Golden Retrievers

by Margaret H. Bonham

A member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Golden Retrievers
by Margaret H. Bonham

A member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To Larry, as always.
Published by the Penguin Group Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A. Penguin Group (Canada), 10 Alcorn Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd) Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd) Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India Penguin Group (NZ), cnr Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany, Auckland 1310, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd) Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Copyright © 2004 by Margaret H. Bonham
All rights reserved. No part of this book shall be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the publisher. No patent liability is assumed with respect to the use of the information contained herein. Although every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this book, the publisher and author assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. Neither is any liability assumed for damages resulting from the use of information contained herein. For information, address Alpha Books, 800 East 96th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46240. THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO and Design are registered trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. ISBN: 1-4362-9395-2 Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2004115235 Interpretation of the printing code: The rightmost number of the first series of numbers is the year of the book’s printing; the rightmost number of the second series of numbers is the number of the book’s printing. For example, a printing code of 04-1 shows that the first printing occurred in 2004. Note: This publication contains the opinions and ideas of its author. It is intended to provide helpful and informative material on the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the author and publisher are not engaged in rendering professional services in the book. If the reader requires personal assistance or advice, a competent professional should be consulted. The author and publisher specifically disclaim any responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk, personal or otherwise, which is incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the contents of this book. Publisher: Marie Butler-Knight Product Manager: Phil Kitchel Senior Managing Editor: Jennifer Chisholm Senior Acquisitions Editor: Mike Sanders Development Editor: Michael Thomas Production Editor: Janette Lynn Copy Editor: Kelly D. Henthorne Cartoonist: Chris Eliopoulos Book Designer: Trina Wurst Indexer: Angie Bess Layout: Angela Calvert Proofreading: John Etchison

Contents at a Glance
Part 1:
1 2

Introduction to the Golden Retriever
Gold Medal Goldens Introducing the Golden Retriever. Golden Opportunity—Looking for the Right Golden Where to find the right Golden Retriever.

3 17

Part 2:

Selecting and Bringing Home a Golden Retriever
Retrieving the Golden Treasure Selecting the right puppy or adult Golden based on temperament. Puppy Preparedness—Bringing Your Golden Home Preparing for your new dog or puppy.




Part 3:
5 6 7 8 9 10

Dog Training 101
Crates and Housetraining How to housetrain your Golden Retriever. Gold Star—Professional Training Selecting a professional trainer. Training Ground Rules Do’s and don’ts when training a dog. The Golden Rule—Basic Training Basic obedience training. Tricky Goldens—Teaching Tricks Learn how to teach fun tricks to your Golden. Recalcitrant Retrievers Fixing problem Goldens.

75 87 95 107 127 137

Part 4:
11 12

In Sickness and in Health
Food for Thought: Nutrition What to feed your Golden Retriever. Choosing a Veterinarian Choosing the right vet for your Golden.

157 173

13 14 15

Inside and Out: The Battle of the Bugs Getting rid of internal and external parasites. Healthy Choices—Preventive Care Keeping your Golden Retriever healthy. Common Golden Retriever Illnesses, Hereditary Ailments, and Emergencies Illnesses and injuries that affect Golden Retrievers.

185 197


Part 5:
16 17 18

The Golden Life—Living with a Golden
Disaster Planning Handling disasters. On the Road Again—Traveling with Your Golden Traveling with your Golden Retriever. The Golden Years Caring for the senior Golden.

239 249 265

A B C Glossary Organizations Books and Periodicals Index 277 283 287 289

Part 1: Introduction to the Golden Retriever
1 Gold Medal Goldens
Taking the Golden Medal—Why Goldens Are So Popular Personality Plus Golden Pleasures—Bringing a Golden Retriever into Your Life The Gold Standard—Where Golden Retrievers Excel Show and Field Therapy and Assistance Obedience Lord Tweedmouth’s Dog—The Development of the Golden Retriever The Golden Retriever Standard Why the Standard Is Important The Great Show or Pet Quality Debate Summary of the Golden Retriever Standard

4 5 7 9 9 9 10 10 11 11 12 13

2 Golden Opportunity—Looking for the Right Golden
Ir-retrieve-able Consequences—Why Knowledge Is Golden Disreputable Breeders Reputable Breeders What’s a Reputable Breeder? Health Certifications Where to Find the Reputable Breeder What Are “Papers”? AKC and Other Breed Registries What’s a Pedigree? Nature AND Nurture: Reputable Breeder = Healthy Pups The Contract Shelters and Rescue Groups Finding the Right Golden Puppy or Adult? Male or Female? Work, Show, or Pet? Kids and Dogs Two’s Company

18 20 22 22 24 26 29 31 32 33 34 35 37 37 38 39 39 41


The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Golden Retrievers
46 49

Part 2: Selecting and Bringing Home a Golden Retriever
3 Retrieving the Golden Treasure
Selecting the Perfect Puppy from the Litter Selecting an Adult Dog

4 Puppy Preparedness—Bringing Your Golden Home
The Bare Necessities Bones, Chews, and Other Edible Items The Knee Bone’s Connected to the Leg Bone … Rawhide Cow Hooves, Pig Ears, and Other Parts Edible Chews Toys Not-So-Necessary Items (but Sure Nice to Have!) Puppy and Dog Food—Do’s and Don’ts Puppy-Proofing 101 House Garage Backyard Blues Bringing Puppy Home First Stop: The Veterinarian Don’t Have a Puppy Surprise Party Introductions to Other Family Pets How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

52 53 55 55 56 56 56 58 59 61 61 64 64 68 69 69 70 71

Part 3: Dog Training 101
5 Crates and Housetraining
Crates Why Crate Training Is NOT Cruel Alternatives to Crates Crate Training 101 Crate Training for Older Dogs Housetraining 101 Housetraining Don’ts Housetraining Do’s Uh-oh! What to Do with Accidents

76 78 78 80 80 81 82 83 84

6 Gold Star—Professional Training
Should You Train Your Golden by Yourself? Looking for the Right Trainer Training Classes Available Puppy Kindergarten Beginning Obedience

88 89 90 90 90

Novice Other Obedience Classes Tracking Agility Conformation Flyball Rally-O Field Trials/Hunting Tests/Retrieving Work


91 92 92 92 93 93 93 94

7 Training Ground Rules
Do’s and Don’ts Training Collars Slip Collar Prong Collar Snap Chokes Head Halters Leashes Latigo Leather Long Lines Clicker Bait Pouches Treats The Canine Good Citizen® Obtaining the CGC ® Training for the CGC ®

95 98 98 99 100 100 101 101 102 102 102 103 103 103 105

8 The Golden Rule—Basic Training
Clicker Training Intro to the Clicker Vary the Response Times Training with the Target Stick Adding Cue Words Walk Nicely on a Leash Positive Method Clicker Metbod Sit Positive Method Clicker Metbod Down Positive Method Clicker Metbod Stay Positive Method Clicker Metbod Practicing Sit-Stay and Down-Stay

108 109 110 110 112 113 113 114 114 115 115 115 116 116 116 116 117 117


The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Golden Retrievers
OK! The Release Word Come Positive Method—Starting Out Clicker Metbod—Starting Out Add Distractions (Positive and Clicker Methods) Practicing Come Off-Leash (Positive and Clicker Methods) Heeling on Leash Positive Method Clicker Metbod Other Useful Commands The Off Command The Drop or Trade Command Leave it! Command Watch me! Command Out Command “Bed” Command 117 118 118 119 120 120 121 121 122 123 123 124 124 125 125 125

9 Tricky Goldens—Teaching Tricks
Teaching Tricks Fun Tricks to Try Shake Hands Speak Take a Bow Fetch Something Roll Over Wave Good-Bye Give Me a Kiss Beg Creating Your Own Tricks

128 128 129 129 130 131 133 133 133 134 134

10 Recalcitrant Retrievers
When Good Dogs Go Bad Breaking the Cycle Signs of Trouble on the Horizon How Owners Encourage Bad Behavior When a Behavior Appears Out of Nowhere (or Even If It Doesn’t) Chewing and Other Destructive Behavior House-Soiling Don’t Tread on Me! Jumping Up Trench Warfare—Digging Barking up the Wrong Tree—Excessive Barking It’s Houdini! Raiding Parties Aggression

138 138 140 141 142 144 145 146 146 147 148 148 149

Don’t Leave Me Alone!—Separation Anxiety Fear of Thunder and Other Loud Noises


151 152

Part 4: In Sickness and in Health
11 Food for Thought: Nutrition
What to Feed Your Golden Retriever Canned, Dry, Frozen, or Semi-Moist? Nutrition Nuggets Protein Fat Carbohydrates Home Cooking—Raw Food Diets Proponents’ Statements The Difficulties of Balancing Nutrients Performance Diets—Feeding the Canine Athlete Fad Diets Junk Food—Between-Meal Snacks Poisonous Temptations—Chocolate and Other Unsafe Foods Obesity Determining Whether Your Golden Is Fit or Fat Diet Isn’t a Four-Letter Word

158 162 163 164 164 165 165 165 167 168 168 169 169 170 170 170

12 Choosing a Veterinarian
Dog Doctors Finding the Best Dog Doc for Your Golden Meet the Vet—Your Golden’s First Visit Vaccinations When to Vaccinate Available Vaccinations Pet Health Insurance

174 175 177 178 179 179 183

13 Inside and Out: The Battle of the Bugs
Over-the-Counter Remedies for Parasites Roundworms Hookworms Tapeworms Whipworms Heartworms The Heartworm Lifecycle Preventives Treatment for Heartworm Giardia Coccidia

186 186 187 188 188 188 189 189 190 190 191


The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Golden Retrievers
Fleas Health Hazards Declaring War Your Latest Arsenal Over-the-Counter Weapons Ticks Tick-Borne Diseases How to Remove Ticks Mites Ear Mites Mange Mites 191 191 192 192 193 193 194 194 195 195 195

14 Healthy Choices—Preventive Care
The Great Spay/Neuter Debate Why You Should Spay or Neuter Your Golden Myths About Spaying and Neutering Health and Behavior Benefits Giving Your Golden a Health Exam Keeping the Doggie Dentist at Bay Brushing Your Golden’s Teeth Recognizing a Tooth or Gum Problem Do You Hear What I Hear? Cleaning Your Golden’s Ears Recognizing an Ear Problem Clipping Your Golden’s Toenails Expressing the Anal Sacs Golden Shimmers—Grooming Your Golden A Golden’s Coat Tools of the Trade Baths Giving Medications Pill Popping Liquid Medications Taking Your Golden’s Temperature

198 198 199 201 201 203 203 204 204 204 205 205 206 207 207 207 208 210 210 211 211

15 Common Golden Retriever Illnesses, Hereditary Ailments, and Emergencies
Hereditary and Congenital Diseases Allergies Elbow Dysplasia (ED) and Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) Epilepsy Eye Disease Hip Dysplasia (HD) Hypothyroidism Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis (SAS)

214 214 215 216 216 217 218 218

Illnesses and Injuries Bad Breath Broken Toenails Bloat—A Life-Threatening Condition Diarrhea and Vomiting Flea Allergy Dermatitis or Flea Bite Dermatitis Foxtails Hot Spots Lumps and Bumps on the Skin Incontinence Pyometra—A Life-Threatening Condition for Intact Females Irritated Eyes Ringworm Scratching Seizures Skunks My Golden Is Pregnant—What Do I Do? Assembling a First-Aid Kit Health Emergencies How to Muzzle Your Golden Broken Bones Burns Choking or Difficulty Breathing Cuts, Injuries, and Dog Bites Electrocution Fishhooks Frostbite and Hypothermia Insect Bites and Stings Overheating Poisoning Shock


219 219 219 220 221 222 222 222 223 223 224 224 225 225 226 227 227 228 229 230 230 230 231 231 231 232 232 233 233 234 235

Part 5: The Golden Life—Living with a Golden
16 Disaster Planning
Do You Know What to Do If a Disaster Strikes? Preparing for a Disaster I’m Moving Out Where to Stay Your Disaster Kit ID, Please Tags Microchips and Tattoos Lost Dog

240 240 241 241 242 243 243 244 246

17 On the Road Again—Traveling with Your Golden
Should You Travel with Your Golden? Your Golden’s Travel Bag Car Travel Air Travel Accommodations Boarding Kennels Pet Sitters

249 253 254 257 258 259 261

18 The Golden Years
Active Mind + Active Body = Long, Healthy Life Keeping Your Old Golden Comfortable Old-Age Ailments Arthritis Blindness Cancer and Tumors Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) Congestive Heart Failure Deafness Dental Problems Urinary Tract Problems Should You Get Another Dog? Saying Good-Bye

266 267 268 268 269 269 270 270 271 271 272 272 273

A Glossary B Organizations C Books and Periodicals Index 277 283 287 289

My goose was cooked the minute I plucked him from the heap of frolicking puppies. One gaze into that devilish little face and I knew we were destined to become forever pals. Charlie we named him. And so began my exhilarating twenty-five-year odyssey with Golden Retrievers. At first there was just one. But for me, as for many fanciers, Goldens are kind of like potato chips: You can’t have just one. So then there were two, then three, and at one time even four, cluttering the space on and around the bed. Some were acquired as puppies, others adopted as adults through Golden Retriever rescue. With each new companion my involvement with and knowledge of “things Golden” grew. Initially, I knew little if anything about health issues particular to Goldens, or canine nutrition, or even the importance of basic training and socialization. It was only with my third Golden that I began serious study of this astounding breed. My association with dog sports led to a bevy of mentors who furthered my canine education. A local Golden club welcomed me as a know-nothing neophyte. Later I joined the Golden Retriever Club of America, and volunteered to foster for Golden Retriever rescue. With each new dog, and every new involvement, so grew my knowledge. Only now do I realize how truly “dog dumb” I was in the beginning, and how much Charlie would have benefited had I known then what Maggie Bonham has so expertly organized into these pages. There is no more companionable, no user-friendlier dog than a Golden. That’s why in the span of fewer than eighty years my chosen breed has rocketed in popularity from zero to number two in AKC registrations. In a sense that’s the good news. Now, it seems, you can’t turn on the TV, open a magazine, go to the movies without being greeted in some fashion by a grinning Golden. The problem is, none of these Goldens seem to shed, trash the furniture, chase the cat, dig up the flower garden, slobber or worse on the living room carpet, or run up fearsome veterinary bills. And that’s the bad news—as evidenced by the fact that more than 100 Golden rescue organizations are scrambling for resources to accommodate and re-home these wonderful creatures now being relinquished by

first owners at a rate rapidly approaching 10,000 annually. A whole lot of folks, apparently, leaped before they looked. And a whole lot of wonderful dogs became the unwitting losers. An informed buyer, a well-educated owner should be every Golden’s entitlement. These are their keys to a long and happy life, in but one home. So, if you’re reading this in the aisle at the bookstore, head now to the checkout. Because in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Golden Retrievers, Maggie Bonham delivers a wealth of information you can put to immediate use—whether it be to make an informed buying decision if you’re considering acquiring a Golden, or becoming a better owner if you’re already blessed by one. Spend the few evenings it will take to digest these contents and take that huge stride toward becoming the educated caregiver your Golden deserves. My Charlie will be smiling on you from above. —Rue Chagoll Rue Chagoll is a freelance writer and Golden Retriever fancier. He trains his Goldens for obedience, agility, and hunt test competition, and also volunteers with Golden Retriever rescue. His writings have won numerous awards from the Dog Writers Association of America and the American Kennel Club.

So you want to own a Golden Retriever? Goldens are the second most popular dog in the United States today—right behind their cousins, the Labrador Retrievers—and make great pets. But Goldens aren’t for everyone. In this book, you’ll learn a bit more about the Golden Retriever and find out whether there’s a Golden in your future. This book is intended for both the first-time Golden owner and for the owner who is looking for tips on caring for and training their Golden Retriever. Unlike many books that focus on top breeders and lists of dog show champions, this book focuses on all aspects of Golden ownership. After all, what use are lists of dogs you’ve never heard of when you’re trying to housebreak your puppy?

What You’ll Find in This Book
This book is divided into five user-friendly parts: Part 1, “Introduction to the Golden Retriever,” provides a basic overview of the Golden Retriever as a breed. It discusses the commitment required in Golden ownership and whether the Golden is the right breed for you. Part 2, “Selecting and Bringing Home a Golden Retriever,” describes what a reputable breeder is and how to find the perfect Golden for you. It explains vital health certifications and papers. I also discuss selecting your Golden and dog supplies, bringing your Golden home, and the first few days with your new companion. Part 3, “Dog Training 101,” provides a basic overview of obedience training and other forms of dog training. In this part, you’ll find out whether it’s better to find a professional trainer or go it alone. You’ll also learn how to teach your Golden tricks. Part 4, “In Sickness and in Health,” provides an overview of maintaining your Golden’s health. You’ll be surprised to learn that all dog food is not created equal and that your care will help improve your Golden’s life. You’ll also learn about genetic diseases and what constitutes an emergency. You’ll find out why you really shouldn’t breed your Golden and what to do if your Golden is pregnant.


The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Golden Retrievers

Part 5, “The Golden Life—Living with a Golden,” covers disasters, traveling with your Golden, and making your Golden’s senior years healthy and happy.

Check out the sidebars throughout the book. They’re packed full of fun and informative facts. Retriever Rewards
Great tips that will make your life easier.

Golden Glossary
Definitions of terms used in this book.

Golden Glimmers
Interesting facts about dogs or Golden Retrievers.

No Biscuit!
Warnings about possible problems that might arise. Read these boxes carefully!

My thanks to Jessica Faust, agent; Beth Adelman, tech editor and friend; Mike Sanders, acquisitions editor; Mike Thomas, development editor; Janette Lynn, production editor; and Kelly Henthorne, copy editor. Thanks to the following people and dogs for photographs: Shannon Bordelon and Tristan Isabella Teresa Bullard and Cinnamon, Audrey, and Ginger Carolyn Risdon and Rico, Doc Holiday, Bailey, Bo, Amber, Brandy, and Nala Angie Swagger and Willow Joe Johnson and Zippy Janna Hughes and Kira

Peg Monahan and Baxter Marilyn Eudaly, the American Animal Hospital Association, and Sampson (and Levi, the token Labrador Retriever) Mark Keller and Ernie Barbara Gurlek and Denver Lois DiMarzio and Laura Carol Richtsmeier and Sasha Pauline Washburn and Shilo Thanks to Larry, Haegl, Kira, Kodiak, and even Ranger, who make my life interesting from day to day.


All terms mentioned in this book that are known to be or are suspected of being trademarks or service marks have been appropriately capitalized. Alpha Books and Penguin Group (USA) Inc. cannot attest to the accuracy of this information. Use of a term in this book should not be regarded as affecting the validity of any trademark or service mark.


The Golden Retriever is the second most popular AKC breed—and little wonder. Golden owners talk about the Golden’s winsome personality and great looks—not to mention their high intelligence and empathy. Yet the Golden Retriever isn’t the dog for everyone. In Part 1, we cover the breed’s personality and history. You’ll learn whether your lifestyle is conducive to dog ownership. Most importantly, you’ll find out whether you’re ready to take the plunge into the Golden opportunity of Golden ownership.


Introduction to the Golden Retriever



Gold Medal Goldens
In This Chapter
≠ Learn why Goldens are popular ≠ Bringing a Golden into your life ≠ Learn where Goldens came from ≠ Learn how the Golden became a distinct breed in England ≠ The Golden Retriever in America The Golden Retriever is the second most popular purebred dog in the United States, right behind his cousin, the Labrador Retriever. The versatility and winsome personality of this breed makes the Golden an ideal companion as both a pet and a willing worker. In this chapter, you’ll find out whether a Golden is right for you. Although the Golden Retriever is an easygoing breed and is relatively easy to train, it is not for everyone. We’ll explore the Golden’s personality and the time commitment necessary for owning a Golden Retriever.


Part 1: Introduction to the Golden Retriever

Taking the Golden Medal—Why Goldens Are So Popular
Golden Retrievers are the second most popular breed in the United States—and little wonder! Goldens are the great goofballs of the dog world—fun loving and happy; they’re like a rainbow on a cloudy day. In 2003, the Golden Retriever came in at 52,530 registrations behind the juggernaut of the Labrador Retriever, who has well over 100,000 registrations a year. But numbers don’t make the dog and certainly don’t tell the whole story.
© Joe Johnson

The Golden Retriever is the second most popular registered AKC breed.

So why are Goldens so popular? If you’ve met a Golden, you already know. Good looks, combined with a great personality and brains—wow! What a combination. That, along with a nice large size, makes a terrific breed.

Chapter 1: Gold Medal Goldens


Personality Plus
Who hasn’t smiled when seeing a goofy Golden allowing kids (and adults) to dress him up? Who could be a better companion than one who is happy to play fetch for hours and then be equally happy to sit beside you on the couch? And what breed is better at learning tricks? The Golden Retriever is clever and trainable.
© Carolyn Risdon

Goldens love to retrieve! This is Brandy.

The standard of the Golden Retriever calls for a dog who is friendly, reliable, and trustworthy. This dog is not aggressive toward people or animals. Goldens make great family pets for the family that has the time to devote to one. They’re people dogs. They can


Part 1: Introduction to the Golden Retriever

be active, especially when young and when they come from hunting lines, but many make fine family pets. Most are good with kids and other pets, including cats—if properly introduced. Golden Retrievers are one of the most trainable of the retriever breeds. In fact, many would argue that Goldens are the most trainable of dog breeds. They’re willing to please and are focused on their owners. As hunting and water dogs, the Golden Retriever had to mark (see and remember) where a Golden Glossary shot bird fell and then retrieve it Standard A standard is on command. This work required a kind of blueprint for the breed. We say a dog “cona hunting partner who could work forms to the standard” when he off leash and be reliable, plus meets the requirements for that retrieve the night’s dinner without standard. damaging it. Nowadays, the Golden is superb at obedience, agility, and other canine competiNo Biscuit! tions as well as hunting.
Never leave a child alone with a dog, especially an infant or toddler. Dogs can be unpredictable and even a Golden with the best temperament may bite, especially if it’s teased or in pain. Although Goldens are considered to be good with kids, always supervise your kids when they’re playing with your Golden.

There’s a caveat to all of this: You will get a Golden who is like this as long as you get a Golden who is well bred. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous breeders who breed just for profit have bred some Goldens with bad temperaments and health problems, so you must be careful when choosing your Golden.

Chapter 1: Gold Medal Goldens
© American Animal Hospital Association


Goldens are so popular that the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has a picture of one on their truck. This is Sampson.

Golden Pleasures—Bringing a Golden Retriever into Your Life
So, is there a Golden Retriever in your future? Before you rush out and get one, look at the pluses—and minuses—of owning a Golden Retriever. Goldens are medium-sized to large dogs—big enough to be a substantial dog, but not so big as to be overpowering. Although they are big, they’re very adaptable, provided they get enough exercise.


Part 1: Introduction to the Golden Retriever

Goldens are active dogs. They require a moderate amount of exercise every day. This includes playing fetch, walking, swimming, and other exercise. Goldens can be rambunctious, especially when young. You’ll be wondering where the batteries are in your Golden puppy because he’s got so much energy. They do settle down, but expect a very active dog at least until age two. Because Goldens are active, you can expect things to be knocked over or bumped into. Golden tails are legendary when it comes to clearing an end table. An exuberant Golden can knock over a toddler or an elderly person (or even an occasional strong, healthy adult) if they’re not careful. Goldens shed profusely. Their coats require care so that they don’t mat—usually brushing two or more times a week (and more when shedding, which may be all the time!). Although they don’t require as much coat care as many other breeds, they require enough to make it a hassle to those who aren’t willing to groom their Goldens. Some Goldens shed twice a year, but many shed year-round. Golden owners think nothing of Golden hair as a condiment in their food, and it blends well with the butter on toast. Despite being wonderful dogs, Goldens are still dogs. That means that a Golden may roll in stinky stuff and will delight in a dead squirrel carcass. A Golden needs proper training and socialization and doesn’t automatically come housebroken. Goldens can be destructive, especially if left alone for long periods of time. If you don’t have the time to spend with your Golden every day, perhaps you should consider a pet that requires less time. You’ll need a fenced-in backyard or a kennel if you live in the suburbs or the country. Although you can train your Golden to be fairly reliable off-leash, you should never leave your Golden loose and unsupervised. Many dogs—including Goldens—have been hit by cars. If you live in the city, you must walk your Golden several times a day and clean up after him. You must take your Golden for a long walk or play fetch in the park at least three times a week.

Chapter 1: Gold Medal Goldens
Goldens eat a lot. A Golden may eat a 40-pound bag or more of dog food in a month. Likewise, you’ll have more dog waste to clean up. However, many Golden Retriever owners find the positives far outweigh the negatives. Many Golden owners are active and enjoy having pets that are so versatile and can enjoy their company in many of their activities.


The Gold Standard—Where Golden Retrievers Excel
Goldens are naturally talented and suited for a variety of tasks. They’re great in hunting, therapy, and all types of performance competition. When you go to an obedience or agility competition, you’ll see Goldens often in top spots.

Show and Field
Goldens are outstanding retrievers. The AKC and other organizations offer both field trials and hunting tests for Golden Retrievers. They’re good hunting dogs, too, not just for competition.

Golden Glossary
American Kennel Club (AKC) The AKC is the oldest and largest national purebred dog registry in the United States. The AKC was founded in 1884.

Therapy and Assistance
Goldens excel as both therapy and assistance dogs. Their size and demeanor makes them useful for helping their owners. Goldens are not as intimidating as other large breeds such as German Shepherd Dogs or Rottweilers. Because Goldens aren’t aggressive and are adaptable to various situations, Goldens are ideal for working around people and encountering new situations.


Part 1: Introduction to the Golden Retriever

The words “Golden Retriever” are synonymous with obedience. Goldens are great in obedience, agility, rally, and other sports because they’re athletic and they have a willingness to please. Of course, you still have to put in the effort to have a Gold-Medal Golden, but this is a breed that’s more trainable than many other AKC breeds.

Lord Tweedmouth’s Dog—The Development of the Golden Retriever
How did the Golden Retriever come to be the wonderful breed we know today? To a large extent, we have to thank Lord Tweedmouth and his gamekeepers, who developed the breed and kept accurate records. In 1865, Lord Tweedmouth bought a “Yellow Retriever” named Nous in Brighton. He bred Nous to different dogs, mostly Tweed Water Spaniels (an extinct liver-covered breed) and produced more “Yellow Retrievers.” Continuing his breeding efforts, he added what was then called a St. John’s dog—either a Newfoundland or a Labrador Retriever—and maybe even a Bloodhound. One puppy from Nous, Cowslip, proved to be a foundation dog as important as Nous in Golden Retrievers. By the late 1800s, Golden Retrievers became popular, especially among sportsmen. The first Golden Retriever to win a field trial did so in 1904. In 1908, Golden Retrievers were shown for the first time as Flat-Coated Retrievers (Golden) in England. By 1913, the Golden Retriever Club of England had formed, and Goldens were recognized as a separate breed. In 1925, the AKC allowed the first Golden Retrievers to be registered as a separate breed in the United States. By 1938, the Golden Retriever Club of America was founded.

Chapter 1: Gold Medal Goldens
Golden fanciers continue to breed the Golden Retriever for field work but also as show, pet, obedience, and service dogs. The Golden Retriever has been happy to step into his new roles with the same cheerful enthusiasm for which he is famous.


Golden Glimmers
The first Golden Retriever registered with the AKC was Lomberdale Blondin in 1925.

The Golden Retriever Standard
It’s hard to believe, but the Golden Retriever wouldn’t be what it is today without a standard—that is, the American Kennel Club’s and Golden Retriever Club’s blueprint for the breed. This standard defines the very essence of the breed. But what does this have to do with a Golden Retriever you might be getting as a pet? Is the standard important even then? Actually it is, if you want to know the difference between showand pet-quality Goldens. Let’s look at the standard in more detail. Golden Glossary
Show quality A show-quality puppy or dog is a dog that conforms closely to the standard and may be competitive in a conformation (dog) show. Pet quality A pet-quality puppy or dog is a dog that has a superficial blemish or fault that would prevent the dog from competing in the conformation (dog) show ring.

Why the Standard Is Important
When you talk to Golden Retriever breeders, you may hear the word “standard” mentioned. It can be a bit confusing if you’re not familiar with the jargon. What is a standard and does it have anything to do with the quality of your Golden?


Part 1: Introduction to the Golden Retriever

Every breed has a standard that has been written by the breed club and accepted by the AKC or another breed registry. This standard is important because without it, the Golden Retriever wouldn’t look the way it does today. (He might look like a Labrador Retriever or another type of Retriever.) The standard is a vision of the ideal Golden Retriever—an imaginary dog that all good breeders try to attain. No Golden Retriever can exactly match the standard, but the closer the dog is to the standard, the better he will do in the show ring.

The Great Show or Pet Quality Debate
If you talk to show people and reputable breeders while looking for your Golden Retriever, you’re likely to hear the terms show quality and pet quality. You may think a show-quality Golden Retriever is, therefore, better than a pet-quality dog. After all, show-quality dogs generally cost more than pet-quality dogs. Golden Glossary
Reputable breeders A reputable breeder breeds dogs for the betterment of the breed. These breeders perform tests on their dogs to avoid breeding puppies with bad hips, hereditary blindness, or other hereditary diseases. These breeders guarantee their dogs and often screen their puppy buyers vigorously. Puppies are not always available.

Let’s clear this up once and for all. As you now know, showquality dogs are dogs who conform more closely to the Golden Retriever standard. They aren’t any better than a pet-quality dog Golden Glossary when it comes to being a pet. The Conformation The higher price of a show-quality structure of the dog as it Golden Retriever is intended to conforms to the breed standard. reflect the potential of the puppy

Chapter 1: Gold Medal Goldens


to do well in conformation shows. The show-quality price of a puppy does not guarantee that the dog will be a show-quality dog. In fact, it does not make the dog more valuable as a pet, and if the dog isn’t shown, the dog is no more valuable than a pet regardless of how much you paid for him. The show value of a dog comes from being shown and from his breeding potential. If the dog isn’t shown, then his breeding potential isn’t very good. So if you’re planning to show a Golden in conformation shows, then yes, get a show-quality puppy. Otherwise, get a pet-quality puppy. Pet-quality dogs can compete and earn titles in obedience, tracking, agility, and other performance sports. They’re usually less expensive than show-quality puppies and unless you bring them into a conformation show ring, you might not even know what makes them a pet-quality puppy. Your pet-quality puppy might be too tall or too short, according to the standard. The length of his body might not be the correct proportion to his height. He may have white markings or splashes of another color on his coat. Or his ears may be too big or too small. These variations certainly don’t change his winsome personality or his ability to be the best dog you’ve ever owned. Indeed, you may find these variations cute or charming—something that makes your Golden an individual.

Summary of the Golden Retriever Standard
Now let’s talk about what the Golden Retriever standard is. We’re not reprinting it here, because quite frankly, the standard uses special terminology that many people within the fancy (that is, people who show dogs)—let alone outside dogs—don’t know. So instead, I’ll give you a summary of what the standard says—in plain English. (If you’re really curious about what the standard says, you can look it up on the American Kennel Club’s website at


Part 1: Introduction to the Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever is a powerful, active, and confident dog bred to work as a hunting dog. His appearance and gait should be those of a dog meant for working in the fields. Male Golden Retrievers must be between 23 and 24 inches high at the shoulders and weigh 65 to 75 lbs. Female Goldens must be between 211/2–221/2 inches at the shoulders and weigh 55 to 65 lbs. Dogs who are taller or shorter than those heights by up to one-half inch are penalized in the show ring. Dogs who are larger or smaller than that are disqualified. The Golden Retriever head is broad with a prominent point where the dog’s muzzle meets the eyebrows. The muzzle is straight and not sloped when viewed from the side. The Golden’s eyes are friendly. Dark brown eyes are preferred but medium brown is acceptable. The eyes should be medium-large and round, not slanted or triangular. You should not see the whites of the eyes when looking at his face straight on. Eyelid problems that cause eyelid or eyelash abnormalities are a disqualification. Ears should be short—just long enough to cover the eye if pulled forward—and shouldn’t hang low like a hound’s ears. Nose must be black or brownish black and may fade slightly in the winter. Pink noses are a fault. Bite must be a scissors bite. Overshot or undershot bites are a disqualification. The dog must have all his teeth or is severely penalized in the show ring. Retriever Rewards
Overshot bite A bite in which the incisors of the upper jaw leave a gap between them and the incisors of the lower jaw when the mouth is closed. Scissors bite A bite in which the incisors of the upper jaw lay just in front of the incisors of the lower jaw when the mouth is closed and there is no space. Undershot bite A bite in which the lower incisors are in front of the upper incisors when the mouth is closed. Undercoat A layer of fur beneath the top coat that insulates and keeps a dog warm. It sheds out periodically, usually twice yearly.

Chapter 1: Gold Medal Goldens


The Golden’s body should be proportionately built for work. The neck should be medium long; the shoulders should be angular so that they’re at approximately a 45° angle from the chest to the shoulders when looking at the dog in profile. The chest should be deep, and the back should be level. The rear end should slope slightly as it reaches the tail, and the pelvic bones should slope at about a 30° angle. Anything other than a level back or a rear end that doesn’t slope or slopes too much is a fault. A narrow chest or a chest that has flat sides is also a fault. A Golden’s tail should be carried high, and although a slight curve is acceptable, a curled tail isn’t. Feet should be round, medium-sized, with thick pads. Splayed feet or oval feet are faults. A Golden’s coat should be dense and water-repellant with a good undercoat. The coat can be straight or wavy but shouldn’t be either harsh or soft. Goldens should have a ruff and feathering on the back of the legs, throat, underbody, and tail. The coat on the head, front of legs, and paws should be short. Dogs without an undercoat, with hair that is too long, or with very soft coats are faulted. The Golden’s color is naturally golden with every shade in between. Extremely pale or dark is a fault. White is a fault, with the exception of a few white hairs on the chest. Any other color is a fault. When moving, the Golden’s gait is a fluid trot. The Golden temperament is friendly, reliable, and trustworthy. Aggressiveness or fearfulness toward people and dogs is a fault.

The Least You Need to Know
≠ Golden Retrievers are the second most popular dogs and number two in registrations with the American Kennel Club. ≠ Goldens are known for good temperament and trainability, provided that they come from a reputable source.


Part 1: Introduction to the Golden Retriever

≠ You’ll need a fenced-in backyard or kennel to contain your Golden, and you’ll need to exercise him daily. ≠ Goldens excel in obedience, hunting, therapy, and assistance dog work. ≠ Golden Retrievers are defined by a standard set by the Golden Retriever Club of America and the American Kennel Club. ≠ Pet-quality Goldens are in no way inferior as pets to showquality Goldens.



Golden Opportunity— Looking for the Right Golden
In This Chapter
≠ Learning where you can purchase a quality Golden puppy ≠ Defining a reputable breeder ≠ Finding the right Golden for you ≠ Adopting a Golden Retriever from a shelter or rescue group ≠ Introducing your Golden to kids, dogs, and other pets ≠ Buying more than one By now, you’re thinking that this might be your golden opportunity to bring a Golden Retriever into your life. But before you do, are you ready for the big responsibility ahead? Puppies (and adult dogs) take time to raise and train.


Part 1: Introduction to the Golden Retriever

You need to know where to get your Golden Retriever. Not just anywhere will do. Puppy mills and backyard breeders abound—you need to know where to get a Golden Retriever who is healthy and has a good personality. In this chapter, we talk about where to get your Golden Retriever, and whether to get a puppy or adult, breeder or rescue, or pet or show quality. We also discuss who to contact to find the best Golden Retriever for you and your family.

Ir-retrieve-able Consequences—Why Knowledge Is Golden
Golden Retrievers are great dogs. Many Golden owners will say they’re the best dogs around. But Goldens are still dogs and require a big commitment from you. Goldens require food, water, shelter, exercise, and attention every day and require regular veterinary care, training, and grooming. Puppies need even more, requiring constant attention, housetraining, and obedience training. Golden Retrievers are naturally people dogs. They need more attention than a lot of other breeds. It’s important to decide whether or not a Golden will fit into your busy lifestyle now, before you purchase a puppy or an adult. If you don’t have a single minute to yourself, how are you going to have time for a pet? Here are some questions to think about: ≠ Are you willing to rearrange your lifestyle to accommodate an animal that is dependent solely on you? Remember, a healthy Golden will live, on average, 10 to 15 years. ≠ Are you able to financially afford to care for your pet? The cost of a puppy does not end at its purchase price. Your Golden will require ongoing food and veterinary expenses throughout its life. Puppies and elderly dogs generally will incur more expenses than healthy adults.

Chapter 2: Golden Opportunity—Looking for the Right Golden
≠ Does everyone in the household want a Golden (or a dog at all)? All members of the family must agree on a new pet.


≠ Is anyone in your family allergic to dogs? Don’t purchase a Golden Retriever hoping that the person with allergies might be able to tolerate him. Have the allergic person visit someone with Goldens to see whether the Golden Retriever sets off his allergies. ≠ Who will take care of your Golden? The Golden must be the responsibility of an adult in the household. Children cannot be depended on to take care of a living, breathing animal. ≠ Do you have a fenced-in backyard that is dig-proof, climbproof, and jump-proof? ≠ Are you willing to take your Golden for a daily walk or other exercise? Goldens are active dogs. ≠ Are you willing to go to obedience classes to train and socialize a puppy? ≠ Are you able to leave your Golden no longer than nine hours alone or to hire a pet sitter to walk her? ≠ Are you able to give your Golden attention every day? ≠ Are you willing to put up with muddy paw prints on your clothing and carpets? ≠ Are you able to tolerate the destructiveness associated with a dog? Puppies and dogs may chew the wrong things or dig in the yard. Puppies don’t come housebroken, and even the adult dog may have an occasional accident. ≠ Are you able to make plans for your Golden if you go on a business trip or on vacation? ≠ Do you have other commitments you have to fulfill that may leave you scrambling to take care of your dog (college, armed forces, and so on)?


Part 1: Introduction to the Golden Retriever

If you’ve never owned a dog before, you may look at these questions and wonder whether I’m exaggerating the magnitude of the responsibility. I’m not. Unfortunately, too many people purchase a dog without realizing the basic owner responsibilities. No Biscuit!
Many would-be puppy owners forget that puppies don’t come housetrained, expect that their children will care for a puppy, or think that the person with allergies in their home will suddenly not be allergic to their Golden Retriever. These are three of many reasons why perfectly wonderful dogs end up in shelters and with Golden Retriever rescue groups.

Disreputable Breeders
Golden Retrievers are the second most popular purebred dog for several reasons, including the overall versatility and the charming personality of the Golden. But that popularity has a downside. Some people breed Goldens for money only—they aren’t looking to sell you a healthy or well-adjusted pet. It’s generally a good idea to stay away from any place that produces a high number of puppies. Reputable breeders and dog rescue groups call these places “puppy mills” because they churn out puppies for profit. A puppy mill usually has several different breeds but may Retriever Rewards have just one. The conditions in Decide up front what many puppy mills are substandard. you intend to do with Puppy bitches are frequently bred your Retriever, whether it’s conformation, hunting, obedience, during their first heat (at six to or just a pet. That will help you eight months of age) and are bred determine where to look for your each subsequent heat cycle therenew Golden. Do your research after. Some are kept in small, filthy now. A breeder who produces kennels. Puppies are often taken great working Retrievers may not have winners in the conformaaway from their mothers too young tion show ring. and are poorly socialized. Puppies

Chapter 2: Golden Opportunity—Looking for the Right Golden


raised in these conditions frequently have internal and external parasites. Their parents were never screened for genetic diseases. No thought is given to bettering the breed. The dogs are not bred to the standard and, therefore, quite often you will find dogs that differ greatly from dogs seen at shows. Some puppy mills disguise themselves as reputable breeders. When you see an ad for Goldens that advertises “Puppies Always Available,” chances are great that it’s a puppy mill. Reputable breeders seldom breed more than two litters a year. Some puppy mills, if they offer a guarantee, may impose conditions that are difficult to meet, such as feeding the puppy unusual diets or severely limiting the puppy’s exercise. What about the backyard breeder? This is most likely the first time he’s bred his two Goldens. He didn’t neuter them, and he probably purchased them from a puppy mill or another backyard breeder because he thinks that the word “purebred” means “valuable.” He might want to recoup the high price he paid for his dogs. He might have lost the papers a long time ago, or maybe he bred his bitch to his neighbor’s Golden who has no papers. It doesn’t matter; they’re purebred, right? “Hips checked” means he asked the veterinarian whether his Golden’s hips looked okay. He sees the high prices people sell dogs for in the newspaper, so he thinks he can sell them at the same price. The problem is the pups are now six weeks old, and he didn’t realize how expensive and time-consuming they were to raise. His wife is mad because he hasn’t sold the puppies yet, and they’ve become active. They’ve climbed out of the whelping box and into everything—and they aren’t housebroken. He’ll sell one to you at a real bargain. But is it a bargain? Although this fellow is well intentioned, he doesn’t know what his puppies will be like. He hasn’t chosen to breed to the standard, so his puppies may look different than what you might expect. If he bred to a dog without papers, the puppies might not even be purebred Golden Retrievers. His puppies could


Part 1: Introduction to the Golden Retriever

have hip dysplasia, eye problems, elbow dysplasia, or other diseases. He hasn’t vaccinated the pups, nor has he wormed them. He doesn’t know much beyond the puppies’ parents. He won’t offer a guarantee, Golden Glossary and he certainly won’t take a puppy Hip dysplasia A heredback. If he can’t sell his pups, he’ll itary malformation of the drop them off at the local animal hip bones. shelter because his dreams of profits Elbow dysplasia Malformation may not have been realized. It’s of the elbow joint. been a lot of work for a few hundred dollars. What about the pet store? Pet stores are not good places to buy dogs because most buy their dogs wholesale from commercial breeders and puppy mills. Occasionally, they might pick up a backyard breeder’s litter or sell some mixed-breed puppies, but you can almost always expect that if the breeder isn’t placing the puppies himself, the breeder isn’t responsible.

Reputable Breeders
Reputable breeders are sometimes called hobbyist breeders. That means they aren’t breeding dogs specifically for the money. Instead, they’re looking to produce top show and working dogs and are trying to improve the breed. If you are planning to buy a Golden Retriever, you should buy your Golden only from a reputable breeder. Purchasing Golden Glossary your dog from other sources encourHobbyist breeders ages these sources to continue breedAnother name for reputable breeders. ing substandard dogs.

What’s a Reputable Breeder?
You’ll hear me talk a lot about reputable and responsible breeders and how you should look for a reputable breeder when purchasing a

Chapter 2: Golden Opportunity—Looking for the Right Golden


Golden Retriever puppy. But what exactly does a reputable breeder do that’s so different and so special? First and foremost, reputable breeders aren’t breeding Golden Retrievers for the money. As hokey as it might sound, they’ve fallen in love with the breed and want to improve the breed any way they can. That means producing the best dogs possible. These people are fanatics (in a good sense). They have books of photos of their Goldens; trophies and ribbons lining their walls. They’ll beam as they tell you that their granddog got his OTCH and is going for his MACH (high-level obedience and agility titles, in case you’re wondering). You’ll look at photos not only of your prospective puppy’s parents, but of his grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles, and just about every dog ever related to him. The parents will have the championships or will be working toward titles in breed, hunting, obedience, tracking, or agility.
© Joe Johnson

The Golden makes an excellent hunting dog.

