Golden Retrievers are naturally friendly, calm and controlled dogs, surely they don’t need any socializing?

Well, actually no, that isn’t entirely true. But hold on, don’t panic! This doesn’t mean they need endless amounts of rigorous socializing either, in fact just a little effort really can go a long way.

While it is true that Golden Retrievers are one of the best breeds in terms of temperament and friendliness, you absolutely shouldn’t take this for granted. Simply put, socialization does not happen on its own. A young puppy not properly introduced to new surroundings, people and animals, can develop bad behavioural problems later on, something no owner wants.

Puppyhood is the most vital period for a dog’s development, if you get started straight away, not wasting a day, socialization will leave a lasting positive impact on your dog. Leave it too late, and you may have a Golden Retriever that becomes suspicious or afraid of new places, animals or people.

Golden Retriever Socialization

Choose the Right Breeder

You might think the answer is taking a puppy home when they are very young, so as to ensure their first weeks are as sociable and happy as possible. Unfortunately, almost every authority recommends that puppies do not leave their mothers before 8 weeks of age. Why? Here are just a few facts that you may not know about very young puppies:

  • At birth puppies are deaf, blind, and have almost no sense of smell. They stay near their mother and siblings because of the warmth.
  • Puppy’s eyes do not open until they are 10 to 15 days old. Their vision is usually not complete until they are about 4 weeks old.
  • Puppies should remain with their mother until they are at least eight weeks old. During this time, she will teach them not to bite, and how to get along with other dogs.

In short, you need to ensure that your puppy came from a good breeder and was well socialized between weeks 3-8 of their life. Puppies who are alert and social able at 8 weeks when they are introduced to their new family can almost always be further moulded into excellent pets.

Introducing Your Puppy to the World

Introduction to other animals and environments under careful supervision helps the pup learn to be calm around them.

Puppies are generally naturally inquisitive and playful, so those early weeks are the best time to introduce them to new things and experiences. After 12 weeks, a dog may fear types of people or experiences to which they have not already been introduced. Week-by-week after that 12 weeks cut-off point, it becomes progressively harder to socialize a puppy.

Therefore key socialization should happen before that 12 week mark.

For example, if you have children (or you plan to have them in the future), it is advisable you introduce your puppy to children as soon as possible — especially if your puppy breeder did not introduce your puppy to babies or children before week 8.

golden retriever socialization

As soon as you have your new beautiful cuddly Golden Retriever pup, you can start introducing him or her to new (friendly) dogs and other animals, and new (friendly) people, ideally in the house at first then gradually outside too. This helps them experience different types of people and animals, so a grown up dog won’t be spooked or aggressive towards anything unfamiliar.

Taking your pup on short car journeys and taking them around busier places, whether in your arms or on the lease, helps them get used to different environments and to the collar and leash system.

In fact it is the friendliness of Golden Retrievers that, if not socialized properly, can cause issues later. A pup not taught early to control themselves with family or strangers, could lead to a large strong dog that will jump up at, or playfully (and painfully!) nip people’s fingers. Most Golden Retriever pups generally grow out of these habits, but we don’t want to see Granny knocked down by a big over excited Retriever!

A great way to socialize your puppy and get them used to new humans and dogs alike are puppy kindergartens, socialization classes that give puppies the opportunity to play with other young puppies and their owners.

Such classes are highly recommended by authorities such as ASPCA and they go a long way to preventing the all-to familiar scene of dogs growling at other dogs or humans in the street. One caveat to this is vaccinations: a puppy should at least have had their first set of vaccinations before coming into contact with other dogs.

Training your Puppy

Encouragement when they behave well, and discouragement when they are bad, is the most obvious, easy and effective way to stop these bad habits early on.

Sharp Teeth

They may look cute, but those teeth are sharp!

Remember to never overwhelm a pup with new people and places as it can tire and frighten them, just do it slowly, but frequently over those early weeks. A Goldie will usually accept these socialization steps very quickly, and a puppy that has experienced everything life has to throw them early on, will be far less likely to be timid or aggressive in the future.

In all, introducing your puppy to new people, pets and experiences in the first 3 months of his or her life is crucial to ensuring they are not fearful or aggressive dogs in the future. A puppy who has played with other dogs and been handled by a variety of people and children will usually turn out to be a happy, confident and loving pet.

A little effort in those first wonderful weeks with your new Golden Retriever, will reward you with a happy, stable and friendly dog in the years to come.