behaviors that lead to a reward while stopping behaviors that don’t lead to a reward.
So without your training and guidance, a few of the things they may naturally learn to do are:
- Take food from tables and kitchen counters because obviously food is rewarding.
- Chase small animals around because chasing is fun and rewarding.
- Chew your shoes, slippers, table legs and TV remote because Goldens love to chew and they find it rewarding.
Every time your dog is allowed to perform one of these behaviors, isn’t told otherwise and re-directed to an allowable alternative, the behavior gets reinforced and is more likely to happen again. Of course it will, they are self-rewarding behaviors.
So yes, dogs do learn to behave all by themselves. But they behave in ways that are rewarding for them and not how you would like them to behave.
This leads us nicely into a definition.
What Exactly Is Dog Training? – A Definition
It basically comes down to 3 things:
- It’s teaching a dog to do the things you’d like them to do that they wouldn’t do naturally without first being shown how.
- It’s teaching a dog not to do things that they’d naturally do that you do not want them to because it doesn’t fit well into living life with humans.
- It’s teaching a dog to listen to, respect and respond to a few basic commands so that we can exert some control over them. So we can guide them through life safely, keep them out of trouble and get them to occasionally do as we ask.
Essentially dog training is something we do so that we and our dogs can live together in a more harmonious, safe, happy and trouble-free manner, leading to a better life for both human and dog. We all have to live by certain rules to get along.
What Benefits Does Training Offer…For You And Your Dog?
The list of benefits is a long one, the most important probably being increased safety for your dog and all the people they share their life with.
A well-trained dog can be kept out of or pulled back from troubling situations with just a well-chosen and well-trained command.
For instance you can tell them to ‘DROP!’ that hazardous object they’re about to chew, or ‘STOP!’ before they run out into the road.
But there are many other benefits besides:
- Reduced risk of poisoning if taught what to and what not to chew. And to drop if you catch them in the act.
- Reduced risk of coming to physical harm if you can stop them running into roads or after possibly dangerous animals.
- Lower vets bills for you if the previous two points are true 🙂
- A much easier time and more fun on walks for both you and your dog if they walk nicely and don’t pull. Better for you as nobody likes to be dragged along and better for your dog as they won’t be getting yanked back and shouted at for pulling all the time.
- More time being allowed to run free off the leash if they can be trusted to meet and greet other animals nicely and come back when called. This will massively enrich their lives.
- Your dog will have a fuller and more varied life if they can be taken with you wherever you go which will only happen if they can behave, not jump up on people or bowl people over.
- More freedom to roam your house and garden every day if they have been trained and can be trusted not to toilet in the wrong places or chew on your belongings.
- A much stronger and happier relationship between you and your dog because there’s far less need to keep an eye on them or tell them off if they know how to behave and do far less wrong. So it’s a far less stressful life for all involved.
And this is just what came to mind in a few moments thought, there are many other benefits besides.
An Added Bonus Of Training – Quality Time Together Strengthening Your Relationship!
Regular training sessions between you and your dog provides a wonderful opportunity for you to work together as a team with a common goal in mind.
Training is a time where your dog is made to feel useful, like they have a purpose in life and have an opportunity to feel as though they’re giving something back to their owner and their pack.
Like humans, dogs like to have a purpose. They like to feel as if they’ve worked and are an essential part of their family. Especially a working breed like a Golden Retriever.
So training works your dogs mind, makes them feel good and useful, gives them a purpose in life and a feeling of importance.
And best of all it strengthens the bond between you and your dog as you work together as a team. Your dog will respect you more, trust you more and feel happier being with you and responding to your cues if they’re frequently rewarded for doing so.
Training your Golden Retriever shouldn’t be an option, it is a necessity and part of being a responsible owner and doing what’s best for your dog.
Yes it is a commitment of time and energy. Yes you will need to be patient and stick to a routine. And yes you will probably need to learn a new set of skills yourself.
But to give your Golden the best and fullest life possible you owe it to them to train them and guide them through life as best you can.
With a well-trained dog you’ll be able to enjoy them to the fullest and get the most out of your lives together too. After all, this is almost certainly why you got yourself a Golden as a pet in the first place, to spend quality time together with a beautiful and intelligent dog. This is why training your Golden Retriever is so important.
The training section of this site will become a comprehensive resource to help you train your Golden Retriever. Please check back regularly to see new articles and advice as they appear on the site. And enjoy your Golden and your lives together 🙂