Responsible breeders don’t breed their dogs often, and puppies aren’t always available. Most reputable breeders have a waiting list for their puppies and screen their buyers rigorously.


Part 1: Introduction to the Golden Retriever

When you purchase a puppy from a reputable breeder, you purchase a puppy with a known history. The breeder will offer you help and advice in training issues and will take an active interest in your pet. You are not on your own if you have training difficulties. It’s hard to find a reputable breeder, and it may be harder yet to pass their screening test for puppy buyers. These breeders want to be sure that your home is as good as their own. They want to be sure the puppies match with their new owners’ lifestyles and personalities. Quite often puppies from reputable breeders will cost the same as puppies from backyard breeders, pet stores, or puppy mills. But reputable breeders will guarantee the health of their dogs and refund money or offer a replacement should there be a problem.

Health Certifications
Which brings us to the topic of health certifications. Reputable breeders screen for hereditary diseases. Because Golden Retrievers are so popular, many are being bred without thought to what genetic diseases they may be passing along to their puppies. These diseases include hip dysplasia (HD), elbow dysplasia (ED) osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), cataracts, hypothyroidism, subvalvular aortic stenosis (SAS), and tricuspid valve dysplasia (TVD). Golden Glossary
Osteochondritis dissecans A painful condition that is often associated with elbow dysplasia, quite often hereditary or congenital. Subvalvular aortic stenosis Malformation of the heart caused by congenital or hereditary reasons. Tricuspid valve dysplasia Malformation of one of the valves in the heart caused by congenital or hereditary reasons.

Chapter 2: Golden Opportunity—Looking for the Right Golden
© Barbara Gurlek


The Golden’s breeder should certify your Golden against hip dysplasia, eye problems, and heart problems. This is Denver, owned by Barbara Gurlek.

Almost all breeds now have genetic problems such as hip dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Irresponsible breeders may tell you they don’t need to screen for hip dysplasia and eye problems because genetic diseases are rare in Goldens. Don’t believe it! Golden Retrievers have a high incidence of genetic diseases, due in part to puppy mill and backyard breeders’ breeding practices. Don’t accept No Biscuit! statements such as “He’s had his According to the hips and eyes checked,” or “He Orthopedic Foundation for doesn’t have any genetic diseases.” Animals (OFA), more than one Ask for proof. out of five Goldens have hip OFA (or PennHIP) and CERF are two certifications that both puppies’ parents must have. CERF (the Canine Eye Registration Foundation) certifies that the eyes
dysplasia. The number is no doubt higher because OFA is a voluntary registry, and many people who have dogs with hip dysplasia choose not to report it.


Part 1: Introduction to the Golden Retriever

are clear of disease. (This is a PASS or FAIL test—be sure it is PASS.) This test must be updated yearly. OFA (the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) offers a variety of health certifications including hip, heart, thyroid, and elbow certification. Reputable breeders will, at minimum, have their dogs certified free of hip dysplasia. Many will have elbows certified as well, because Goldens are prone to elbow dysplasia. OFA and PennHIP certification lasts for the life of the dog. According to OFA rankings, Golden Retrievers are fourteenth on the list for prevalence of cardiac problems and twelfth for thyroid abnormalities. Because OFA is a voluntary registry, only conscienRetriever Rewards tious owners and breeders have Select puppies tested and registered their dogs; the whose parents’ hips overall percentages of cardiac and were certified OFA GOOD or EXCELLENT only. thyroid abnormalities are likely to be higher. When looking for a Golden, be sure the breeder has OFA cardiac and thyroid certificaRetriever Rewards Both OFA and CERF tion on the puppy’s parents.
have online databases to search for certified dogs. You can find your prospective puppy’s parents by searching the breed and for the dog’s registered name—or even part of the dog’s registered name—at and

The minimal certifications your prospective puppy’s parents should have are OFA Hips, OFA Cardiac, and CERF eyes. Other certifications, such as PennHIP and OFA Thyroid and Elbows, may become more important as more Goldens crop up with hereditary diseases.

Where to Find the Reputable Breeder
As I’ve previously stated, finding a reputable breeder can be difficult—unless you know where to look. The best place to start is with the Golden Retriever Club of America. They have a breeder

Chapter 2: Golden Opportunity—Looking for the Right Golden
referral program that will put you in touch with a breeder who is affiliated with the Golden Retriever Club of America.


Your work doesn’t end there. You have to grill the breeder to determine whether he or she is reputable. Don’t worry! A reputable breeder won’t be put off by your questions—they’ll welcome the chance to educate you about themselves and Golden Retrievers. Here are some questions to ask the reputable breeder: ≠ “Do you belong to the Golden Retriever Club of America or to a local club?” ≠ “How long have you been involved with Goldens?” Backyard breeders are usually new at breeding Goldens, but not always. Occasionally, you will find someone who is reputable who is breeding his first litter; he should also be very involved in showing Goldens. ≠ “Do you have only one or two breeds that you breed?” Reputable breeders focus on one or two breeds to improve the standard. ≠ “Do the puppy’s parents have conformation, obedience, hunting, or agility titles?” A quality Golden should have or be working toward a title. If the parents are not titled, how close are they to obtaining titles? ≠ “How did you choose the stud dog?” Was it a dog he had on hand, or did he search for the right dog to breed to his own female? He shouldn’t have bred his female to what was available, but rather, looked for a dog that would improve the conformation and bloodline of his stock. ≠ “Can you provide photographs and information concerning the parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins of the puppies?” If she cannot tell you about these dogs, then how is she able to breed a quality Golden Retriever?


Part 1: Introduction to the Golden Retriever

≠ “Do you have OFA (or PennHIP) and CERF certification on both parents?” ≠ “Why did you breed these two Goldens?” The answer should be, to produce puppies that will improve the Golden Retriever breed. Often, the breeder will keep one or two puppies to see whether they will turn out as show prospects, but occasionally the breeder will not keep a puppy because they did not turn out the way she thought they would. Never buy a Golden puppy from someone who is breeding dogs to make a profit. Don’t buy a puppy from someone who wanted a Golden just like her own pet or because her Golden is “so sweet.” ≠ “How old are the puppies’ parents?” Neither parent should be bred before two years old. They cannot have their OFA certification until that time. No Biscuit!
Ask to see the original health documents, not photocopies. Some unscrupulous breeders photocopy the original documents and then change the dogs’ names.

≠ “When were the puppies wormed and vaccinated?” A reputable breeder will either worm the puppies or have a veterinarian perform a fecal analysis on the puppies to determine whether worms are present. Puppies should have received their first vaccinations at five to six weeks of age.

≠ “When is the earliest you will allow me to take a puppy?” The youngest a puppy should leave its mother is eight weeks old. No exceptions. The puppy must spend time with its mother and littermates to properly socialize it with other dogs. Before this time, the puppy may be very insecure and stunted in its emotional development. ≠ “What items will you provide when I’m ready to take my Golden home?” The breeder should provide you with information on raising and training a Golden, the puppy contract, the

Chapter 2: Golden Opportunity—Looking for the Right Golden


AKC registration papers (which you must send in), copies of the parents’ OFA and CERF certification, a sample of the puppy food she has been feeding the puppies, a record of vaccinations and worming, a vaccination schedule, a pedigree, and any other information she thinks might be useful to a new puppy owner. Some breeders may include a toy to help ease the puppy into its new home. ≠ “Can you provide me with references?” The breeder should be able to provide you with names and phone numbers of other members of the Golden Retriever Club of America or a local club and people who have bought puppies who will gladly vouch for this breeder. Finally, remember that a reputable breeder will not press you to buy a puppy. She will first try to educate you about what it means to own a Golden Retriever. She will tell you about the good points and the shortcomings of the breed. Golden Glimmers She may ask for references. Don’t be insulted if she sounds like she Much of AKC paperwork depends on the reputation and is grilling you. She wants to be honesty of the breeder. The absolutely certain that this Golden breeder must attest to the fact puppy will fit in with your family that the puppies are indeed and your particular situation. If the offspring of a particular she tells you, “There’s only one male and female. This is why buying a puppy from a repleft, you better buy it”—don’t. utable breeder is very imporThere are other litters from reptant. utable breeders.

What Are “Papers”?
You’ve probably heard about “papers”; that is, the AKC registration. You may be wondering why papers are important when it comes to purebred dogs. The AKC registration is the proof that your Golden is a registered purebred.


Part 1: Introduction to the Golden Retriever

The AKC registration is not a symbol of quality. It does not mean that your Golden is somehow very valuable or more valuable than anyone else’s. It does not mean your Golden is show quality. It does not mean your Golden is healthy or well bred. It just means your puppy is a purebred registered with the AKC. If you really don’t care about papers, save yourself the money and get a dog from a rescue group or the shelter. You’ll save some money and still have a great companion. However, many people do want a purebred. The only way to prove your dog is a registered purebred is to purchase a Golden Retriever from a reputable breeder and then register it with the AKC. Breeders refer to the AKC registration form as “puppy papers” or “blue slips.” On this form, which you get from the breeder, you will find a place to fill in your Golden’s name and your name, your dog’s date of birth and parentage, and a place where both you and the breeder must sign to indicate a transfer of ownership. The papers also have a checkbox the breeder may check if the puppy is to have a limited registration. If checked, this means the offspring of this dog cannot be registered with the AKC. This is to discourage people from breeding dogs that the breeder believes should not be part of a conscientious breeding program. If the puppy grows up to be an exceptional dog, the breeder (and only the breeder) has the option of rescinding this limited registration. Remember, even if you have puppy papers from the breeder, your Golden isn’t officially registered with the AKC. You must fill out the appropriate boxes and send the form to the AKC along with the registration fee. You will get an official registration back in the mail in a few weeks. If you do not send in this form to the AKC, your puppy will not be registered. Don’t confuse the pedigree with the registration. The pedigree is the puppy’s family tree. (See “What’s a Pedigree?” later in this chapter.)

Chapter 2: Golden Opportunity—Looking for the Right Golden


Don’t accept the breeder’s word that you’ll receive the puppy papers later in the mail. You’ll have no recourse if the breeder doesn’t provide you with the papers when you purchase the puppy. Golden Glimmers
Four types of AKC registration are available to Goldens. The most common is Full Registration, which people often call the AKC “papers.” Limited Registration is full registration of the dog but specifies that none of its puppies can be registered. Breeders use this to enforce spay/neuter contracts. A third registration is the Litter Registration—often called “puppy papers” or “blue slips.” This is a temporary registration of all the puppies in a litter. The fourth is the Indefinite Listing Privilege or ILP Registration. When the dog’s purebred pedigree cannot be proven, but the dog is obviously purebred, an ILP registration enables the dog to compete in obedience, agility, and other activities, with the exception of conformation.

AKC and Other Breed Registries
I talk a lot about the American Kennel Club in this book. You may wonder whether the AKC is the only legitimate breed registry. It’s not, but it is the largest and most influential breed registry in the United States. The second biggest registry in the United States is the United Kennel Club (UKC). If your Golden Retriever is purebred and from United States stock, your Golden should be registered with one of these two registries. If you are in Canada or if your Golden comes from Canadian bloodlines, your dog may be registered with the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) or the Kennel Club (KC) of Great Britain. If your Golden is registered to a breed registry other than AKC or UKC, you should contact the Golden Retriever Club of America and ask whether the registry of the prospective puppy you’re buying is legitimate. Some puppy mills have made up their own registries to avoid having to comply with the AKC’s rules.


Part 1: Introduction to the Golden Retriever

What’s a Pedigree?
A pedigree is a fancy word for a family tree. That means every Golden (and in fact, every dog, including mutts) has one. There’s really nothing special about having a pedigree. Retriever Rewards
What’s in a name? Well, breeders are funny folk and love to give their dogs fun names. That’s why you’ll see so many weird names on pedigrees. The standard way of naming is to begin with the kennel name of the breeder, followed by another name. For example, with my own dog, Kiana, her name was Snopeak Kiana of Sky Warrior. Snopeak was the breeder’s kennel name and Kiana of Sky Warrior was the name I gave her. Often, breeders will insist that, on the dog’s registration papers, you use the name they have chosen, because they give their litters names that have meaning to them and indicate the litter’s place in their breeding program. This is your dog’s registered name, but it doesn’t have to be what you call him. Another dog I own has the name Belle’s Lachlan’s Black Dragon, but her call name is Haegl.

With registered dogs, the AKC (or in some cases, the UKC) keeps track of your Golden’s pedigree, which means you can get an official certificate that lists it. Nothing differentiates a good pedigree and a bad pedigree when it comes to the registration. That’s up to you to figure out. Just because your Golden has a five-generation pedigree doesn’t mean those ancestors were great dogs, worthy of being bred. In fact, on many pedigrees you’ll see impressivesounding names, but the dogs were products of puppy mills or worse. On a pedigree, the name of the dog, breed, and birth date appear in the top left corner. The dog’s sex, registration number, and breeder are in the upper right. You read from left to right. The dog on the top left is the sire (father); the dog on the bottom left is the dam (mother). To the right are four more names, presented in

Chapter 2: Golden Opportunity—Looking for the Right Golden


two pairs. Those are the dog’s grandparents (the male is always the top name in the pair). The two on top are the paternal grandparents; the two on the bottom are the maternal grandparents. The next row is the great-grandparents, with each grandparent’s sire and dam. And so on. But how do you tell whether this is a good pedigree? By looking at the titles next to the dogs’ names. The AKC abbreviates titles such as Champion, Field Trial Champion, and Obedience, Agility, and Tracking titles and puts them on the pedigrees. Golden Glossary
Champion Abbreviated CH or Ch. A dog that earns 15 points in conformation dog shows, including 3 points or better under two different judges. Field Trial Champion Abbreviated FC. A hunting title obtained when the dog wins either a National Championship Stake or 10 points in Open All-Age, Limited All-Age, Special All-Age, or Restricted All-Age competition.

Nature AND Nurture: Reputable Breeder = Healthy Pups
Because reputable breeders care so much for their Goldens, they consider their dogs and their puppies to be members of the family. These breeders raise their puppies in a caring and nurturing environment. Their pups are properly socialized. Although no one can predict the future, most reputable breeders will stake their reputation on their puppies. Occasionally, genetics and other factors come into play, and you’ll find a sick puppy from a reputable breeder, but the breeder is willing to make amends at that point by either replacing the puppy or offering a refund.


Part 1: Introduction to the Golden Retriever

The Contract
Ask the breeder whether he or she has a contract. The contract is your bill of sale. The AKC papers are not a bill of sale. If the breeder does not have a contract, look elsewhere. The contract is important because it protects you if something goes wrong. Every reputable breeder has a “Right of First Refusal” or “First Right of Refusal” in their contract. This means the breeder has the option of taking back the dog. However, be careful if there is only a “Right of First Refusal” in the contract, with no guarantee of doing so. Some breeders use this clause to look responsible, but they treat it as an option—namely, it simply gives them the right to take back the puppy but doesn’t guarantee that they will. A truly reputable breeder will take the Golden back under any condition and will state so in the contract. That means three weeks or three years from now, the breeder will take back the Golden if it isn’t working out. Most breeders have a limited clause on a refund, so don’t expect to get your money back after a year. In the contract, the breeder should also guarantee his puppy free from illnesses, parasites, and the hereditary defects he can screen for (no one can guarantee a puppy to be free from all hereditary defects). Again, most of these guarantees have reasonable time limits. Breeders usually require the owners to take their puppy to the vet within the first week to ensure the puppy’s health. Most breeders will replace or refund at the breeder’s discretion—small consolation if your Golden has a heart condition, and you are already attached to him. That is why it is very important to do your leg work and make certain the breeder has screened for these diseases. In the contract, a reputable breeder will stipulate that you must adequately care for the puppy and will require that you must never allow your Golden puppy to run at large. The contract should not have stud rights or requirements for breeding or showing the dog, unless this is something you’ve agreed to before seeing the contract.

Chapter 2: Golden Opportunity—Looking for the Right Golden
The contract should not have a requirement for a strange diet or extreme limitation of exercise.


If a breeder sells your Golden as a pet-quality dog, you may have a spay/neuter clause in your contract. If you are planning to show your Golden in conformation, request that the breeder remove this clause and explain why. If the puppy isn’t show quality, then the breeder may suggest another puppy or breeder. Otherwise, if your puppy is intended to be a pet, this is a normal clause, and you should spay or neuter the puppy. No Biscuit!
Some disreputable breeders will demand stud rights or have requirements for breeding in their contract. Unless this is something you’ve agreed to beforehand, don’t accept it. Furthermore, some disreputable breeders will guarantee the health of your Golden, but only with caveats such as strange diets or extreme limitation of exercise. Disreputable breeders use these clauses to nullify the contract.

Shelters and Rescue Groups
Another place to find a Golden Retriever is at the local animal shelter or “pound.” You may be surprised to hear that one out of four dogs at the pound are purebred, and many are Goldens and Golden mixes. Approximately five million pets end up in local shelters and rescue groups annually, including many young Goldens. Owners give up their dogs for a variety of reasons. Those who work in rescue have heard it all: the owners didn’t have the time; their child had allergies; the dog couldn’t be trained for whatever reason; or maybe the owners just remodeled the house and the dog didn’t fit with the décor. Whatever the reason, if the dog is in a shelter that puts down dogs it cannot place (often called a kill shelter), that dog has a good chance of being put down, especially if it is more than two years old. Puppies tend to find homes more quickly.


Part 1: Introduction to the Golden Retriever

There are positives and negatives to adopting a dog at the shelter. The biggest negative is quite often that you don’t know the dog’s history. The dog may have an unseen hereditary medical condition that may show up later. The dog may have learned bad habits from owners who didn’t take the time to properly train him. Most dogs coming from shelters don’t have their papers. This is not a place to find a conformation champion; however, the AKC will issue ILP (Indefinite Listing Privileges) numbers for dogs that look purebred. ILP dogs can compete in obedience, agility, and other sports, although not conformation. The positives of adopting a pound dog or puppy are overwhelming. For one thing, you’ve saved a life and made space for another unwanted pet to have a chance at a new home. Adult dogs are usually housetrained or can be housebroken more easily than puppies. Adult dogs can bond just as closely to their new owners as puppies, so don’t discount an adult because you’re afraid he won’t bond to you. What’s more—now you have an adult dog you can train in retrieving, agility, or other activities that puppies can’t participate in until they are fully grown. If you do have your heart set on a puppy, sometimes purebred Golden puppies are available at the pound. Many are older, but a few are from litters from backyard breeders who thought they could make a quick buck breeding their Golden Retriever and found out they could not. Another place to find Golden Retrievers is through Golden Retriever rescue. These folks are volunteers who look to place Goldens in good homes. Like reputable breeders, Golden rescue screens its applicants. They may place dogs from shelters, dogs from reputable breeders whose owners returned them, or dogs seized from puppy mills. Sometimes Golden rescue will know the history of the dogs and puppies they place. Some may actually have papers to go along with the dog.

Chapter 2: Golden Opportunity—Looking for the Right Golden


Finding the Right Golden
Finding the right Golden is a bit like finding the right mate. You need to be compatible in order to make the relationship last. A Golden Retriever is a 10- to 15-year commitment—do your leg work to be certain you find the right match. Otherwise, your Golden will end up the loser. Think about the people you like and dislike. I’m sure there were people you’ve known who were nice enough but who drove you crazy. Make sure that your new Golden’s personality isn’t one of those. For example, if you’re normally quiet, maybe a boisterous dog isn’t for you. Or if you’re always on the go, maybe an active Golden Retriever will add to the fun. Think about what you want to do with your Golden and look for the right personality.

Puppy or Adult?
Puppies are cute; there’s no doubt about it, but they’re a lot of work. Every time I get a puppy, I’m reminded just how much work they can be. Puppies need training, socialization, and attention. Puppies aren’t housebroken, which means you have to take the time to housebreak them properly. Puppies also require a series of vaccinations, check-ups, and a spay or neuter operation when they’re old enough. Puppies are also more active and naturally destructive, especially when teething. Anything is fair game to a puppy, so expect a fair amount of destructive behavior. However, most people prefer puppies to adults. Puppies are, for the most part, a “clean slate.” They haven’t learned any bad habits yet. If trained and socialized properly, most well-bred puppies turn into excellent companions. Puppies are also so cute that it’s hard to resist one.


Part 1: Introduction to the Golden Retriever

If you don’t have the time for a puppy, consider an adult dog. Most adults are housebroken and may know some obedience commands. Occasionally, reputable breeders may have an adult dog available. The Golden might be a show prospect that didn’t work out or a return from a previous litter. Many breeders will sell their adult dogs to good homes for a lower price than their puppies. On the downside, adult dogs may have learned bad habits from previous owners. You also won’t have the fun of seeing your puppy grow into an adult. However, unless there’s something seriously wrong with the adult Golden, you’ll find that he will bond just as quickly as a puppy. (The key to bonding is the amount of time you spend with a dog.) Whichever you decide, puppy or adult, your new Golden will need training and attention.

Male or Female?
Male or female is strictly a personal preference. The Golden Retriever Club of America states that no real difference exists between the personalities of a male and a female Golden Retriever. Even so, you may find differences between the sexes. Males may be larger and more boisterous. They may mark their territory with urine if not properly trained. Female Goldens may be more compliant. They are less likely to challenge you for dominance. Female Goldens are generally smaller than males. Twice a year, females go into estrus or heat if they are not spayed. During this time, your Golden will attract male dogs. It is important to keep your female Golden contained safely away from these unwanted suitors during this time. If you purchase your Golden from a reputable breeder, the breeder may select a puppy for you according to its personality, rather than sex. The puppy’s personality is more important than its

Chapter 2: Golden Opportunity—Looking for the Right Golden
color or sex when determining whether or not it is going to the right home.


Work, Show, or Pet?
What do you intend to do with your Golden Retriever? Show him in conformation shows? Work him either in hunting or retriever trials? Or maybe you’re just looking for a good all-around pet. Whatever it is, look for the right Golden for the job. Some breeders breed strictly for working or show, but some breed for multiple purposes. Ask. When you’re looking for a Golden for a specific purpose, ask what titles the puppies’ parents have obtained. I’ve never met a reputable breeder who wasn’t delighted to show you photos of the parents, grandparents, and relatives in the working or show environment. Most will haul out stacks of photo albums of their “kids” performing in the field or the ring. You may end up spending hours looking at endless photos of Goldens whose names are long with titles that are even longer! Although you may come out of the session bleary-eyed, you’ll know you’ve found someone whose Goldens are their passion and who is very proud of their dogs’ accomplishments. Both show and working lines are fine places to look for pets. But be careful! Some dogs from working lines can be more active, due to the energy needed for successful working ability. Talk with breeders to find out whether puppies from their lines are more active.

Kids and Dogs
Golden Retrievers are great with kids—up to a point. Any dog, no matter how gentle, will bite if it is scared or in pain. Too often, parents throw a dog in with the kids and are shocked when the dog bites.


Part 1: Introduction to the Golden Retriever
© Carolyn Risdon

The Golden Retriever is normally good with kids, but he must be of good temperament and well socialized. This is Doc Holiday and Anthony Green.

If you have kids, be certain that now is the right time to get a dog. A big dog such as a Golden can accidentally injure a toddler or small child by knocking him over or whapping him with its tail. Even an easygoing breed such as the Golden can bite and injure a child if the child handles the puppy roughly or hurts him unintentionally. Children must learn to respect the puppy as a living, breathing creature. At a young age, it’s hard for a child to learn the difference between a puppy and a stuffed toy. Even the most well-intentioned child can hurt a puppy or dog enough to have it bite. For this reason, never leave a child alone with a dog. No Biscuit!
Don’t expect your children to take responsibility for your Golden. Even the most responsible kids forget things, like letting the dog out or feeding him. Your new puppy needs an adult to take responsibility for its welfare. You are going to be the person responsible for training, socializing, and caring for your Golden.

Chapter 2: Golden Opportunity—Looking for the Right Golden


Two’s Company
If one Golden puppy is more fun, certainly two’s company? Right? Perhaps—if you want insanity. If you’ve owned two dogs before, then going to a multi-dog household isn’t that big of a deal. But if this is your first dog or if you’ve never owned two dogs before, watch out! Sure, they’ll keep each other company. They’ll also egg each other on. Although Goldens aren’t as dominance-oriented as other breeds—the most notable being Northern breeds such as Malamutes and Siberian Huskies—they’re still dogs, and two makes a pack. And what a pack! Twice the dogs; four times the mischief. If you already have a dog, adding a new dog may be trying. If your dog is used to being number one, you may have squabbles or even fights. Although Goldens are easygoing, the newcomer may be looked on as a threat to your first dog’s place in the pack. After all, now you’re sharing your love and attention between two dogs, and the first dog may feel neglected or left out. If your first dog is normally aggressive toward other dogs (or of a breed that is normally dog-aggressive), you may want to rethink your decision to purchase a Golden. If your Golden is a puppy, it could be seriously injured if the resident dog is large enough. Sometimes getting a Golden Retriever who is the opposite sex of the first dog helps—but not always. Dog fights can occur between dogs of the opposite sex as well as the same sex.

The Least You Need to Know
≠ Purchase your Golden Retriever only from a reputable breeder or adopt from an animal shelter or Golden Retriever rescue. ≠ Purchase a Golden puppy only from a breeder who screens the parents for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, eye diseases, and cardiac and thyroid problems.


Part 1: Introduction to the Golden Retriever

≠ Your prospective puppy’s parents should have a GOOD or EXCELLENT certification on hips from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). ≠ Your prospective puppy’s parents should have a PASS certification on eyes from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF). ≠ An adult Golden may be an option if you are too busy for a puppy. ≠ Don’t expect your kids to care for the puppy—you are the one responsible.


Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to bring a Golden into your life. Purchasing or adopting a healthy, well-adjusted Golden takes more than walking over to the local mall or looking through the newspaper. In Part 2, I discuss reputable breeders and how to choose a welladjusted puppy or adult Golden. I’ll also talk about what equipment to purchase and how to puppy-proof or dog-proof your home. Last, I’ll talk about the first few days with your new addition and about crate training and housetraining.


Selecting and Bringing Home a Golden Retriever



Retrieving the Golden Treasure
In This Chapter
≠ Finding the best Golden puppy for you ≠ Selecting an adult Golden Retriever ≠ Determining a Golden with a good personality for your family ≠ Visiting the breeder You’ve made your decision to either purchase a puppy from a reputable breeder or to obtain a Golden from a rescue group or the local shelter. Now, it’s your turn to visit the breeder or the rescue home and meet your future Golden. But not all that glitters is Golden. You need to find the right breeder and the right puppy (or, if you’re searching for an older dog, you need to find the right adoptable Golden). It’s human nature to choose the first puppy that comes along. After all, Golden puppies are adorable—who could say no to that face? But be smart about this; a healthy Golden Retriever puppy


Part 2: Selecting and Bringing Home a Golden Retriever

will be as cute and cuddly as one who has underlying health problems. The cute puppy phase lasts only a very short time—and soon you’ll have an adult Golden.

Selecting the Perfect Puppy from the Litter
You’ve found a few breeders whom you think might be reputable and have the kind of Goldens you’re looking for. Now it’s time to visit the breeder. If the puppies aren’t born, the breeder may offer to put you on a waiting list for pups. If the puppies are already born but are still too young to take home, you’ll want to see the breeder’s kennel anyway. The more you learn about the breeder and your puppy’s background, the better. Visiting the breeder is important because you’ll learn how she cares for her dogs. A conscientious breeder is going to have friendly and well-socialized dogs. The dogs should be healthy with shining coats and happy personalities and should not look scraggly or ill. If you see rows and rows of dogs who are sick, listless, or ill-kept, you may be at a puppy mill. Do not buy a puppy here. No Biscuit!
Don’t be too eager to purchase your Golden puppy from the first breeder you visit. You may make a decision you’ll later regret. Your first concern is whether the Golden puppies the breeder is selling are healthy and have good temperaments.

Breeders shouldn’t be reluctant to have you visit their kennels. All their dogs should be approachable— even big males. If the breeder tells you that the dog is mean because he’s a stud dog, you may want to reconsider purchasing a puppy from him. You can expect a female with puppies to be protective but not aggressive.

If the breeder has puppies available, look at them. Healthy puppies are everything you expect them to be: active, healthy-looking, bright-eyed, and full of energy. Sick puppies will cry, appear listless, have poor coats, runny noses, potbellies, and goopy eyes. Healthy

Chapter 3: Retrieving the Golden Treasure


puppies may be inactive when they first wake up, but they should be active after they are fully awake. If the puppies are ready to be taken home, no matter how cute they might be, don’t buy a puppy right then and there. All Golden puppies are adorable, and the next litter will steal your heart just as easily. Go over the contract, look at the health certifications (see Chapter 2), and talk with the breeder about what you are looking for in a Golden. After you decide on a breeder, let the breeder know. If the puppies aren’t born yet or if they aren’t old enough to take home, the breeder may request a deposit on one. The amount of deposit depends on the breeder. If the puppies aren’t born, the breeder may reserve a puppy of either sex or a puppy of one or the other sex. Again, that depends on the breeder.

Retriever Rewards
Healthy puppies are everything you expect them to be—active, healthy-looking, bright-eyed, and full of energy. Look for healthy puppies when you visit the breeder.

Puppy selection often depends on the breeder. Some breeders will select the puppy for you. Others will let you choose from the litter. Don’t be put off if the breeder selects the puppy or makes recommendations for which puppy might best suit you. The breeder has spent a tremendous amount of time evaluating puppies—they’ve been with the puppies ever since they were born. The breeder looks at the puppies with an eye at considering which one might best suit you. The breeder will consider you, your family, your interests, and your lifestyle. If the breeder doesn’t select a puppy for you, you may still want to ask her opinion. Ask her about the puppies’ personalities and which ones may be right for you. In most cases, you will want a puppy that is neither too dominant nor too submissive.


Part 2: Selecting and Bringing Home a Golden Retriever

When you visit the puppies, call to them. They should come to you readily. The first puppy that greets you may be more dominant, but this largely depends on where the puppies were when you called them. Puppies that visit and then go off may be independentminded. These free spirits may be difficult to train because they’re more interested in their surroundings than you. Likewise, puppies that hang back or act fearful may be too submissive. Active is good, but hyper is not. Let the puppies calm down a bit and play with them. Puppies that play very aggressively with their siblings or with you may be too dominant. At this point, with the approval of the breeder, separate each of the puppies you’re considering from their siblings and play with them. Most puppies, when separated from their littermates, may become a little nervous but as you’re playing with them will become cheerful and relaxed. Negative reactions include becoming fearful, aggressive, or overly hyper. If the puppy you’re thinking of buying exhibits any of these behaviors, look at another puppy. With the breeder’s permission, gently pick up the puppy and cradle him so that he is on his back. Some puppies will become very fearful or will struggle violently. A calm and self-assured puppy will perhaps struggle a little and then Golden Glimmers relax as you give him a tummy rub. If the puppy reacts very The breeder should have all your paperwork together. This negatively—either fearfully or should include your Golden’s aggressively—put him down.
AKC papers, copies of the parent’s certifications and AKC records, the breeder’s contract, your Golden’s pedigree, and your Golden’s health records. The breeder may include a puppy care package with samples of puppy food and a toy.

Lastly, you’ll want to check the puppy’s eyesight and hearing. Roll a ball or wave a toy in front of his face to see whether he will react. Clap your hands or snap your fingers behind his head to see whether he will turn his head

Chapter 3: Retrieving the Golden Treasure


and look or at least react. These tests aren’t scientific but may show if an eyesight or hearing problem exists.

Selecting an Adult Dog
Selecting an adult dog is a little easier. Unlike puppies, the adult Golden is basically “what you see is what you get,” unless it is an older puppy. If you can find out the adult dog’s history, do so. Talk with the owner, if you can. If the Golden has been returned to the breeder, ask why. If the dog is at a shelter or with a rescue group, sometimes the shelter or rescue group will tell you why the dog is there. Be aware that often previous owners will lie about why the dog is being returned. A typical response is “allergies” but don’t necessarily believe that the former owners returned your prospective Golden or dumped him in the shelter because someone suddenly became allergic to him. Typical reasons people relinquish their pets include behavioral problems (many easily corrected by someone willing to take the time to do so), inconvenience (the owner didn’t have time), lifestyle change or owner moving away, owner died or couldn’t afford the dog anymore, or some other reason. Having worked with a variety of rescued dogs, I can state that the former owners cause many behavioral problems seen in relinquished dogs, and that firm, consistent training eliminates most problems. Yes, some dogs that are available for adoption are untrainable or have real behavior problems. They’re out there, but they’re a rarity. Most shelter and rescue dogs make sweet pets. For safety’s sake, never adopt a dog with a known aggression problem, no matter how sorry you feel for him. Plenty of other well-adjusted Goldens are waiting for homes. Meet the Golden in a quiet room if you can. See how the Golden reacts to you. Is he cringing and fearful or friendly and outgoing?


Part 2: Selecting and Bringing Home a Golden Retriever

It’s okay for the dog to show some trepidation followed by cheerful acceptance. If the Golden continues to act fearful or submissive— or act wild and unruly—you probably don’t want this Golden. You want the dog to act friendly. Next, put the Golden on a leash and walk him. See how he reacts to you. If he knows any commands, work with him on them and see how he reacts. If you see any aggression or questionable behavior, you may want to look elsewhere.

The Least You Need to Know
≠ Reputable breeders will allow you to meet with all dogs in their kennel. ≠ Many reputable breeders will select a puppy for you based on the puppy’s personality and your lifestyle. ≠ Choose a puppy that is neither too submissive nor too dominant. ≠ Choose an adult Golden that is friendly and outgoing and responds well to you. ≠ Avoid a dog who shows any aggressive tendencies.



Puppy Preparedness— Bringing Your Golden Home
In This Chapter
≠ Selecting your Golden’s supplies ≠ Identifying safe and unsafe toys ≠ Dog- and puppy-proofing your home, backyard, and garage ≠ Containing your Golden in the backyard ≠ Bringing your puppy home from the breeder ≠ Getting a good night’s sleep In this chapter, we’ll look at what you absolutely need on hand before you bring home your Golden Retriever, plus those things that make your life much easier, whether you’re getting a puppy or an adult.


Part 2: Selecting and Bringing Home a Golden Retriever

We’ll also look at your house and how you can make it safer for— and from—your new Golden; how to bring your Golden home in the car safely; and where you need to stop first: namely, the vet.

The Bare Necessities
When most people get a dog for the first time, they don’t think about what they need to care for the dog or how much things cost. They may think that a couple of food bowls and a tennis ball is all they’ll need to keep their Golden happy. Well, yes and no. Let’s look at the bare minimum your Golden needs: ≠ Crate—Needs to be large enough for an adult Golden to stand up, lie down, and turn around comfortably. Some owners like to purchase a puppy crate, and then, as the puppy grows bigger, purchase a crate for an adult. Puppy crates are usually cheaper, with lighter-gauge wire. (See Chapter 5 for more on crates.) ≠ Bed or bedding material (should fit in the crate). ≠ Fencing or some other containment system. ≠ Water and food bowls. ≠ Premium puppy or dog food. (See Chapter 11 for more on food.) ≠ Flat collar or buckle collar (for everyday wear and identification). ≠ Identification tags. ≠ Training collar. (See Chapter 7 for more on collars.) ≠ Six-foot leather leash. ≠ Enzymatic cleaner for accidents. ≠ Slicker brush and comb. ≠ Flea comb.

Chapter 4: Puppy Preparedness—Bringing Your Golden Home
≠ Mat comb. ≠ Doggy nail clippers. ≠ Doggy toothbrush and toothpaste—not the human kind! ≠ Doggy shampoo and conditioner—not human shampoo! ≠ Treats. ≠ Chew toys. Retriever Rewards


The most cost-effective way to buy supplies is to purchase them before you bring your Golden home. If you have enough time to purchase them via the Internet or pet product mail order catalogues, you’ll save money. But be careful—some catalogues charge a lot for shipping and handling, eating up what savings you might have earned by shopping there.

Large pet supply stores may offer discounted items or may be just as expensive as a specialty shop. It depends on the item. It really does pay to comparison shop.

Bones, Chews, and Other Edible Items
You wouldn’t think that the topic of bones and chews would be controversial, but with savvy pet owners, it’s a hot topic. Someone, somewhere, has had a dog die from eating rawhide, bones, and other edible chews. If you chat with anyone on the Internet about it, you’ll get a million opinions. The truth is that if you listen to these stories, you’re likely to never give your dog a rawhide chew, bone, cow hoof, or other edible snack except biscuits. Problem is, dogs need to chew, and your Golden will choose a chair leg or your $300 shoes instead of something more appropriate. What to do?


Part 2: Selecting and Bringing Home a Golden Retriever
No Biscuit!

Someone may have told you that raw bones won’t cause any harm to dogs, whereas cooked bones will. This belief is based on the notion that wild canids eat raw bones all the time. Well, wild canids don’t live long in the wild and can’t call the local vet if they have a blockage or a perforated intestine. Feeding raw bones is perhaps slightly less risky than feeding cooked bones, but because no proof is available, it’s best to not feed your Golden bones that are sharp, small, or can be swallowed.

© Carolyn Risdon

Always provide plenty of chews for your Golden. This is Bailey.

Be aware that no toy or chew is 100 percent safe. Even my own dogs—who are aggressive chewers—have torn apart what were considered indestructible items. So talking about items such as rawhides, cow hooves, bones, and other edible chews as safe isn’t appropriate. Give bones and chews only when you can watch your Golden and be ready to take them away if your Golden is eating them too fast or tearing pieces off of them.

Chapter 4: Puppy Preparedness—Bringing Your Golden Home


The Knee Bone’s Connected to the Leg Bone …
Some bones are safer than others. Dangerous bones include (but are not limited to) T-bones, steak bones, fish bones, chicken and turkey bones, pork bones, rib bones, and any thin or sharp bone. These bones are dangerous because they can lodge in an intestine and cause a blockage, or if sharp can perforate an intestine. Both raw and cooked bones can do this, so don’t believe the folks who say that only cooked bones present a problem. Safer bones usually come from cattle and include femurs, thick marrow bones, knuckle bones, and any bone that your Golden can’t break apart and chew pieces off of. I like to freeze them before giving them to my dogs—it makes them harder and less likely to break. Still, I never leave a dog alone with a bone, and I’ll take it away if they start tearing pieces from them. I’ve heard to boil the bones, and I’ve heard to give them raw. I’m not sure which makes them tougher—authorities seem to argue about this, too. The plus side to boiling the bones is that it kills dangerous bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli. It’s up to you. Some pet supply stores offer entire flavored cow femurs or cooked knuckle bones. Again, that’s your choice. Regardless of what bones you give your Golden, always watch him. If he starts fracturing the bone or breaking off pieces, its time to take the bone away.

What about rawhide? Most Goldens love rawhide chews, but they can present a problem if eaten too fast. Rawhide has been known to cause blockages in dogs, and some dogs have choked on large pieces, so if your Golden is an aggressive chewer, you may want to watch her for a while to see whether she’s going to try to eat it all at once or if she’s going to simply chew it nicely. Don’t let your Golden eat


Part 2: Selecting and Bringing Home a Golden Retriever

a big rawhide bone in one sitting. Not only is it dangerous, but it can also cause diarrhea due to an upset digestive tract.

Cow Hooves, Pig Ears, and Other Parts
Cow hooves, pig ears, and other parts of animals are available for chewing on as well. Again, these disgustingly edible delectables can pose a problem if eaten too rapidly. Cow hooves splinter off and once they’re down to small pieces should be tossed. Pig ears, snouts, and whatever else can cause diarrhea and stomach upsets if eaten too quickly.

Edible Chews
Some new chews are made to look like bones and other items, but they are mostly cornstarch, carrots, or potatoes. They sometimes have meat flavorings and are offered as an alternative to bones. My own dogs love them, but usually one is gone in a whole sitting. I’m not thrilled about having a dog eat what was once a very hard chew like that because it causes diarrhea, and I worry about the potential for a blockage. Consequently, sometimes my dogs end up with green poop for the next several days. They’ve also thrown them up. My thought is that they probably aren’t intended to be eaten in this manner, and it could cause gastric problems. Again, it’s something that is your call.

Naturally, your Golden Retriever is going to want toys, but what toys are safe, and what toys are dangerous? It stands to reason that whatever is completely safe for your Golden Retriever, he just won’t play with. Usually these consist of hard rubber (nearly indestructible) items, nylon bones, and stuff made from hard plastic that can’t be chewed easily.

Chapter 4: Puppy Preparedness—Bringing Your Golden Home


As a general rule, anything that your Golden can chew apart is unsafe. Even certain nylon bones and rubber toys can be chewed to smaller bits and may block an intestine.
© Teresa Bullard

Get plenty of toys for your Golden. Ginger is trying to decide which one is best.

Let’s be realistic: Just like the bones and edible chews, you need to know what your Golden’s chewing habits are. Usually flimsy toys made of latex with squeakers are unsafe, so don’t get those, but if your Golden likes stuffed animals, getting a stuffed fleece man or bear with a squeaker is probably okay if you watch how your Golden plays with it. Toys, like chews, are best given under supervision. If your Golden starts tearing up the toy or breaking bits off it, take the toy away. Don’t leave your Golden alone with such toys unless you can watch him and be vigilant. Retriever Rewards
It sounds strange, but some dogs can’t stand toys with faces on them. I’ve seen dogs tear apart perfectly good stuffed toys with faces on them and leave toys alone that had no eyes or mouth. Obviously, dogs are more observant than we give them credit for. If toys with faces creep your Golden out, try giving him a toy without a face.


Part 2: Selecting and Bringing Home a Golden Retriever

Not-So-Necessary Items (but Sure Nice to Have!)
I’ve given you the basic items in the above paragraphs, but you’re going to want to buy more than that. Most of the items I’m recommending here are very useful for pet owners. ≠ Pooper-scoopers. These work better than using a shovel to pick up the ubiquitous dog poop. ≠ Poop bags. Yes, you can use supermarket bags to pick up after your Golden relieves himself while on walks, but some of those bags can have holes. I don’t want to think about the consequences of that! The prepackaged poop bags are often selfsealing and small enough to carry to the local dumpster. ≠ Groomer’s table. This is a table where you allow your Golden to stand and be groomed. They’re specially made to stand at the right height and strong enough to hold your Golden’s weight. You may think this is a luxury until you’ve thrown out your back bending over your Golden to brush and comb him. ≠ Nail grinders. This is an alternative to nail clippers that works by filing off your Golden’s nails with a rotating grinding stone. Nail clippers make some dogs scream and carry on like you were chopping off a leg. A nail grinder may be less stressful for both of you. ≠ Blow dryer for dogs. Okay, I know what you’re thinking—a blow dryer? Actually, they’re useful in the winter to dry your Golden off quickly. Blow dryers made for dogs are forced air only. They will not burn a dog’s tender skin the way hair dryers for humans can. ≠ Kennel run. A run made of chain link fencing. May be movable or permanent. If you have a fenced-in backyard, this may be extraneous; however, it may save your garden and lawn. If you don’t have a fenced-in backyard, a kennel run is a necessity.

Chapter 4: Puppy Preparedness—Bringing Your Golden Home
≠ X-pen or exercise Pen. This is a wire pen that you can set up anywhere to contain your Golden. You will need one tall enough to contain an adult Golden.


Puppy and Dog Food—Do’s and Don’ts
You may be surprised to learn that canine nutrition is a somewhat controversial topic. Everyone has their opinion when it comes to dog food—whether it’s actually healthy at all for your dog and what kinds of foods are best. Well-meaning people will tell you that you need to feed raw foods, raw bones, cooked meals, foods without preservatives, foods with natural preservatives, or something with yucca, blue-green algae, or probiotics. Don’t listen to hype—get the facts. Dog food has come a long way even in 10 years. Dog food nutritionists have done extensive research on what is the optimal nutrition for your Golden. When Golden Glossary choosing a dog food, the package AAFCO The Association should say that it meets the of Animal Feed Control nutritional standards set forth by Officials. This is a regulatory AAFCO. If it does not, then it committee that sets the standards cannot be considered a complete for pet nutrition. and balanced food for your pet. Choose a high-quality, premium dog or puppy food for your Golden Retriever. At the same time, you will want to select a dog food from a recognizable manufacturer. You don’t want to have to drive across town to find your Golden’s food because the local pet boutique ran out of it. If your dog is under one year of age, feed a premium puppy food; otherwise feed a premium adult maintenance food. If you purchase your puppy from a reputable breeder, the breeder often will include a sample of the puppy food he or she


Part 2: Selecting and Bringing Home a Golden Retriever

is currently feeding the puppy. If it is a high-quality food, you may wish to continue feeding it to your puppy. Otherwise, you may want to switch your Golden’s food over to a food you prefer. When you switch your Golden’s food, do so gradually to avoid stomach upset. What constitutes a premium pet food? Aren’t all dog foods the same? Actually, they’re not. Premium pet foods usually have betterquality ingredients—they have a greater nutritional value and are highly digestible—meaning that you feed less and scoop up less when cleaning up the backyard. So how do you figure out which foods are premium? Price is often one way. The better foods use better ingredients, and they cost more. This is balanced by the fact that you generally feed your dog less of a premium food, because the nutrients are more highly concentrated. You should also read dog food labels. However, pet food labels can be deceiving. Many lower-cost dog foods tout the same protein and fat percentages as premium dog foods. The problem is that lowercost foods often have indigestible protein or protein that is poorly metabolized. Some low-cost foods use soy or other plant proteins to increase the protein percentage in the guaranteed analysis. (More on the guaranteed analysis in Chapter 11.) Golden Glossary
Meat by-products The nonrendered, clean parts other than muscle meat, from slaughtered mammals. It includes all organs and defatted fatty tissues. It does not include stomach or intestine contents, hair, horns, teeth, and hooves. Meat meal Meat from which the water and fat have been extracted. If the label says “chicken meal,” then the meal must be made from chickens.

Most veterinary nutritionists will tell you that meat is a far better protein source than soy. One look at your Golden’s teeth should confirm it—dogs are carnivores. The plant material that wolves and wild

Chapter 4: Puppy Preparedness—Bringing Your Golden Home
dogs eat is typically predigested material in a prey animal’s gut. This is why a high-quality source of meat protein is important. Choose a dog food that has as its first ingredient an animal protein source. This can be chicken, meat, fish, a type of meat meal (chicken meal), a by-product (chicken by-products, for example), or a by-product meal. Golden Glimmers


By-products are an excellent protein source for dogs. Although you or I don’t like the idea of chowing down on livers, hearts, and lungs, your Golden will love it. Byproducts provide good digestible protein and excellent nutrition—not to mention that they are often more palatable than just muscle meat.

Puppy-Proofing 101
Puppies are inquisitive little critters. They love to explore. Unfortunately, puppies use their mouths like hands, and anything that a puppy puts in its mouth is fair game to chew and swallow. They’ll chew on furniture legs, electrical cords, or carpeting. Outside, many puppies pick up an affinity for landscape rock. I’ve known one puppy to chew on bricks and car tires. The best way to keep a puppy from being destructive is to not give him the opportunity. Limit your Golden’s exposure to mischief, and he will be the perfect puppy. Leave him home alone, and you’ve just told the puppy, “Here’s your toys—have a ball.” Retriever Rewards
Tape the phone numbers for your veterinarian, local poison control center, and a 24-hour emergency vet to your phone. That way, if there is an emergency, you’ll have the numbers handy.

The house is the main place where your Golden will spend his time. That means he’ll have ample opportunity to get into trouble.


Part 2: Selecting and Bringing Home a Golden Retriever

If you’ve never owned a dog before, you may be amazed at what a dog can get into and what kind of damage he can do. In many respects, puppy- and dog-proofing is a lot like childproofing one’s home. Only a puppy is far more destructive than a child. I’ve had puppies tear up carpet and chew it, tear down drapes, eat drywall, and gobble parts of a recliner. I swear those cute puppy eyes exist as a survival technique to keep you from killing him after he’s trashed your house. Decide now where you’ll allow your Golden and where you won’t. Use baby gates or other barriers to cordon off areas that are off limits. Choose one or two rooms as “puppy areas” and expand as your Golden becomes more reliable. Many breeders recommend X-pens— these are fold-up wire pens that can expand to any size space. No Biscuit!
There are a lot of rumors on the Internet about certain household products being deadly to pets. Among those products are Febreze®, and Swiffer WetJet®. The rumors go something like, “So-and-so’s dog died of liver failure.” I’m happy to report that the rumors are false when the products are used as directed. In fact, the company that makes both products (Proctor and Gamble) has issued statements saying that these products are safe around kids and pets. The ASPCA also issued a statement saying that these products are safe when used as directed. There are products that are unsafe to use around pets, so if you have concerns, contact the manufacturer directly (most have toll-free numbers) or visit their websites.

If you haven’t done your spring cleaning, do so now—even if it’s winter. Anything that is small, that can be chewed and swallowed, that is poisonous, that can fall on a dog, that is sharp, or that can break should be kept out of reach of your Golden. That’s quite a list, but Golden Retrievers aren’t for the timid. Hide electrical cords, put away tempting items like candy and chocolate, and keep anything

Chapter 4: Puppy Preparedness—Bringing Your Golden Home


breakable out of reach. Get on all fours and look at your home from a dog’s-eye view. Some things that don’t appear tempting from a human level are tempting to a dog. Here’s a partial list of items to look for when puppy-proofing your house: ≠ Batteries. ≠ Candles, scented oils, scented air fresheners. ≠ Children’s toys. ≠ Dental floss. ≠ Drape cords—may hang a puppy. ≠ Electrical cords. ≠ Garbage pail. ≠ Glass knickknacks. ≠ Household cleaners. ≠ Houseplants—many are poisonous. ≠ Kitchen knives. ≠ Medications, including ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin. ≠ Mouse and rat poisons; roach and ant baits; insecticides. ≠ Paper shredder. ≠ Pennies, coins. ≠ Pens, paper, and other small items that may be chewed or swallowed. ≠ Plates and glasses. ≠ Poisonous foods, including chocolate, onions, raisins, grapes, and alcohol. ≠ Sewing needles, craft kits.


Part 2: Selecting and Bringing Home a Golden Retriever

≠ Shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, toothpaste. ≠ Socks, other clothing items. ≠ String, rubber bands, paper clips. ≠ Suntan lotion. ≠ Vitamins. ≠ Woodstove, stove, furnaces.

The garage is a particularly hazardous place for your Golden Retriever. You should not allow your Golden in the garage because of all the potential poisons and dangerous substances there. Radiators leak, causing the potential for antifreeze poisoning, but there are other poisons in the garage including windshield washing fluid, which is just as dangerous as antifreeze. Although motor oil and transmission fluids aren’t deadly if consumed alone, they can be if mixed with antifreeze. Motor oil and transmission fluid alone will cause severe gastric upsets. Other poisonous items include rat and mouse poisons, insecticides, No Biscuit! herbicides, and fertilizers. Most people know
that antifreeze is poisonous to pets, but did you know windshield wiper fluid is just as poisonous? Keep both the windshield wiper fluid and antifreeze away from your Golden.

Hardware poses a hazard as well. Nails, screws, washers, and nuts can be swallowed. Sharp items such as saws can cut your Golden. Trash cans are always a temptation.

Backyard Blues
If you haven’t put up a fence or some kind of containment system for your Golden, do so now. Your Golden deserves to be safe and happy.

Chapter 4: Puppy Preparedness—Bringing Your Golden Home
Allowing your dog to run loose is irresponsible, at best. At worst, he’s a nuisance and a danger to both himself and others.


In the city and suburbs, the chance for your dog to be hit by a car is very good. You’ll find even the most streetwise mutts dead in a ditch. A motorist could also get in an accident trying to avoid hitting the dog. Loose dogs run in packs, getting into neighbors’ garbage, becoming aggressive toward people and children, and attacking and killing other people’s pets.
© Carolyn Risdon

Always supervise your Golden with any babies, toddlers, and young children. This is Rico and Anthony Green.

In the country, dogs routinely harass and kill livestock and valuable game animals. In many rural areas, it is legal for farmers, ranchers, and game wardens to shoot stray dogs. Dogs often tangle with skunks, porcupines, and raccoons. The chance of contracting rabies is greater with a loose dog. And many stray dogs provide a local food source for coyotes and mountain lions. It’s not kind to let a dog run loose. Your Golden will be happier and healthier safe at home, enjoying your company. If you feel


Part 2: Selecting and Bringing Home a Golden Retriever

you don’t have time to exercise your Golden, perhaps you should reconsider your choice to own a dog. The best containment system is a six-foot fence or a kennel run. Shorter fences will work for puppies, but adolescent dogs with Houdini-like antics can jump over four-foot fences. Invisible fences and pet containment systems will work provided that the owner properly trains the dog. These systems will not work without proper training. Don’t turn your puppy loose in your yard and expect it to work. Another problem is that an excited dog can run through the wire and then can’t get back in without receiving a shock. This gives him no incentive to return where he belongs. Golden Glimmers
A Houdini dog is made, not born. Most Goldens are content to be homebodies. People create Houdini dogs in two ways: 1) by putting up inferior barriers, and 2) by not giving their Goldens enough to do. Houdini dogs are typically smart dogs that are bored. Their owners put up an inferior barrier, and the dog figures a way around it. The owner ups the barrier slightly, and the dog figures another way around. It becomes a game of one-upmanship. Foil the Houdini dog by putting up good fences and giving him plenty of activities.

The downside to electronic pet containment systems is that these systems do nothing to keep other dogs or people out. Your Golden may be at the mercy of loose dogs and other potential threats. If you have an intact female, the invisible fence will not deter unwanted suitors. After you’ve solved your containment system problem, the next step is to look for potential hazards in the backyard. Contact your local poison control center or state agricultural office for a listing of possible poisonous plants in your area. Many ornamental plants and trees are poisonous. Although some mushrooms are benign, it’s best to treat all mushrooms as poisonous and remove them.

Chapter 4: Puppy Preparedness—Bringing Your Golden Home


Plants aren’t the only hazard in your backyard. Many puppies and some dogs enjoy ingesting landscaping rock, which can cause a serious obstruction. Chemicals and fertilizers put on your lawn can be absorbed through the skin or licked off paw pads. Sharp edging can cut paws. High decks can present a falling hazard. Pools present a special hazard to dogs because of the slick sides. (Not having hands to grasp and pull themselves out is a problem.) If you have a pool, you need to teach your Golden how to get out of it properly. When in the pool, your Golden needs to be trained to swim to the shallow end and to the stairs where he can walk out. Never leave your Golden alone in the pool or where he can get to the pool, and keep him away from any pools he can’t walk out of.
© Carolyn Risdon

You’ll need to teach your Golden how to get out of the pool safely. This is Brandy.

No Biscuit!
The pods from the Black Locust tree are deadly if ingested. These pods are indistinguishable from the Honey Locust tree, which is harmless. Even experts have a hard time distinguishing between these two trees. If you have one in your yard, be certain that the pods won’t fall in an area where your Golden will be.


Part 2: Selecting and Bringing Home a Golden Retriever

Bringing Puppy Home
You’ll need to take some time off to spend with your Golden Retriever when you bring him home. Until he gets the hang of the routine in your house, you can expect a topsy-turvy life for a few days—if not a few weeks—until you both figure out a good routine. If you can’t take time off, consider picking up your Golden on a Friday so that you have the entire weekend to spend with your new pet. Don’t bring a new addition home around Christmas or the holidays. Quite often, the holidays are too hectic to spend enough time with your puppy, and there’s a lot of mischief to get into around that time.
© Carolyn Risdon

Christmas puppies aren’t necessarily a good idea. This is Brandy, who discovered the wrapping paper.

Bring a crate when you go to the breeder’s to pick up your Golden. Even if you’re bringing someone along, bring a travel crate to carry your new pet home. A loose puppy is dangerous in the car. The puppy can slip from the passenger’s arms and get underfoot or worse.

Chapter 4: Puppy Preparedness—Bringing Your Golden Home


First Stop: The Veterinarian
Your first stop should be at the veterinarian to be certain your Golden is in good health. Make an appointment with the veterinarian ahead of time so that you can bring your puppy to the clinic right from the breeder’s home. The veterinarian may want a stool sample, so bring a plastic baggie along in case the opportunity to collect one arises. Give the vet your Golden’s health record. The veterinarian should examine your Golden for any problems and vaccinate him. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations regarding vaccinations and other health issues.

Don’t Have a Puppy Surprise Party
Bringing your new pet home can be exciting, but also a little scary. Plan to keep the excitement to a minimum. When you come home, give your Golden a chance to relieve himself. In the excitement, he may forget to, so walk him on a leash until he calms down. Then bring him inside. Don’t have everyone crowd around him all at once. That can be scary. Instead, have your Golden explore his new environment. Then, have your family members greet your new pet—one at a time. Give your Golden a chance to settle down. Don’t introduce other family pets just yet. This environment is new, and your Golden needs time to adjust to it. Naturally, your Golden will be sniffing all over. But if he sniffs and circles, or looks like he may squat, bring him outside on a leash. If he has an accident, usher Retriever Rewards
Put your Golden’s crate in your bedroom when you both go to sleep. If your Golden cries, your presence will reassure him. You can also rap on the crate and tell him, “No! Quiet!” without leaving your bed.


Part 2: Selecting and Bringing Home a Golden Retriever

him out quickly and clean the area with soap and water, followed by white vinegar and water or enzymatic cleaner. It will take some time for your Golden to become used to you and your family. Use the next several days to teach your Golden your routine.

Introductions to Other Family Pets
If your other pet is a dog, the best thing to do is introduce them in a neutral place. Usually a park works well. You and another family member or friend should bring the pets to the park on leash. Walk up to each other and let them sniff and greet each other. If either dog shows any sign of aggression, correct it immediately. Otherwise, if your dogs are being friendly, allow them to play, but be watchful for any sign of aggression. If your dogs show any aggression, you may have to keep them separate for a while. This means keeping them crated when you can’t watch them. Have supervised play sessions and correct any aggressive behavior. If your other dog is aggressive toward your Golden, you may have to consult an animal behaviorist. If your Golden is a young puppy, you may introduce him to the cat by letting the cat wander in and meet the puppy on his own terms. If your Golden is an adult, you may want to keep the cat in another part of the house so your Golden can become used to the cat’s scent. Then introduce your Golden to the cat, by keeping the Golden on leash. Correct any aggressive behavior and offer your Golden treats to focus his attention away from the cat. Reward good behavior.

Chapter 4: Puppy Preparedness—Bringing Your Golden Home


© Carolyn Risdon

Introduce your Golden to your cat slowly. This is Rico and Patches the cat.

How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep
After you bring your Golden home, you may discover that for the first few nights you’re in for a rude awakening—or rather, you may not even get enough sleep to be awakened. Puppies cry, fuss, and carry on—and even adult dogs may. Suddenly that cute little fuzz ball is now a demon dog. What to do? What will ensure a good night’s sleep (okay, I’m lying—at least a partial night’s sleep) is to wear out the little pup before you go to bed. That means play with him until he gets a bit tired and then take him out to relieve himself. When he’s done, bring him to your bedroom, put him in his crate, and you go to bed, too. If he’s tired, he’ll go straight to sleep. You can now go to sleep, too, but be aware that he’ll probably wake you up in a few hours whining to go outside. So, as the scouts say, be prepared. Take him outside when he cries and then bring him back inside for a sip of water and back to bed.


Part 2: Selecting and Bringing Home a Golden Retriever

If your Golden fusses while in his crate (and you’re positive that he doesn’t have to relieve himself), you can try giving him a hot water bottle filled with warm water (wrapped in a towel) to lie against and place a ticking clock above his crate (with the alarm shut off). The warmth might simulate his littermates, and the ticking might be reassuring enough to get him to fall asleep. I’ve never done this, so I don’t know whether it works, but plenty of experts have recommended it over the years, and if it works for you, great! Eventually, your Golden will get the hang of the new routine, and both of you will be getting a good night’s sleep.

The Least You Need to Know
≠ Purchase your Golden’s supplies before you bring your dog home, so you aren’t rushing around at the last minute. ≠ Many toys made for dogs are unsafe. Choose toys that are nearly indestructible, such as hard rubber or nylon, until you know your Golden’s chewing habits, and never leave your dog alone with a toy. ≠ The only bones that are relatively safe are cow marrow bones and knuckle bones. Even these can be unsafe. Never leave your dog alone with a bone or chew. ≠ Puppy-proofing requires that you remove all tempting items from the puppy’s reach including electrical cords, medications, clothing, breakable items, and small items that can be chewed and swallowed. ≠ Don’t keep your Golden in the garage; there are too many poisonous and dangerous things there. Backyard hazards include swimming pools and tall decks; keep these cordoned off. ≠ Your Golden needs a fenced-in backyard or a kennel run. Don’t allow your Golden to run loose!


Training your Golden requires knowledge of dog behavior. To understand dog behavior, you must understand wolf behavior. Dogs, like wolves, are pack animals. Dogs understand hierarchy and respect it. In Part 3, I’ll show you the basics of how to be “top dog” to your Golden. Many people decide to take on training their dog by themselves. In this part I discuss the disadvantages to going it alone and give you tips for selecting the right dog trainer. I also show you how to teach your Golden the basic commands and give you the secrets that every dog trainer knows.


Dog Training 101



Crates and Housetraining
In This Chapter
≠ Why crates aren’t cruel ≠ What types of crates are available? ≠ Crate training puppies and older dogs ≠ Alternatives to crates ≠ Housetraining puppies and older dogs ≠ Cleaning up accidents Housetraining (commonly called housebreaking) is the one training you must do right. Your Golden may never learn a proper Sit or Down and still be a happy pet, but if your Golden is constantly using your home as his toilet, you’re not going to put up with that for long. Housetraining takes time. It’s not something a Golden puppy can learn in a week (despite the claims of some books), although an adult may be more reliable.


Part 3: Dog Training 101

In this chapter, you’ll learn about crates and housetraining, why crates aren’t cruel, and how they help with housetraining.

The crate is perhaps one of the greatest tools a pet owner can have. Unfortunately, it’s also the most misunderstood. People who don’t own dogs see a dog in a crate and think that it’s cruel, but nothing could be further from the truth. To the professional dog trainer, the crate is a way of containing a dog and keeping him safe and out of mischief. To the dog, the crate feels like a comfortable den. But crate training isn’t just a matter of popping your Golden in a crate. You need to train your Golden to use it properly. Both puppies and older dogs can benefit from crate training.
© Carolyn Risdon

Your Golden looks at his crate as a safe place— a den, not a cage. This is Bo.

Chapter 5: Crates and Housetraining


Trainers use crates to housetrain dogs and to teach dogs good manners. Dogs and puppies become model pets when they don’t learn bad habits such as destructive behavior and chewing inappropriate items. Crates come in a variety of materials and sizes. When you choose a crate, choose one with a good locking mechanism— preferably with two latches. You can choose either wire or plastic. If you choose wire, choose one with a heavy enough gauge so that your Golden can’t chew through it. If you purchase a plastic travel crate, be sure that it meets the FAA requirements for airline travel, in case you ever fly with your Golden. Some very lightweight crates are made from fabric and PVC pipe. Do not purchase these, because they are intended for obedience-trained dogs and are only to be used for a very brief time. The crate will be a training tool for your Golden for housetraining and a place to confine him when you can’t watch him and don’t trust him 100 percent while he’s still learning the house rules. You don’t want to confine your Golden in a crate more than four hours at a time when he’s a puppy and no more than nine hours when an adult. The crate should be large enough for an adult Golden to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably in. You’ll have to block a portion of the crate off because if it’s too big, the puppy will relieve himself in it. (Remove the barrier after your Golden gets big enough.) If you want, you can purchase a smaller puppy crate (usually fairly inexpensive) and then Golden Glimmers purchase an adult crate as your Golden gets older. Crates simulate the den in the Your Golden’s crate will be his spot when you can’t watch him. It’ll be a safe place for him when workmen come in and out of your house and accidentally leave the
wild. All dogs have a denning instinct. Your Golden Retriever will be happier if he has a den all his own.


Part 3: Dog Training 101

doors open. It’ll be a place where your Golden stays if he trembles at thunder or the Fourth of July fireworks.

Why Crate Training Is NOT Cruel
When uninformed people see dogs in crates, the first thing they think is “How cruel!” But they are anthropomorphizing their feelings. The dog in the crate is probably thinking “I’m in a strange, scary place—glad I’m in my crate!” The crate is a safe place— reassuring like a child’s blanket. Wolves, coyotes, foxes, and other wild dogs generally don’t sleep outdoors (except maybe to nap in the sun). The wild is a dangerous place—being caught in the open could mean death. This is why wolves and other wild canids sleep in dens. Dens aren’t very roomy. They’re usually close in to trap the wolf’s body heat during cold weather. The wolf will seek shelter there if the weather is inclement or if there is danger. Think of the wolf’s den when you see the crate. Most dogs are content to lie in it without much of a fuss. In many cases, it’s safer than leaving your Golden to roam the house, looking for items to chew. I’ve had dogs lie in their crates snoozing away while the crate doors were open. I’ve had dogs hide in their crates during severe thunderstorms. If my dogs truly hated their crates, they wouldn’t rush into them so readily. Most dogs do extremely well with crate training. A few older dogs that have not been crate trained may have some difficulties adjusting. Usually, with proper training, this isn’t an issue.

Alternatives to Crates
Unfortunately, not too many alternatives to crates are available. There’s a reason why so many trainers use them—they work.

Chapter 5: Crates and Housetraining


One alternative is the X-pen, or exercise pen. The X-pen is like a large, open-air crate that many dogs can either jump, climb, or knock down. A big Golden has no problems scaling one of these. Another problem with X-pens is that they may not be small enough to aid in housetraining. Your Golden may learn to soil a small corner of the X-pen, thus foiling any attempts to housetrain him.
© Carolyn Risdon

You can sometimes cordon off a small space in lieu of a crate, but it’s not as effective. This is Bo.

Another alternative is confining your Golden to a small room in the house. However, this does not prevent your Golden from chewing up anything inside the room. Unless the room is tiny, you may have the same problems housetraining your Golden that an X-pen would pose.


Part 3: Dog Training 101

Crate Training 101
So how do you begin crate training? First, select a place where you’ll put the crate—preferably in a spot not far from activity in the house. You’ll have to move your puppy’s crate into your bedroom at night, so you might want to have two crates to avoid this. Feed your Golden’s meals in his crate. Toss his treats into the crate so he must go in and eat them. Give him his chews in the crate. Have him associate the crate with good things. While he’s eating, close the door for a while. Then, open it again and let him out when you can watch him. When you want him to go into his crate, toss a treat in and then close the door when he goes inside. Some puppies will fuss. If you give him a nice marrowbone, he may not even notice that the crate door is closed. It’s very important to have your Golden sleep in your bedroom, as it will help him bond to you. At bedtime, bring your puppy’s crate to the bedroom and put him in for the night. He may cry—if this is his first night away from home. You can try the old “hot water bottle and clock trick” (see end of Chapter 4) or you can just rap on his crate and tell him to be quiet.

No Biscuit!
Have your Golden sleep in your bedroom—but not in your bed! If your Golden sleeps in your bed, you have made him into an equal, and he may later challenge you for dominance.

Crate Training for Older Dogs
Crate train an older Golden Retriever as you would a puppy. Feed him his meals in his crate, toss treats into his crate to get him to go in, and give him chews in his crate.

Chapter 5: Crates and Housetraining
Occasionally, you’ll find an adult dog resistant to crate training, but this is rare. If your adult Golden has trouble adjusting to his crate, consider a crate alternative or seek the help of a professional trainer. Golden Glimmers


Carry poop bags whenever you walk your Golden. Nobody likes stepping in it, and in many cities you’re required to pick up after your dog.

Housetraining 101
Housetraining is your first big challenge in owning a dog. There is, however, good news. No dog likes to soil his bed, and Goldens are no exception. You can use this natural instinct to your advantage. When you release your Golden from his crate, the very first thing you should do is put him outside. Don’t delay, because I guarantee the first thing your Golden is going to do is relieve himself on your floor. The choice is yours. When you open that crate door, whisk your Golden outside to where you want him to go. You won’t have to wait long. Now praise him! Tell him that he’s the best Golden in the universe and give him a treat, if you want.
© Carolyn Risdon

When you let your Golden out of her crate, usher her outside immediately so she can relieve herself. This is Amber.


Part 3: Dog Training 101

Wow! you’re thinking. That’s it? Well, yes and no. That’s the basics to housetraining your Golden. Every time after you feed him, play with him, and take him out of his crate, you need to rush him right outside and praise him when he “does his thing.” You also need to put him outside right before he goes to bed at night. Keeping a schedule of no longer than four hours between potty breaks will help immensely. (And yes, you can’t expect a puppy younger than six months to hold it for more than four hours.) Retriever Rewards
What do you do if you live in the city? Well, the bad news is, you still have to take your Golden out for a walk first thing in the morning, after meals, after playtime, and before bedtime. This may seem pretty daunting, especially in the winter or when it’s raining. All I can recommend is that you grab your raingear before you head out.

Housetraining Don’ts
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad advice and bad common knowledge out there when it comes to housetraining. For example, many people still believe that the best way to housebreak a puppy is to rub his nose in it or whack him with a rolled-up newspaper. Such training is barbaric at best. If people were to do that to their kids, we would consider it child abuse. Here are the things you shouldn’t do when housetraining your Golden: ≠ Don’t paper-train him. It teaches him that it’s okay to relieve himself in the house. ≠ Don’t litter-box train him. Your Golden will be too big to use the litter box when he’s an adult. ≠ Don’t hit your Golden. Not even with a rolled-up newspaper.

Chapter 5: Crates and Housetraining
≠ Don’t rub his nose in it. What are you trying to teach your Golden? You’re trying to teach him not to go in the house— not that you’re a mean person! ≠ Don’t scream or yell. You can’t train a dog that’s terrified of you. ≠ Don’t correct if it’s diarrhea. Your Golden really couldn’t help it. ≠ Don’t make your Golden hold it for more than nine hours if an adult and no more than four hours if a puppy. This is really unfair to your Golden.


Retriever Rewards
You can teach your Golden to go potty on command. When you walk him or bring him outside, use the words Go potty while he is relieving himself. He’ll associate those words with the act of relieving himself. This is very useful when it’s cold or raining, and you want him to go potty quickly.

Housetraining Do’s
Here are the things you should do when housetraining your Golden: ≠ Put your Golden on a schedule. This will make it easier for him to hold it. ≠ Let your Golden out after feeding and playing. ≠ Put your Golden in a crate when you can’t watch him. This will prevent him from going in the house behind your back until he’s housebroken. Don’t leave him in there all day— no more than four hours when younger than six months and no more than nine hours when six months or older. ≠ If your Golden starts circling or squats, whisk him outside. Praise him when he goes outside. ≠ Teach your Golden to go potty on command.


Part 3: Dog Training 101
No Biscuit!

Forget all those fancy rug cleaners—they won’t do a bit of good to clean your carpet if they can’t remove the odors your Golden can smell. Use a good pet enzymatic cleaner made to eliminate pet odor or use white vinegar and water.

Uh-oh! What to Do with Accidents
What do you do if your Golden makes a mistake in the house? Well, it’s going to happen. What you need to do is minimize it. This requires that you maintain a schedule of when you let him out and watch him like a hawk when he’s out of his crate. If he starts sniffing around or circling, it’s time to put him out pronto. When you catch your little guy in the act, you’ll probably screech loudly. That’s fine—a “No! No!” will suffice. Usher the little guy outside and praise him when he finishes his business out there. Then come back in and clean up the mess. What if you find a “present” for you on the floor? Trainers are somewhat in disagreement here. Some say you shouldn’t punish him; others say you should. Some say you can punish but only if the poop is warm. Well, I don’t believe in checking the poop so thoroughly, so I’ll give you my own compromise—the straight poop, if you will. I show my dogs the mess and tell them how bad they are. I don’t yell or scream; I just show it to them. Then, I pick up the mess, put it outside, and then put them outside to do their business. This seems to work with both adults and puppies. Use an enzymatic cleaner to clean up the mess and remove the odor. Don’t use household cleaning supplies—many contain ammonia, which will emphasize any urine smells. I recommend Nature’s Miracle®, but there are also some other effective brands.

Chapter 5: Crates and Housetraining
If you’re out of enzymatic cleaner—and this usually occurs at 11 P.M., when the pet supply stores are closed—you can clean the mess up with soap and water and follow it up with white vinegar and water.


The Least You Need to Know
≠ Crates are useful training tools that help with preventing destructive behavior and housebreaking. ≠ Crates are not cruel. A crate simulates a wolf or wild dog’s den and becomes a safe haven for your Golden. ≠ You can housebreak your Golden by putting him on a schedule. ≠ Don’t paper-train your Golden—that will lead to further housebreaking problems. ≠ Don’t rub your puppy’s nose in his poop. Instead, show him the mess, tell him “bad dog,” and put both him and the mess outside. ≠ You can teach your Golden to relieve himself on command by giving him a command word each time he goes, such as Go potty. ≠ Clean up messes using a special enzymatic cleaner formulated for cleaning up after dogs or, in a pinch, use soap and water, followed by white vinegar and water.



Gold Star—Professional Training
In This Chapter
≠ Should you look for a professional trainer, or train your Golden by yourself? ≠ How do you find the right trainer for your Golden? ≠ Are obedience training classes important? ≠ What other training classes can you and your Golden take? When we think about training our dogs, we often think we should do it ourselves. We hire someone else to cut our hair, teach our kids, and fix our plumbing. We can’t be experts in everything, so why do we think we’re dog trainers? There’s no shame in admitting you’re not a dog trainer. That’s why there are many reputable trainers out there who know the latest and most effective training methods. In this chapter, we’ll look at finding a trainer and what training classes are available. We’ll also


Part 3: Dog Training 101

look at other training classes that specialize in getting your dog ready for competition.

Should You Train Your Golden by Yourself?
Owning a well-trained dog is a joy; owning an unruly dog is annoying. Think back on an unruly dog you saw at the dog park or on the street. Was he dragging his owner around and barking at people? Was he in your face or hyper? Did you enjoy the experience? Chances are, you didn’t. It wasn’t the dog’s fault he was poorly trained—it was the owner’s. Unfortunately, well-trained dogs are in the minority. Training your Golden Retriever isn’t brain surgery, but it does require a certain talent and a fair amount of experience. Most poorly trained dogs were not trained by professional trainers; they were trained by people who either thought they could do just as well training the dog themselves—or didn’t bother to train their dog at all. If you’ve trained a dog before and were satisfied with the results, great! But if you’ve never trained a dog, didn’t quite get it right the last time, or perhaps thought you could use some advice, then be honest with yourself and find a trainer. Hiring a trainer to train your Golden is nothing to be ashamed of. If you do decide to try to teach your Golden, this book will help you (see Chapters 7–9), but it’s a little like someone trying to learn how to be a doctor through a correspondence course. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t like the results. Still, if you’re determined to try, this book will give you the foundation for training your Golden. Be aware that at any time, you can seek out a professional trainer.

Chapter 6: Gold Star—Professional Training


Looking for the Right Trainer
So what kind of trainer is right for your Golden Retriever? Many types of trainers are available—some good, some not so good. Many old-fashioned trainers are still out there—the kind who believe in negative reinforcement and punishment to train a dog. There are also a good many positive reinforcement trainers who will not and cannot use the word “no.” Then there are trainers who use a mixture of both methods. Golden Glossary
Negative reinforcement A training technique that corrects the dog for behaving in the incorrect manner. It is a form of operant conditioning, but most positive trainers try to avoid this technique. Positive reinforcement A training technique that rewards the dog for behaving in the correct manner. It is a form of operant conditioning that uses little, if any, coercion or punishment. Both owners and dogs enjoy this kind of training.

You want to find a trainer who uses mostly positive training methods. Very little, if any, harsh commands or corrections should be used. Instead, you should see effective training techniques that train the owners to train their dogs. How do you find a reputable dog trainer? Talk to your dogowning friends, your Golden’s breeder, and your veterinarian. Many will have recommendations for trainers in your area. You can also find trainers by talking to people who compete in conformation, obedience, and agility dog shows. Most have recommendations. Golden Glimmers
A good dog trainer will teach you how to train your Golden. The best trainers focus on the bond between you and your Golden Retriever.


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If you’re unable to obtain recommendations, you may want to check the telephone directory under Dog Trainers. Contact your local humane society or shelters—some offer low-cost classes. Some community colleges and pet supply stores also offer obedience classes, but be careful! Bargain trainers are often no bargain. The trainer should be happy to show you her facility. Ask her what titles she has put on her dogs. She should be able to show you ribbons and photos of dogs she has shown in obedience and other canine sports.

Training Classes Available
Some facilities may have several trainers and may have a variety of training classes available. Many classes will be basic obedience geared toward the beginner. Some classes for competitive obedience may be offered. Classes in advanced training such as agility, tracking, herding, and hunting also may be offered.

Puppy Kindergarten
Puppy Kindergarten, also called Puppy KPT, is for puppies under the age of six months. In these classes, you socialize your Golden puppy with other puppies who are about the same age. The trainer will also help you train your puppy in rudimentary commands such as Sit and Down.

Retriever Rewards
If the trainer you talk to won’t let you watch his class for fear that you will steal his secrets, look elsewhere. There are no secrets in dog training.

Beginning Obedience
Beginning Obedience usually takes up after Puppy Kindergarten. In Beginning Obedience, the trainer teaches the owner to train the dog in the basic commands: Sit, Down, Heel, Stay, Stand, and Come.

Chapter 6: Gold Star—Professional Training


Sometimes this is a training class similar to a novice-level competitive obedience class, but this class is intended for training dogs with no experience in obedience.
© Carolyn Risdon

A Golden puppy can benefit from puppy kindergarten or puppy KPT. This is three-month-old Amber.

Novice is a class aimed toward owners who want to compete in obedience. In Novice, the owner learns the basic test for the Novice level of competition: Heeling on leash, figure-8s, Sit, Down, Stand-Stay, Down-Stay, Sit-Stay, Sit in front, and Finish. Golden Glossary
Finish A fancy way of having your dog return to heel position, either doing a U-turn in place or around the handler.


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Other Obedience Classes
Other classes are usually advanced obedience competition classes, such as open and excellent training. Some trainers may have a clicker training class and attention class. Clicker training is a fun class in which you click a special clicker every time your Golden does something you want. You follow the click up with a treat. Most dogs (and owners) love clicker training because it is very positive. Attention class is a class that helps the dog focus on their owners. Most Goldens don’t need attention class, because they are people-oriented dogs. However, if your Golden is having dominance problems or needs an edge in competition, this class often will help the dog focus on you.

Tracking class teaches your Golden to follow his nose and find items with scent on them, known as articles. Tracking is a lot of fun for both the dog and owner but requires some obedience training before you begin training for tracking.

Agility is a sport in which dogs run a specially designed obstacle course. It is a timed event, so dogs that complete the course accurately in the least amount of time do well. Most dogs love agility, after they get the hang of the obstacles. Dogs that may not do well in obedience may shine in agility because it isn’t as restricting or repetitive. Your Golden will need to know basic obedience such as Sit, Down, Come, and Stay and must be able to work off-leash.

Chapter 6: Gold Star—Professional Training


Conformation training is training for a conformation dog show. In this class, the trainer teaches you how to stack your Golden so that he looks his best when the judge sees him. You will learn how to gait your dog—that is, trot him out in front of the judge so that your dog looks to have the best movement. You also learn how to handle a dog properly for the show ring. Golden Glossary
Clicker training A form of positive reinforcement that relies heavily on operant conditioning. The dog hears a click from a special clicker whenever he behaves correctly and then receives a treat. Dogs quickly learn to offer behaviors that will cause the click (and subsequent treat) and avoid behaviors that will not produce the click. Agility A sport in which dogs run a specially designed obstacle course. It is a timed event, so dogs that complete the course accurately in the least amount of time do well. Stack Standing one’s dog in the conformation show ring in a way that emphasizes positive characteristics and diminishes flaws.

Flyball is a fast-paced sport in which dogs run in relays. Each dog jumps over four hurdles to the flyball box. The dog then triggers the flyball box to release a tennis ball into the air, which he catches. Then the dog runs back over the hurdles to the starting line, where the next member of the team is waiting. Your Golden will need to know Sit, Stay, Down, and Come.

Described as a cross between agility and obedience, Rally or Rally-O is a new sport recently approved by the AKC. Between 10 and 17 stations are set up, and the dog must perform a series of maneuvers


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and commands at each station. Rally is timed and is a lot of fun. Your Golden will need to know obedience commands and some agility. Golden Glimmers
Through the AKC and other organizations, your Golden can earn a variety of titles in obedience, Rally-O, flyball, agility, tracking, conformation, and hunting tests. Only conformation requires the dog be unneutered. All other competition allows spayed or neutered dogs to compete.

Field Trials/Hunting Tests/ Retrieving Work
Field trial and hunting test training introduces or prepares your Golden for competition in either Field Trials or Hunting Tests. Field Trials are very competitive, so if you’re interested in trying out some form of field work or hunting, start with hunting tests.

Don’t forget that the Golden was bred as a hunting dog, so he excels in hunting—not just hunting tests and trials.

The Least You Need to Know
≠ You are more likely to be successful teaching your Golden obedience if you learn under a professional trainer. ≠ Ask your vet, your Golden’s breeder, or a dog-owning friend whom they would recommend as a professional dog trainer. ≠ Young puppies (under six months) should go to a puppy kindergarten class. ≠ Older puppies and dogs should take a beginner’s class. ≠ Good trainers teach you how to train your dog. Choose a trainer who uses positive reinforcement techniques. ≠ A variety of classes are available, including those that teach sports such as agility, Rally, flyball, tracking, conformation, field, and retrieving work. Most require that the dog already know some basic obedience.



Training Ground Rules
In This Chapter
≠ Learn the secrets of professional trainers ≠ Get the training equipment you need ≠ Making your Golden into a Golden Canine Good Citizen® ≠ Learn what equipment works and what doesn’t Training your Golden requires some basic ground rules. These are rules you, as your Golden’s trainer, must learn and obey in order to teach him. You also need some other things to train your Golden: the right collars, leashes, clickers, target sticks, treats, and other items.

Do’s and Don’ts
One of the biggest problems dog owners have is understanding what the rules of training a dog are. Most dog owners are still training with techniques that are more than 20 years old. These techniques are often misguided and coercive—they’re not based on what we now know about dog behavior.


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You need to learn what the latest techniques are in positive training and apply them to your Golden’s training. Before you begin training, you need some ground rules for how to train your Golden. These rules are applicable to everyone who is training your dog, regardless of the type of training used. ≠ Never become angry at your Golden Retriever. You’re likely to punish your Golden instead of communicating with him. ≠ Never yell or scream at your Golden. This isn’t communication— except to communicate that he should be afraid of you. ≠ Take a time out when you feel angry or frustrated. Put your Golden back in his crate and cool off. Or end the training session and play with him. ≠ Spend 5 to 10 minutes a day working on commands. ≠ Praise should be swift and meaningful. ≠ Train before meals. Your Golden will be a little hungry and more focused on the treats. Your Golden’s meal will also become a reward for a job well done. ≠ Never give a command you can’t enforce. If you do, your Golden will assume he can ignore any command. ≠ Set your Golden up for success and never allow him to make a mistake. Before starting a particular exercise, try thinking of all the possible reactions your Golden will have and devise ways to steer him toward the correct response. No Biscuit!
Don’t use “sit down” and “lie down.” These two commands are very confusing to your dog. Instead use Sit for sit down and Down for lie down.

≠ It’s easier to teach good habits than to “train out” bad ones. ≠ Never force a frightened or confused dog into doing something. Frightened and confused dogs may bite—and they certainly will not learn what you want them to.

Chapter 7: Training Ground Rules
≠ Teach your Golden to pay attention to you. You can use the “watch me” command (see Chapter 8). ≠ Use a distinct command word for each command. Sit should be “Sit.” Down should be “Down.” Off should be “Off.” Sit should not be “sit down.” Down should not be “lie down.” Off should not be “down.” Those are too confusing to your Golden. ≠ Always reward good behavior.


≠ Never call your Golden to you to punish him. He’ll learn that coming results in punishment. ≠ “No” is not a dirty word, but you shouldn’t use it all the time. Use it sparingly to emphasize that your Golden has done something wrong and needs to correct it. ≠ Don’t expect your Golden to think the way you do. Look at your Golden’s behavior from a dog’s perspective. Does he really understand that it’s bad to make a mess indoors? Dogs aren’t spiteful, nor do they feel guilty, but they react in a submissive manner when you’re angry. ≠ Always reward your Golden for coming to you. ≠ Never allow a puppy to do something that you would find intolerable or obnoxious in an adult dog. Mouthing turns to biting. Jumping up becomes knocking over. Think about what you allow your Golden to do. ≠ Be fair and consistent with your Golden. That’s how you become someone your Golden will respect.

Retriever Rewards
Be consistent in training. Don’t allow your Golden to do something for a while and then suddenly not allow him to do it. For example, letting your Golden lie on your old ratty couch is okay, but then you must expect that he’ll lie down on your expensive new couch when you get it.


Part 3: Dog Training 101

≠ Always end every training session on a positive note. If your Golden has trouble learning something, have him do something he does know and end the session with praise and a reward. ≠ Take time to play after training. ≠ Make training fun. It doesn’t have to be a drill session.

Training Collars
Your Golden should have a training collar as well as his regular (flat or buckle) collar. Use the training collar for training only, not as a regular collar. Most training collars are slip collars, meaning they tighten up as you pull on them. If you leave this collar on your dog Golden Glossary all the time—even the ones with Slip collar A collar limited slip—he may snag it on used for training pursomething and choke to death. poses, usually made from chain.
This collar tightens when pulled. Limited slip collar A slip collar with a restriction that prevents the collar from tightening too much.

For this reason, never leave a slip or limited slip collar on a dog while unattended. Never affix tags or anything that may snag to the training collar, other than the leash or training tab.

Slip Collar
The slip collar is another name for what people commonly refer to as a “choke chain” or “choke collar.” This name conjures up cruel images, when in fact, if you use the collar correctly, it can be a safe and humane training collar. These collars may be made from steel chain (for regular obedience), fine serpentine links (for dog shows), or nylon cord. Depending on your activities, you may want several types of training collars.

Chapter 7: Training Ground Rules


Choose a steel-link training collar. When it’s on your dog, the training collar should have no slack and the ends should not dangle down. The collar should fit around your Golden’s neck, high enough so that it sits below the jaw and just behind the ears. If the collar is big enough to rest on the dog’s shoulders, you may find yourself going for a “drag” instead of a walk! There’s a right way and a wrong way to put on a training collar. The right way enables the collar to release after tightening; the wrong way keeps the collar tight. Slide one link through the other so that the collar makes a “P.” If the collar is a backward “P,” that’s wrong. Now slip the collar over your Golden’s head as your Golden is facing you. In most circumstances, Goldens do well with slip collars. However, if you are constantly playing tug-of-war with your Golden, you may have to resort to a collar that offers more control, such as a snap choke or a prong collar. No Biscuit!
Never leave a training collar on your unsupervised Golden. Never use a training collar as your Golden’s regular collar. He accidentally can snag it on something and choke.

Prong Collar
Prong collars look like medieval torture devices but are actually quite humane. They are sometimes called “pinch” collars because the prongs close on the skin folds of the neck. These collars are limited slip, thus making them safer than slip collars, but the prongs can do damage if the dog slips and falls. Prong collars work best for extremely strong dogs with thick, muscular necks, like sled dogs. Because they don’t work by tightening, the way standard slip collars do, there is less chance of injuring your Golden’s neck. However, like any tool, it can be misused. Consult a professional trainer about using a prong collar.


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When your Golden learns to stop pulling, most trainers graduate their dogs to snap chokes or regular slip collars. Most dogs make the transition well, needing the prong collar only as an occasional reminder or in circumstances that require tight control. Golden Glossary
Prong collar A collar used for training purposes, made from steel links, with prongs that turn inside against the dog’s neck. This collar is a limited slip design; when pulled, the prongs grab into the loose folds of skin around the neck. Snap choke A type of slip collar that snaps onto a loose ring. It is made of parachute cord rather than steel links and offers more control than the standard slip collar.

Snap Chokes
Snap chokes are similar to slip collars, except that they are made from thin parachute cord and snap onto a loose ring. You can get a better fit with a snap choke than you can with regular training collars. Like regular training collars, they need to fit close around the neck with no excess hanging down. These training collars are effective for strong pullers but are less effective than prong collars. Like prong collars, they can be misused, so consult a professional trainer about the proper use of snap chokes.

Head Halters
Head halters are a popular device among those who don’t want to use training collars. The head halter works like a horse halter, on the idea that where the head goes, the body goes—although it has some differences. You clip the leash on the strap hanging down, and the strap applies pressure on the dog’s muzzle when pulled.

Chapter 7: Training Ground Rules


Many people swear by these halters, but I’ve seen mixed results. The control is marginal when compared to a properly obediencetrained dog. Dogs’ heads come in all shapes and sizes, too, and your Golden may be clever enough to slip out of a head halter. Some dogs will toss their heads back and forth, risking neck injury. Dogs that are prone to overheat may have their airflow restricted and may be in greater danger of overheating with a head halter. Most dogs I’ve seen with these halters don’t understand that they’re supposed to behave and simply start pulling when the owners use a regular collar. Finally, these halters look like muzzles and may give a bad impression of your Golden. AKC events don’t allow head halters, so if you train with one, you will also have to train with a regular training collar.

A variety of leashes is available, including nylon, leather, cotton, retractable, leashes made from mountain-climbing rope, and others. When you look for a training leash, it should be a six-foot latigo leather leash.

Latigo Leather
Why a latigo leather leash? They’re expensive, certainly, but well worth the money. If your Golden pulls at all on his leash—and many do—a leash made from nylon or other materials will cut into your hands. Leather won’t. When I first got into dogs, I used the traditional nylon leash. A trainer showed me the error of my ways, and I switched to a leather leash. All of a sudden, my dogs began paying attention to me Retriever Rewards
Leather is remarkably strong, but it is tasty (to dogs, anyway), so keep it out of reach.


Part 3: Dog Training 101

and my hands stopped hurting. Save the nylon leashes for when your Golden is a perfect heeler—buy a leather leash now. What about those retractable leads? They are useful to train “Come,” but usually aren’t strong enough for a big dog like a Golden. Likewise, you will have very little control with them. Golden Glossary
Tracking leads Leashes made from cotton or nylon that can be 10 to 30 feet in length. Trainers use these leads for tracking work (hence the name) but also for distance work such as working on the Recall command.

Long Lines
Long lines are long leashes (usually called tracking leads) used for training. You’ll want at least a tracking lead or a retractable lead for working on commands such as Come.

This is a special device used in clicker training (see Chapter 6). It’s a small, rectangular box that has a strip of thin metal inside. You press on the metal strip to make a definite click noise. If you plan to use clicker training, you’ll need several of these (you can lose them).

Bait Pouches
Golden Glossary
Bait pouches Little pouches that enable you to carry treats if you don’t have pockets or if you don’t want to get your pockets messy. They’re called “bait” because when you stack a dog in conformation, you lure or “bait” him with a treat so that he will look attentive.

No, we’re not talking fish! Bait pouches are little pouches that enable you to carry your treats if you don’t have pockets or if you don’t want to get your pockets messy. The AKC allows bait pouches in conformation dog shows but not in obedience, agility, or other forms of performance competition.

Chapter 7: Training Ground Rules


Treats can be anything your Golden likes. Some people use dog biscuits or other doggy snacks, but many trainers offer bits of hot dog, cheese, cooked bacon, cold cuts, liver, and other enticing items. The treat should be small enough just to give your Golden a taste. You don’t want your dog to spend one or two minutes eating a treat and get distracted from his training. Also, you will be giving him many treats when you train, and you don’t want him to get fat!

The Canine Good Citizen®
In 1989, the American Kennel Club created the Canine Good Citizen®‚ test to encourage responsible dog ownership. The CGC® title is available to all dogs, purebred or mixed breed—unlike other AKC titles, which are offered to only purebred dogs. Although the Canine Good Citizen® is not technically an official AKC title, dog owners may put CGC® after their dog’s name. Regardless of how much training you plan to do with your Golden, he should at least earn a CGC® to prove that he is a wellmannered dog.

Obtaining the CGC®
The CGC® is a series of 10 tests designed to showcase a dog’s good manners and appearance. Dogs must pass all 10 at one test session to earn a CGC®; all are pass or fail. Dogs may take the CGC® test until they pass. The 10 tests are as follows: 1. Accepting a Friendly Stranger: The dog must show no fear when someone unfamiliar approaches the dog’s owner and talks to him or her. 2. Sitting Politely for Petting: The dog must accept petting by a stranger when the dog is with his owner.


Part 3: Dog Training 101

3. Appearance and Grooming: The dog must accept being brushed gently by the evaluator and allow the evaluator to pick up each foot and examine the dog’s ears. The dog is also judged on whether he is clean and groomed. 4. Walking on a Loose Lead: The dog must walk on a loose lead and walk with the handler, including turns and stops. 5. Walking Through a Crowd: The dog must walk through a crowd of people without pulling, jumping on people, or acting fearful. 6. Sit and Down on Command, Staying in Place: The dog must sit and lie down on command. The dog then must stay in place while the owner walks 20 feet away and returns to the dog. The dog may change position but must stay in the same place. 7. Coming When Called: The dog must wait while the owner walks 10 feet away and then calls the dog. The dog must come to the owner. 8. Reaction to Another Dog: The dog must show no more than a casual interest in another dog as that dog and his handler approach the first dog and his owner. 9. Reaction to Distraction: The dog must show no fear when faced with two everyday distractions. The dog may show curiosity, but not aggression or shyness. 10. Supervised Separation: The dog must accept being left with the evaluator for three minutes while the owner is out of sight. No Biscuit!
If your Golden is shy—that is, he cringes when he sees other humans—try to bring him to places to see and meet people. Start with relatively uncrowded parks and get him used to people there and then slowly build up. If your Golden acts fearful or aggressive toward people, consult a professional dog behaviorist for help. You need to retrain and socialize your Golden before he becomes a hazard.

Chapter 7: Training Ground Rules


Training for the CGC®
Training for the Canine Good Citizen® requires good socialization and basic obedience. Some trainers teach CGC® classes to prepare for the test. But ideally, CGC® training should start the moment you obtain your Golden as a puppy. Your Golden is ready to meet the world after he has had his last series of vaccinations—usually after 16 weeks. Bring your Golden to different places and meet different people. Going to obedience classes, fun matches, dog parks, pet supply stories, and other places that allow dogs will help socialize your Golden Retriever. Bring your Golden to the mall or supermarket sometimes and have him stand outside to experience crowds; this will help desensitize him to strangers and crowds in a big way.

The Least You Need to Know
≠ Spend 5 to 10 minutes a day working on commands. ≠ Never get angry at your Golden. If you feel yourself becoming angry or frustrated, stop. ≠ Use positive training techniques (reward and praise) instead of negative techniques (punishment and fear). ≠ Always end a training session on a positive note. ≠ The minimum equipment you’ll need is a training collar (usually a slip collar), a six-foot leather leash, and treats. Other useful items include clickers and long lines. ≠ The Canine Good Citizen® (CGC®) title is open to any dog, purebred or mixed breed, and is a type of basic obedience test for dogs offered through the AKC.



The Golden Rule—Basic Training
In This Chapter
≠ Teach your Golden Retriever clicker training ≠ Learn what positive training is ≠ Learn how to teach your Golden Sit, Down, Stay, Come, walk nicely on a leash, and Heel ≠ Teach your Golden other useful commands A well-trained Golden is a joy to own. But how do you get from a frisky pup to one who will listen to you? And is it hard to do? Obedience training doesn’t have to be difficult or tedious. For all training in this and subsequent chapters, I provide two methods of training: positive reinforcement and clicker training. Both are fun to teach and don’t punish your Golden. In fact, you might have so much fun that you’ll forget you’re actually training your Golden. In this chapter, I cover the basic obedience commands: Sit, Stay, Heel, Come, and Down. I also throw in some important commands you might not have thought about, such as Watch me and Leave it.


Part 3: Dog Training 101

Clicker Training
Clicker training is a method of positive training that has taken the animal training world by storm. Clicker training has been promoted by notable trainers such as Karen Pryor and Gary Wilkes. Clicker training is a form of operant conditioning, meaning that the dog learns behaviors by experiencing the consequences of certain actions. Operant conditioning is how most animals, and even people, learn. On the positive side of operant conditioning, the animal does something and receives a reward. On the negative side, the animal does something and receives a punishment. Golden Glossary
Operant conditioning A learning method in which the animal learns from the consequences of his actions. Positive reinforcement A training method in which you reward desirable behavior. Negative reinforcement A training method in which you punish or discourage an undesirable behavior.

Clicker training uses primarily positive reinforcement—that is, the animal does something and receives a reward. With the clicker, you teach your dog to associate the sound of the click with a treat. When your dog does something right, you click and then give him a treat. When he performs a behavior you don’t want, you ignore it. Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? Clicking works much the same as praise does, although instead of saying “Good Dog!” you click. Click, treat. Click, treat. It’s very simple and quite effective. Your dog will associate the correct action (the one you clicked for) with the treat. Eventually, he’ll learn that the click means “You did it right!” even when there’s no treat forthcoming.

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Retriever Rewards
Where can you get a clicker? Many training facilities and even pet supply stores have clickers, but you can also purchase them online on Karen Pryor’s website at www.clickertraining. com or 1-800-47-CLICK. You can purchase a target stick there, too. Or if you want to make your own target stick, buy a yard-long halfinch dowel and either paint it or wrap it with colorful tape.

Intro to the Clicker
Start while your dog isn’t doing anything in particular, preferably before his feeding time when he’s a bit hungry. Show him the clicker. Now, click and give him a treat. If your dog is startled by the loud noise, try muffling it a bit in your hand when you click it. Click and give him a treat. Click, treat. Click, treat. You may have to do this for a bit, but at some point your dog will start picking up that when he hears a click, he’s going to get a treat. You should click, and he should look expectantly at you for the treat. Sometimes it takes a while for the dog to make the association. This is okay. If, after five minutes or so, you haven’t made any progress, put away the clicker and play with your dog. Try again tomorrow. When your dog makes the association between the click and the treat, you’ll be ready to vary the response times.

Retriever Rewards
What you’ll need to get started with the clicker:

≠ A clicker (buy several—
they get lost easily) ≠ A target stick

≠ Treats (lots)


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Golden Glossary
Why use the clicker at all? The clicker is a way to mark the desirable behavior. Although you can use your voice, people’s timing often isn’t as effective as a clicker is. While you’re still trying to say the word “Good,” you could’ve clicked and treated. Because our dogs hear our voices so much, sometimes they tune us out. The clicker establishes a definite means of communicating that the action you clicked for was the right action.

Vary the Response Times
Varying the time between the click and the treat and where he receives the treat will teach your dog that she can expect a treat even if it’s a little delayed or it may not be in your hand, but tossed on the ground. Click and silently count to five. Your dog may look expectantly to you or even drool a bit before you give her the treat. When you get to five, give her the treat. Now click again and count to three silently and then treat her. Now click and silently count to 10 and treat. If she gets insistent or pushy, don’t do anything. Just wait until she stops before you give her the treat. Her correct response is to wait patiently until she gets the treat. After she is used to varying times, click and toss the treat in front of her. Your dog should eat the treat, but if she has problems, show her the treat and tell her “Good dog!” when she picks it up. Click and toss the treat somewhere else, after she has figured out that the treat doesn’t have to come from your hand.

Training with the Target Stick
Now that your Golden is used to hearing a click and receiving a treat, the fun begins! You start with target stick training. Target sticks are great for teaching your dog where to go or to touch certain things with his nose or paw.

Chapter 8: The Golden Rule—Basic Training
© Carolyn Risdon


Training with treats. This is Brandy and Susie Risdon.

First, get out your clicker, your bag of treats, and your target stick. Hold the target stick out for your dog to sniff. If he touches the stick, click and treat. You may have to wiggle the stick a bit to get him interested in it. Even if he accidentally touches it, you must click and treat. Suppose that your Golden doesn’t touch the stick? Well, you can start by shaping the behavior. Shaping is a fancy term for teaching the behavior you want in small increments. For example, you will click and treat when your dog looks at the stick. Every time your dog looks at the stick, you should click and treat. Then, after he looks at the stick and waits for you to click, wait and see what he does next. He may stare at it longer or perhaps nudge or paw the


Part 3: Dog Training 101

stick. If he needs encouragement, wave the stick close to him, but don’t touch the stick to him—instead, let your dog touch the stick. Click and treat. After your dog touches the stick and subsequently hears a click and gets a treat, he may be puzzled. After all, he’s been doing nothing to get a click and treat, but now he has to work for it. Offer the stick again and see whether your dog will touch it (accidentally or on purpose). Click and treat when he does. Some dogs quickly learn to touch the target stick. Others take time, and you may need several sessions before your dog starts touching the target stick. When your Golden touches the target stick consistently, start using a cue word, such as “Touch,” before your dog touches the stick. Golden Glossary
Cue A word or signal that a dog is supposed to associate with a particular behavior. Shaping Starting with a basic behavior that is relatively easy to obtain and slowly progressing to the behavior you want. For example, teaching a dog to touch something with his paw can be shaped to waving good-bye, closing or opening a door, or other behaviors by clicking at incremental steps until the dog displays the final desired behavior.

Adding Cue Words
In the preceding lesson, you began using cue words, with “Touch.” Although we tend to call them commands, these words are actually cues for the behavior you want your Golden to do. You start by saying the word as your dog is about to do the desired behavior. He will eventually learn this means you want him to do it. After your Golden knows “Touch,” you can begin to differentiate between touching the target stick with the nose (“Nose it”) and

Chapter 8: The Golden Rule—Basic Training


touching it with the paw (“Paw it”). Make it easy for your Golden Retriever by putting the target stick close to either his nose or his paw. Wait for him to touch it appropriately (let’s say we’re working on “Paw it”). Click and treat. He should start pawing the target stick. Click and treat each time. Now that he’s primed for pawing the target stick, say “Paw it” before he paws it and click and treat. Add this cue word and move the stick around so he has to work a bit to touch it with his paw. Give him the command “Paw it” each time, and click and treat when he does. You need to teach him “Nose it” as well. Teach your dog the same way you taught “Paw it,” only click and treat when he noses the stick. Now it’s time to take these skills into the real world. Golden Glimmers
Suppose you don’t want to use the clicker in training? That’s okay. Try the positive reinforcement method described throughout this chapter.

Walk Nicely on a Leash
Every dog needs to learn how to walk while on a leash without pulling. Otherwise, your Golden will drag you around, and it’ll be no fun taking her for a walk.

Positive Method
If your Golden has never been on the leash before, put a training collar on her and clip the leash to it. Have a handful of treats in your pocket when you begin walking with her. At first, she may whirl around you or start pulling. Take a treat out of your pocket and use it to lure her into the proper position, so she isn’t pulling on the leash. Praise her and give her the treat when she focuses on you instead of pulling. If she forges ahead or lags behind, a gentle tug on the leash is all it takes to bring her back to


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where you want her to be. Whenever she walks nicely, tell her “Good girl!” and give her a treat. As she starts walking nicely, you can slowly reduce the amount of treats and increase the praise.

Clicker Method
You’ll need a clicker and treats. If your Golden has never been on the leash before, put a training collar on her and clip the leash to it. At first, she may whirl around you or start pulling. Ignore the bad behavior and just wait—don’t start out. When she no longer pulls, click and treat. You’ll have to be patient with her and wait for her to do the right thing—that is, not pull. Continue to click and treat for a loose leash. You’re rewarding your Golden for not tugging on the leash. After she’s waiting for you without pulling, start walking. If she keeps her leash loose, click and treat. If she starts pulling on the leash, stop and wait. When she gives you an appropriate behavior (loose leash, sit, and so on), click and treat. Whenever she pulls, stop immediately and wait for her to give you a loose leash. When she does, click and treat, then start on your way again. Golden Glimmers
Fade To slowly remove an intermediate training object, such as a clicker or target stick, or an intermediate cue to leave the end result—the cue and the action.

Your Golden will figure out that walking with a loose leash means going forward and clicks, and that pulling means nothing fun is happening. Because walking is a reward in itself, after she has learned the loose leash concept, you can fade the clicker.

Sit is a useful command in everyday manners. If your Golden is getting rowdy, a quick Sit command can help settle him down.

Chapter 8: The Golden Rule—Basic Training


Positive Method
In the positive method, take a treat and hold it just above your dog’s nose. Bring the treat up over and behind his head while gently pushing on his rear end. Tell him, “Rusty, Sit!” Give him the treat and praise him after he sits. Some dogs may not naturally sit. If your dog won’t sit or if he backs up instead of sitting, try teaching him with his back to the wall so that he must sit because he doesn’t have anywhere to go. Practice this a few times until he starts sitting on command.

Clicker Method
In the clicker method, you’ll need to take a treat or use the target stick and hold it just above your dog’s nose. Tell your dog to “Nose it” and bring the treat or target stick back over his head. As he follows the treat or the target stick, his rump will start to drop. When it touches the floor, click and treat. Repeat several times. Some dogs may not naturally sit. If your dog won’t sit or if he backs up instead of sitting, try teaching him with his back to the wall so that he must sit because he doesn’t have anywhere to go. After you have your dog sitting with the clicker, add the cue word. Tell him, “Rusty, Sit!” before having him sit with either the treat or the target stick. After your dog is familiar with the cue, you’ll need to fade the lure or target stick and stop telling him to Nose it. Instead, substitute the cue to Sit.

Down is also a useful command for everyday manners. You can practice Down when you’re watching TV or reading a book. Like Sit, you can also use Down to help calm your Golden.


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Positive Method
In the positive method, have your dog sit. Now take a treat and hold it below her nose. Bring the treat downward toward her chest and then all the way to the floor, while gently pushing on her shoulders. Tell her, “Goldie, Down!” Give her the treat and praise her after she lies down. Practice this a few times until she starts lying down on command.

Clicker Method
In the clicker method, you’ll need to have your dog sit. Now take a treat or use the target stick and hold it below your dog’s nose. Tell your dog to “Nose it” and bring the treat or target stick downward toward her chest and then all the way to the floor. As she follows the treat or the target stick, her front legs will start to drop. When her elbows touch the floor, click and treat. Repeat several times. After you have your dog lying down with the clicker, add the cue. Tell her “Goldie, Down!” before having her lie down with either the treat or the target stick. When your dog is familiar with the command, you’ll need to fade the lure or target stick and stop telling her to Nose it. Instead, substitute the cue to get Down.

The next command your Golden should learn after Sit and Down is Stay. This is useful because you will sometimes want your Golden to hold a Sit or Down for more than a few seconds.

Positive Method
Have your Golden sit beside you while on a leash. Tell him “Stay!” and hold up your flat, open hand in front of his face for emphasis. Take a step or two and turn to face him. If he tries to move, tell him

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“No! Stay!” and put him back in position. It usually takes a few times for the dog to learn that you want him to stay. Make him stay for a few seconds, return to him, release him with “OK,” and praise him and give him treats.

Clicker Method
Have your dog sit beside you while on a leash. Do not click yet. Tell him “Stay!” and hold up your flat, open hand in front of his face for emphasis. Take a step or two and turn to face him. If he gets up, put him back in sit and don’t click yet. When you are facing your Golden, and he has held the sit for a few seconds, click and treat. Return to him, release him with “OK” (see “OK! The Release Word,” following), and click and treat. Note that a puppy younger than six months can’t be expected to stay longer than a few seconds. There are too many interesting things out there to explore!

Practicing Sit-Stay and Down-Stay
Practice Stay in both Sit and Down. You will slowly lengthen the amount of time or the distance of the stay, but not both. If she gets up during the stay, decrease the amount of time or distance until she stays reliably. Increase the distance or time only when she is staying reliably. If you’re using the clicker, you will have to click and treat at the end of the time you expect your dog to stay. Remember, you must build up slowly to ensure success.

OK! The Release Word
How do you release your dog from a Sit-Stay or Down-Stay? Most trainers like to use the word “OK!” to release a dog from the Stay. It’s an easy word to remember, and your Golden will figure it out after only a few times.


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To release your dog from a stay, say in a happy voice “Goldie, OK!” If your Golden still holds the stay, a quick pat will convince her that she’s done. After a couple of stays, your Golden will be waiting for the release word.

Come is a vital command for your Golden to learn. Unfortunately, too many dogs don’t have a reliable recall. This can be dangerous, if not deadly. A dog that won’t come when you call him may be hit by a car or may take off into the wilderness. Don’t let this happen! Start by teaching your Golden Retriever that good things happen when you call him. Give him a treat every time he comes to you. Always praise your Golden for coming, and never call your Golden to you when you correct him—always go to him.

Positive Method—Starting Out
Start training Come in an enclosed area. (This is important, because if your dog sees something he’d rather chase or is not reliable, he’ll learn that he only has to Come when he feels like it.) You’ll need the six-foot leash. Clip the leash to your Golden’s collar. Put your Golden in a Sit-Stay, walk out to the end of the leash, and turn around. Say “Rusty, Come!” in a happy, upbeat tone. If you’ve been practicing with treats, your Golden will probably come right to you. Give him a treat and praise him for being such a good boy! If you haven’t been practicing Come or if your Golden sits and looks at you as though you were a space alien, try again, this time more enthusiastically. You may want to tug lightly on the leash so that he gets the idea he should come to you. After you’ve praised him and given him treats, put him in a SitStay again and walk out to the end of his leash. Be careful that he doesn’t break his Stay in his enthusiasm to come to you. If he does,

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tell him “No, Stay,” and put him back in his Sit-Stay. Don’t sound angry when you do this, just be matter-of-fact. Then tell him to Come again. Practice Come at short distances. Then gradually lengthen the distance with a long-line or a retractable leash (Flexi-lead™). When you call your Golden to Come, either retract the leash or quickly reel in the long-line. If, at any time, your Golden fails to come directly to you, return to shorter distances.

Clicker Method—Starting Out
Clicker training your Golden to come is a little different than training using the positive method. Like the positive method, however, an important aspect of training Come is to always reward your dog for coming to you. That means all good things come from you, so if you have to correct your dog, you should go to him, not call him to you. You should also train your dog to Come in an enclosed area. This is important, because if your dog sees something he’d rather chase or is not reliable, he’ll learn that he only has to Come when he feels like it. If you’re unable to train in an enclosed area, an alternative is to use a retractable leash or a tracking lead. Keep your dog on the tracking lead or the retractable leash when training in an area that isn’t enclosed. Let your Golden loose in your enclosed area (or have him on a retractable leash). Most dogs, when they know you have the clicker, will come right to you. Click and treat. If your dog doesn’t come to you while he’s loose, try showing him the treat, then click and treat when he comes. After he comes to you, start using the cue word, “Come!” You can pair it with your dog’s name, such as “Rusty, Come!” and click and treat when he does.


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When your Golden comes reliably, put a leash on him and put him in a Sit-Stay. Walk out to the end of his leash. Be careful that he doesn’t break his Stay in his enthusiasm to come to you. If he does, put him back in his Sit-Stay. Then, tell him to Come again. Retriever Rewards Click and treat when he comes. Retractable leashes
are wonderful for teaching Come. When you put your Golden in a Sit-Stay, feed out as much line as you’ll need for the recall and then lock the leash in place. Then go to the spot you intend to call him to, give your command to Come, and release the lock so that the line retracts.

Practice Come at short distances. Then gradually lengthen the distance with a long-line or a retractable leash. When you call your Golden in, either retract the leash or quickly reel in the longline. If, at any time, your Golden fails to come directly to you, return to shorter distances.

Add Distractions (Positive and Clicker Methods)
When you think your Golden is reliably coming to you on a leash, try adding distractions. A busy park is a good place to practice. Start with a six-foot leash and practice recalls as though you were just starting out. Your Golden may be too excited by his surroundings to pay attention to you. Try using treats to focus his attention on you, rather than the distractions. If six feet is too great a distance, work with him at a shorter distance. Then gradually increase the distance.

Practicing Come Off-Leash (Positive and Clicker Methods)
Eventually, you will want to practice off-leash recalls. Find an enclosed area such as your backyard, a dog training area at a local park, or maybe a fenced-in baseball diamond. If, at any time, your Golden takes off or ignores you, it’s time to go back to the beginning and work on basic recall training.

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Heeling on Leash
The correct position for your Golden to heel, sit, and lie down is beside you, on your left side, with the dog facing forward. This is known as the heel position. When you walk your dog, you should be holding the leash loosely in your left hand to control the dog, with Golden Glossary any excess length of leash looped Heel position A in the right hand. This will give position in which your dog sits or stands beside your you the maximum control over the left side, next to your knee. dog—even a large, strong Golden.

Positive Method
To put your Golden in the heel position, move him to your left side. When he stands or sits for a few moments in heel position, give him a treat and praise him. Use a one-word command such as “Place” or “Heel” to mean heel position. Practice putting your dog in heel position and reward him when he stands or sits straight in that position. Do not reward sloppily performed commands. Try again and give your dog the treat when he is in the proper position. Golden Glimmers
Why worry about which foot to use for Stay versus Heel? Dogs, especially Goldens, are keen observers and will notice which foot you use when you say “Stay” and which foot you use when you begin to walk at the command “Heel.” The left foot is closest to your Golden when you heel, so he will see that movement first. When you put your Golden in a Stay, do so on your left side and leave with the right foot first. Your Golden won’t see the movement right away, and it will be an extra signal to stay.

After your Golden knows the heel position, you can teach him to heel. Your Golden should be sitting in heel position with his


Part 3: Dog Training 101

training collar and leash on. Have a treat in your left hand. Say “Rusty, Heel!” and start walking, left foot forward first. If your dog starts to forge ahead or lag behind, get his attention by showing him the treat and lure him into the correct position. When he is in the correct position, praise him and give him a treat. If he lags because he is unsure what to do, pat your leg and encourage him to come beside you. Likewise, if he forges ahead, pull him back using the leash or have him focus on the treat and lure him back. Give him the treat when he’s in the proper position. When you stop, have him sit in the heel position and give him a treat. When you start again, always start walking with your left foot. Dogs see the left leg movement before the right. Also, it becomes another signal to your dog that he is to move with you.

Clicker Method
To put your Golden in the heel position, have him on a leash but let him move about freely. As he approaches your left side, click and treat. He may be surprised by your click and treat, but he will try to repeat the performance. As he does, click and treat and shape the behavior until he is standing at your side. When he stands or sits for a few moments in heel position, click and treat. Use a one-word cue such as “Place” or “Heel” to mean heel position. Practice putting your dog in the heel position and click and treat when he stands or sits straight in that position. When your Golden knows the heel position, you can teach him to heel. Your Golden should be sitting in heel position with his training collar and leash on. Have a treat in your left hand. Say “Rusty, Heel!” and start walking, putting your left foot forward first. If your dog starts to forge ahead or lag behind, get his attention by showing him the treat and lure him into the correct position. Click and treat when he is in the correct position. If he lags because he’s unsure what to do, pat your leg and encourage him to come beside

Chapter 8: The Golden Rule—Basic Training
you. If he forges ahead, stop and wait for him to stop pulling and go back to the heel position. When he does, click and treat.


When you stop, have him sit in the heel position and click and treat. When you start again, always start by moving the left foot forward first. Dogs see the left leg movement before the right. Also, it becomes another signal to your Golden that he is to move with you.

Other Useful Commands
You may find other commands useful for training your Golden, although you won’t find them in competitive obedience. Some of these commands help reshape your Golden’s behavior—teaching him an acceptable behavior that he can substitute for an unacceptable one. Other commands will help teach your Golden what you want him to do, including “Out” and “Bed.” You may add more words to your Golden’s repertoire as you need them, but the basic commands are “Off,” “Drop,” “Leave it,” “Watch me,” “Out,” and “Bed.” Most of these commands are easy to teach—you may teach your Golden these commands without knowing you’ve done it! I’ve accidentally taught my dogs “Oops!” That means “I’m clumsy, and I just dropped something.” Usually that something is food, and my dogs know when I say “Oops” to look on the floor for tidbits.

The Off Command
Off is a command meaning “All four paws on the floor, please!” Use this command whenever you mean “Get down from that!” You can use this command when your Golden jumps up on you. When he does, tell him “Off!” and push him down so all four feet are on the ground. Then, give him a treat. Use Off when your Golden has sneaked up on the couch or some other forbidden piece of furniture.


Part 3: Dog Training 101

The Drop or Trade Command
Dogs use their mouth like a hand and pick up anything interesting. Sometimes, however, the item your Golden picks up isn’t good for her. Your Golden should learn two commands: Drop it and Trade. If your Golden isn’t possessive about food, you can try Drop it. You can teach it by gently squeezing open your Golden’s mouth with your fingers where the upper and lower jaws meet. When your Golden opens his mouth, say “Drop it,” and let the item fall from his mouth. Give him a treat for being a good dog and take the items away. If your Golden’s jaws are too strong, or you’re afraid of getting bitten, there is an alternative method. Say “Trade!” and offer a treat that is better than what your Golden has in his mouth. Your Golden usually will drop the item for something more tasty. No Biscuit!
Some dogs are naturally possessive of their toys and treats. If you try to take those things from them, they can become aggressive. If your Golden acts possessive, you should trade instead of trying to take the object away.

You can practice Trade easily. When your Golden is chewing on a rawhide or playing with a toy, offer to trade for something yummy. When your Golden drops the toy for your treat, take the toy and give your Golden the treat at the same time.

Leave it! Command
Leave it! is a command that tells your Golden to leave whatever interests him alone. Usually you do this by pulling the dog away with a short snap of the collar. However, you can also combine this action with a Watch me! command.

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Watch me! Command
You can use Watch me! to get your Golden to pay attention to you, rather than something else. Start by showing him a treat and bringing the treat up to your face. Tell him “Watch me!” Give your Golden the treat when he makes eye contact.

Out Command
You can tell your Golden when to go to the door to go outside by associating the word “out” with the action. When you walk your Golden or let him outside in the backyard, simply say “Out!” It won’t take long before he learns what “Out” means.

“Bed” Command
Bed is another command most Goldens learn by association. When you tell your Golden to go to his “bed” or “crate,” he learns quickly what his bed is. You can easily teach your Golden to go into his crate by tossing a treat into it and telling him “Bed.” Retriever Rewards
Play with your Golden after each training session. The play will be a reward, and both you and your Golden will look forward to a little fun afterwards.

The Least You Need to Know
≠ An obedience-trained Golden is a joy to own. Don’t have an out-of-control dog—they’re a nuisance at best, and a danger at worst. ≠ You can use either clicker training or positive reinforcement to train your Golden. ≠ When using the clicker method, you’ll be using both the clicker and target stick.


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≠ When using positive methods, you’ll be reinforcing behavior with a motivational object like food or toys. ≠ The basic commands are Sit, Down, Stay, Heel, and Come. ≠ Your Golden may need to learn other commands, such as Drop it or Trade, Leave it, Off, Bed, Out, and Watch me.



Tricky Goldens— Teaching Tricks
In This Chapter
≠ Understand why trick training isn’t just frivolous ≠ Learn how to teach your Golden to shake hands, speak, take a bow, fetch, roll over, wave goodbye, kiss, and beg ≠ Learn how to make up your own fun tricks ≠ Learn how to use the clicker to trick train ≠ Learn how to identify a behavior and make it into a trick “Oh sure, your dog can sit, but does he know any tricks?” No doubt your friends have asked you that question. All obedience and no play makes for a dull Golden. But tricks aren’t just fun—they focus your Golden Retriever on learning from you. In this chapter, you’ll learn how to teach your Golden tricks. You’ll also learn how to make up your own tricks and have fun with your Golden.


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Teaching Tricks
If you’re a serious person, tricks may seem like a frivolous waste of time. After all, tricks don’t teach your Golden how to come or housetrain him, so what’s the use when your Golden still isn’t sitting 100 percent of the time? Tricks accomplish several things. First and foremost, they teach your Golden to pay attention to you. They teach him how to learn while doing something silly or fun. Tricks are an easy way to instill confidence in your Golden Retriever as well. If he doesn’t quite get a trick, no biggie—you can teach him something else. Last, it’ll give you something to show off the next time your friends ask whether Golden Glossary your Golden knows any tricks.
Mark To designate a behavior as desirable.

Retriever Rewards
Your Golden may not figure out what you want from her when teaching a trick. If she doesn’t quite get it, try breaking the trick down into simple components or try another way to get her to do the trick.

Teaching tricks is relatively easy. In Chapters 7 and 8, I showed you how to train using a clicker and target stick. You’ll be using them for trick training, too, because clicker training marks a behavior almost immediately. The best way to teach a trick is to wait until your dog exhibits the behavior you’re looking for. For example, if your Golden does a cute roll onto his back, you can click and treat him for that.

Fun Tricks to Try
What are good tricks to try with your Golden? Some of the easiest are also some of the most fun. Start with an easy trick first, such as shaking hands or speaking on command. When your Golden has mastered that, start thinking about teaching her other simple tricks.

Chapter 9: Tricky Goldens—Teaching Tricks


Shake Hands
Shake Hands or “paw” is one of the easiest tricks for your Golden to learn. If your Golden knows “Touch it” or “Paw it” with a clicker (explained in Chapter 8), hold out your hand and tell him “Touch it” or “Paw it.” When your Golden raises his paw to touch, grasp his paw, click and treat, and then release his paw. Do this a few times until he starts giving you his paw by himself. Continue to click and treat. Now, give him a cue word, such as “shake hands” or “paw.” (Be careful not to use the same word for a different command.) Click and treat when he gives you a paw after you use the cue word. Continue until he’s consistent. No Biscuit!
Before you teach your dog to do something, make sure you’re not teaching him anything dangerous or obnoxious. Your buddies might think it’s cool that your Golden brought you a cold one from the fridge, but you’ve just taught your Golden how to open the refrigerator, where all sorts of good foods wait for raiding afterward. Teaching a dog to dial 911 isn’t a great idea either—especially when your Golden starts dialing foreign countries or summons the police for the third time on a Saturday night.

Another method is to say the word “paw” or “shake hands” and take your dog’s paw in your hands. Click and treat or give him praise and a treat. Do this a few times, and your Golden will learn No Biscuit! quickly to give you his paw. Teaching your

Speak isn’t that much more difficult than Shake Hands, provided that your Golden barks. (Most do!) Start with the clicker and

Golden to speak is usually pretty easy. It’s keeping him from barking all the time that’s the challenge. You may find that you’ve opened the Pandora’s Box when teaching your Golden to be vocal, so be aware that this could be a problem.


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click and treat whenever your Golden barks. He may be surprised and try to bark again. Click and treat. As your Golden continues to bark for a treat, add a cue word such as “Speak.” You can also teach your Golden to speak by telling him “Speak” when he barks and praising him (and giving him a treat).

Take a Bow
A fun trick you can teach your dog is to take a bow. You can click and treat when he does a play bow, or you can use the target stick to lure him into the position. Start by moving the target stick just low enough so your dog must lower his head to touch it. Click and treat. Continue a few times until he understands he must lower his head to get the click. Now, lower the target stick and bring it toward him so that he has to lower his front end just a bit to touch it. Click and treat. (If he moves, don’t click—try to get him to lower his front end.) By shaping his behavior a little at a time, you can get him to play bow. Next, add a cue word such as “Bow.” Click and treat for each bow your Golden takes. Retriever Rewards
One way to get your Golden interested in an object is to smear peanut butter on it. Although a few dogs hate peanut butter (they’re space aliens—I know, I own one!), most love it and will go to great lengths to carry something in their mouths with peanut butter on it. (Use canned cheese product, such as Cheese Wiz®, for the mutants.) Just be sure the item can’t be chewed up and swallowed.

Another way to teach a play bow is to lure your Golden into position. Show him the treat and then slowly bring the treat from his nose toward his chest. Say “Bow.” (Don’t let him lie down—you want him to bow.) Either click and treat or give him lots of praise

Chapter 9: Tricky Goldens—Teaching Tricks


and treats. Practice this a few times, and you’ll be having your dog take a bow in no time.

Fetch Something
Your Golden probably knows how to fetch. (He is, after all, a Retriever.) But if you haven’t taught your Golden to fetch something, you can try with either positive training or the clicker. Find a toy or item you want your Golden to fetch. Try a Frisbee® or a tennis ball. Show your Golden Retriever the toy and get him interested in it. If it’s the tennis ball, try bouncing it along the ground and see whether he runs after it. Give him praise or click and treat when he pays attention to it. For a Frisbee, you can use special soft, flying discs made for dogs. Try rolling one along the ground or putting food in it. Praise him or click and treat whenever he shows interest. Let him play with it for a while.
© Joe Johnson

Goldens are great at retrieving! This is Zippy.

Now toss the toy a short distance. If your Golden has been enjoying the toy, he’ll go after it. (If he doesn’t, bring him over to


Part 3: Dog Training 101

the toy and play with him and the toy a bit before trying to toss it again.) After he picks it up, call him to you. Click and treat or praise him when he comes with the toy. If he drops the toy before he comes to you, go with him to get the toy and then tease him with Retriever Rewards the toy so he takes it.
Good toys for fetching include: ≠ Tennis balls ≠ Rope toys ≠ Frisbees or flying discs ≠ Stuffed toys ≠ Hard rubber toys

When your Golden brings you the toy, offer a trade with a yummy treat, so you’re not playing tug-of-war or making him feel like he must guard it. Then, after he gives you the toy, play with him a bit and toss it again. Add the word “Fetch,” and he’ll be fetching in no time.
© Marilyn Eudaly

Goldens can retrieve many things, including Frisbees. This is Sampson.

Chapter 9: Tricky Goldens—Teaching Tricks


Roll Over
Most dogs roll over for a tummy rub. If your Golden likes his tummy rubbed, you can pair it with the words “Roll Over,” and he’ll start doing it in no time. You can also click and treat when you catch your Golden rolling over. She may be surprised and try it again, or you may have to wait until the next time she does it. Another method you can try is to have your Golden lie down and use a target stick. Now tell her to “Nose it” and move the stick so that she will have to roll over to follow it. Click and treat. Do this several times. Add the cue words “Roll Over” when she is rolling over, and then slowly fade the target stick.

Wave Good-Bye
This is a silly trick, but it’s a big hit, nonetheless. Hold the target stick a bit higher than you might to get your dog to paw something and tell your Golden to “Paw it.” Click and treat. Do this a few times and raise the target stick to a point where your Golden has to raise his paw. Click and treat each time. When you have the wave at a high enough level, substitute the cue word “Wave.” Click and treat each time. Practice several times so your Golden knows what “Wave” means. Then start fading the target stick.

Give Me a Kiss
Most Goldens are kissy, but if yours isn’t, you can still get a kiss on command. Click and treat whenever your Golden licks you and then use the cue word “Kiss.”

No Biscuit!
If your Golden has bad hips or arthritis, skip Beg or other tricks that require him to put stress on his hips and joints.


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If your Golden doesn’t like to lick, try smearing a small amount of peanut butter or canned cheese product on your cheek and say “Kiss.” (You can click and treat for this, too.) Practice this fun little trick, and you’ll soon have a Golden who will kiss on command.

You can practice Beg with a lure. Start with a treat and hold it over your Golden’s nose. See whether he’ll raise himself up into begging position. Click and treat (or praise him and give him the tidbit). Practice this several times and add the word “Beg.” You’ll have a begging Golden in no time.

Creating Your Own Tricks
What kind of tricks do you want to teach your Golden? You’re limited only by your imagination. Before trying to teach your Golden a trick, first decide whether it’s something your dog can do. For example, you may be trying to teach your Golden something he can’t do because of his health. (Arthritis and joint problems might be an issue, for example.) The second thing to consider is whether it’s a good idea to teach your Golden this trick. As I’ve mentioned, teaching your Golden to dial the phone may not be a good idea. Think the trick through—will your Golden take it to the next level? Some tricks will be easy. The best way to teach an easy trick is to click and treat when you see your Golden do the behavior. But if it’s not a normal behavior, you may have to lure your dog into it. For example, in Beg, you had to use a treat to get the behavior you were looking for. When creating a more complex trick, consider what you want your Golden to do and break it up into smaller tasks. For example, teaching your Golden to drop to the ground and roll over and play

Chapter 9: Tricky Goldens—Teaching Tricks


dead when you say “Bang!” requires your Golden to do three things: lie down, roll over on his back, and stay. You must first teach your Golden how to do each of these things and then put them together to make them into the full trick. This is where the clicker comes in handy. Start first with the easiest trick, maybe Down. Click and treat for a quick down. Then, as your Golden drops down, add Roll Over. In this way, you’re chaining two behaviors together. Last, have your Golden belly up until you release him. Put the cue word “Bang!” with the chain of behaviors, and you’ve now got a theatrical performance.

The Least You Need to Know
≠ Tricks are fun, and Goldens can learn a variety of them. ≠ Tricks enable you to interact with your Golden in a nondisciplinary way. ≠ Your Golden will learn how to learn and will bond more closely with you when he learns tricks. ≠ You can make up new tricks by putting together several smaller tricks.



Recalcitrant Retrievers
In This Chapter
≠ Correcting bad behavior before it gets out of hand ≠ Dealing with chewing and other destructive behavior ≠ Correcting house-soiling, jumping up, digging, excessive barking, and aggression ≠ Stopping the escape artist ≠ Separation anxiety ≠ Fear of thunder and other loud noises One look at the local shelter will confirm that most dogs are relinquished between the ages of six months and two years. Many times, the puppy is no longer considered cute and has a behavior problem their owners are unwilling or unable to change. In this chapter, I discuss how good Golden Retrievers go bad and what you can do to prevent it. If you’re already at the stage where you’re having problems, I’ll recommend practical solutions to the most common bad behaviors.


Part 3: Dog Training 101

When Good Dogs Go Bad
You’re reading this chapter for one of two reasons: you want to prevent a problem from happening, or you already have a problem you’re trying to fix. If you’re reading for the first reason, congratulations! It’s easier to prevent a problem than to fix it. If you’re reading for the second reason, either you have a problem starting or you’re at wit’s end and can’t figure out how to fix it. If you’re at this desperate stage, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is there are no easy fixes for your Golden’s bad behavior. The reason the bad behavior continues is because it is self-rewarding—otherwise your Golden wouldn’t do it! The good Retriever Rewards news is that you can take tempoA tired Golden is a rary measures to stop the behavior happy Golden—and and give you both a time-out. But one that is less likely to get into you—as the owner—must make mischief. Exercising or becoming involved in an activity that both the changes immediately to see of you enjoy will make him less any type of turnaround. You must likely to have enough energy be consistent as well. You can’t try left over to challenge you or to the fix for a little while and then cause mischief. go back to the way you’ve been doing things.

Breaking the Cycle
So how do you temporarily stop the bad behavior and substitute a desired behavior in its place? You’ve got to think several steps ahead of your Golden. You need to keep your Golden from performing the undesired behavior at all. If you know that your Golden is going to raid the counter when you put the roast on it, you have to put the roast in a place where your Golden won’t get it or put your Golden in a place where he can’t get the roast. This is a temporary measure, but it breaks the cycle of bad behavior. You must do this

Chapter 10: Recalcitrant Retrievers
every time—not just once or twice—or else your Golden will continue to be rewarded for bad behavior.


The behavior doesn’t change overnight, so expect a new routine. If that means you must have your Golden in the crate while you can’t watch him, then do it. But you will also have to add exercise to his daily regimen to make up for the idle time. You need to establish yourself as a benevolent leader—one whom your Golden can look to for guidance. To do this, make yourself into someone your Golden respects. See if you know the “rules of the road” when it comes to being your Golden’s owner: ≠ Don’t yell, scream, or hit your Golden. You don’t respect someone who does that to you; neither does your Golden. ≠ Don’t play tug-of-war. It makes you an equal to your dog. ≠ Only give commands you can enforce. If you can’t enforce a command, don’t give it; otherwise it makes you look weak. ≠ Have your Golden earn his food and treats. No begging allowed and no treats unless they’re earned. Have him perform a trick or a command before giving him any food or snack. ≠ Don’t let your Golden sleep in your bed. You will look like littermates. ≠ Don’t allow your Golden to mouth you or pull on you. Goldens are naturally mouthy, but mouthing turns into nipping. ≠ Don’t allow your Golden on the furniture if there are behavioral problems. ≠ If you eat dinner at roughly the same time, eat your meal and then feed your Golden when you’re done. ≠ Enter and leave all doors first. Have your Golden wait to follow you.


Part 3: Dog Training 101

≠ Don’t do anything that allows your status to be compromised. Avoid rough-house and wrestling games and don’t allow your Golden to climb all over you. ≠ Establish meal times. That means no free feeding. ≠ Exercise your Golden. A good game of fetch or other activity enables you to interact with him in a fun way. Retriever Rewards
Feed your Golden regular meals instead of free feeding. It will make him look to you for his meals instead of having them magically appear in his bowl.

≠ Work on commands five to ten minutes a day. ≠ Practice sit-stays and downstays while watching TV or doing some other quiet activity. ≠ Don’t allow your Golden to “mount” you.

Signs of Trouble on the Horizon
Before we get into training, the first step is recognizing when there is potential trouble with your Golden. Look at some of these behaviors and see whether your Golden does any of them: ≠ He barks at people and things. ≠ He chews on things he shouldn’t. ≠ He doesn’t listen to commands. ≠ He growls at you if you tell him to move or if you push him away. ≠ He growls at you if you touch his food or toys. ≠ He lifts his leg in the house. ≠ He mouths your hands.

Chapter 10: Recalcitrant Retrievers
≠ He steals things. ≠ He’s able to unlatch and open doors.


So does this mean you have a canine delinquent? Maybe yes; maybe no. If your Golden is a puppy younger than six months, he’s probably doing these things because he doesn’t know any better and hasn’t been properly trained. If he’s older than that and has never Retriever Rewards been consistently obedient or Spaying and neutertrained, then he still doesn’t know ing helps reduce the rules and has made up his own behavior problems in both somewhere along the line. It’s up sexes, especially when it comes to dominance and aggression. to you to teach him what he needs to know.

How Owners Encourage Bad Behavior
You may be surprised to learn that most dog owners inadvertently encourage bad behavior. They allow puppies to get away with things “just this once.” Unfortunately, Golden Retrievers have long memories when it comes to doing naughty things, and if you let your Golden get away with something once, you’ve just set a precedent. Another thing owners do is fail to bond with their Golden. Yes, as loving and adoring as your Golden can be, it’s not a one-way street here. Having your Golden sleep in the basement or the garage—or worse, outside—sends a clear message to the dog that he isn’t one of the family. The owners don’t establish communication with their dog and become exasperated when he chews on things, digs up things, or barks all night. The opposite of the standoffish owner is the owner who spoils his dog rotten. The dog sleeps on the bed, steals food, relieves himself in the house, and chews on everything. The dog doesn’t listen to commands because they won’t be enforced—at least not until the fifth time.


Part 3: Dog Training 101

Last, some owners encourage bad behavior by not recognizing when a cute or seemingly innocuous behavior leads to something more sinister. They praise and encourage their Golden for barking at the mail carrier or let puppies chew on their fingers. Then, they find it not so cute when their grown-up Golden is barking at everything or nipping them. If you see yourself in any of these scenarios, it’s time to take action. If you’re the standoffish owner, it’s time to bring your Golden back into your life now. Move his crate into your bedroom and start training. If you’re the owner who has spoiled your dog rotten, it’s time to set limits and take control of your relationship. And if you’re the owner who let your Golden get away with behaviors as a puppy, it’s time to stop those behaviors now.

When a Behavior Appears Out of Nowhere (or Even If It Doesn’t)
Before you start behavior modification, it’s time to take a step back and take your Golden to the veterinarian. This is especially true if a behavior starts without warning. Often dogs exhibit what you might consider bad behavior when they’re reacting to a health problem. A dog who suddenly forgets he’s housetrained may actually have a urinary tract infection, for example. Even if the behavior has been going on a while, you still should have a vet examine your Golden. For example, I had a dog who was aggressive toward other female dogs. Later, we learned that she had hip dysplasia, a painful condition that made her react with aggression. She showed no outward sign of her condition at all except her aggression. When you visit the vet, tell him what behaviors you’re seeing and ask whether there could be an underlying medical condition. Your vet should be happy to examine your Golden. Even if he

Chapter 10: Recalcitrant Retrievers


pronounces your Golden healthy, you should always keep the possibility of a health problem in mind in case the vet missed something unusual or undetectable without extensive tests. Here is a partial list of behavior problems and possible medical causes: ≠ Growling or snapping when touched—pain in that part of the body, abscess, tooth problems, arthritis, hip dysplasia, paneosteitis, or other joint problems. ≠ Growling when approaching the food bowl or stealing food from the counter—ravenously hungry from a medical condition. ≠ Aggression toward people or dogs—low thyroid, other hormone imbalance, pain, or neurological problem. ≠ Marking or urinating on the floor—urinary tract infection, kidney problems, or bladder problems. ≠ Chewing inappropriate items or destructive behavior—tooth problems or teething. Even if your veterinarian rules out medical problems with a certain behavior, now is the time to discuss spaying or neutering your Golden, if you haven’t done so yet. Although there has been much debate on whether spaying reduces aggression in female dogs, it’s been my experience that spaying and neutering helps reduce aggression and other challenging behaviors in both sexes. Female dogs that I’ve spayed for behavior problems have been overall less aggressive than when they were intact, suggesting perhaps a hormonal imbalance. But spaying and neutering isn’t a substitute for training; it is a tool in your training arsenal. It will help reduce unwanted behavior.


Part 3: Dog Training 101

Chewing and Other Destructive Behavior
Dogs are naturally destructive critters. If your Golden is a puppy and is teething, this is normal behavior. You will have to provide acceptable items for him to chew on and crate him when you can’t watch him. If he is an older adult, have your vet look into possible dental problems, such as puppy teeth that haven’t come out or adult teeth that haven’t grown in properly. After you’ve determined that the problem isn’t medical, you need to analyze when your Golden is chewing on inappropriate items or being destructive. Is it when you’re not home or when you’re home and you can’t watch him? Is it a particular item your Golden is interested in, or does he choose objects at random? If your Golden isn’t crate trained, or if you don’t keep him in a crate, start now. The crate will keep your Golden from destroying your house. Give him an appropriate chew item while you’re home but unable to watch him every second. Second, try tying your Golden to you. Get a long leash (10 feet or so) and hook one end to his collar. Tie the other end to your belt or belt loop while your Golden is in the house. Now, your Golden has to go where you go and has to focus on you. He can’t run off and chew something without you seeing it. This training technique accomplishes two things. First, it helps prevent destructive behavior. Second, it helps bond your Golden to you. This method is called by several names—umbilical cording and tying are two—but the method is the same. This bonding technique will help break the cycle of chewing, but it takes a while. When you catch your Golden chewing something inappropriate, offer an appropriate item as a trade, such as a chew toy or rawhide.

Chapter 10: Recalcitrant Retrievers


House-soiling can occur for a variety of reasons, some of which are medical in nature; others are training issues; and still others are dominance issues. If your Golden has been housetrained for some time (no accidents in three months or more) and then starts housesoiling, suspect a medical cause. Bring him to the vet for a thorough examination. If your Golden has accidents where he pees in large quantities or poops, no medical reason can be detected, and he is inconsistent in his housetraining (that is, he has not been reliable in three months), you can safely assume that you have to work on his housetraining some more. Sometimes you may also have to work on your Golden’s housetraining after a medical problem. Remember that you can’t expect a dog to hold it for more than nine hours (and no more than four hours for a puppy). Golden Glimmers
Sometimes a medical problem can cause a behavioral problem long after the medical problem has been fixed. For example, if your Golden has been house-soiling because of a medical condition, he might continue to house-soil after the problem has cleared up because he’s used to doing it. In this case, you must correct the medical problem and then retrain your Golden.

The third type of house-soiling usually is associated with marking, and yes, female dogs do this too. If your Golden is primarily urinating in prominent places and is leaving a small to medium amount here or there, you can suspect he’s dominance marking. At this stage, you need to reinforce your role as a benevolent leader and start making yourself into a person your Golden will respect. If your Golden constantly sneaks off into another room to “do his duty,” try tying him to you. This will stop the shenanigans immediately because he can no longer piddle or poop behind your back.


Part 3: Dog Training 101

Don’t Tread on Me! Jumping Up
Your Golden loves to jump up because she is excited or happy to see you. Unfortunately, this isn’t something you want to happen when you have your good clothes on or when she might knock over a child. So you must never encourage jumping up. Instead of giving your Golden a harsh correction, try putting her in a Sit and then crouching down to pet her. Don’t pet her unless she is in a Sit position. She’ll soon learn that to be petted, she must Sit nicely. If she jumps up or climbs on you, sometimes bringing your knee up so that she bounces against it, combined with a quick “Off!” command, works. But many dogs just bounce off and try it again. The Sit command is more effective.

Trench Warfare—Digging
Digging is a tough habit to break. You can try filling the holes with your Golden’s poop and cover them with dirt, but this will only keep your Golden from digging in that spot again. You will then have to watch your Golden to prevent further digging. An effective way to interrupt this behavior is to take several pop cans and put 5 to 10 pennies in them, and then tape them closed so that they rattle when you shake them. When you catch your Golden digging, throw a can toward him (don’t hit him!), close enough to startle him. Say “No dig!” This should surprise him enough to stop digging. A few pop cans and your Golden should get the idea. However, this won’t work if you leave your Golden outside all day while you’re gone. If you have an area in your yard that can be your Golden’s kennel run, where you don’t mind a hole or two, that may be a better solution than the pop can method.

Chapter 10: Recalcitrant Retrievers


Retriever Rewards
The spray bottle method is a little more unpleasant than the pennies-in-a-pop-can method. Fill a squirt bottle with clean water (you can also use one of those big soaker water guns). When you catch your Golden barking, squirt him with the water. Most dogs, even water-loving Retrievers, don’t like getting squirted and soon stop.

Barking up the Wrong Tree— Excessive Barking
Goldens that bark too much are often encouraged from the start. They see a stranger walking down the street and bark. The stranger’s reaction (walking away)—or perhaps your reaction if you praised him—is enough to reinforce the behavior. Soon, your Golden is idiot barking, that is, barking at just about anything and everything. If your Golden is barking and keeping the neighbors up at night, why are you leaving him outside? He’s better off indoors in his own crate by your bed than out disturbing the neighbors. Same for the dog who sits in his outside kennel while his owners are gone to work or school. If your Golden is still noisy—indoors while you’re gone, or outside while you’re home—the next step is to use the pennies-ina-pop-can or spray bottle method (if you are home to No Biscuit! In extreme circumcatch him in the act). You can stances, you may be forced into also try a citronella bark collar. A citronella bark collar is an alternative to a standard bark collar. When the dog barks, the collar sprays a fine mist of citronella on the dog’s chin. Most

making a choice between quieting your Golden or losing him. If this is the case, consult with an animal behaviorist or your veterinarian for possible solutions.


Part 3: Dog Training 101

dogs dislike the smell and quickly learn to be quiet. However, some dogs are clever enough to turn their head to avoid the mist, or will quickly bark several times to empty the canister. In most cases, barking is a way of expressing boredom. It’s become a habit, and after started it’s hard to stop. So to stop your Golden barking, in addition to the methods described previously, keep him inside at night and during the day when you’re not at home and spend extra time with him exercising, training, and playing.

It’s Houdini!
Do you constantly have to retrieve your retriever? Most escapeartist dogs start out by being clever and bored. Combine this with ineffective barriers, and you’ve got the makings of a Houdini. Your Golden will continue to break out as long as you continue to put up ineffective barriers. The trick is to set up a good barrier the first time after he tries to escape. If your Golden escapes from the backyard constantly, you may have to build a special dig-proof, jump-proof, climb-proof kennel and keep your Golden inside in an escape-proof crate when you are not at home. Give your Golden something to do during those long hours alone. A thick marrow bone filled with peanut butter is a fun treat for your Golden and will give him hours of tasty enjoyment. Giving him plenty of fun toys and making a small obstacle course—something to climb in and on—will help relieve some of the boredom.

Raiding Parties
Temptations abound on counters within nose reach. If your Golden is used to carrying off loot like a Viking raiding party, it’s time to stop this behavior. Keep all food out of your Golden’s reach. This may require that you install child latches on your cabinets and hide your dinner in the oven or microwave while you leave it unattended.

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Other temptations besides food are within reach. Trash is a big one. Hide the trash under the kitchen sink or in the bathroom where your Golden can’t get to it. If your Golden is particularly adept at trying to get at items on the stove, either crate him or use static mats. These are low-shock mats that give a jolt similar to static electricity. (Yes, I’ve touched one. They’re unpleasant, but harmless.) Most dogs avoid these mats after one or two encounters. After that, you can leave the mat turned off or use a “dummy” mat. These mats are far less painful than if your Golden burns himself trying to steal food off the stove.

Aggression is a serious problem. If your Golden has already bitten someone or if you’re afraid of your Golden, seek professional help immediately. A dog like this is a liability. By aggression, I’m not talking about the occasional growl or play that suddenly turns into a fight. Although those are reasons for concern, I’m talking about a dog who attacks people or animals repeatedly and shows no sign of backing down. Some aggression has medical roots. Pain, seizures, neurological disorders, and other medical conditions can cause aggression in a dog. A trip to the vet is in order. Several types of aggression may be displayed: dominance, fear, pain, frustration, sexual, guarding, prey, and idiopathic. ≠ Dominance aggression occurs when the dog is trying to assert his status over another dog or a human. This may be very aggressive behavior, and the dog may not back down. ≠ Fear aggression occurs when the dog feels it has been put in a dangerous situation. The dog bites out of fear to get away from the situation. It’s usually a quick snap or a series of snaps followed by the dog retreating.


Part 3: Dog Training 101

≠ Pain aggression is much like fear aggression, but the dog is in pain and wants the pain to stop. Again, this is usually a few quick snaps, and the dog retreats. ≠ Frustration or redirected aggression occurs when the dog can’t get at something he wants so he takes his frustration out on a nearby person or dog. It’s usually a few quick snaps. If his frustration is redirected, it can take the form of any type of aggression. ≠ Sexual aggression has to do with competition for a mate. The dog won’t pursue other dogs after he has driven them off. ≠ Guarding is similar to dominance aggression, but the dog is trying to keep an item away from a potential contender. Again, this is a few quick bites. The dog is unlikely to pursue the contender when he backs down. ≠ Prey aggression is where the dog looks at the person or animal as prey and pursues it to kill it. All dogs have some form of prey drive—some more developed than others. In a full prey drive, the dog will attack aggressively and won’t stop until he is met with enough force to deter him. Golden Glimmers
Not all aggression is bad. Humans have harnessed some aggression, such as the prey drive, into useful actions. Herding, for example, is a diminished prey drive in which the dog exhibits all of the characteristics of a prey drive without the attack or bite at the end.

≠ Idiopathic aggression occurs due to some type of seizure. It appears to have no trigger involved, and the dog can go from being friendly to an attack and then back to being friendly. These cases are rare, but no amount of training can stop it because the cause is medical. Consult a veterinarian if you have a young Golden puppy that shows aggression or a dog that attacks randomly.

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A dog may exhibit more than one type of aggression at a time. For example, he may show dominance aggression with guarding aggression or prey drive with dominance aggression. It helps to understand what type of aggression you’re dealing with. You’ll be handling different types of aggression differently. Fear aggression, for example, requires very different handling than dominance aggression. The key to stopping aggression is preventing it in the first place. Positive socialization will go a long way toward eliminating fear in your Golden. Neutering and spaying will help with dominance and sexual aggression. Teaching your puppy to trade for something tasty will help prevent guarding behavior over the food bowl. Keeping your Golden away from aggressive dogs will help keep him from learning aggressive behavior toward other dogs. Some aggressive behavior is learned. Let’s say an aggressive dog attacks your Golden. Your Golden may be fearful that he might be attacked again the next time he sees another dog and may growl to ward off the attack. The other dog may growl (because he’s challenged), thus confirming the aggressive behavior.

Don’t Leave Me Alone!—Separation Anxiety
If your Golden destroys or chews things while you’re not home or whines and cries when he’s left alone, he may be suffering from separation anxiety. You may unknowingly be causing separation anxiety in your Golden. Do you make a big production out of leaving and arriving? Do you act as though you are never coming back? Stop the tearful, Oscar-winning performance! Make your exits and arrivals as low key as possible. Crating your Golden will help with the overall destruction. You may also have to spend a few days desensitizing your Golden to your


Part 3: Dog Training 101

comings and goings by taking short trips out of the house and then returning. Some dog owners like to leave the radio or television on for background noise. If you try this, choose stations with soothing music or calm voices. Talk radio will often have argumentative chatter that will only heighten your Golden’s anxiety. I have CDs that are specially recorded for pets. I honestly don’t know whether they work or not, but I’ve seen dogs relax to Bach and other Baroque works. A friend of mine who is a vet recommends that clients read a boring book into a tape recorder and play the tape while they’re gone. Sometimes hearing their owner’s voice is all that’s needed to calm a dog’s fears. If your Golden continues to display separation anxiety, your vet can prescribe medications to help.

Fear of Thunder and Other Loud Noises
Some dogs suffer from fear of thunder or other loud noises. This fear seems to get worse with age, and the dog doesn’t get over it. You might be making his fear worse if you act frightened or nervous when a storm is brewing. Coddling your Golden will only reinforce the shaking and trembling. If your Golden is terrified of thunder and lightning, keep him inside—preferably in a crate—during thunderstorms. Often thunderstorms have many signs—ozone smell, dimmer light, and other signs we can’t pick up on—so they’re difficult to desensitize a dog to. Dogs that are afraid of thunder are likely to try to escape and may hurt themselves in their panic. Dogs have been known to jump out closed second-story windows or over fences in sheer panic. If your Golden continues to become panicked or fearful even when crated, consider talking to your vet or a behaviorist. Your vet may

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be able to prescribe medication that will help calm your Golden during thunderstorms.


Thunderstorms are not the only time for loud noises, however. Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve, and even Halloween can be frightening to your Golden. Take extra precautions to give him a safe and secure place during these noisy times.

The Least You Need to Know
≠ Bad behavior doesn’t change to good behavior overnight. No quick fixes or magic bullets exist to change your Golden’s bad behavior. ≠ You can prevent your Golden from misbehaving, thereby breaking the cycle that continues to reinforce the bad behavior, by crating him or taking away the ability to perform the bad behavior. ≠ Enforce all commands and insist on maintaining your status as owner. ≠ Neuter or spay your Golden. ≠ Houdini dogs become escape artists because their owners put up inferior barriers from which the dog can escape. ≠ Aggression comes in various types. If your Golden shows aggression toward people, seek professional help. ≠ Your vet can help you with severe cases of separation anxiety and fear of thunderstorms.


No matter how hard you try to care for your Golden Retriever, he may still get sick. However, you can do plenty of things to keep him healthy. A good diet with the right nutrition followed by good preventive care is vital for a healthy and long life. In Part 4, we examine health issues. You learn about the common illnesses and injuries Goldens get, as well as congenital and hereditary problems they face due to their popularity, and what to do in case of emergency. You’ll learn how to choose the right vet for you and your Golden Retriever. You’ll also learn how to figure out whether there’s a problem with your Golden’s health and whether it’s something you can fix or whether it’s time to visit the vet.


In Sickness and in Health



Food for Thought: Nutrition
In This Chapter
≠ What is good nutrition for your Golden? ≠ Are all types of dog foods the same? ≠ Should you make your Golden’s food? ≠ Fad diets: healthy or hazardous? ≠ What about treats? ≠ What should you feed the overweight Golden? Nutrition is a hot topic with pet owners. Recently pet owners have been bombarded with fad diets, raw diets, cooked diets, bone diets, and natural diets. Should you feed your Golden a commercial dog food, or is that tantamount to abuse? In this chapter, you’ll learn about dog foods, whether you should feed dog foods at all, and what meat by-products really are. You’ll learn how to spot a good premium brand of dog food and what will work best for your Golden, depending on his age and activity level. Last, we’ll talk about pudgy pooches and why you need to keep your Golden trim.


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What to Feed Your Golden Retriever
Feeding a dog used to be no big deal. You went to the store, picked up a bag of Canine Crunchies, and poured it in a bowl. What could be simpler? Nowadays, you’ve probably heard from someone, somewhere (probably the Internet) that you’ll kill your dog with cancer, allergies, autoimmune diseases, and who knows what else if you feed anything that comes out of a bag. But is this right? Will you really kill your Golden if you feed him commercial food? Is the food at the grocery store okay for him? And what about those bones? First, be aware that good nutrition for dogs isn’t as easy as tossing him a bone with meat on it. Nor is it just giving a bit of hamburger, cooked rice, and raw veggies. Dogs need a specific amount of protein and fat and a special balance of nutrients to live. You can cause a serious imbalance by feeding the wrong foods. Retriever Rewards The American Association of Feed your Golden Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) regularly scheduled measured meals instead of free has determined the minimum feeding. One benefit to feeding nutrition a dog needs to be healthy. meals is that you’ll see right To have a complete and balanced away whether your Golden is diet, dog food with an AAFCO sick. It isn’t okay for your statement must meet or exceed the Golden to skip a meal when he is normally a good eater. It may standards set forth by AAFCO. be a sign of illness. Otherwise, the diet can’t be labeled as complete and balanced. There are dog foods and treats that aren’t complete and balanced out there, so you must always look for the AAFCO statement on the label. Even then, this guarantee is only that the food meets the minimums, so that your Golden won’t have a serious health problem associated with the food’s nutrition; an AAFCO statement doesn’t guarantee the quality of the ingredients.

Chapter 11: Food for Thought: Nutrition


© Janna Hughes

Be sure to provide plenty of fresh water. This is Kyra.

The good news is that there are commercial foods you can buy that are good for your Golden. Dog food manufacturers have literally spent millions of dollars in research to determine the optimum nutrition for your dog. The dog foods we have today are better than dog foods 20, 10, or even 5 years ago. The bad news is that there is still a lot of junk food out there. This food tends to be cheap and has fillers, sugar, and artificial colors. This food is what you’d normally see priced at a deep discount when compared to other dog food. This dog food may have an attractive price but the digestibility of the nutrients is lower when compared to premium food. That means you must feed more Golden Glossary of a cheaper food to obtain the Digestibility The persame amount of nutrition that a centage of nutrients in a premium food contains. In other dog food that the dog can use words, your Golden may have to after it is digested. eat twice as much or more of a


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cheap dog food as he would a premium brand. The cheaper brand ends up as more poop in your yard instead of good nutrition for your Golden. So bargain brands aren’t much of a bargain. Sure, you save $10 to $20 on a bag of food, but instead of feeding two or three cups, you have to feed five to seven. That’s quite a difference! Are you really saving money on that dog food now? I used to define the bargain brands as anything you can buy at a grocery store, but that’s not true anymore. Some grocery store chains carry some decent food. So how do you know what is a premium dog food? One way is to look at the label. The ingredients in a dog food are listed in descending order of total weight, with the most abundant ingredient listed first. The first ingredient should be a protein source and should be an animal protein (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, or dairy). The next ingredient may be a carbohydrate source such as corn, rice, or wheat, but be careful! If there are several carbohydrate sources in a row, those can actually outweigh the protein source, and the food may be more grain than meat. Golden Glimmers
The words “premium” and “super premium” are tough to define when it comes to dog food—mostly because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and AAFCO have no definition concerning premium food. In fact, “premium” and “super premium” are marketing words and may not fit the dog food itself. When I talk about a premium dog food, I mean a food that has quality ingredients, including a highly digestible protein source, and has a high digestibility (greater than 80 percent is usable by the dog). To determine whether the dog food is truly premium, you must look at the ingredient list and contact the dog food company to find out what the digestibility is. Premium dog foods will have protein sources derived from animal products (such as meat, poultry, or fish) as their first ingredients.

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The second way is to contact the manufacturer directly. Most manufacturers have toll-free numbers on their packaging for questions, and many have Internet sites. You can find out through the manufacturer what the digestibility of the dog food is. (If it’s greater than 80 percent, you can assume it’s a premium dog food.) When choosing a dog food, you should look for quality, availability, and palatability. We’ve discussed quality; now look at the availability. I always recommend that you purchase a recognizable brand or one you can get readily. If the local pet boutique is closed, you want to be able to get the food somewhere else if you run out. Palatability is very important. All that good nutrition is worthless if your Golden doesn’t eat it. So find something he likes to eat and stick with it. Should you feed just one brand of food or should you mix them? I used to tell people to pick one brand of dog food and stay with it. However, some vets and nutritionists might dispute me here and recommend that you choose a few pet foods and rotate them. The thinking is that if there’s something missing in one food, it will be balanced out by other foods. But there are some fallacies to this line of thought: ≠ The dog food is either complete and balanced or it isn’t. If you believe that the feeding trials, the research, and the analysis shows that the food is complete, then your dog doesn’t need anything else. ≠ Research has shown that dogs need a minimum of six weeks or more on the same dog food before you can see any benefit from the food. Constantly rotating pet foods will provide nutrition, but there’s really no way to tell what is helping and what isn’t. ≠ Changing foods frequently can cause gastric upsets, including diarrhea. In some cases, it can cause bloat, a life-threatening condition.


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If you decide to rotate foods, be sure to mix the food or gradually change one food over to another. I recommend starting with 10 percent of the new food and 90 percent of the old food the first day. Then, each day increase the new food and decrease the old food, each by 10 percent, until you’re feeding 100 percent of the new food. Retriever Rewards
Follow the guidelines set forth on the dog food’s label for feeding, then adjust to suit your individual dog. Most dog foods tend to recommend more than the dog actually needs. Most dog food labels recommend a daily ration. If your Golden puppy is under four months old, feed him the daily ration split into thirds, feeding three times a day. Otherwise, feed him half the ration twice a day.

Canned, Dry, Frozen, or Semi-Moist?
Dog food comes in a variety of forms—the most common are dry and canned. Most owners like to use dry dog food and mix in one of the other foods to make the dry food more palatable. Pound for pound, dry dog food or kibble is the most cost-effective dog food. You have more choices in dry dog food. Use these guidelines in selecting a dry dog food for your Golden Retriever: ≠ If your Golden is under 12 months old, you should still be feeding a premium puppy food. Most puppy foods have a 28 percent protein/17 percent fat by weight content or more. ≠ If your Golden is an active adult, you should feed a premium active adult food that has approximately a 25 percent protein/15 percent fat by weight content. ≠ If your Golden is overweight or inactive, you should feed a maintenance or “Lite” version of the premium adult food.

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≠ If your Golden works (field trials or other hard work), feed him a premium performance dog food that has approximately a 30 percent protein/20 percent fat by weight content. ≠ If your Golden is a senior (over 8 years), feed him a dog food that maintains his weight and energy level. Don’t switch him to a senior type dog food unless he is gaining weight or has some underlying health problem. You may want to go with canned, semi-moist, or frozen food, or compressed meat rolls: ≠ Canned dog food—Canned dog food is very palatable, but can be expensive because you pay for the water that goes into canned food. Many Golden owners like to add a can to their dog’s dry food as a treat. ≠ Semi-moist food—Semi-moist food is chock full of colors, preservatives, and sugar. Expensive. Use sparingly or as treats. ≠ Frozen food—Usually no preservatives, must be kept frozen to avoid bacterial growth or spoilage. Expensive—you’re paying both for water weight and freezer storage. ≠ Compressed meat rolls— Highly palatable and expensive. Needs to be refrigerated once opened. No Biscuit!
You may be wondering whether it’s okay to feed your Golden table scraps instead of dog food. Table scraps don’t have the nutrition a dog needs. Most table scraps are heavy on carbohydrates, fat, and salt and low on nutrition.

Nutrition Nuggets
Your Golden gets his energy from protein, fat, and carbohydrates in his food. Each of these nutrients is important for a healthy dog. Let’s take a look at each of them.


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Protein is an essential nutrient. It provides the building blocks for muscles, bone, organs, and connective tissue at 4 calories per gram. It is the main component of enzymes, hormones, and antibodies. It helps with muscle repair, builds and maintains plasma volume and red blood cells, and increases mitochondrial volume (energy burners) in working dogs. The type of protein you feed your dog is important. Dogs are carnivores and require complete proteins that are difficult to get from vegetable sources. Good sources of protein include meat (chicken and poultry included), meat meal, meat by-products, and meat by-product meals. Golden Glimmers
Don’t turn up your nose at feeding a dog food with byproducts in it. You might think that chowing down on lungs, hearts, intestines, and kidneys is disgusting, but your Golden will love it. What’s more, highquality by-products are a better

The first ingredient in the dog food you buy should be the protein source, whether it is chicken, by-products, or another meat. Avoid dog foods with soy or meat and bone meal as the first protein source; both soy and bone meal are not as high quality and generally not as digestible as meat or by-products.

Fat is an energy-dense nutrient at 9 calories per gram. High-quality fat sources include animal fat. Dogs and cats use fats that are commonly referred to as Omega-6 long-chained fatty acids. They are usually a mixture of saturated (solid) and unsaturated (liquid) fats. Unsaturated fat tends to turn rancid quicker. Typical fat sources include beef, poultry, and animal fat, which may be a mixture of pork, beef, lamb, and horse fat. Animal fats tend to be better than vegetable fats in providing energy.

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Carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram of energy. Carbohydrates are useful for fiber and extra energy in your Golden’s diet. In working dogs, a carbohydrate snack can help refuel a dog’s cells after sustained exercise. Most dogs benefit from cooked grains that are easier to digest. Carbohydrates in the form of fiber help keep the colon healthy and aid in water absorption. No Biscuit!
Should your Golden be a vegetarian? The answer is no. Although dogs can and do subsist on vegetarian diets, dogs are designed to eat meat, not grains. Most vegetarian diets are based on soy protein. Soy can cause gas and bloating in dogs that are allergic to it. If you want to be a vegetarian, that’s fine. But feed your dog meat-based dog food.

Home Cooking—Raw Food Diets
I’m going to address the raw food diets candidly here, because I have fed my dogs both commercial and raw foods. When I’ve fed raw foods, it was done after consulting professional nutritionists, which most feeders of raw diets can’t claim. I always had to add vitamins and minerals and almost always added some dog food to the raw diet. My dogs did well enough on it. My dogs do better on commercial dog food. However, there are those who argue vehemently for raw food diets.

Proponents’ Statements
Most people who feed raw diets cite a number of reasons why you shouldn’t feed a commercial diet. Most of the reasons sound good,


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but there a number of fallacies associated with their statements. Let’s look at a few. ≠ “I prefer to feed an all-natural diet free of preservatives and chemicals.” This is a tough thing to do. Even people who eat vegan diets have trouble finding foods without preservatives. The main culprit is fat—which turns rancid quickly when exposed to air. Animal fats—a preferred source of energy—are almost always preserved with BHT, BHA, or some other preservative. Even if you manage to eliminate the preservatives, your pet is still exposed to chemicals due to antibiotics and other medications in the food animals, unless you choose completely organic meats (and even then, there are chemicals in the environment). ≠ “I know what ingredients I’m giving my dog.” That’s true, but do you know the amounts of protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals you’re feeding him, too? ≠ “Raw bones are safe for dogs to eat.” Actually, they’re not. Veterinarians have operated on dogs who have eaten raw bones to remove blockages and fix perforated intestines. Any bone that your Golden can swallow whole can cause a problem. ≠ “Raw foods mimic what dogs eat in the wild.” Actually, they don’t. When wolves kill their prey, they eat the stomach contents of a ruminant (partially digested plants), the skin and hair, the organ meats including the liver, lungs, stomach, intestines, spleen, heart, connecting tissue, and then go for the muscle meat and bones. This doesn’t equal green beans, lettuce, and a chicken wing! Wolves also don’t live long in the wild—most barely make it past eight years. ≠ “Dogs’ intestines can handle bacteria.” Dogs seem to be more resistant to nasty bacteria, but that means that they’re carrying that bacteria around and can give it to you. Younger and older dogs tend to be more susceptible to these bacteria and can die from infections.

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≠ “I know how to feed my kids—why can’t I formulate a dog food?” Feeding kids and feeding dogs are two different animals. Do you feed your kids vitamin-fortified cereal? Do they drink milk (enriched with vitamin D)? Do you use iodized salt? Do you take vitamins or have your kids take vitamins? A lot of the work has been done for you when it comes to proper nutrition for your family. Dogs require special nutrition, too. ≠ “The ingredients I use are better and fresher than what’s in dog food.” Maybe. But fresh food without preservatives tends to spoil faster. You must be careful about E. coli, Campylobacter, and Salmonella poisoning. If you cook the food, you can destroy vital nutrients. ≠ “My dog can’t get the nutrition he needs from commercial dog food.” Unless your Golden is sick and needs a special diet (and many veterinary diets are available), or if he is an endurance working dog (such as a sled dog), your Golden will get all the nutrition he needs from a premium or superpremium dog food. ≠ “Feeding raw foods will make my dog healthier.” Maybe. Or they could make him sick. Some foods, such as onions, grapes, and raw salmon, shouldn’t be fed to your Golden under any circumstance. Raw salmon from the Northwest may contain a fluke that can be poisonous to your Golden, onions can cause anemia, and grapes and raisins can cause renal failure. Raw game meat can contain tularemia, trichinosis, and tapeworms. There is also the potential for food poisoning due to Campylobacter, Salmonella and E. coli.

The Difficulties of Balancing Nutrients
AAFCO has set forth the minimum guidelines for dog foods. Unless you are a veterinary nutritionist, how close do you think you can come to balancing nutrients? For example, calcium and phosphorus


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require a special ratio of about 1.5 to 1. If phosphorus exceeds that ratio (as in a diet with too much meat), the dog’s body will pull calcium from the bones, making them brittle. If you’re set on feeding your Golden a raw food diet or a homecooked diet, contact a veterinary college and speak with a nutritionist there. Most will be able to recommend and analyze diets for deficiencies.

Performance Diets—Feeding the Canine Athlete
If your Golden Retriever works hard, such as in field trials, hunting, agility, or other work, he should be on a super-premium performance blend of dog food. You must be careful when feeding performance foods, however, because the tendency is to feed too much, making your Golden fat. More protein and fat is necessary for hard-working dogs to maintain muscle mass and keep their weight. When you choose a high-performance dog food, find one that is highly digestible. Otherwise, you may see stress diarrhea or even bloody diarrhea. Some cheaper brands of dog food have rough-cut grains that can irritate your Golden’s bowels and cause bleeding. If you see blood in your dog’s stool, have your vet check your Golden to rule out other causes. If your Golden is in good shape, try mixing water with his food, changing dog foods, or adding canned dog food to his diet to help cushion the food as it passes through his intestines.

Fad Diets
The term “fad diets” conjures up ads that promise you’ll lose 50 pounds in three days—and they’re just about as healthy! Avoid feeding your Golden diets that have strange or unusual ingredients. Diets that aren’t formulated to meet or surpass AAFCO guidelines

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aren’t complete and balanced and may cause severe nutritional deficiencies.

Junk Food—Between-Meal Snacks
Treats and in-between meal snacks are what Goldens live for, but you should limit them to no more than 10 percent of your Golden’s total calories. This includes the ice cream, training treats, pizza, and table scraps. I don’t recommend feeding table scraps, because they can turn your Golden into a picky eater. But if you do feed scraps, keep them small in portion and avoid high-fat, high-sugar, high-carbohydrate, and high-salt foods.

Retriever Rewards
To teach good eating habits, put down your Golden’s bowl with his food and set a timer for 10 minutes. At the end of 10 minutes, pick up his food bowl, even if he hasn’t touched it, and don’t give him his food until his next scheduled meal. After a few rounds of this, your Golden will learn that feeding time means it’s time to eat.

Poisonous Temptations—Chocolate and Other Unsafe Foods
Some foods are poisonous to your Golden. These include: ≠ Alcohol—even a small amount can cause alcohol poisoning. A drunk Golden is not funny and a small amount can be toxic. ≠ Chocolate—contains theobromine, a substance that is poisonous to dogs. Dark or bittersweet chocolate is more poisonous than milk chocolate.


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≠ Grapes and raisins—these can cause renal failure in dogs. ≠ Onions—may cause anemia. ≠ Raw salmon from the Northwest—contains a parasite that can kill your Golden. ≠ Coffee—can also be poisonous to dogs.

Obesity is a common problem among Golden Retrievers. It comes from owners who are heavy-handed with the treats and the dog food measuring cup and who don’t exercise their Goldens regularly. Unfortunately, most people’s Goldens are a bit chunky. The problem with obesity is that it can lead to health problems in your Golden, just as it can in humans. You can help extend your Golden’s life by keeping him trim and fit.

Determining Whether Your Golden Is Fit or Fat
Weight isn’t a good indicator of fitness, as different Goldens have different builds. Instead, you should examine your Golden to determine his fitness. You should be able to put your thumbs on your Golden’s spine and feel his ribs. If you can’t feel your Golden’s ribs or can barely feel them under a thick layer of padding, your Golden Retriever is too fat. If you can see your Golden’s ribs and pelvic bones, he is too thin.

Diet Isn’t a Four-Letter Word
If your Golden needs to shed a few pounds, talk with your vet about putting him on a diet and exercise program. Most vets are able to prescribe a diet food that will help shed the pounds. You can also try the maintenance or “lite” version of your Golden’s food.

Chapter 11: Food for Thought: Nutrition
If your Golden is the quintessential couch potato, getting him off the couch and into an exercise regimen will help shave off unwanted pounds. If you and your Golden are exercising to shed weight, remember the following rules:


≠ Start slow—your Golden is probably out of shape and needs to build up to rigorous exercise. ≠ Choose an activity you both can do that’s fun. Playing fetch, jogging, and dog sports are possible activities. ≠ Be careful when exercising when it’s hot. Overweight dogs tend to overheat faster.

The Least You Need to Know
≠ Bargain brand dog foods tend to be no bargain because they have more fillers and are less digestible than premium brands. ≠ Feed your adult Golden twice a day after he reaches four months. When he is younger than four months, he should be fed three times a day. ≠ Use the feeding guidelines on the dog food label and adjust accordingly. Most dog food manufacturers recommend larger portions than your Golden needs. ≠ Feed your Golden a dog food that meets or exceeds AAFCO standards. ≠ Homemade diets can be tricky to balance and may cause malnutrition. Some raw diets may contain Salmonella and E. coli. ≠ Limit snacks and treats to no more than 10 percent of your Golden’s total diet. ≠ Your Golden is obese if you can’t feel his ribs or can barely feel them under a layer of fat. Contact your vet for recommendations regarding a weight-loss and exercise program.



Choosing a Veterinarian
In This Chapter
≠ All veterinarians are not the same ≠ How to find the best dog doc for you and your Golden ≠ Bringing your Golden to the vet for the first time ≠ Vaccinations A good vet is worth his weight in gold. Yes, there are many competent vets are out there, but how do you figure out whether this vet or that vet is right for you and your Golden? Just like medical doctors, there are many types of vets, and not all offer the same services. It’s up to you to determine what you’re looking for. In this chapter, I discuss veterinarians, the types of practices and services they offer, and how to find a good one. I’ll tell you a little about what to expect when you bring your Golden in the first time, as well. I’ll also discuss vaccinations—how they work and what vaccinations you should consider. Not all vaccinations are appropriate in all situations.


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Dog Doctors
The most important person in your Golden’s life (after you) should be his veterinarian. It only makes sense that you find the right vet for your Golden. Your Golden’s vet can offer guidance on how to care for your Golden and what to do when he’s sick. When you look for a vet, he or she should be compatible with you. This may sound strange, but whether you get along with your vet will affect whether you’re willing to follow his or her directions. Because you have a lot of vets to choose from, you can afford to be picky. Although most vets offer similar services, not all offer the same services. For example, some vets offer mobile services (they come to you); others offer emergency services, boarding, grooming, or other specialized care. When shopping for a vet, consider what services you’re looking for. Price shouldn’t be the only consideration. Veterinarians work at a variety of facilities. These include the following: ≠ Animal hospitals—These hospitals usually employ a large number of vets and may have specialists. They may have their own testing facilities that a smaller clinic can’t afford. They may handle complex surgeries and emergencies that can’t be treated anywhere else. ≠ Veterinary clinics—Vet clinics may have one to five or more vets. These clinics have office hours and may or may not handle emergencies. ≠ Emergency clinics—These vet clinics are for emergencies only. They usually handle after-hours calls and tend to be expensive. ≠ Low-cost clinics—A relatively new type of vet clinic, the purpose behind most low-cost clinics is to provide routine services (vaccinations, heartworm tests, spay/neuters) at a low price.

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These clinics make up in volume for their lower prices. They generally don’t have the facilities to handle emergencies or complex diagnoses. ≠ Mobile clinics—Mobile clinics are usually associated with an animal hospital or a veterinary clinic. They offer convenience to the pet owner, with sometimes limited services. ≠ University clinics—These clinics are usually state-of-the-art when it comes to treating pets with unusual conditions or serious diseases such as cancer. Retriever Rewards
If you’re on a budget, perhaps a lowcost clinic will work for you. These clinics offer low prices on routine care, such as spays and neuters, vaccinations, and heartworm tests. These clinics are seldom full-service facilities and are unable to handle emergencies or more complex procedures.

Finding the Best Dog Doc for Your Golden
Finding the best dog doc in your neighborhood might be just a call away. Ask your dog-owning friends and neighbors who they use as a vet. Good vets don’t need to advertise. Most get their clients through word-of-mouth. But what if they don’t have any good recommendations? Well, you can contact your Golden’s breeder to see whether she has suggestions. Even if the breeder doesn’t live in your area, she can Retriever Rewards ask other Golden breeders in You can find the your area whom they take their American Animal Hospital Association online at dogs to. Other people to contact or might be trainers and groomers in contact them at P.O. Box your area. If you are stuck, you can contact the American Animal
150899, Denver, Colorado, USA 80215-0899, phone (303) 986-2800.


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Hospital Association for a list of vets in your area. Or you can look through the telephone directory under veterinarians and make a list of vets in your area. After you have a list of vets, call them and ask questions. These questions will help narrow down your choices for a veterinarian. These questions have no right or wrong answers. Some questions may be more important to you than others. ≠ What is the cost for vaccinations, office visits, and other routine services? ≠ What hours is your clinic open? Do you offer after-hours services? ≠ Do you handle emergencies, or are you affiliated with a clinic that handles emergencies? Are the vets on-call, and do they have an on-call pager? ≠ Do any of the vets specialize in a particular area such as allergies, neurology, or holistic treatments? ≠ Do you offer an on-site groomer or boarding? ≠ Do you offer a multi-pet discount? ≠ Do you take pet insurance? ≠ Do you make housecalls? Under what circumstances? ≠ How many Golden Retrievers does the vet see? The staff at the clinic should be courteous and willing to answer your questions. When you’ve narrowed down the vets to a few choices, call them and schedule an appointment to visit the facility. Don’t drop by unannounced—you may show up during a busy time when the staff may not have a chance to talk with you. When you do visit, ask for a tour. The clinic should be clean, and the staff should be friendly and helpful. If you have a chance to talk with the vet, do so.

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Find out what the vet’s training is and whether he is familiar with conditions common to Goldens. If you’re interested in holistic medicine, find out whether the veterinarian uses holistic therapies or is strictly a conventional vet. You should have a good feeling about the veterinarian and the clinic before bringing your Golden there. Usually the final test is when you bring your Golden for his first appointment. Although some dogs won’t get along with any vet, the vet should have a gentle and caring manner toward your Golden.

Golden Glossary
Holistic medicine A type of medicine that incorporates treatments generally not found in conventional medicine such as herbal therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractics.

Meet the Vet—Your Golden’s First Visit
Before bringing your Golden home, your first stop should be the vet. Many shelters and breeders require that you bring your Golden Retriever to the veterinarian for a thorough checkup within the first week to make sure she was healthy when she left their care. Bring your Golden’s health records with you, if the breeder, rescue, or shelter provided them. Before you bring your Golden in, ask whether the vet would like a fecal sample. If the answer is yes, bring the sample in a plastic baggie. Your veterinarian should give your Golden a thorough exam. He should listen to your Golden’s heart and check him over for any problems. Most vets will ask what you’re feeding him and make recommendations. Your vet will most likely discuss proper puppy and dog health care and the benefits of spaying or neutering. Now is the time to ask any questions concerning your Golden’s health. Don’t feel silly asking questions—most vets have heard it all before. If you don’t understand something your vet says, ask!


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Your vet will also discuss vaccinations with you. Depending on your vet’s philosophy concerning vaccinations, you may be vaccinating your Golden at this time. You should follow your vet’s advice concerning vaccinations.

Vaccinations will help immunize your Golden against deadly diseases such as rabies, distemper, and parvovirus. Some of these diseases, such as rabies and leptospirosis, your Golden can actually transmit to you and other people (rabies and distemper, among others, have a very high to 100 percent mortality rate). Veterinarians used to vaccinate dogs every year against every disease for which there was a vaccine. Nowadays, vets are becoming more cautious about vaccinating because of the chance of adverse reactions and autoimmune disorders. Some vaccines, like rabies, can be administered once every three years. Some veterinary colleges have recommended giving fewer vaccinations. The problem with not giving vaccinations is that your Golden might not be protected against diseases. But then, much of whether you should vaccinate depends on your Golden’s risk of exposure to the disease. For example, Lyme disease may or may not be a real issue where you live, and unless you’re planning on traveling to the Rocky Mountains or your Golden Glimmers Golden drinks from streams, a giardia vaccination might not What about holistic vaccines or nosodes? Nosodes are the be appropriate.
holistic version of vaccines. Nosodes are not FDA approved for preventing any disease, and there is no scientific evidence to show that they work.

Follow your vet’s advice concerning vaccines. If your Golden is constantly exposed to other dogs in a dog show or hunting environment, then perhaps more vaccinations are in order.

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When to Vaccinate
Puppies receive maternal antibodies through their mother’s colostrum—milk produced during the 24 hours after the puppies are born. These antibodies protect the puppy for several weeks. Some time after the fifth week, these antibodies fade, leaving the puppy vulnerable to disease. Vets usually vaccinate puppies several times—it does no good to vaccinate a puppy before the maternal antibodies fade because the antibodies will override the body’s immune response to the vaccine. Unfortunately, we don’t know when these antibodies go away— the time varies from puppy to puppy—so vets try to vaccinate the puppy after the antibodies fade and before the puppy is exposed to diseases.

Available Vaccinations
Does your Golden need to be immunized against everything? Not necessarily. You should definitely vaccinate your Golden against diseases such as rabies, parvovirus, and distemper, but the degree of risk should dictate whether you need to vaccinate your Golden against kennel cough, leptospirosis, giardia, and Lyme disease. Talk with your veterinarian about these vaccines and whether your Golden is at high risk. No Biscuit!
Is your Golden at high risk to contract certain diseases? It depends. If you show your Golden, enter him in field trials, board him, or otherwise expose him to a large number of dogs, then yes, your Golden is at greater risk of contracting certain types of diseases. Likewise, if you do a lot of outdoor training in certain areas, your Golden may be at risk of contracting giardia and Lyme disease. The best thing to do is talk with your vet. He or she can recommend a vaccination regimen that will best protect your pet.


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Your veterinarian has vaccines that will protect against the following diseases: ≠ Rabies—This disease is caused by a virus and is nearly 100 percent fatal. Two types of rabies exist: dumb (paralytic) and furious. Both types affect the central nervous system. In dumb rabies, the dog’s throat becomes paralyzed, causing excessive salivation (drooling) and inability to swallow. Furious rabies is the classic “mad dog” form, in which the dog becomes vicious and attacks anything. Furious rabies eventually progresses to the paralytic stage, and death follows within a few days. Rabies is contagious to humans and is transmitted through the dog’s saliva—either through a bite or through wounds in the skin. The incubation period varies considerably: anywhere from three weeks to three months or more. ≠ Canine Distemper (CDV)—This disease is nearly always fatal. Distemper starts with a yellow-gray discharge from the nose and eyes, high temperature, dry cough, and lethargy. It may progress to appetite loss, diarrhea, and vomiting. Distemper may affect the intestinal tract or may attack the nervous system, causing seizures and convulsions. Some dogs may have hardening of the pads, hence the name “hardpad disease.” Distemper is highly contagious among dogs and may be transmitted through the air, on shoes, or on clothing. Its incubation period is about 3–6 days. ≠ Canine Adenovirus 2 (CA 2)—Canine Adenovirus 2 is a form of kennel cough. Dogs who contract kennel cough have a harsh, dry cough and may sound like they are gagging. Unless the dog is very old or young, kennel cough is more of a nuisance than a danger. It is highly infectious and is transmitted through the air. The incubation period is between 5 and 10 days.

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≠ Infectious Canine Hepatitis (CA 1)—Infectious Canine Hepatitis is a form of Adenovirus that causes fever, lethargy, jaundice (due to liver involvement), excessive thirst, vomiting, eye and nasal discharge, Golden Glimmers bloody diarrhea, hunched Canine Infectious Tracheoback, hemorrhage, and conbronchitis or “kennel cough” is junctivitis. Infectious Canine actually caused by a number Hepatitis may attack the kidof viruses and bacteria, includneys, liver, eyes, and the lining Bordetella bronchiseptica, ing of blood vessels. Both canine parainfluenza, and canine adenovirus-2. CA1 and distemper may occur simultaneously. It’s contagious through an infected dog’s urine, feces, and saliva. Its incubation period is between 4 and 9 days. ≠ Canine Parainfluenza—Canine Parainfluenza is another form of kennel cough. Dogs who contract kennel cough have a harsh, dry cough and may sound like they are gagging. Unless the dog is very old or young, kennel cough is more of a nuisance than a danger. It is highly infectious and is transmitted through the air. The incubation period is between 5 and 10 days. ≠ Leptospirosis—This bacterial infection has symptoms that include high fever, frequent urination, brown substance on tongue, lack of appetite, renal failure, hunched back, bloody vomit and diarrhea, mild conjunctivitis, and depression. It is contagious to humans. Dogs may contract leptospirosis from rats, infected water supplies, and other infected dogs. The incubation period is between 5 and 15 days. It is seldom fatal, with only a 10 percent mortality rate.


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≠ Canine Parvovirus—This nasty virus appeared in 1978. It’s characterized by severe, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, high fever, and depression. It is highly infectious and is transmitted through fecal matter. The virus can live up to one year in the soil and can be carried on shoes or paws. It has a 7–10 day incubation period and a 50 percent mortality rate. Golden Glimmers
Vaccine manufacturers have approved most vaccines for annual administration. However, this means that the vaccine’s efficacy has been tested for only a one-year period; it doesn’t mean the vaccine is not effective after one year.

≠ Canine Coronavirus—A less deadly virus than parvovirus, coronavirus looks a lot like a milder form of parvovirus. Indeed, both parvovirus and coronavirus may infect a dog simultaneously. Coronavirus is transmitted through fecal matter. It has a 24–36 hour incubation period.

≠ Bordetella bronchiseptica—Bordetella bronchiseptica is a form of kennel cough. Dogs who contract kennel cough have a harsh, dry cough and may sound like they are gagging. Unless the dog is very old or young, kennel cough is more of a nuisance than a danger. It is highly infectious and is transmitted through the air. The incubation period is between 5 and 10 days. ≠ Lyme disease (Borellosis)—Lyme disease is a tick-borne disease that appeared in Lyme, Connecticut, in 1975. Lyme disease is fairly common along the East Coast and Upper Midwest in the United States and continues to spread. Lyme disease’s symptoms can make it difficult to diagnose: fever, lameness, loss of appetite, and fatigue. Lyme disease is transmitted through deer ticks. The primary hosts are deer and mice.

Chapter 12: Choosing a Veterinarian


≠ Giardia—Giardia is a microscopic organism that lives in streams. Carried by beavers and other wildlife, as well as domesticated animals, giardia was confined to the Rocky Mountains but may be found in any untreated water. Giardia causes severe diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss.

Pet Health Insurance
You may be surprised to hear that pet health insurance is available for your Golden. It can help with some of the expenses incurred from veterinary care. Some insurance plans cover only major medical expenses, and others take care of routine health care. The AKC offers a free trial subscription to their own health insurance when you register a puppy—another good reason to remember to register your Golden. The following pet health insurance companies are listed here for information only—this is not an endorsement. Pet Assure 10 South Morris St Dover, NJ 07801 888-789-PETS (7387) E-mail: Website: PetCare Insurance Programs P.O. Box 8575 Rolling Meadows, IL 60008-8575 866-275-PETS (7387) E-mail: Website: Pet Plan Insurance (Canada) 777 Portage Ave Winnipeg, MB R3G 0N3 CANADA 905-279-7190 Website:


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Petshealth Insurance Agency P.O. Box 2847 Canton, OH 44720 888-592-7387 Website: Premier Pet Insurance Group 9541 Harding Blvd Wauwatosa, WI 53226 877-774-2273 Website: Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) P.O. Box 2344 Brea, CA 92822-2344 1-800-USA-PETS Website:

The Least You Need to Know
≠ The best way to find a good veterinarian in your area is wordof-mouth. ≠ When looking for a vet, find out what office hours he has, whether he has provisions for emergency service, how much he charges for routine services, and what type of services are available. ≠ The important thing is that you must like and trust your Golden’s vet; otherwise, you are less likely to follow her instructions. ≠ Use your first visit to ask any questions you might have concerning your Golden’s health, nutrition, or even training. ≠ Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations concerning your Golden’s health and vaccination schedule. ≠ Vaccines are important and will help protect your Golden against deadly diseases.



Inside and Out: The Battle of the Bugs
In This Chapter
≠ Roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms, and heartworms ≠ Giardia and Coccidia—two nasty internal parasites ≠ Fleas and ticks ≠ How to rid your home of fleas ≠ Tick-borne diseases ≠ Mites Bugged out? Your Golden will be if you don’t prevent fleas, ticks, and mites. But that’s half the story—there are other icky creatures that can infect your Golden’s insides, like roundworms, hookworms, and heartworms. In this chapter, I cover internal and external parasites: What they do, how they affect your Golden’s health, and how to prevent them.


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Over-the-Counter Remedies for Parasites
There’s a myriad of pests out there, and your Golden is apt to pick up a few occasionally. But should you treat your Golden yourself? The answer is maybe. If you suspect your Golden has worms, it might be tempting to treat him with over-the-counter dewormers. Unless you have experience with recognizing worms, however, this might not be a good idea. Not all dewormers work on all worms, and some touted for certain kinds of worms may not work well or may have adverse side effects. All wormers are poisons, and even those with a relatively No Biscuit! high margin of safety can cause If you own a cat, be careful which pesticides you ill effects.
use around your house and on your Golden Retriever. Flea and tick remedies that are safe for dogs are not always safe for cats. Some pesticides are poisonous to cats, especially if they lick the pesticide off your Golden.

It’s better to have your Golden diagnosed by a veterinarian first and prescribed the proper medication. This way, you know your dog is getting the right medicine at the right dose for exactly what ails him.

What about flea and tick medications? It’s always a good idea to talk with your vet when trying to control those nasty bugs. Your vet has the latest medications that have been proven to work for controlling fleas and ticks. Even if you decide to buy over-the-counter pesticides, consulting with your vet and a poison control center is always a smart move because pesticides can interact with one other and can even interact with certain medications you give your dog.

Roundworms (Toxocara canis) are the most common worms. Puppies frequently contract roundworms from their mothers. If your

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Golden’s mother has ever had roundworms during her life, your puppy has probably contracted them. Roundworms lie dormant in a female dog’s body and start migrating to the puppies when she becomes pregnant. The female can further infect her puppies through her milk. Other avenues for transmission include fecal matter. Contracting roundworms is not a statement of the breeder’s care. However, the breeder should deworm the puppies. Roundworm infestation can be serious in puppies and in old and debilitated dogs. If your Golden has roundworms, they are benefiting from food intended for your Golden. If he is infested with roundworms, your Golden may have a potbelly, lose weight, and have a poor-quality coat. Other signs include vomiting, diarrhea, and a garlic odor to the breath. Take your puppy and a fecal sample to the vet. Roundworms can kill a puppy. No Biscuit!
About 10,000 cases of roundworm infection are reported in humans each year. (The exact number isn’t known, because not all cases are reported or diagnosed.) Roundworm can be serious in children, causing blindness. Roundworm is contracted by handling dirt or fecal material and not washing one’s hands. This is why it’s important to teach children to wash after playing in dirt.

Hookworms (Ancylostoma caninum) are smaller than roundworms and feed off your Golden’s blood in the small intestine. These worms infest your Golden by penetrating the skin or through the dam’s milk. Serious infestations can be life-threatening and can cause severe anemia. Diarrhea, weight loss, and lethargy are also signs of hookworm infestation.


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Tapeworms (Dipylidium caninum) are long, flat worms that may infest your Golden’s intestines. These worms may break off and be excreted in your Golden’s poop. They look like grains of rice in the poop or around the dog’s anus. Fleas commonly carry tapeworm. Your Golden may swallow a flea, thus becoming infested. Other modes of transmission include raw game meat. Some dogs catch and eat mice or other rodents, which carry tapeworm.

Whipworms (Trichuris vulpis) are difficult to diagnose because they don’t always produce eggs in fecal matter. These worms feed on blood in the large intestine. Like hookworms, they can be serious and cause severe anemia. Dogs become infested by eating something in contaminated soil.

Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) is an internal parasite that can kill your Golden Retriever. It is transmitted by mosquitoes. Most states within the continental United States have the heartworm parasite, although it is less prevalent in the western states. Retriever Rewards
It is less expensive and risky to prevent heartworms than to treat an infestation. Areas with cold climates require six months of heartworm preventive. In warmer areas, the dog must be on heartworm preventive year-round.

Regardless of where you live, have your Golden tested for heartworm once a year and put on a heartworm preventive. Heartworm treatment is almost as dangerous as the worms themselves, but preventing them is easy. In many areas,

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heartworm is seasonal, and you have to administer the preventive only during the spring and summer months. Heartworm season is year-round in the southern states and areas where the temperatures seldom reach freezing. Your veterinarian should administer a heartworm test before putting your Golden on a preventive.

The Heartworm Lifecycle
Mosquitoes transmit heartworm by feeding on an infected dog. The microfilariae or heartworm larvae incubate within the mosquito for several days. When the infected mosquito feeds on another dog, Golden Glossary it injects the infectious microfiMicrofilariae Heartlariae into the dog, and the dog worm larvae that infect a dog. becomes infected with heartworm.

Several different heartworm preventives are available, including some that help control other worms. Most veterinarians now prescribe monthly heartworm preventives, although a few daily preventives are available. Do not use the daily preventives, as they are less effective than the monthly preventives if administered incorrectly. Heartworm preventives include the following: ≠ Heartgard (Ivermectin)—This is the oldest form of monthly heartworm preventive. Heartgard Plus has pyrantel pamoate to control roundworms and hookworms. Some dogs are sensitive to Ivermectin, but this sensitivity is rare. ≠ Interceptor (Milbemycin) and Sentinel (Milbemycin and Lufenuron)—Interceptor controls heartworm as well as hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms in a monthly preventive. Sentinel also controls fleas.


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≠ Revolution (Selamectin)—A topical application, Revolution works as a monthly heartworm and flea preventive. ≠ Proheart 6 (Moxidectin)—A six-month preventive, Proheart 6 is given as an injection and can be administered only by your vet.

Treatment for Heartworm
If your Golden is heartworm positive, your veterinarian will have to treat him. Heartworm treatment is still risky but is now safer and less painful than the old treatment, which used an arsenic IV solution. The new treatment requires two injections. If your Golden has heartworms, be certain that your veterinarian is using a newer treatment than the arsenic-based solution.

Giardia is a microscopic organism that can cause extreme diarrhea and vomiting. Dogs can pick up giardia by drinking water from streams and lakes or other contaminated sources. You can contract giardia from the same source or if you fail to wash your hands after cleaning up after your infected Golden. Giardia symptoms can be mild to extreme. They can be chronic and may reoccur even after treatment. Only your vet can prescribe medications that will cure giardia. No Biscuit!
Don’t drink the water in small mountain towns in the Rocky Mountains; drink bottled water instead. Many don’t adequately screen for giardia and people with no exposure may find themselves with a nasty case. I’ve had dogs get giardia from water from contaminated wells. When they have it, you know it! Also be careful with coffee and tea— most aren’t heated sufficiently to kill giardia.

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Coccidia are microscopic parasites that frequently affect puppies in crowded puppy mill conditions. Occasionally puppies from reputable breeders may contract them if a dog with coccidia comes in contact with the puppies. Your veterinarian can prescribe medication to treat coccidia. To prevent reoccurrences of coccidia, use an ammonia-based cleaner. Clean up all places where your Golden has defecated with Pine-Sol® or a similar cleaner.

Fleas thrive in all climates except the very cold, the very dry, and high altitudes. If you live in one of these climates, you’re probably feeling smug right now. If you don’t, you’re probably looking at a map to find such a place. Fleas are horrible critters and are hard to get rid of after you have them. If you suspect an infestation, search for fleas on your Golden around his belly and groin area, at the base of his tail, and around his ears. A common sign of fleas are deposits of tiny black flea feces that turn red when wet.

Health Hazards
Fleas are more than just annoying hard-shelled insects that feed on blood and make your Golden miserable. Fleas are carriers of tapeworm and bubonic plague, which can severely affect your Golden’s health. Bubonic plague is deadly,

Retriever Rewards
Slip a piece of flea control collar in the vacuum cleaner bag to help kill the fleas. Then throw the vacuum cleaner bag in the dumpster— you don’t need the fleas to find their way back into your house.


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and you can contract it, too. Fleas carry other diseases, too, so don’t consider them just a nuisance.

Declaring War
When you find fleas, the best thing is to contact your vet for recommendations. Your vet will recommend products based on your climate and your Golden’s age and health. He will also recommend products that are safe to use together. Be careful about mixing Retriever Rewards products and always read the label.
One vet I know recommends Preventic™ tick collars to prevent ticks from attaching to dogs. It is very effective against ticks, but not against fleas. As with any collar, it can be poisonous if your Golden chews and swallows it.

If you find fleas on your Golden, you’re guaranteed to have a flea infestation in your home. You’ll have to vacuum all carpets and furniture—anywhere fleas hide. Don’t forget to treat your car interior as well!

Your Latest Arsenal
Systemic treatments have made most poison collars, dips, and sprays obsolete, except in the worst infestations. Some of these systemic treatments are as follows: ≠ Frontline (Fipronil) and Frontline Plus (Fipronil and Methoprene) work by killing fleas within 24–48 hours. Frontline Plus contains an insect growth regulator that keeps immature fleas from reproducing. It is a topical, spot-on (put on the skin in a spot or line) systemic that works for three months on adult fleas and one month on ticks. ≠ Advantage (Imidacloprid) works by killing both adult fleas and larvae within 48 hours. It is a topical, spot-on systemic that works for six weeks on adult fleas.

Chapter 13: Inside and Out: The Battle of the Bugs
≠ Program (Lufenuron) works by preventing flea eggs from hatching or maturing into adults. It is a pill you give once a month.


≠ Biospot (pyrethrins and fenoxycarb) is a topical spot-on systemic that kills fleas and ticks for one month. It has an insect growth regulator that keeps immature fleas from reproducing. I’ve also seen it repel flies. No Biscuit!
Recently some prescription flea medications and systemics have been counterfeited. These counterfeit products may not have the same ingredients as the real products and may be dangerous to your Golden. To avoid counterfeit products, buy your flea medications from your vet.

Over-the-Counter Weapons
Be extremely careful when working with insecticides. These are poisons and can harm your dog. Some medications and wormers may react with certain pesticides, so it is important to be certain that what you are using will not interact with other pesticides or medications. Contact your veterinarian or your local poison control center concerning their safety. Many manufacturers make flea control products that are intended to work together as a complete solution. When looking for a flea control system, get one that will work in your home, in your yard, and on your dog.

Ticks are nasty relatives of the spider. If your Golden has been outside for any period of time or has run through deep underbrush, you should check him for ticks.


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Tick-Borne Diseases
Ticks carry a variety of diseases including Lyme disease, Canine Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. These diseases can greatly affect your Golden’s health or may even be fatal. Your vet can test for tick diseases through a blood test and can treat them with medications. If your Golden tests positive for a tickborne disease, you may want to consider having your own doctor test you for the same disease. In rare instances, contact with your dog’s bodily fluids may transmit these diseases to you. ≠ Lyme disease—Common signs of Lyme disease are lameness and fever. A dog with Lyme disease may lack appetite, be unusually tired, and have swelling of the lymph nodes. The dog may have bouts of unexplained lameness that may become chronic. ≠ Canine Ehrlichiosis—Common signs of Canine Ehrlichiosis are fever, discharge from the eyes and nose, and swollen limbs (edema). A dog with Canine Ehrlichiosis may lack appetite, be unusually tired, and have swelling of the lymph nodes. ≠ Babesiosis—Common signs of Babesiosis include fever, lethargy, and lack of appetite. ≠ Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)—Common signs of RMSF are high fever, abdominal pain, coughing, lack of appetite, lethargy, swelling of face or limbs, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, and muscle or joint pain.

How to Remove Ticks
If you find a tick on your Golden, avoid handling it, or you risk exposing yourself to disease. Instead, treat the area with a good tick insecticide approved for use on dogs, wait a few minutes, and then try to remove the tick. Wear latex gloves and use tweezers. Firmly

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grasp the tick as close to the dog’s skin as possible with the tweezers and gently pull. Don’t try to pull the tick out if it resists—you may leave portions of the tick embedded in your dog, which may become infected. Wait for the tick to drop off and dispose of it by sealing it in a jar with some bleach or ammonia.

Mites are microscopic arachnids, related to ticks and spiders. There are several types of mites, including those that cause sarcoptic and demodectic mange and those that enter the ears and cause infection.

Ear Mites
Ear mites (Otodectes cynotis) will make your Golden miserable. If your Golden has reddish-brown earwax, he may have ear mites, especially if he scratches or shakes his head frequently. Those floppy ears are great for mites and bacterial infections, so it’s important to keep your Golden’s ears clean. Don’t try to treat ear mites with over-the-counter solutions, because your Golden may already have a secondary infection. Your vet will clean out the reddish-brown gunk and give you ear drops to kill the mites and handle any infections.

Mange Mites
Two types of mites cause mange. Demodectic (Demodex canis) mites feed primarily on the cells of hair follicles. Mange appears as dry, scaly red skin, with hair loss, mostly around the face. Demodectic mange exists on all dogs, but the severe reaction is thought to be triggered by a depressed immune system. Most of the time, localized demodectic mange clears up on its own. If it is generalized or doesn’t clear up, it’s hard to treat.


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Sarcoptic mites (Sarcoptes scabei) are highly contagious. This mange may spread quickly in kennels. It is itchy and is accompanied by hair loss and a red rash. The dog may have ugly sores from scratching. Your vet can prescribe a topical product to treat sarcoptic mange. You may have to treat your Golden with medicated baths and body dips. If the sores are infected, your vet may prescribe antibiotics. Your vet can diagnose your Golden with skin scrapings to determine whether he has mites and what type. You cannot treat mites with over-the-counter remedies.

The Least You Need to Know
≠ Internal parasites can severely affect the health of your Golden. Do not treat them as normal or commonplace. ≠ Don’t treat your Golden with over-the-counter dewormers, as they may be ineffective against certain worms or have side effects. ≠ Heartworm is a dangerous parasite that can kill your Golden. Preventives will help keep your Golden heartworm-free. ≠ Fleas are more than annoying hard-shelled insects—they can carry diseases such as bubonic plague or tapeworms. ≠ Ticks can spread Lyme disease, Canine Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. You, too, can contract these diseases from ticks. ≠ There are several types of mites, including ear mites and mange mites. Contact your vet for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.



Healthy Choices— Preventive Care
In This Chapter
≠ Learn why spaying or neutering your Golden Retriever is a good idea ≠ Give your dog a weekly health check ≠ Brushing your Golden’s teeth keeps the doggy dentist away ≠ Learn how to clean your Golden’s ears, keep his toenails short, and keep his anal sacs clear ≠ Grooming your Golden doesn’t have to be a chore ≠ Don’t struggle with your dog when you give medications Your Golden’s health is important. Although your vet can diagnose illness and injury, you’re often your Golden’s first line of defense. You can’t necessarily perform surgery or diagnose a disease, but you can perform a health check to catch problems early, give your Golden medications, and perform routine grooming and maintenance.


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In this chapter, you’ll learn how to care for your Golden to ensure a long and healthy life.

The Great Spay/Neuter Debate
No doubt you’ve heard that you should spay or neuter your Golden Retriever. Maybe the breeder recommended it, or your Golden’s vet, or you’ve heard it from a friend or co-worker. Maybe someone from a shelter or rescue group suggested it. Or maybe you signed a contract promising to do it. Regardless, you may be wondering whether you should spay or neuter your Golden.

Why You Should Spay or Neuter Your Golden
Lots of purebred dog owners fail to spay or neuter their dogs because they’re purebred. Unfortunately, these dogs accidentally breed, and the results are puppies that add to pet overpopulation. Every year 5 million pets end up in shelters. A large percentage of those are dogs that no one wanted. One quarter of those dogs are purebred, just like your Golden. Golden Glimmers
How do purebred dogs become unwanted? One of the reasons is that so many backyard breeders and puppy mills are producing puppies and selling them to whoever will buy. They don’t screen their buyers, and they don’t take back their dogs. They see that Goldens are popular and breed more of them. These dogs may have health and temperament problems, or they may end up in a shelter when the owners decide the dog is inconvenient.

By spaying or neutering your Golden, you’ve eliminated the possibility of your Golden accidentally mating with another dog and thereby contributing to pet overpopulation. At the same time, you’ve made your Golden healthier and have improved his or her temperament.

Chapter 14: Healthy Choices—Preventive Care


Myths About Spaying and Neutering
A lot of myths surround spaying and neutering. For example, many pet owners believe their purebred dog is more valuable intact, because they can recoup the cost of the dog through stud services or selling puppies. The truth is that having a litter and doing it right is expensive. Expenses include health certifications, extra veterinary bills (for breeding, whelping, vaccinations, and care), extra food bills, stud fees, whelping equipment, advertising, and lost time. As any breeder can tell you, you can lose the puppies or the mother through complications and diseases. If your Golden has too many puppies, she may need help nursing them—are you willing to feed puppies every four hours around the clock? How will you find suitable buyers? But the myths don’t end there. Let’s take a look at some other myths. ≠ My female Golden needs to have puppies to “settle her temperament.” Breeding a dog won’t change her temperament for the better—she may act maternal while she has the puppies but not afterward. She may also act aggressive when she has the puppies. ≠ My male Golden won’t act or look male. Actually, he will, but it may take him a little longer to lift his leg than he normally would when intact. Neutered males tend to be bigger than their intact counterparts. (It’s a little-known fact that neutered males can have sex with females who are in season.) ≠ My Golden will miss sex. Sex for dogs is an instinct. Dogs gain no pleasure from sex—most find it painful and uncomfortable. ≠ My Golden will be healthier if she has her first heat. Your Golden will actually be healthier if she’s spayed before her first heat.


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≠ My Golden won’t guard if he’s neutered. Goldens aren’t supposed to be guarding dogs, nor are they supposed to be aggressive. An aggressive dog is a liability. Neutering doesn’t affect the dog’s ability to work in the slightest. ≠ My Golden will become fat and lazy if I neuter him. Neutering doesn’t cause your Golden to become fat; overfeeding does. You may have to reduce your Golden’s food a bit to prevent excess pounds, but that’s not a drawback. ≠ I want to show my kids the miracle of birth. Buy a videotape and watch it with them. Don’t use your Golden as a lesson. What if there’s a problem? Do you want to show them dead puppies or what happens when a pup gets stuck in the birth canal? And after the puppies are here, what will you do with them all? Do you want to show your kids irresponsibility by dumping the puppies off at the local shelter? ≠ My Golden is valuable because I paid a lot for him. I shouldn’t neuter him. The price tag of your Golden reflects the cost the breeder put into the dog. Unless your Golden is show quality and you’ve shown him (not a cheap proposition), your Golden will not produce valuable puppies. ≠ I can’t spay or neuter my Golden until he’s at least six months old. Actually, you can spay and neuter puppies as young as eight weeks old. The latest anesthesias have a larger safety factor than those used 10 or 20 years ago. Retriever Rewards
Many humane societies offer coupons for low-cost spays and neuters. Two organizations, Spay USA and Friends of Animals, offer low-cost spays and neuters where prices depend on region or work with veterinarian to help reduce the cost. Contact Spay USA at or (800) 248-SPAY, or Friends of Animals at or (800) 321-PETS.

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Health and Behavior Benefits
Now that we’ve dispelled some of the myths about spaying and neutering, what about the benefits? ≠ Your female Golden will not go into season (also called heat or estrus) twice a year. This means you won’t have the associated mess, you won’t have to worry about another dog mating with her or unwanted puppies, and you won’t have to lock her up. ≠ Your male Golden won’t become sexually frustrated whenever an intact female comes by. You’ll reduce or eliminate unwanted dominance behavior, such as humping, marking, and dominance aggression. ≠ If you have a multi-dog household, you may see less aggression if all the dogs are spayed and neutered. I’ve seen a remarkable turnaround with my dogs—including females. ≠ By spaying your female, you’ve eliminated the chance of pyometra, a dangerous infection of the uterus, as well as ovarian and uterus cancers. If you spay your Golden before her first season, you’ll significantly reduce the chance of mammary tumors (breast cancer). ≠ By neutering your male, you’ve eliminated the chance of testicular cancer. You will significantly reduce the chance of anal tumors and may reduce the chance of prostate cancer. Because cancer is the number-one killer in dogs over eight years old, you should seriously consider spaying and neutering your Golden to increase his chances of living a long and happy life.

Giving Your Golden a Health Exam
Make it a weekly ritual to examine your Golden, preferably while grooming him. Start with his head and work your way back. Look for abnormalities such as bumps and lumps. If you feel a lump on


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one side, check the other side to see whether it’s normal. For example, if you feel a lump on the right elbow, check the left elbow in the same place. If there is a similar lump there, you can safely discount the lumps as normal. ≠ Eyes—Your Golden’s eyes should be clear and bright without excessive or pus-like discharge. No redness or tearing. ≠ Nose—Your Golden’s nose should be cool to the touch and moist. Hot and dry may indicate a fever. There should be no discharge or blood. ≠ Ears—Your Golden’s ears should be clean and sweet smelling. Any foul odor or excessive buildup of wax indicates a possible ear problem. ≠ Mouth—Your Golden’s teeth should be white and clean, without tartar buildup. The gums should be a healthy pink, not red. Your Golden’s breath should not be foul smelling—if it is, it may suggest tooth or gum problems. ≠ Legs—Feel down your Golden’s legs to check for any lumps or bumps. Inspect the footpads for cuts and foreign objects such as grass seeds and foxtails. Look at the toenails—they shouldn’t be red or broken. Move the legs slowly and gently to check for full range of motion. There should be no clicks or pops. ≠ Skin and fur—Are there any sores, bald patches, or red areas on the skin? Is the skin dry or flaky? Are there dark grains through the fur that turn red when wet (a sign of fleas)? ≠ Tail—Is the tail healthy looking or hanging limp? Has your Golden been chewing on it? Retriever Rewards
Examine your Golden thoroughly at least once a week to spot possible health problems.

≠ Sexual organs—Is there discharge from the vagina or penis? In intact female dogs, discharge is normal only during estrus.

Chapter 14: Healthy Choices—Preventive Care


Keeping the Doggie Dentist at Bay
Doggie dentistry is no laughing matter. Infected teeth can cause severe health problems, including heart problems, in your Golden, plus they just plain hurt! Teeth cleaning requires anesthesia and its associated risks—not to mention expense. Many vets recommend brushing your dog’s teeth every day with toothpaste specially formulated for dogs. Quite honestly, most dog owners don’t have the time or patience to do that, so I recommend brushing your Golden’s teeth once a week to reduce plaque, which leads to tartar. If your Golden No Biscuit! has good teeth (and healthy teeth Human toothpaste and gums largely depend on contains fluoride, which is toxic genetics and diet), you might be to dogs. Brush your Golden’s able to get away with brushing less teeth only with toothpaste made specifically for dogs. often, but that’s not a good idea.

Brushing Your Golden’s Teeth
Naturally, your Golden is first going to have to get used to you handling his mouth. Start by holding your Golden’s head gently, flipping up his lip and touching his teeth and gums. Do this gently and praise him. Practice this often, so he becomes used to you touching his mouth. After he gets used to this, get a soft washcloth and wet a corner of it. Now, with your finger, gently massage your Golden’s gums with the tip of the washcloth. Golden Glimmers
The condition of a dog’s teeth largely depends on genetics and diet. I’ve seen dogs with horrible-looking teeth improve dramatically once they were put on a premium diet. I’ve seen other dogs who, despite a premium diet, had thin enamel and bad teeth. You can still make a difference in the health of your Golden’s teeth by brushing them regularly.


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The next step is to get a toothbrush designed for dogs. Use toothpaste formulated for pets (never use human toothpaste, as it is poisonous to dogs). Most are chicken- or malt-flavored, so the taste is appealing. Your Golden doesn’t have to rinse and spit!

Recognizing a Tooth or Gum Problem
Your Golden can’t point to his mouth and tell you he has a toothache—nor can he schedule a visit to the doggy dentist. Cavities in dogs’ teeth are rare, but gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) is pretty common. You can keep the problems to a minimum by feeding your Golden a good diet and brushing his teeth regularly. How will you know whether your Golden has a tooth problem? Look for the warning signs: ≠ Apparent loss of appetite. ≠ Sudden, unexpected chewing on inappropriate items. ≠ Bad breath. ≠ Nasal discharge. ≠ Red, swollen gums. ≠ Lump above or below a particular tooth.

Do You Hear What I Hear?
Goldens frequently develop ear infections. Their dropped ears make an ideal place for bacteria to grow and mites to hide. Keep your Golden’s ears clean, and he is less likely to develop problems.

Cleaning Your Golden’s Ears
Use a mild otic solution for dogs. Squeeze some into your Golden’s ears and then gently massage the outside of the head in the area of

Chapter 14: Healthy Choices—Preventive Care


the ear canal. Now, take sterile gauze or sponges and gently wipe out the excess solution. Never stick a cotton ball, swab, or anything else down your dog’s ear canal.

Recognizing an Ear Problem
Dogs are miserable when they have ear problems. As with tooth problems, they can’t pull you aside to tell you. The following signs tell you that it’s time to visit the vet: ≠ Scratching at, pawing, or shaking of the head. ≠ Yelping when you touch his ear. ≠ Foul-smelling odor coming from the ears. ≠ Excessive waxy buildup. ≠ Ears crusty or red. ≠ Red or black waxy buildup. ≠ White specks that move against a red or black crusty buildup. These are ear mites and must be treated by a vet.

Clipping Your Golden’s Toenails
If you could poll dogs, they would probably say one of the worst things you could do (besides take them to the vet) is clip their toenails. And little wonder. Most dogs hate having their feet touched, and if you accidentally cut the nail quick, you’re likely to never get near him again without a huge fuss. Because many Goldens’ nails are dark, you have to make an educated guess where the quick is. Using a toenail clipper with a safety guard will keep you from cutting it if you just snip that

Golden Glossary
Quick The portion of a dog’s nail with blood vessels that supply the nail.


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portion. Otherwise, nibble away the nail no more than 1/4 inch. If you cut into the quick, your Golden will let you know in no uncertain terms—and won’t want you near his paws again! He’ll also bleed profusely. Clip your Golden’s nails once a week to prevent them from overgrowing and breaking (which can be painful). Use a dog nail clipper (either a guillotine or scissors action), and trim back the nail by snipping off a small portion at a time. If the nail feels spongy or hard to cut, stop immediately. You can use a nail grinder, which will help file away the nail instead. Some dogs handle the nail grinder better than the clippers. Have styptic powder or sodium nitrate on hand, in case you do cut the quick. Packing the nail with styptic powder will stop the bleeding. You can buy styptic powder at pet supply stores or through pet supply catalogues. In a pinch, cornstarch will also do.

Expressing the Anal Sacs
Dogs have two glands at the four and eight o’clock positions around their anus. These usually empty when the dog defecates, but occasionally they become overfull or impacted. If your Golden starts scooting around on his rear or chewing the fur on his rear or tail, he may have full or impacted anal sacs. These are painful, and must be attended to. The best times to empty these are when you are bathing him, because the contents are smellier than a skunk, and you’ll want to clean him off after you express them. Fold up a wad of paper towels and place them over your Golden’s anus. Now press gently on the four and eight o’clock positions. The glands should express themselves. Don’t put your face near them while you are pressing against them, or you’ll be in for a nasty surprise. If the problem persists, bring your Golden to the vet. He could have impacted anal glands, which your vet may have to express.

Chapter 14: Healthy Choices—Preventive Care


Golden Shimmers—Grooming Your Golden
Ask any Golden owner about her dog’s coat and the first thing she’ll say is it sheds. And sheds. And sheds. And did I mention, it sheds?

A Golden’s Coat
Okay, now that you’re forewarned, you should brush your Golden a minimum of once a week—three times or more if she gets dirty or is seasonally shedding. Some Goldens shed twice a year; most shed year-round in warmer climates. And that beautiful golden red fur mats easily if you don’t brush and comb frequently. When your Golden sheds, she’ll normally shed out her undercoat, the downy inside layer that keeps her warm. You’ll often see the undercoat come out in tufts between the harsher topcoat or guard hairs. Use an undercoat rake, a wire slicker brush, and a long comb to get out the dead hair. Undercoat rakes look like long combs that may have serrated teeth. They have a wooden or plastic handle that enables you to rake through the coat. A wire slicker brush has a handle like the rake and a flat rectanGolden Glossary gular or square head with dozens Mat A clump of tanor hundreds of fine wires that trap gled fur that may or may the loose fur as you comb it. A not have a foreign object long comb is just that—a metal in it. comb with long teeth.

Tools of the Trade
I recommend the following items for easy grooming: ≠ Slicker brush ≠ Undercoat rake ≠ Mat splitter ≠ Long comb ≠ Flea comb


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≠ Grooming table (This will save your back, because you won’t have to bend over.) ≠ Shampoo and conditioner for dogs ≠ Nail clippers and styptic powder ≠ Blow dryer for dogs (Don’t use human hair dryers, as they are hot and can burn your Golden’s skin and hair.)

You usually don’t need to bathe your Golden unless he is dirty or has been swimming. If your Golden swims in a pool, the chlorine can damage his coat if it’s not rinsed out. Saltwater may also damage a coat. Retriever Rewards
One way to facilitate the shedding process is to give your Golden a warm bath when she starts shedding. Be sure to use a drain guard so that you don’t have to call the plumber afterward to unclog the pipes.

Dog shampoos and rinses are specially balanced for your dog’s skin, so don’t be afraid to use them. Don’t use human shampoos, because they are formulated for humans, not dogs, and will strip the oils from your Golden’s coat. When you give your Golden a bath, do so in a warm place, away from drafts. Comb and brush your Golden first to remove excess dirt and hair. Then, soak your Golden with tepid water, lather him up, and rinse well. Apply a conditioner, if desired, and rinse thoroughly. Always rinse your Golden until the water runs clean—excessive soap attracts dirt and may irritate your Golden’s skin.

Retriever Rewards
A recent phenomenon is do-it-yourself dog washes. These facilities provide the grooming-style tubs, water, soaps, towels, grooming tables, and blow dryers, making bathing your Golden a breeze and keeping the mess out of your home!

Chapter 14: Healthy Choices—Preventive Care


© Teresa Bullard

An outdoor bath is okay, if it’s warm. This is Ginger and her owner, Steven Bullard.
© Carolyn Risdon

Don’t forget to towel dry! Bo is being dried by Susie Risdon.


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Golden Glimmers
If you can’t find time to groom your Golden, consider using a professional groomer. Don’t wait until his fur is matted or he’s filthy—a visit once a month can keep your Golden glowing. You can find a good professional groomer by asking your veterinarian or friends with dogs. Sometimes a vet will have an on-site groomer who works at his clinic.

Giving Medications
Occasionally, your vet may ask you to administer medications to your Golden. The most frequent are pills, but occasionally you may have to give liquids. It helps if your Golden is comfortable with you handling his mouth. Start at an early age to get him used to you touching his mouth. (Brushing his teeth is an ideal time for this.) When your Golden is used to you touching his mouth, giving medications is less stressful.

Pill Popping
People seem to have a hard time giving pills to dogs. The truth is, practice makes perfect. Most dogs will swallow a pill readily if you open their mouths, pop the pill into the back of the mouth, and close their jaws with their head tilted upward. You can blow a small puff of air into your Golden’s nose, and it will cause him to swallow. Stroking the underside of the throat helps too. Some pet owners use a little device called a pet piller. It does the same thing, only a little more accurately. If your aim to the back of the throat is lousy, try one. If you can’t get the hang of this, try sticking the pill in a wad of peanut butter. Most dogs love peanut butter; it sticks to the roof of their mouth—which provides hours of entertainment for you—and

Chapter 14: Healthy Choices—Preventive Care


gets the pill down without a fuss. An alternative is to hide the pill in a piece of hotdog or some other treat. If the pill can be ground up (some can’t—check with your vet), try mixing it with one of his meals. Check with your vet to make sure the medication can be given with food. Of course there are those dogs who are so clever that they eat around the pill, so you’ll have to watch for that.

Liquid Medications
Liquid medications are fairly easy to administer. Ask your vet for an oral syringe (a plastic tube with a plunger but no needle) with the amount marked on the syringe in permanent marker. Fill the syringe and then pull your Golden’s lower lip out, near where it joins the upper lip, to form a pouch. Squirt the medication gently into the pouch, release it and tilt your Golden’s head back. If the dose is a large amount, give it in small portions and allow your Golden to swallow in between administering the portions.

Taking Your Golden’s Temperature
You may have to take your Golden’s temperature occasionally. A dog’s normal temperature ranges between 100.5 and 102.5ºF. You can take your Golden’s temperature in two ways. The older and more common method is rectally. Use an electronic thermometer that can be used rectally and put some petroleum jelly (Vaseline®) on the bulb. Have someone hold your Golden and insert the thermometer gently into his anus far enough to get an accurate reading and wait for the thermometer to beep. You’ll need to keep a hand just under his tummy while you wait, to keep him from sitting down. Nowadays you can use ear thermometers for dogs. Although I haven’t tried them, they look pretty slick and will certainly make taking your dog’s temperature easier.


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The Least You Need to Know
≠ Your Golden will be healthier and better behaved if he or she is neutered or spayed. ≠ Examine your Golden at least once a week for signs of illness and abnormalities. ≠ Brush your Golden’s teeth at least once a week. ≠ Keep your Golden’s ears clean and free from infections by cleaning them with a mild otic solution. ≠ Get your Golden used to clipping his toenails and clip them once a week. ≠ Goldens need brushing at least once a week but may need brushing as often as three times a week. ≠ Wash your Golden when he is dirty or after he swims to remove salt or chlorine from his fur. ≠ Giving medications is easy if you know how. Try mixing the medication with his food or hiding it in a treat.



Common Golden Retriever Illnesses, Hereditary Ailments, and Emergencies
In This Chapter
≠ Learn what congenital and hereditary diseases affect your Golden ≠ Learn about common illnesses and injuries ≠ Learn how to treat many common problems ≠ Learn how to deal with skunk odor ≠ How to assemble a first aid kit ≠ How to handle emergencies Goldens are the second most popular of the AKC breeds. Unfortunately, with their popularity also comes hereditary diseases. In this chapter, you’ll learn about the most common hereditary diseases found in Goldens.


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You’ll also learn what diseases and ailments are common in dogs and how to recognize and treat them. Some you can treat; others require a vet’s assistance. Finally, we’ll take a look at first aid kits and emergencies.

Hereditary and Congenital Diseases
Many Goldens have hereditary and congenital conditions. Sadly, there are many cases of Goldens with skin problems, hip dysplasia, heart problems, and other hereditary diseases that could have been avoided if the breeders had vigilantly screened for them. Golden Glossary
Congenital A condition present at birth that may have either genetic or environmental causes. Hereditary A genetic condition, that is, inherited through the genes of the parents.

Many of these diseases, such as hip dysplasia, sub-aortic stenosis, allergies, and hypothyroidism will severely affect your Golden’s quality of life. This is why it’s imperative that you purchase your Golden from a reputable breeder.

Ah-choo! We all think of hay fever when we talk about allergies. You might be surprised to hear that dogs get it, too. Goldens suffer from an extraordinary number of allergies, some severe. Most are hereditary. Your Golden can suffer from contact allergies—external exposure to irritants and to food. Flea allergy dermatitis is also prevalent in the breed. Most allergic Goldens have low thyroid (hypothyroid), which complicates matters. Some contact allergies are apparent; some aren’t as easy to diagnose. For example, if your Golden’s skin looks irritated and is itchy after using a particular shampoo, you might guess that the dog is allergic to a chemical in that shampoo. However, you might not know why your dog’s nose and face are swollen and irritated. Many

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dogs are allergic to plastic or rubber and may react to their plastic food bowls. Most contact allergy diagnoses are based on the owners’ observations. You may have to have your vet screen your Golden for possible allergens and go from there. Because allergies are hereditary in Goldens, you will want to make sure that the breeder of your Golden has screened for them. Food allergies usually manifest as skin or stomach disorders. Dogs can be allergic to certain ingredients in their food such as corn or wheat, or the protein source, such as beef, soy, or lamb. These types of allergies manifest with digestive upsets and skin problems. Dietary allergies are a bit tricky to diagnose. Your vet will recommend a hypoallergenic diet for several weeks. This diet usually has a novel protein source—that is, a protein source that dogs generally don’t eat such as fish, venison, or even kangaroo meat. It may have an unusual carbohydrate source too, such as potatoes. After your Golden is on this diet several weeks, you add the potential problem ingredients to determine what the allergy is. Some dog owners are so relieved to have their dogs free from the allergy that they keep them on the hypoallergenic diet. Inhalation allergies tend to be less common than other allergies in pets. They usually show up as a respiratory ailment (sneezing, coughing, or running nose) but may show up in other ways. Your veterinarian will have to determine the cause of the inhalation allergy.

Elbow Dysplasia (ED) and Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)
Elbow dysplasia is a hereditary disease in which the elbow joints are malformed. This disease is called polygenic because several genes may cause it. Surgery, anti-inflammatories, and nutriceuticals are recommended treatments for elbow dysplasia. Obviously, surgery can be expensive, and arthritis often sets in to the joints, further complicating matters. You should never breed a dog with elbow dysplasia.


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Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) is a condition in which the cartilage thickens in joint areas. This thickened cartilage is more prone to damage and may tear. OCD may appear in several joints Golden Glossary or only one. If your dog has this Polygenic A trait or condition, he may become limp condition coming from after exercising, suggesting an more than one gene pair. injury. However, OCD will cause Nutriceuticals Nutritional supplements intended to help mitipersistent lameness. You may feel gate a condition or disease. the joint pop or crackle as you examine it. Its onset is usually between 4 and 8 months of age. If your Golden is diagnosed with OCD, your veterinarian may recommend that you rest him for several weeks. OCD can be very painful, causing a cartilage flap to form over the elbow. That flap may tear or reattach and requires surgery to have it removed. Although OCD can be caused by trauma, when it is paired with elbow dysplasia it is most likely due to heredity.

Epilepsy is usually hereditary in dogs and quite prevalent in some lines. Idiopathic epilepsy (epilepsy in which the specific cause is not known) in dogs is similar to epilepsy in humans. If your Golden is epileptic, your vet will need to perform some tests to rule out other causes. If the seizures are frequent or become worse, your vet usually will prescribe a medication to help control the seizures.

Eye Disease
The Golden’s popularity has unfortunately made him susceptible to certain hereditary eye problems including Cataracts, Central

Chapter 15: Common Golden Retriever Illnesses, Hereditary Ailments, and Emergencies


Progressive Retinal Atrophy (CPRA), Entropion, Ectropion, Trichiasis, and Distichiasis. A veterinary ophthalmologist can determine whether your Golden has these or other eye diseases. Cataracts are cloudiness of the eye’s lens. The lens may have a small dot or may become opaque, causing complete blindness. Cataracts can be due to either hereditary or environmental reasons. Juvenile cataracts are usually hereditary. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and Central Progressive Retinal Atrophy (CPRA) are two degenerative eye disorders that lead to blindness. Entropion is a hereditary condition in which the eyelid turns inward into the eye, causing the eyelashes and fur to rub against the eyeball. It is obviously irritating to the dog and usually requires surgery to correct it. Ectropion is where the lower eyelid droops, exposing its interior. In mild cases, your veterinarian may prescribe eye drops and antibiotic and corticosteroid ophthalmic ointment. In severe cases, surgery may be required. Distichiasis and Trichiasis are congenital abnormalities in eyelashes. With distichiasis, a dog will have two rows of eyelashes. Trichiasis is the abnormal growth of the eyelashes, usually turning into the eyeball.

Hip Dysplasia (HD)
Hip dysplasia is a crippling genetic disease. No amount of good nutrition and care will stop it. It is caused by the malformation of the hip socket. In mildly dysplastic cases, your vet may be able to help mitigate the effects with nutriceuticals such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and creatine and anti-inflammatories such as aspirin. Some cases are so bad that the dog must have surgery. In extreme cases, the dog must be euthanized. Surgery costs thousands of dollars in most cases. This is why it’s important to purchase your purebred from a reputable breeder.


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Never breed a Golden with hip dysplasia or without an OFA rating of GOOD or EXCELLENT hips (see Chapter 2).

Hypothyroidism is becoming more common in Golden Retrievers. It occurs when the dog’s thyroid produces insufficient thyroid hormone. Symptoms can include lethargy, dull and dry coat, obesity or weight gain, and a thinning haircoat. The dog may seek warmer areas. Hypothyroidism can cause infertility in intact males and females. It can cause aggression, too, so it’s always important to check for hypothyroidism if your Golden shows any aggression. Some forms of hypothyroidism may be hereditary, so it’s inadvisable to breed a hypothyroid dog. Your vet can diagnose hypothyroidism through a blood test. If your Golden has hypothyroidism, your veterinarian may prescribe a form of thyroid hormone. OFA has a relatively new thyroid registry. Breeders should test and register their dogs with the OFA. Retriever Rewards
OFA, CERF, GDC, and PennHIP all offer various genetic databases for hereditary defects such as hip and elbow dysplasia, eye problems, cardiac problems, thyroid problems, and even epilepsy. If you purchase a Golden puppy, be certain that the breeder shows you proof that your puppy’s parents have been screened.

Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis (SAS)
Aortic Stenosis and Subvalvular-Aortic Stenosis (SAS) are insidious hereditary conditions that may show no outward sign in an apparently healthy dog. The dog may simply drop over dead. AS and SAS are caused by a narrowing of the outflow tract of the left ventricle. In this case, the narrowing occurs below the aortic valve. The heart

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must work harder to push more blood through the narrow opening, causing more problems. SAS can be difficult to diagnose. The heart murmur, a common symptom of SAS, may be difficult to detect. The dog may also have arrhythmias. A veterinary cardiologist can diagnose SAS through either a Doppler echocardiography or cardiac catheterization. The prognosis for a long, healthy life is poor.

Illnesses and Injuries
No matter how careful you are, your Golden may still get sick or injured. It’s helpful to know what to do when you see certain problems.

Bad Breath
Contrary to popular belief, dogs aren’t supposed to have bad breath. Bad breath may indicate a more serious problem such as an abscessed tooth or gum disease. You can avoid stinky breath by brushing your Golden’s teeth regularly and feeding him a highquality dog food. If your Golden has bad breath, bring him to the vet for a full checkup. Your vet may want to clean his teeth at that time.

Broken Toenails
Your Golden may experience cracked or broken toenails, especially if you allow them to grow too long. Trim the toenail and file off any rough edges if the toenail has broken below the quick (see Chapter 14). If the nail is bleeding, you can stop the bleeding with styptic powder, silver nitrate, or an electric nail cauterizer available through pet supply mail-order catalogs. You then can paint the nail with a skin bond agent, which is available from your veterinarian or through veterinary supply houses.


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Bloat—A Life-Threatening Condition
Bloat, also called gastric torsion, gastric dilatation, or canine gastric dilatation-volvulus (CGDV), is a life-threatening condition. It affects many large, deep-chested breeds, including Golden Retrievers; body structure seems to be the main determinant as to whether the dog could bloat. No Biscuit!
Watch for signs of bloat: suddenly looking fat or pregnant, pacing and drooling, showing discomfort when sitting or lying down, and retching and attempts at vomiting without producing anything. This is a lifethreatening condition—seek veterinary attention immediately.

The afflicted dog’s stomach fills with gas and fluid. It becomes more than just an upset stomach; the dog’s stomach fills so much that it begins to twist on its axis. This terrible twisting damages the stomach, esophagus, and intestines and shuts off blood supply to those organs. The dog will go into shock and die a painful death if untreated.

Bloat can occur up to three hours after eating. Your dog will suddenly look pregnant or fat. He may pace back and forth and look uncomfortable. He may drool and attempt to vomit without success. If your dog shows these symptoms after eating, don’t attempt to treat him yourself! Get him to the vet as soon as possible. The best treatment for bloat is to prevent it. Here are some tips: ≠ Feed him several smaller meals rather than one big one. ≠ Wet down your Golden’s food (don’t let it sit long) to encourage quick evacuation from the stomach. Tests show that food with water poured over it leaves the stomach less than an hour after eating. ≠ Don’t change dog foods or give snacks that cause digestive upset. ≠ Don’t exercise your Golden after he has eaten.

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≠ Encourage slower eating. Some people have gone as far as to put fist-size stones (too big for their dog to swallow) in their dogs’ bowls to encourage them to slow down. ≠ Don’t allow garbage raids, counter raids, or other snacking— intentional or unintentional.

Diarrhea and Vomiting
Changes in diet, overeating, unfamiliar water, and nervousness can cause diarrhea, but so can parvovirus, internal parasites, rancid food, allergies, and other serious ailments. If your Golden is dehydrated, has a fever (more than 102°F), or has extreme or bloody diarrhea, bring him to your vet as soon as possible. If your Golden has mild diarrhea (soft stools—not liquid and without mucus), does not have dehydration, and is not vomiting, you can give him a tablespoon of a kaolin product (Kaopectate) or a bismuth subsalicylate product (Pepto-Bismol). Give 1 to 2 teaspoons per 10 pounds body weight every 4 hours with Kaopectate and 1 to 2 teaspoons per 10 pounds body weight every 12 hours with Pepto Bismol. Withhold your dog’s next meal to see whether the diarrhea improves. Encourage your dog to drink water or an unflavored pediatric electrolyte solution. If there is no diarrhea or vomiting, you can feed him a mixture of boiled hamburger and rice at the next meal. If your dog’s condition does not improve or becomes worse, contact your veterinarian. Dogs vomit for a variety of reasons. Dogs sometimes eat grass and then vomit. Dogs also vomit due to obstructions, an enlarged esophagus, parvovirus and other serious illnesses, allergies, and rancid food. If your dog vomits more than once or twice, projectile vomits, starts becoming dehydrated, has severe diarrhea along with vomiting, has a fever (more than 102°F), or retches without vomiting, bring him to the veterinarian immediately.


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Flea Allergy Dermatitis or Flea Bite Dermatitis
Flea allergy dermatitis or flea bite dermatitis is caused by your Golden’s allergic reaction to—you guessed it—fleas (actually, flea saliva). Your Golden becomes itchy, and his skin becomes red and irritated because of the fleas. Eliminate the fleas, and you eliminate the allergy. (See Chapter 14 for advice on how to get rid of fleas.)

Foxtails, or grass awns, are seeds from grasslike plants. They have a sharp, burrowing head with a tail that looks like a fox’s tail (hence the name). These seeds have a nasty habit of getting into your Golden’s fur and ears. With each movement, they burrow into the Golden’s skin. Retriever Rewards
Check your Golden after every time he’s been in a field. Foxtails or grass awns can burrow their way into a dog’s skin and cause dangerous abscesses. Foxtails have been known to burrow through skin into organs. These are nasty seeds that can do a lot of damage.

Check your Golden thoroughly for burrs and foxtails after he’s been outside. Check his ears, too. If you find a partially buried foxtail, use tweezers to pull it out and watch for signs of infection. Take your dog to the vet if you see pus, swelling, or redness around the site.

Hot Spots
Hot spots are areas of moist dermatitis (skin inflammation) that may become infected. The symptoms are reddening skin, missing hair, and oozing woundlike lesions. Allergy, matted fur, or some other form of irritation frequently causes them. Shave or clip all hair surrounding the hot spot and clean twice daily with a 10 percent Betadine/90 percent water solution. If the hot spots are too painful,

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infected, or extensive, your vet may have to anesthetize your Golden to shave the area and prescribe corticosteroids and antibiotics.

Lumps and Bumps on the Skin
Most lumps are benign. However, you should show any lump or bump to your veterinarian. Lumps that are oozing, red, darkcolored, irregular in size and shape, or swiftly growing may be serious; show them to your vet immediately. If your female Golden has lumps on her mammary glands, they may be cancerous mammary tumors requiring surgery. A large doughy lump on the stomach might be a hernia that your vet may have to address. Rapidly growing lumps may be a form of abscess or infection. Abscesses occur when foreign bodies (such as foxtails) enter the skin or an injury closes with bacteria Retriever Rewards inside. Abscesses are serious. Your Rapidly growing vet must drain the abscess and lumps that are warm prescribe antibiotics. Do not to the touch may be abscesses. attempt to drain the abscess yourHave your vet look at all lumps self; the wound may become more and bumps on your Golden. infected.

Incontinence is generally a sign of a more serious problem such as a bladder or urinary tract infection or bladder stones. Have your vet examine your dog to determine the cause of incontinence. Occasionally, spayed female dogs dribble and may require corrective medication. If your Golden crouches down and urinates when you yell at him or touch him, it may be a form of submissive urination. This is a sign that he respects your authority. Some dogs are more submissive than others. Scolding or yelling at your Golden will only aggravate the problem. You can stop this behavior by remaining calm and


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speaking quietly. Pet your Golden under the chin and don’t act angry. Most dogs who are overly submissive require some gentle confidence builders such as training and other positivereinforcement techniques.

Pyometra—A Life-Threatening Condition for Intact Females
Pyometra is a life-threatening infection of the uterus in intact female dogs. It usually occurs about five or six weeks after the female’s last estrus or season. It may come on without warning. Symptoms may be lethargy, refusal to eat, excessive thirst, vomiting, and high temperature. If the cervix is open, you will see a huge amount of blood and pus. If the cervix is closed, you may not see a discharge. Pyometra is a serious condition. I lost a female to this disease, and I’ve known others who have as well. No one knows precisely what causes it, other than a hormone imbalance. The usual treatRetriever Rewards ment is a spay, but sometimes the Spaying your dog female is so weak that it can still will prevent the lifekill her. Sometimes vets are able threatening condition called pyometra. to treat an open pyometra with prostaglandin and antibiotics. This is yet another reason to spay your female Golden. If you aren’t showing in conformation or working her in field trials, spay your Golden.

Irritated Eyes
Occasionally, you may see redness in your Golden’s eyes, or they might be goopy or teary. Dogs don’t cry, so any excessive drainage is most likely due to an eye infection (conjunctivitis) or injury. Your vet can determine what type of infection or whether your Golden’s cornea has been scratched. He will prescribe the

Chapter 15: Common Golden Retriever Illnesses, Hereditary Ailments, and Emergencies


appropriate eye ointment. Do not use human eye products as they are not made for dogs.

Ringworm isn’t a worm, but a fungus. Ringworm causes hair loss, leaving round patches of scaly skin. It is contagious to humans and other animals, so use disposable latex gloves when treating it. Use a mixture of 90 percent water to 10 percent betadine (available from your veterinarian) to treat the skin. Shampoos and soaps containing iodine work well. Your Golden can get ringworm from other animals or from the soil. After it is in the soil, it is difficult to eradicate. Your veterinarian can prescribe oral medication for chronic or widespread ringworm.

Excessive scratching is a sign of a potential skin problem. Examine the area your Golden is scratching. Is the skin irritated and red? Is your Golden losing hair? Is his skin scaly and flaky? Does he show signs of infestation (fleas or mites)? There are a lot of potential problems with scratching. Your Golden could be suffering from allergies, flea bite dermatitis, hot spots, or even mange. If his coat is crinkly and dry, it could suggest a potential thyroid problem such as hypothyroidism. Other problems might be bizarre, such as zinc responsive dermatosis. If your Golden isn’t losing hair and is just scratchy, without open sores, perhaps it’s time for a bath. Some good medicated shampoos for dogs help relieve scratching. Some dog owners like giving a cooked egg or a teaspoon of Canola oil once a week to help improve their dog’s coat.


Part 4: In Sickness and in Health

Seizures in dogs stem from a multitude of causes including some serious diseases such as rabies and distemper, an imbalanced diet, trauma to the head, brain tumors, epilepsy, hormone imbalance, environmental causes such as chemicals, or heatstroke. HowGolden Glossary ever, there are also idiopathic Idiopathic A disease seizures, meaning we really don’t or condition whose know why the seizure occurs. Most cause is unknown. dogs with idiopathic seizures may have a genetic component to them. Two types of seizures are possible: grand mal and petit mal. With the grand mal seizure, the dog goes into convulsive fits. He may lose his bowel and bladder control. He may shake convulsively and whimper or cry out. Usually these seizures last a few seconds to less than five minutes. When the dog comes to, he is usually disoriented. Petit mal seizures are brief. Sometimes the dog simply blanks out or spaces out for a few moments. Other times, he may have a sudden facial expression such as a snarl, or he may fall over. As with a grand mal seizure, the petit mal will leave the dog disoriented. In rare instances, a seizure may cluster—that is, continue for more than a few minutes. In this case, the dog may suffer brain damage or even death if it is not immediately treated. I have owned three dogs with epilepsy. It’s disconcerting to see an epileptic seizure the first time. If your Golden has a seizure, don’t panic. Take him to your vet after the seizure for a checkup to rule out other causes. The good news is that just because your dog has a seizure, it does not mean he will have another. Some dogs have one seizure and never experience them again. What causes a dog to have an idiopathic seizure? There are a number of potential causes. Stress may bring on an epileptic seizure,

Chapter 15: Common Golden Retriever Illnesses, Hereditary Ailments, and Emergencies


but some dogs experience seizures only in their sleep. Some dogs have seizures due to hormonal changes such as estrus (spaying usually helps those). If your Golden is diagnosed with idiopathic seizures, your vet may want to put him on a daily regimen of phenobarbital, primadone, or potassium bromide.

Nothing is much worse than getting skunked. But before you go and buy out the local supermarket’s stock of tomato juice, save your money. You’ll just get a stinky pink Golden. Purchase a good commercial skunk-odor remover or use this do-it-yourself baking soda/hydrogen peroxide remedy: ≠ 1 quart hydrogen peroxide ≠ 1/4 cup baking soda ≠ 1 teaspoon of shampoo or liquid soap Wash the dog with this and rinse thoroughly. Don’t get any in your dog’s eyes. Don’t save any of it in a container—it might explode.

My Golden Is Pregnant—What Do I Do?
You meant to get your Golden spayed. You really did. But she got out of the house once when she was in heat or perhaps you caught a stray dog with her. Lately, she’s been looking a bit paunchy. You think she’s pregnant. What are you going to do? If you had been planning to spay your Golden, take her to the vet right now and get her spayed. Don’t delay. A puppy’s full gestation is 63 days, which leaves not a lot of time.


Part 4: In Sickness and in Health

If your Golden has recently been bred and she’s a show-quality dog, you can try a mismate shot, that is, a hormonal shot to abort the pregnancy. But this is not without risks and can cause serious problems such as pyometra or anemia. I don’t recommend it, and spaying is a much safer and more permanent solution. The last choice is to have your Golden carry the puppies to term. In this case, you’ve just added to the pet overpopulation—something you shouldn’t do. If you decide to have her carry the pups to term, realize that there are associated risks, such as losing your Golden during whelping. Then there’s the matter of care for both the mom and pups, which is outside the scope of this book. You should refer to any of the good books on breeding and caring for puppies, including Canine Reproduction by Phyllis Holst (Alpine Publications, Inc., 1999). Consult with your vet about care for your Golden.

Assembling a First-Aid Kit
Having a first-aid kit for your Golden Retriever is important. You can assemble one from items that are easy to find in the drug store: ≠ An emergency veterinary hospital’s phone number ≠ Aspirin ≠ Bandage scissors ≠ Bandage tape ≠ Benadryl® antihistamine for allergic reactions ≠ Betadine solution ≠ Cortisone cream ≠ Disposable latex gloves ≠ Hydrogen peroxide ≠ Kaolin product (such as Kaopectate™) ≠ Large and small nonstick bandage pads

Chapter 15: Common Golden Retriever Illnesses, Hereditary Ailments, and Emergencies
≠ Local poison control center phone number ≠ Mineral oil ≠ Petroleum jelly (Vaseline™) ≠ Pressure bandages ≠ Quick muzzle ≠ Rectal thermometer (or ear thermometer for dogs) ≠ Self-adhesive wrap (VetWrap™ or Elastaplast™) ≠ Sterile gauze wrappings ≠ Sterile sponges


≠ Surgical glue or VetBond™ (available through veterinary supply catalogues) ≠ Syrup of Ipecac™ ≠ Triple antibiotic ointment or nitrofurizone (nitrofurizone is available through veterinary supply catalogues) ≠ Tweezers ≠ Unflavored pediatric electrolyte (Pedalyte™) ≠ Your veterinarian’s phone number, pager, and afterhours number

Retriever Rewards
Always have your vet’s number, the number of the local poison control center, and the nearest 24hour emergency vet clinic number taped to your phone, just in case.

Health Emergencies
As much care as you take to keep your Golden Retriever safe, emergencies can and do happen. That’s why it’s important to know what to do.


Part 4: In Sickness and in Health

How to Muzzle Your Golden
In an emergency, you may have to muzzle your Golden. Even the gentlest dog may bite if frightened or injured. Have a quick muzzle (sold in pet supply stores and through mail order) available. If none are available, you can fashion a makeshift muzzle from rope, a belt, a scarf, or a tie. NOTE: Do not muzzle a dog that is having problems breathing! Start in the middle at the bottom of the dog’s muzzle. Wrap the bandage upward, tie, and then bring it back downward under the chin and tie. Take the two loose ends and tie them securely behind the dog’s head.

Broken Bones
Fractures to the head, chest, or back may be life threatening. Use a stiff board to transport the dog (slide the board under the dog), or if you can’t find one, hold a blanket taut and lift him on that. Seek immediate veterinary attention. If your dog has broken his leg, you can fashion a splint from a stick, a rolled-up piece of stiff cardboard, or even a rolled-up newspaper. Put the splint alongside the broken leg and wrap either VetWrap™ or tape around it. Transport your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

A severe burn, in which the skin is charred or the underlying tissue is exposed, requires immediate veterinary attention. You can treat minor burns over a small area with ice packs or cold water. Don’t use water on extensive burns, or you may send the dog into shock. Aloe vera is a good treatment after the burn has blistered.

Chapter 15: Common Golden Retriever Illnesses, Hereditary Ailments, and Emergencies


Choking or Difficulty Breathing
Signs of choking and breathing difficulty include gagging, coughing, gums and tongue turning pale or blue, and wheezing. Do not muzzle your dog, and seek immediate veterinary attention. Loosen your dog’s collar and anything else that might restrict breathing. Check your Golden’s throat for any object that may be caught in it. If you see something that you can remove with tweezers, do so. Do not use your fingers, as you can accidentally push the item further down the throat. If the item is lodged in the throat, try pushing on the dog’s abdomen to expel the object. If the dog is not breathing, give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation by closing his mouth and breathing into his nose. Ask your veterinarian how to correctly perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and CPR.

Cuts, Injuries, and Dog Bites
You can clean minor cuts and scrapes yourself with a 10 percent betadine/90 percent water solution. Then apply a triple antibiotic ointment and watch for signs of infection. For deep puncture wounds, determine how deep the puncture is. If the object is still embedded, do not remove it (if practical); seek immediate veterinary treatment. If the puncture is a dog bite and the bite is not serious, you can clean the wound with a betadine and water solution. Your veterinarian may want to prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection. Be certain that both your dog and the biting dog are current on their rabies vaccinations.

In case of electrocutions, do not touch your dog, or you may also be electrocuted. Use a wooden broom handle or other nonconductive


Part 4: In Sickness and in Health

item to unplug the cord or to move your dog away from the source of the current. Treat as for shock (see “Shock,” later in this chapter) by maintaining proper body temperature and seek emergency veterinary treatment. If the dog is not breathing, administer mouth-to-mouth resuscitation by closing his mouth and breathing into his nose.

If your Golden has stepped on a fishhook or one has pierced her lips, bring her to a vet. If no vet is available, you may have to muzzle your Golden and look for where the barb is. Push the barb through the skin if necessary to expose it and then snip it off with a pair of wire cutters. Then remove the hook. Contact your vet; he or she may want to prescribe antibiotics. Only your veterinarian should remove swallowed fishhooks and fishhooks that you cannot extract.

Frostbite and Hypothermia
Signs of hypothermia include lowered body temperature, shivering, lethargy followed by stupor, shock, unconsciousness, and finally death. Insufficient food and dehydration can greatly affect your Golden Retriever’s ability to keep warm. Dogs expend energy and heat while working, and if the heat loss is too great, your Golden may experience hypothermia. Treatment for hypothermia is mostly common sense. Warm your Golden slowly by wrapping him in blankets or lying next to him in blankets. If he is conscious, offer him warm broth to drink. Seek immediate veterinary attention. Frostbite is where the skin is damaged as a result of cold. The skin will turn white from frostbite. If it’s severely frostbitten, the skin will turn black. Sometimes the affected skin will slough off, leaving a raw sore. If the skin is white and intact, warm slowly in tepid water (not hot—you can further damage the skin). It will be painful as the skin warms. In frostbite with sores, wrap with an antibiotic ointment

Chapter 15: Common Golden Retriever Illnesses, Hereditary Ailments, and Emergencies
and gauze. With black-skin frostbite, it’s best to let a veterinarian treat it. In all cases of frostbite, seek veterinary attention.


Insect Bites and Stings
You can treat most insect bites and stings with an over-the-counter antihistamine that your veterinarian can recommend. If your Golden shows any allergic reaction to bites or stings (severe swelling or difficulty breathing), seek immediate veterinary attention. This can be a life-threatening condition known as an anaphylactic reaction. Spider bites can be serious. The two most dangerous spiders are the black widow and the brown recluse. The bites of both can be fatal if left untreated. Spider bites are normally swollen and inflamed around a bite mark and may be white or red. If you suspect a spider has bitten your Golden, seek veterinary attention.

Overheating can occur on warm days, but also when a dog is in a confined area or doesn’t get enough air circulation. Overheating is often combined with dehydration, which is dangerous alone and even more perilous in combination. A common scenario is leaving a dog in a parked car on a warm day. Even with the windows cracked or rolled down, even with the car parked in the shade, internal temperatures can quickly rise to lethal levels. Golden Glimmers
You can tell if your Golden is dehydrated by doing a simple skin snap test. Gently pull up the skin at the nape of the neck and release it. A well-hydrated dog’s skin will snap back quickly; a severely dehydrated dog’s will “melt” back or even hold its shape. Perform a skin snap test on your Golden to see what it looks like when he’s healthy so that you know what is abnormal.


Part 4: In Sickness and in Health

Signs of overheating include excessive panting, lethargy, and dehydration. Heatstroke, which is a serious emergency, includes a high body temperature (greater than 103°F), extreme thirst, panting, vomiting, watery diarrhea, difficulty breathing, weakness, and pale gums. Without treatment, a dog with heatstroke will become comatose and die. Treat your Golden for heatstroke by bringing him into a cooler, shady area that has a breeze or good air circulation. Remove collars or anything that might constrict his breathing. Pour cool water (not ice water!) over his head and body—if you can, submerge his body in a cool bath. Take your dog’s temperature frequently, if you can, until it reaches 103°F and remove him from the bath. (He will continue to cool down, but this is to prevent him from becoming hypothermic; No Biscuit! the final temperature you’re lookWhen treating heatstroke, never use ice water. Ice ing for is between 100 and 101°F.) water can cause the skin and If he’s conscious, give him an unblood vessels to close, thereby flavored pediatric electrolyte soluretaining the heat and aggravattion or water in small sips. Seek ing the condition. veterinary attention.

Contact your veterinarian or local poison control center and have the substance or chemical available so you can properly describe it. Follow the veterinarian or poison control center’s instructions. Do not induce vomiting unless told to do so. Some acids, alkalis, and other substances can harm your dog more if they are vomited, especially if they get into the lungs.

Chapter 15: Common Golden Retriever Illnesses, Hereditary Ailments, and Emergencies


Symptoms of shock include pale gums, rapid and weak pulse, shallow breathing, weakness, and unresponsiveness. In situations of shock, you should maintain body temperature, which means blankets if cold and cooling if hot. Seek veterinary attention immediately.

The Least You Need to Know
≠ Bloat is a life-threatening condition in which the dog’s stomach fills with gas and fluid. Seek immediate veterinary attention. ≠ Allergies may be contact, inhalation, or dietary. If you suspect that your Golden is allergic to something in his diet, talk with your vet. He or she can prescribe a hypoallergenic diet. ≠ Frequent vomiting, projectile vomiting, or vomiting accompanying diarrhea requires veterinary attention. Diarrhea with vomiting, that lasts more than one day, accompanying a high fever, with blood or mucus in the stool, or with dehydration requires veterinary attention. ≠ Pyometra is a life-threatening illness to intact female dogs. Spay your female to prevent this disease. ≠ Seizures can have causes or may be idiopathic. Have your vet examine your dog to determine the cause (if possible) and treatment. ≠ Itchy, scratchy skin may have several causes including ringworm, mange, fleas, or hot spots. ≠ Spaying your Golden is the safest way to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. ≠ Have a first-aid kit handy for emergencies for your Golden Retriever. ≠ Most emergencies require veterinary attention.


Nowadays, Golden owners have more questions than ever before when it comes to issues surrounding their Golden Retrievers. What do you do when there’s a disaster? What’s the best way to travel with a dog? Now that Goldens are living longer, how do you care for a senior dog? Part 5 covers everything from natural disasters to tattooing your pet. We also cover the do’s and don’ts of traveling with your Golden. Last, we’ll cover your Golden’s senior years—what diseases you might see and how to make your Golden more comfortable.


The Golden Life— Living with a Golden



Disaster Planning
In This Chapter
≠ How to plan for a disaster ≠ What identification options are available for your Golden Retriever ≠ What to do if your Golden gets lost Most of us go through life never expecting emergencies. However, disasters do strike and often when we least expect them. Tornadoes, floods, forest fires, earthquakes, and hurricanes are just some of the natural disasters we may face. And then, there are notso-natural disasters that, sadly, pet owners now have to consider— terrorist attacks. Chances are your Golden is like family to you. You would do anything to save him should there be a disaster. In this chapter, we’ll discuss disaster preparedness and how to plan for the unthinkable. We’ll also talk about identification and what to do to retrieve your lost Golden.


Part 5: The Golden Life—Living with a Golden

Do You Know What to Do If a Disaster Strikes?
When preparing for a disaster, you should think about what to do to ensure the safety of you and your family. This, of course, includes your Golden Retriever. Make a plan now before disaster strikes— otherwise, you’ll be wasting precious time trying to react.

Preparing for a Disaster
In some instances, like hurricanes and floods, you may have hours or even days to prepare. In sudden disasters, such as tornadoes, fires, or man-made disasters, you may have very little time—sometimes no time, if you live close to the disaster. Retriever Rewards
Contact kennels, humane societies, shelters, and vets outside of your area to find out whether they have space to take dogs on an extended basis if a disaster strikes.

What will help make sense out of chaos is a disaster preparedness kit. Because this is The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Golden Retrievers and not Disaster Preparedness, I’m covering those issues pertaining to pets and not people. When trying to figure out what to do in a disaster, you need to know the following: ≠ How you’re going to get out with your pets. ≠ Where you’re going to stay. ≠ What you’re going to bring with you.

Retriever Rewards
The American Red Cross has disaster preparedness information for both people and animals. You can visit their website at www.

Chapter 16: Disaster Planning


I’m Moving Out
The first thing you should consider is how you’re going to get out with your pets. In tornadoes and hurricanes, your home might be the safest place if you have a basement. (If you live in a mobile home, you should leave, take your pets with you, and seek adequate shelter.) In forest fires, your home can quickly become a death trap. Know the roads you can safely use to get out of the area. What happens if disaster strikes when you’re not at home or can’t get home in time? Before that ever happens, make a plan with a pet-owning neighbor for rescuing your pets (and offer to do the same for hers). She’ll probably need to know where a spare key is or have a key to your home, so be sure she’s someone you trust. Plan a rendezvous where you can meet up with her so you can get your Golden and other pets back. Sometimes, the disaster is so severe and the area so dangerous that emergency personnel won’t let you return home. What do you do then? Sometimes animal control can enter disaster areas where civilians can’t, or sometimes emergency personnel will rescue pets. Retriever Rewards
One way to try to have your Golden rescued during a disaster is to put a rescue alert sticker in your windows or near your front door. These stickers alert emergency personnel that your Golden is inside and they should rescue him. You can obtain free rescue alert stickers from the ASPCA by going to http://www.aspca. org/site/PageServer?pagename=emergency and looking for the sticker link or going to You can also purchase them from various pet suppliers.

Where to Stay
Where you stay is vitally important in a disaster. Most pet owners assume that family or friends outside of the disaster area will take you, but don’t assume! Ask now and make arrangements. You may


Part 5: The Golden Life—Living with a Golden

be surprised to learn that you or your Golden aren’t necessarily welcome. Ask now before the emergency occurs. Have a list of potential hotels and motels that accept dogs in a 10-mile, 25-mile, and 50-mile radius. Be sure to have several on the list so that if one fills up or no longer accepts dogs, you’ll have another place to go. Update the list at least once a year so you aren’t left with nowhere to go. The American Red Cross will not allow dogs into their emergency shelters, except service dogs, so don’t plan on bringing your Golden to a shelter with you. If you do end up in a shelter, you’ll have to find other places to put your Golden. If you can find a boarding kennel outside of the disaster area, so much the better, but be aware that boarding kennels will fill up fast. If you have no alternative, see whether an animal shelter can take your dog temporarily. I don’t recommend this, for three reasons. First, the animal shelters are likely to be overcrowded with strays and other people’s pets in the event of a disaster. Second, you don’t know what diseases your Golden will be exposed to. Third, there is a small chance of your Golden getting mixed up with the strays and adopted. But if you really have no choice, the shelter is better than nothing.

Your Disaster Kit
Everyone who has a pet should have a disaster kit ready to go in case of an emergency. You should have the following items in your kit: ≠ Your Golden’s records (papers, microchip records, and so on), health records, and vaccination records. ≠ Enough dog food and drinkable water for your Golden Retriever for at least three days. ≠ A recent photo of your Golden Retriever in case he gets lost. ≠ Food and water bowls.

Chapter 16: Disaster Planning
≠ Your Golden’s crate, bed, and toys. ≠ Phone numbers of hotels, motels, veterinarians, and shelters that you can use outside of the disaster area. ≠ Your Golden’s first-aid kit. ≠ Your Golden’s leash and collar. ≠ Your Golden’s medicine.


You should have your Golden’s emergency kit in a place where it’s easy to grab and go. Let your neighbor know where the emergency kit is in case she has to evacuate your Golden for you.

ID, Please
All dogs should have two forms of ID: Permanent and tags. In this section, we look at both forms of ID and what are the pros and cons of each.

If you don’t have a tag on your Golden Retriever, put one on now! Anyone at a shelter can tell you about a dog who appeared at their shelter with a collar and no tags—and no means of identifying the dog. There’s really no excuse for your Golden to have no tags or tags so old that a person can’t read them. Tags are cheap and easy to get. Some Internet pet supply sites offer tags for free, and most pet supply stores have tag machines that will engrave a tag with whatever you like on them. They cost around $4 to $6, unless you get the gold-plated variety. You can leave the store with your Golden’s kibble and a brand new tag to put on his collar. Keep all information updated on the tag. If you move or if you’re traveling, purchase a tag with that information and the traveling dates listed. And periodically inspect the tag for wear—is it legible?


Part 5: The Golden Life—Living with a Golden

Microchips and Tattoos
What if your Golden loses his collar or (worse yet) someone takes his collar off? How can you prove that your Golden is yours? One vet I know found two dogs of the same breed, same sex, and roughly the same age, who looked identical and had lost their collars. Both owners had a hard time telling the dogs apart because both dogs were friendly. Microchips or tattoos would have solved this problem. Golden Glimmers
The following is a list of animal registries that allow you to register a tattooed or microchipped pet. AKC Companion Animal Recovery 5580 Centerview Drive, Suite 250 Raleigh, NC 27606-3389 1-800-252-7894 Website: National Dog Registry Box 116 Woodstock, NY 12498 1-800-637-3647 Website: Tattoo-A-Pet 6571 S.W. 20th Court Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33317 1-800-828-8667 Website:

Microchips and tattoos are permanent forms of identification. With microchips, a small chip, about the size of a grain of rice and encased in glass, is implanted between the dog’s shoulder blades. It takes seconds to implant, and the chip is good for life. The microchip is read by holding a scanner over the area. The scanner reads the code, and the person scanning it must match the code up to a database. In other words, the number on the microchip must be

Chapter 16: Disaster Planning


registered with a national database, or the microchip is useless. If you move, you’ll have to contact the national registry to give them your new address. The downside to microchips is that there is no single standard for the technology. Different brands of microchips require different scanners, and although some scanners can read more than one microchip, some can’t. You also must have a microchip scanner to be able to read the microchip; most Golden Glimmers people don’t have one and aren’t aware that microchip technology You may have heard that microchips can move around exists. Most shelters and veterinarior travel from the implant ans do have scanners that read site. The truth is that older multiple chips, but there are still a microchips did travel, but few out there that are nonstandard. the new ones have been Finally, microchips can be pricey. redesigned so that they stay put. The cost of the chip and registration fees can be $50 or more. A cheaper alternative to microchips is tattoos. Tattoos should be given by a professional pet tattooist (yes, they really exist). A good pet tattooist will only give a dog a tattoo on the inside of the thigh because it’s harder to remove than an ear tattoo (dog thieves will cut an ear off). There are several downsides to tattoos. One, like microchips, you need to look to see that they exist. (Most people don’t make a habit of looking beneath a dog’s belly and most don’t know about tattoos.) If your Golden is really hairy, his leg fur will cover up his tattoo, making it impossible to see. (You’ll have to keep that area No Biscuit! shaved.) You’ll have to think up an Tattoos should be original number for the tattoo— put only in your Golden’s inside thigh and not in the ear. Dog most people use their Social Security thieves have been known to lop number. If you sell or give away off an ear to remove the tattoos. your Golden, you’ll be giving out your Social Security number as well.


Part 5: The Golden Life—Living with a Golden

Dogs hate getting tattoos. It requires them to be on their back and hear a noisy tattoo pen as the tattooist writes on the dog’s inside thigh. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s very disconcerting. One last note is that a tattoo isn’t useful unless it’s tied to a national database. Yes, there are stories of shelters receiving tattooed dogs whose owners didn’t bother to register them; such shelters have no idea who the dog belongs to. Tattooing costs $5 or more plus registration fees.

Lost Dog
Even if you’re a conscientious pet owner, your Golden might accidentally get out. All it takes is a meter reader to leave a gate open or someone to forget to close the door. You turn your back, and suddenly, your dog is gone. No Biscuit!
If your Golden gets loose, you might be angry at him. Even if you are, don’t punish him! Your Golden will learn that you’re not someone he wants to come to because he’ll get punished.

No Biscuit!
Some unscrupulous people call owners with the news that their lost dogs have been found in another town and ask for money to ship them. If you receive a call like this, tell the person to take the dog to a veterinarian or a shelter of your choosing and then you can make shipping arrangements with the vet or shelter.

Don’t panic. It’s a terrible feeling to know that your beloved Golden is out there somewhere, lost, but if you keep your head, you can probably get him back safely. Many dogs return home after a romp around, hungry and tired. If he does come home, give him praise and snacks. He came home, and you should always reward him for that. Most dogs don’t go far, so you may have luck scouring the neighborhood and knocking on doors. Put up signs with a recent photo of your Golden and a detailed description. Contact area shelters and give them a complete description of your Golden in case someone finds and drops your Golden off. Even if they tell you that they don’t have your

Chapter 16: Disaster Planning
Golden, you should probably drop by the shelter anyway in case he was overlooked. Contact local vets, too—sometimes people drop lost dogs off at the nearest veterinarian. Golden Glimmers
The USDA has a website where you can post your missing pet for free: www.


Search the found ads in the local newspaper and put in a lost ad. When identifying your Golden in an ad, be sure to give as much information as you can to visually identify him. Although Goldens are popular, some people still may not recognize the breed, so include a description such as: Lost two-year-old neutered male Golden Retriever (redgold, medium hair) on 4/4/05 in the Centennial area. Blue collar/tags. Microchipped. Answers to Rusty. Reward.

The Least You Need to Know
≠ As a Golden Retriever owner, you should be prepared for disasters, whether natural or man-made. ≠ Have an emergency evacuation plan, a place to stay, and a way to care for your Golden should a disaster arise. ≠ Have both tags and a permanent form of ID on your Golden in case he gets lost. ≠ When identifying your Golden in an ad, be sure to give as much information as you can to visually identify him.



On the Road Again— Traveling with Your Golden
In This Chapter
≠ Traveling by car and plane ≠ Boarding your Golden Retriever ≠ Hiring a pet sitter ≠ What to do if your Golden gets lost In this chapter, we look at traveling with your Golden and how to make it a safe and pleasant experience for both of you. We’ll look at traveling by car and by air and what you must do to prepare for such travel. We’ll also look at how to find lodgings that accept pets. If your Golden Retriever doesn’t do well traveling, we’ll look at other options, too. Boarding and pet sitting are two that we’ll talk about.

Should You Travel with Your Golden?
Depending on where you go, your Golden Retriever may accompany you in your travels. But before you pull out the roadmaps and start


Part 5: The Golden Life—Living with a Golden

planning, ask yourself if this is a wise thing to do. Will the place you intend to travel to have lots of things for you and your Golden to do? Or will you have no time to spend with your Golden because you’ll be stuck in business meetings or perhaps playing the casinos, where dogs aren’t allowed? No Biscuit!
Many national parks and even some national forests prohibit dogs. Contact the National Park Service or the National Forest Service to find out the rules and regulations regarding dogs at the park or forest you intend to visit.

Another thing to consider is your Golden’s manners. Is he well trained, housebroken, and well mannered in the car? If your Golden doesn’t have rudimentary obedience training, perhaps you should consider leaving him at home with a pet sitter or boarding him at a kennel.

Traveling presents its own set of problems. There is the real concern of having your Golden get loose and run away. In an unfamiliar area, your Golden can easily become lost. You must always think ahead and plan your trip—many hotels and motels do not accept dogs, and those that do often require a damage deposit or extra fee. Your Golden may become noisy in unfamiliar surroundings and may whine or cry if left alone. You may be paying for room service or choosing fast food instead of restaurants more often. You should consider traveling with your Golden if … ≠ The destination spot is a good one for dogs. This would include places where you can hike and camp (that allow dogs) and exercise your dog. ≠ The hotels or motels on your route accept dogs, or you are traveling by RV and the RV sites accept dogs. ≠ You do not have to leave your dog in a parked car for very long. ≠ You have time to spend with your Golden on the trip.

Chapter 17: On the Road Again—Traveling with Your Golden
≠ Your Golden loves to travel. ≠ The airline flight (if you are flying) is nonstop. You should consider boarding your pet if … ≠ The destination does not have facilities for your dog. ≠ You will not have time to spend with your Golden. ≠ Your Golden hates to travel. ≠ Your Golden is not obedience trained.


≠ You do not want the inconvenience of taking care of your pet while traveling. ≠ You are traveling internationally or overseas. ≠ You have many stops or layovers (if flying). Don’t head off on your adventure just yet. Even though your Golden is well-mannered and the place you’re going to is fun for pets, you have to plan your trip. Where are you going to stay? What are you going to bring? What will you do when there’s an emergency or when your best-laid plans go awry? Start by planning out your trip in detail—where you’ll be staying and alternatives in case something unexpected happens. Consider what you need bring with you. Your Golden also will need you to do his packing and planning. Golden Glimmers The following is a checklist for things you need to plan before Water from an unfamiliar locale sometimes causes stomsetting out on any adventure with ach upsets in dogs. If you’re your Golden: ≠ Find accommodations in advance for both you and your Golden at every place you’ll be stopping.
driving and you have the room, pack enough water from home. Otherwise, you can try giving your Golden bottled water.


Part 5: The Golden Life—Living with a Golden

≠ Pack a travel bag for your Golden. ≠ Obtain a list of emergency vet and shelter phone numbers in places you’ll be visiting or driving through. ≠ Obtain a health certificate for your Golden Retriever less than 10 days before leaving. ≠ Plan your travel stops. Choose alternative stops in case some look dangerous. ≠ Get ID tags made for your dog’s collar that have the dates, addresses, and phone numbers of the places you’ll be staying on your trip. See Chapter 16 for more about ID. ≠ Find out whether there is a doggie day care or kennel facilities where you’re staying for times when you can’t watch your Golden. ≠ Get the car tuned up for traveling. ≠ Get all your paperwork together (health certificates, vaccination records, identification papers, and so on).
© Joe Johnson

Don’t allow your Golden to drink from unknown water sources. This is Sampson and Brett Eudaly.

Chapter 17: On the Road Again—Traveling with Your Golden


Your Golden’s Travel Bag
Just as you would pack your suitcase, you need to pack for your Golden Retriever. (It’s tough for him to pack, since he doesn’t have opposable thumbs.) Buy a duffle bag or a gym bag and stash the following items in it: ≠ Bags for picking up pet waste. ≠ Enough food and water for your trip, plus two more days. ≠ Health certificate. ≠ Leash and an extra one. ≠ Paper towels and plastic bags. ≠ Pet first-aid kit. ≠ Portable cooling fan (battery powered). ≠ Spot cleaner (enzymatic cleaner). ≠ Treats. ≠ Vaccination certificates. ≠ Your Golden Retriever’s medication. ≠ Your Golden Retriever’s bowls. Retriever Rewards
Before going anywhere with your Golden, you’ll want to get his health certificate less than 10 days before you leave. You’ll need a health certificate when you travel via plane and if you go out of the country. When you visit your veterinarian, make sure your Golden is up-to-date on all his vaccinations. Also, ask your veterinarian whether your Golden needs any other vaccinations or heartworm protection. This is important whether you’re visiting someplace that has heartworm year-round, such as the Deep South, or if you’re in an area where heartworm isn’t prevalent.


Part 5: The Golden Life—Living with a Golden
The travel bag needs to stay with you while you travel with your Golden. Put the most important items, such as vaccination records, health certificate, and medications, in a special waterproof bag you can take with you. If you’re traveling by plane, you can bring that in the cabin with your carry-on items.

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When packing your Golden’s meals, try putting individual meals in separate zip-closure type bags so that you only have to pull out one small bag to feed and don’t have to measure.

Car Travel
If your Golden is used to traveling to fun places and doing fun things, then he should have no problems with a road trip or two. However, some dogs just can’t tolerate a car ride either because of behavioral issues or carsickness. If this is the case, you’re better off leaving your Golden home with a pet sitter or boarding him. But occasionally you can’t do that, especially if you’re traveling crosscountry to a new home. In this case, talk with your vet about a tranquilizer or sedative so that your Golden can sleep most of the time in his crate while you drive. Before you go on any road trip, have your vehicle serviced. Although this doesn’t seem like advice you would find in a pet book, it is important for your Golden as well as for you. There’s nothing worse than having a major breakdown in the middle of nowhere with a pet relying on you to get you both to safety. Make certain that your brakes, air conditioner, heater, windshield wipers, tires, automatic steering, engine, and transmission are all in good working order. Have the engine tuned up, and the fluids changed. Make sure all fluids are topped off before you leave. It might be worthwhile to purchase a roadside assistance plan. AAA offers a good one, but others are available. Just be sure the roadside assistance works where you’re traveling and everywhere in between.

Chapter 17: On the Road Again—Traveling with Your Golden


Consider purchasing a cell phone. If you’re not willing to sign up for a monthly service plan, you can get a pre-paid plan. Again, just be sure the cell phone has coverage where you’ll be traveling. You should plan on having your Golden Retriever ride in his crate or wear a seat-harness designed for dogs. This does two things: 1. It keeps your Golden from getting underfoot. 2. It keeps your Golden safer in an accident. The car poses many dangers to your Golden. Although you’ve probably heard the warning many times, it bears repeating: Never leave your Golden in your car on a warm day, even with the windows rolled down. Temperatures can soar inside a car in the sunshine in minutes, even if the day No Biscuit! is only mildly warm. Dogs have Never allow your died in closed cars, in less than Golden to ride in the back of an an hour. Most often, heat prostraopen pickup truck. Dogs have tion occurs when the owners fallen out while riding. thought they were going to be gone only a minute or two.
© Carolyn Risdon

Temperatures can rise in cars even with the windows down. This is Nala and Rico.


Part 5: The Golden Life—Living with a Golden

You must also be careful while driving your car. Your Golden can overheat even with the air conditioning running. If he’s in the sun and has no airflow, his crate can quickly heat up. Check on your Golden Retriever frequently if you use a crate, especially in the summertime. Be sure that your Golden is cool, and there is sufficient airflow through the crate to avoid the dangers of overheating. One useful device is a portable fan that runs on batteries. These are great to clip onto your dog’s crate and will help keep her cool in hot weather. Cold weather can be dangerous too. If your Golden is cold in the wintertime, there are doggie sweaters to fit even his size. (Hint: There are sweaters in plain colors or macho patterns.) Be aware that places with snow and ice are likely to use chemical deicers that may Retriever Rewards be caustic to your Golden’s paws. Fill 2-liter pop bottles You can either purchase booties with water and freeze for your Golden Retriever from them. Put them in your Golden’s crate during hot weather to keep pet supply catalogues or be certain him cool. When the ice melts, to wash off his paws when he you have cool water for your comes inside. Golden to drink. Plan no more than four hours between stops (more frequently if your dog is elderly or a puppy). Rest stops frequently have places to exercise your dog, but do so only on leash. Many dogs who are normally reliable off-leash may not be in unfamiliar surroundings. Be a responsible owner and pick up after your dog when he defecates.

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There are portable water jugs and dishes for traveling. Some manufacturers of backpacking equipment also make portable dog water bowls of waterproof nylon that fold flat when not in use.

Chapter 17: On the Road Again—Traveling with Your Golden


Air Travel
The friendly skies are not so friendly when it comes to dogs. Regulations are constantly changing, so be certain to contact the airline well ahead of purchasing your tickets to find out the airline’s (and the FAA’s) latest rules and regulations regarding transporting dogs. Some airlines will not transport dogs at all, and others may have size or temperature restrictions. Assuming you can fly with your Golden Retriever, arrive several hours ahead of your flight to get through security and get your Golden ready for loading onto the airplane. Some security procedures require that you take your Golden out of his crate while security inspects the crate. In this case, you must have a leash available. The airline may require food and water dishes; if your dog chews plastic (many do!) you can clip a small stainless steel bucket (availNo Biscuit! able through pet supply cataTaking plane flights logues) with a double snap to the with transfers and layovers can be disastrous. Your dog might inside of the crate as a water bowl. end up on a different flight if Prepackage all dog food and tape there’s a transfer, and there have that to the top of the crate. You should also have a package taped to the crate with all paperwork, stating where your dog is going, your home address and phone number, your cell number, any emergency numbers, and any specific instructions in case you get separated from him. Include copies of all health records and vaccinations. Write a message to the baggage handlers to let them
been stories about dogs left on the ramp in the sun during the layovers.

Retriever Rewards
Airline and FAA regulations are constantly changing. Contact the airline before you make your reservations to find out what the latest travel restrictions are.


Part 5: The Golden Life—Living with a Golden

know your Golden’s name, his (and your) destination, whether he’s been fed and had water, and whether he is friendly or not.

Wherever you decide to stay, be certain to choose a place that not only allows dogs but allows dogs as big as Goldens. It’s strange, but many hotels and motels that allow pets allow only pets smaller than a certain size (as though a smaller pet would be less destructive?). Also, hotels and motels frequently change management, and those that once allowed pets sometimes change to a “no pets” policy. How do you find a place to stay with your pet? One way is to get the national listings of several hotel chains and keep them handy. Another is to use a Travel Club’s information (like AAA, which lists whether or not they accept pets). Several excellent books list places to stay with your pet. One chain, Motel 6, usually allows pets and is a standby if you can’t find a pet-friendly hotel in the area. Campgrounds such as those run by KOA allow pets, but always check with the campground before showing up with your Golden. Golden Glimmers
Did you know that there are pet spas? Your Golden can have a fun vacation while you’re on your trip. You can look for such facilities in the telephone directory or ask a friend or dog trainer whether they know of any. Hotels that accept dogs may have their own spas or know about ones nearby. Some places will also train your Golden while you’re on vacation. These places usually cost more, but they’re less stressful for the dog than a standard boarding kennel.

Never try to sneak your Golden Retriever into a place that doesn’t allow pets. Motel owners are pretty savvy, and you might find yourself with an extra bill tacked onto your room charge, or you might even get evicted, which is not something you want to happen on a vacation.

Chapter 17: On the Road Again—Traveling with Your Golden


Regardless of where you go, always pick up after your Golden, keep him quiet, and treat the hotel or motel as though you were staying with friends. Don’t leave your Golden Retriever loose in the room while you go eat, or you’re likely to find a trashed room. While you’re on the road, you’re an ambassador for dogs. If you’re a slob and your Golden is noisy or destructive, it’s unlikely the hotel will allow pets there again. Never bathe your Golden in the hotel’s tub (yes, they will know) and never allow your Golden to sleep on the bed with you unless you bring an extra sheet to lay across where your Golden will sleep. If you are planning to go to a place where you cannot bring your Golden, ask the hotel whether there is boarding or doggie day care near the hotel. Some facilities have on-site kennels. Ask ahead of time and plan accordingly. Golden Glimmers
Some amusements parks, like Disneyland and Disneyworld, have kennels where you can board your Golden while you’re enjoying the park. For $10 a day, your Golden Retriever will get food and water, and the staff watch him. In case of an emergency, such as your dog getting sick, the staff will contact you. You’ll have to come back and walk your dog so that he can relieve himself. They have no overnight boarding, so you’ll have to stay in a place that allows pets.

Boarding Kennels
If you are going on a vacation that is not conducive to taking your Golden Retriever, or if your Golden does not travel well, you may want to consider boarding your dog. You can find different types of boarding facilities: ≠ Veterinary boarding facilities—These facilities are usually run adjacent to the veterinary practice. The vet is on-call 24 hours a day.


Part 5: The Golden Life—Living with a Golden

≠ Doggie day care or pet spas—These are usually associated with training schools, but may be anywhere. Dogs are usually played with and given exercise. Depending on the size of the kennel, your dog may see the same people each day. ≠ Boarding kennel—A standard boarding kennel. They keep dogs in pens and may or may not provide individual attention. ≠ Training facilities boarding kennel—Usually associated with a trainer or training facilities. Trainers may—at an additional cost—socialize or train your Golden while you are gone. Costs for boarding facilities vary widely depending on the services offered. Some, for a fee, will perform on-site grooming or exit baths before you pick up your Golden. Some provide training, games, snack breaks, and socialization time. Ask your vet, trainer, or other dog owners whom they recommend to board dogs. Contact the American Boarding Kennel Association at (719) 591-1113 for kennels in your area if you have no other recommendations. Call each kennel and ask the following questions to help narrow your search: ≠ What are the hours I can come by and drop off or pick up my pet? ≠ What services do you provide? How much are your services? ≠ Is there supervised exercise or play time? ≠ Is there someone on-site at all times? ≠ How much do you charge per dog per day? Do you offer a discount for multiple dogs? ≠ Do you have an on-call vet? ≠ Who do you contact in emergencies? ≠ Do you have grooming available? ≠ Can I (the owner) provide my dog’s own food?

Chapter 17: On the Road Again—Traveling with Your Golden


≠ What disinfectants do you use and how often do you clean the kennels? ≠ Do you provide indoor-outdoor, strictly indoor, or strictly outdoor runs? ≠ What vaccinations do you require and how recent do they need to be? After you have found a few kennels in your area that fit your criteria, make an appointment with them for an inspection. If the staff is reluctant to allow you to tour the entire facility, you should consider another kennel. Contact the boarding facility well ahead of time. Most good boarding facilities fill up quickly—during peak times, small facilities, and even larger ones, may be full weeks or months in advance. If you own multiple dogs, this may present a special challenge if the facility is small.

Pet Sitters
If you have multiple dogs or if your Golden Retriever does not do well in a boarding kennel, consider hiring a pet sitter. All pet sitters will come to your house and feed and water your dog as well as walk and exercise him. Some will bring in the mail and newspapers, water plants, feed other pets, and make the home look lived-in while you Retriever Rewards are gone. A pet sitter can be anyFind someone who is one from a bonded and insured bonded and insured service to the kid next door. to pet sit. After all, you’re letting Whomever you choose as a pet this stranger have the keys to your house. sitter, remember that you are giving them full run of your house. Ask your vet, dog trainer, and other pet-owning friends who does pet sitting in your area. Quite often vets and trainers know


Part 5: The Golden Life—Living with a Golden

someone who is looking to add to their income through pet sitting. Some may even be trainers or vet techs! You can contact the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters at 1-800-286-PETS or Pet Sitters International at 336-983-9222 for a list of professional pet sitters. Be certain any professional pet sitter is bonded, licensed, and insured, and ask for references and a copy of their contract. Once you settle on someone, have him or her come over and meet your Golden Retriever. Have them walk and play with your Golden. The interaction is important—you want someone your Golden likes, and you want someone who is not afraid of larger dogs. What about relatives, neighbors, and friends? Would they make good pet sitters? It depends. If the person you have in mind is dogsavvy and knows how to take care of your Golden Retriever, then by all means, have them be your pet sitter. However, friends and relatives, no matter how well intentioned they may be, may not be smart when it comes to dogs. You can come home to a trashed house because your relative thought that keeping your Golden crated or confined would be cruel. Your No Biscuit! friend might let your Golden Unless your friends, Retriever off the leash, thinking he neighbors, or relatives are dogwould come back. There are many savvy, it’s best to have a profesreasons to use friends and relatives, sional pet sitter take care of your and twice as many not to. Even if Golden. A professional pet sitter you make yourself clear, and leave will follow your instructions— something a friend or relative written instructions, and insist that may not do. they follow them, sometimes they will do the opposite. Regardless of whom you use as a pet sitter, always leave your vet’s phone number and emergency number handy. Post an itinerary of your trip with numbers where they can contact you, should a problem arise. Write out instructions for care clearly. If your Golden Retriever requires medication, put the information on the instruction sheet. Then, take a big permanent marker and mark the precise

Chapter 17: On the Road Again—Traveling with Your Golden


dosage on each pill bottle. If you have multiple dogs, be certain to put the correct dog’s name on the bottle as well. Retriever Rewards
Before you leave on a trip, be certain that your Golden Retriever has two forms of ID—tags and a permanent form, either microchip or tattoos. Tags, because not everyone knows to look for permanent ID; permanent ID, because your Golden may lose his collar and tags. See Chapter 16 on ID.

The Least You Need to Know
≠ Traveling by car requires extra care in warm weather because a dog can quickly overheat in a car. ≠ Get health certificates within 10 days of the flight before traveling with your Golden by air. ≠ Airline and FAA regulations are constantly changing when it comes to dogs—contact the airlines for the latest information. ≠ Choose a hotel or motel that allows dogs. Don’t try to sneak in your Golden. ≠ There are various types of boarding kennels. Do your homework up front to find the best kennel for your Golden. ≠ Choose a bonded and insured pet sitter. Contact the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters or Pet Sitters International for listings of pet sitters.



The Golden Years
In This Chapter
≠ Learn how to keep your Golden active and healthy through a long life ≠ Learn how to keep your Golden comfortable ≠ Learn about old-age diseases ≠ Determine whether you should get another dog ≠ Learn about euthanasia—a humane choice Someday you’ll notice some graying around your dog’s muzzle, or perhaps he’s a little stiff when he gets up in the morning. Someday you’ll wake up and your Golden will be old. This isn’t a time for sadness; it’s a time to enjoy each other. Dogs can and do live healthy and physically active lives over the age of 10. Part is due to genetics, but part is due to medical care, diet, and being physically active. You can’t change genetics, but you can make a crucial difference in your Golden’s health and longevity. In this chapter, I focus on the old dog. Yes, he’s more susceptible to cancers and tumors, but he’s also more fun to be around. Gone


Part 5: The Golden Life—Living with a Golden

are the difficult puppy days, and now you can enjoy your best friend with a minimum of fuss. I’ll cover how to make your Golden more comfortable and whether or not you should bring a new dog into his life at this time. I’ll also cover the eventuality of euthanasia and how to know when it’s your Golden’s time to say good-bye. Golden Glimmers
When is a Golden old? It depends. Just as some people don’t seem old even when they’re in their seventies, some Goldens don’t seem old at an age when others are. Good genetics and a lifetime of exercise, good nutrition, and medical care can make the difference between a 10-year-old dog who seems old and one who still acts young. Many pet books place seniors at 7 or greater. But Goldens can live 13 to 15 years, with good care. From 8 to 10 years old, you start seeing more changes due to old age. After 10, I would start calling the dog a senior.

Active Mind + Active Body = Long, Healthy Life
If your Golden has been healthy and active, there’s no reason he shouldn’t continue being healthy and active in his senior years. In fact, if you start taking away his No Biscuit! activities, he may deteriorate faster. Keep an eye on your Golden when you work or exercise him. He may not be able to do everything a younger dog can, so don’t insist on the same physical abilities of a younger dog. But don’t retire him yet, either, unless he has a medical problem or injury that precludes the activity. Some older

Older dogs are more prone to tumors and cancers. Examine your Golden for tumors at least once a week and bring him to the vet if you find one. Cancer is a little harder to diagnose without tests. If your Golden is eating but losing weight, drinking excessive water, tiring easily, or not eating well at all, take him to the vet for a full examination.

Chapter 18: The Golden Years


dogs enjoy a scaled-down version of the activity—it allows them to have fun and interact with you.

Keeping Your Old Golden Comfortable
Older dogs tend to enjoy a nice warm bed. Dogs that once eschewed the comforts of home tend to enjoy them now. A soft bed made from orthopedic foam can help relieve pressure points. Some pet equipment manufacturers have developed electric heating mats that radiate constant warmth for the dog. If you use one of these, be certain that the cord is hidden so your Golden can’t chew it and get electrocuted. The stairs that were once only an obstacle to your puppy now may become a real problem. If you can, move his crate or bed to the lower part of the house so he doesn’t have to climb stairs anymore. Ramps can make it easier for your Golden to get in and out of cars and on and off of furniture. If stairs are still no big deal, you can buy movable blocks of steps that make it easier for your Golden to get up to his favorite spot on the couch.
© Carolyn Risdon

Give your Golden a soft bed to make his joints more comfortable. This is Brandy.


Part 5: The Golden Life—Living with a Golden

As your Golden gets older, he may have trouble chewing his food. Moistening his dog food or feeding canned food is an alternative that will help make your Golden more comfortable.

Old-Age Ailments
Dogs have more problems when they age. This includes loss of certain senses, cancers and tumors, and, of course, arthritis. Many problems can be mitigated with modern veterinary medicine, but vets aren’t miracle workers. If you notice that your dog has a particular problem, it’s best to bring him to the vet when you notice it, rather than wait for it to become a real problem.

Arthritis seems a constant in old age—for both people and dogs. If your Golden is not active, you may see signs of arthritis early. Some supplements, such as glucosamine and MSM (found in Cosequin, Glycoflex, or Synova-Cre), can help relieve arthritis. These supplements work well on some dogs but do nothing for others. Your Golden usually has to be on it for more than six weeks before you can see any effect. Your vet can help mitigate some of the effects of arthritis with anti-inflammatories. Aspirin is a common pain reliever—ask your vet for the proper dosage. Do not give your dog either acetaminophen or ibuprofen—they are toxic to dogs. Your vet can prescribe No Biscuit! the right amount of buffered Never give analaspirin, anti-inflammatories, or gesics such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to your Golden. These steroids to alleviate pain and are toxic to dogs. Talk to your swelling. Keeping your dog off vet about anti-inflammatories and the hardwood floors and keeping the proper dosages. him warm will go a long way to making him comfortable.

Chapter 18: The Golden Years


You may not even notice if your dog goes blind. Most dogs are quite adept at getting around their home and even their neighborhood even though they’re blind. The owner usually notices something is amiss when the dog bumps into something that normally isn’t there. Have your vet confirm your suspicions if you think your dog is blind. Now is not the time to rearrange the furniture. Keep your dog at home and in familiar surroundings if he is blind or impaired visually. Don’t let him off the leash, or he might wander around and become lost. When in a strange place, keep him beside you—you are his seeing-eye person now! Keeping a steady stream of chatter going will help guide him when you’re on walks so your Golden will follow the sound of your voice. But your dog doesn’t necessarily have to go blind or be without sight. Depending on the type of eye problem, veterinary advances have helped restore dogs’ sight. Vet opthamologists can diagnose and treat certain problems such as cataracts and glaucoma. Corneal transplants—once only in the realm of human medicine—are available to dogs as well.

Cancer and Tumors
Cancer and tumors are more prevalent with age. Some cancers and tumors can be eliminated or greatly reduced if you spay or neuter your dog before six months. If you find a lump or bump that isn’t normally on your dog, have it checked immediately. Some cancers and tumors are fast-spreading and if you wait too long, it may be too late for your veterinarian to do anything about them. Signs of cancer include strange growths, excessive weight loss, lack of appetite, bleeding, sores or wounds that will not heal, abnormal swellings, excessive sleep or lethargy, and difficulty breathing, eating, or drinking.


Part 5: The Golden Life—Living with a Golden

Treatment for cancer or tumors is similar to treatment for cancer and tumors in humans. This includes surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Newer, experimental treatments exist for cancer, including gene therapy, but these are mostly untried and very costly. No Biscuit!
One controversial medication commonly prescribed for arthritis is Rimadyl™—also known as Carprofen. Some dogs have developed liver disease while on Rimadyl. Still, many vets use Rimadyl to help alleviate arthritis pain. If your Golden is suffering from arthritis and you want to try Rimadyl, talk to your vet about potential risks and side effects. Your vet may want to run blood tests to determine whether Rimadyl is right for your dog. Other medications within the same family as Rimadyl, such as Zubrin and Dermaxx, are also possibilities. These may work better or have no effect on your Golden’s arthritis.

Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS)
Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome is similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans. This disease is evidenced by a marked change in behavior. Your Golden may suddenly look lost in the room. He may not recognize loved ones and may forget his housebreaking. His sleep may be disrupted, and he may bark and carry on in the middle of the night. Brain tumors may mimic CDS, so it is important to have a brain tumor ruled out before CDS treatment. CDS treatment of choice is Anipryl, which is also used to treat Cushings Disease in dogs. The therapy can be expensive, costing $50 to $100 a month. When your dog is on the therapy, he must remain on it his entire life, or symptoms will reappear.

Congestive Heart Failure
Your Golden may have congestive heart failure if he coughs or has respiratory distress and fluid buildup in the legs, and if he tires easily

Chapter 18: The Golden Years


after even light exercise. There’s no cure for congestive heart failure, and it will ultimately be fatal, but it can be mitigated by diet and medication. You can help prevent congestive heart failure by keeping your Golden active and fit. Obesity can help cause or aggravate congestive heart failure.

If your Golden acts as if he’s ignoring you, he may be going deaf. Deafness can come on gradually or suddenly. Clap your hands behind your Golden’s head or rattle the food bowl while he’s in the other room. If he doesn’t react, he’s probably deaf. Deaf dogs can be exceedingly frustrating. You’ll find yourself shouting at your Golden for no good reason—as though your Golden will hear you talking louder. The truth is that after the hearing goes, your Golden is unlikely to hear even shouting. Some deaf dogs can hear whistles, but some are as totally deaf. If your Golden is deaf, you’ll have to teach him hand signals. Start slowly—teach your dog as you would a puppy. It may take a little bit of time for him to pick up on it, but most dogs are pretty clever and figure out what we want in spite of ourselves. Golden Glimmers
Hearing aids for dogs? That’s right. They are specially made to the dog and may offer a quality of life that your Golden wouldn’t have without them.

Dental Problems
Older dogs are more prone to dental problems due to worn or chipped teeth and tartar buildup. Stinky breath, bleeding gums, loss of appetite, broken teeth, or a buildup of brown tartar or plaque indicates the need to go to the vet for a tooth cleaning and possible extraction.


Part 5: The Golden Life—Living with a Golden

Retriever Rewards
Feed your Golden according to his weight and activity level. Don’t necessarily switch your Golden to a senior diet unless he’s gaining weight, his activity level has decreased, or he has a physical condition that warrants a change in dog food. Many of my senior dogs still work and are active—and get premium performance dog food.

You can keep your Golden’s teeth healthy by brushing his teeth often and giving him chews that help clean his teeth and gums.

Urinary Tract Problems
Signs of bladder or kidney problems include bloody or dark urine, frequency in drinking and urination, hunched-up back, and pain while urinating. If your Golden shows blood in his urine or if he acts as though it is difficult to urinate, you should bring him to your vet for an examination. Dogs, like people, can get kidney stones and bladder stones. If your Golden has either, depending on his condition, your vet may prescribe a urine acidifier and antibiotics or may have to operate. Hard water, forcing a dog to hold it for long hours, and diet may contribute to urinary tract problems. Some dogs do become incontinent for no good reason. Discuss this with your vet and see whether he can prescribe medications that might help control it.

Should You Get Another Dog?
Some people decide to get a puppy as their Golden ages. The idea is to help mitigate the pain of losing the beloved pet when the time finally arrives. This can be good or bad, depending on the circumstance. If your Golden is very old, he may look on this new puppy as

Chapter 18: The Golden Years


an interloper. A puppy will take most of your time and energy— leaving little time for your old dog. Your Golden may feel neglected and may become aggressive or short-tempered with your new pup. However, some dogs tolerate puppies well. Sometimes a puppy can spark new life into an old dog. Something new and exciting can shake an old dog from the routine enough to make him feel young again. Some older dogs are quick to become the puppy’s aunt or uncle and are delighted to show the ropes to the newcomer. Retriever Rewards
If you decide to bring another dog or a puppy into the family, always choose a neutral area such as a park for your Golden to meet him. Let your Golden greet the newcomer while on leash. Praise your Golden for good behavior and discourage bad behavior. It may a take a few sessions before you can let your Golden loose with the other dog or puppy.

Whether another dog or puppy is accepted largely depends on you and your Golden. If your Golden gets along with other dogs and puppies, getting a puppy might be the right choice. At the same time, you must make your Golden feel extra special. Don’t stop doing things with her now that you have the puppy—otherwise she will associate the lack of attention with the appearance of the interloper.

Saying Good-Bye
Saying good-bye is perhaps the hardest thing to do as a dog owner. I’ve had to put several of my dogs down, and the truth is, it doesn’t get any easier. Nor is the decision always clear cut. Sometimes it’s obvious: Your Golden is in great pain and is dying from a terminal disease or injury. Other times, the diagnosis is unclear, or you’re sitting in an emergency room and don’t know


Part 5: The Golden Life—Living with a Golden

what to do. Heroic efforts may be required that cost far beyond what you can afford, and your Golden has a very slim chance of recovery. In times like this, talk to someone you can trust—perhaps your own vet—or obtain a second opinion. Other friends who are dog owners may be able to see clearly when you cannot. They may offer you advice untainted by the emotions of the situation. Don’t allow your best friend to suffer needlessly. Although it is tempting to try heroic actions to save your pet, you may discover that the end result is still the same. Dogs don’t live forever, and even though you want your Golden to live a little longer, it may not be humane or even possible. Euthanasia is painless and quick. The veterinarian will administer an injection, and your pet will be gone. You can stay with your Golden during his final minutes or leave—your choice. Many pet owners opt to stay with their Golden during the last few minutes as it brings closure. You will grieve. This is normal and natural. Don’t talk to nondog owners who tell you she was only a pet. No, she wasn’t. Your Golden was your friend, and it would be callous to not grieve for a good friend who just died. Talk to your vet about grief. He or she may be able to refer you to free or low-cost pet loss counseling. Many veterinary colleges offer free or low-cost pet loss hotlines. Take care of yourself during Retriever Rewards this time. Keep busy and active— An excellent pet loss site on the Internet is exercise and eat a balanced diet. It has some Avoid being alone and going into of the most comprehensive lists depression. You aren’t denying of pet loss support groups, hotthat you have grief over the loss— lines, and information to be you are helping yourself deal found anywhere. with it.

Chapter 18: The Golden Years


With time, the pain and anguish of your pet’s death will fade. You will start remembering all the good times you had together. Perhaps, in time, you’ll be ready to own another Golden Retriever. Perhaps you will get a puppy to keep you occupied. If you do, remember that no puppy will replace your beloved pet, and that no dog will be like your Golden. Your new puppy or dog will have a different personality and different behaviors—don’t expect the same thing out of this puppy. However, in time, you may grow to love this new addition as much as your beloved pet.

The Least You Need to Know
≠ Keeping your older dog active will help him lead a longer, better life. ≠ Your old dog will need your help coping with arthritis, blindness, deafness, and other old-age ills. ≠ Carefully consider getting a new puppy as your dog ages. ≠ You will grieve when your dog dies. Don’t let him suffer needlessly just to postpone the inevitable.



AAFCO The Association of Animal Feed Control Officials. This regulatory committee sets the standards for pet nutrition. agility A sport in which dogs go through a specially designed obstacle course. It is a timed event, so dogs that complete the course accurately in the least amount of time do well. American Kennel Club (or AKC) The AKC is the oldest and largest national purebred dog registry in the United States. The AKC was founded in 1884. ASPCA American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. bait pouches Little pouches that enable you to carry your treats if you don’t have pockets or if you don’t want to get your pockets messy. They’re called “bait” because when you stack a dog in conformation, you lure or “bait” him with a treat so that he will look attentive. Champion (CH or Ch) A dog that earns 15 points in conformation dog shows, including 3 points or better under two different judges.


Appendix A

clicker training A form of positive reinforcement that relies heavily on operant conditioning. The dog receives a click from a special clicker and is conditioned to expect a treat. Dogs quickly learn to emit behaviors that will cause the click (and subsequent treat) and avoid behaviors that will not produce the click. conformation The structure of the dog as it conforms to the breed standard. congenital A condition that is present at birth that may have either genetic or environmental causes. cow hocks croup Hocks turned in toward each other.

The sloping rear end as viewed from the top.

cue A word or signal that a dog is supposed to associate with a particular behavior. digestibility The percentage of nutrients in a dog food that the dog can use after it is digested. Dual Champion (DC) elbow dysplasia A dog that has its CH and its FC.

Malformation of the elbow joint.

fade To slowly remove an intermediate training object, such as a clicker or target stick, or an intermediate cue, to leave the end result—the cue and the action. Field Trial Champion (FC) A hunting title obtained when the dog wins either a National Championship Stake or 10 points in Open All-Age, Limited All-Age, Special All-Age, or Restricted All-Age competition. hare feet The foot is oval in shape due to the two middle toes being much longer than the other toes. Heel position A position in which your dog sits or stands beside your left side, next to your knee. hereditary A genetic condition, that is, inherited through the genes of the parents.

hip dysplasia A hereditary malformation of the hip bones. Another name for reputable breeders.


hobbyist breeders

hocks In the hind leg, the hock is the joint between the dog’s knee and his metatarsus or rear pastern. Corresponds to the ankle in humans. idiopathic A disease or condition whose cause is unknown.

limited slip collar A slip collar with a restriction that prevents the collar from tightening too much. MACH Masters Agility Champion. An agility championship in the American Kennel Club. mark To designate a behavior as desirable.

meat by-products The nonrendered, clean parts other than muscle meat, from slaughtered mammals. It includes all organs and defatted fatty tissues. It does not include stomach or intestine contents, hair, horns, teeth, and hooves. meat meal Meat from which the water and fat have been extracted. If the label says “chicken meal,” then the meal must be made from chickens. microfilariae These are heartworm larvae that infect a dog.

negative reinforcement A training technique that corrects the dog for behaving in the incorrect manner. It is a form of operant conditioning, but most positive trainers try to avoid this technique. nutriceuticals A nutritional supplement intended to help mitigate a condition or disease. occipital bones skull. The bones that make up the rear point of the

operant conditioning A learning method in which the animal learns from the consequences of his actions.


Appendix A

Osteochondritis dissecans A painful condition that is often associated with elbow dysplasia, quite often hereditary or congenital. OTCH Obedience Trial Champion. An obedience championship in the American Kennel Club. overshot bite A bite in which the incisors of the upper jaw leave a gap between them and the incisors of the lower jaw when the mouth is closed. pastern The metatarsal bones between (on the rear leg) the hock and the foot or (on the front leg) the metacarpal bones between the wrist and the foot. pedigree A dog’s family tree.

pet quality A puppy or dog that has a superficial blemish or fault that would prevent the dog from competing in the conformation (dog) show ring. polygenic pair. A trait or condition coming from more than one gene

positive reinforcement A training technique that rewards the dog for behaving in the correct manner. It is a form of operant conditioning that uses little, if any, coercion or punishment. Both owners and dogs enjoy this training. prong collar A collar, used for training purposes, made from steel links with prongs that turn inside against the dog’s neck. This collar is a limited slip design; when pulled, the prongs grab into the loose folds of skin around the neck. quick nail. The portion of a dog’s nail with blood vessels that supply the

reputable breeders Breeders who breed dogs for the betterment of the breed. These breeders perform tests on their dogs to avoid breeding puppies with bad hips, hereditary blindness, or other hereditary diseases. These breeders guarantee their dogs and often screen their puppy buyers vigorously. Puppies are not always available.

roach back A back that is convex in its curve.


scissors bite A bite in which the incisors of the upper jaw lay just in front of the incisors of the lower jaw when the mouth is closed and there is no space. shaping Starting with a basic behavior that is relatively easy to attain and slowly progressing in increments to the behavior that you want. For example, teaching a dog to touch something with his paw can be shaped to waving good-bye, closing or opening a door, or other behaviors by clicking at incremental steps until the dog displays the final desired behavior. show quality A puppy or dog that conforms closely to standard and may be competitive in a conformation (dog) show. sickle hocks Hocks that won’t straighten when in full stride. Flat ribs.


slip collar A collar used for training purposes, usually made from chain. This collar tightens when pulled. snap choke A type of slip collar that snaps onto a loose ring. It is made of parachute cord rather than steel links and offers more control than the standard slip collar. spread hocks Hocks turned outward.

stack Standing one’s dog in the conformation show ring in a way that emphasizes positive characteristics and diminishes flaws. standard A standard is a kind of blueprint for the breed. We say a dog conforms to the standard when he meets the requirements for that standard. subvalvular aortic stenosis Malformation of the heart caused by congenital or hereditary reasons. throatiness Excessive loose skin on throat.

tracking leads Leashes made from cotton or nylon that can be 10 to 30 feet in length. Trainers use these leads for tracking work


Appendix A

(hence the name) but also for distance work such as working on the recall command. trichiasis, entropion, ectropion, or distichiasis These are all eyelid or eyelash abnormalities, usually congenital or hereditary. Tricuspid valve dysplasia Malformation of one of the valves in the heart caused by congenital or hereditary reasons. undercoat A layer of fur beneath the top coat that insulates and keeps a dog warm. It sheds out periodically, usually twice yearly. undershot bite A bite in which the lower incisors are in front of the upper incisors when the mouth is closed.



Agility Association of Canada (AAC) RR #2 Lucan, Ontario N0N2J0 519-657-7636 American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) P.O. Box 150899 Denver, CO 80215-0899 Website: American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) 1997 Wadsworth Boulevard, Suite A Lakewood, CO 80215-3327 Website: American Kennel Club (AKC) 5580 Centerview Drive Raleigh, NC 27606-3390 919-233-9767 Website: E-mail:


Appendix B

American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) 1931 N. Meacham Road, Suite 100 Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360 847-925-8070 Website: Canine Eye Registration Foundation Department of Veterinary Clinical Science School of Veterinary Medicine Purdue University West Lafayette, IN 47907 765-494-8179 Fax: 765-494-9981 Website: Canine Freestyle Federation Monica Patty, Corresponding Secretary 21900 Foxden Lane Leesburg, VA 20175 Website: E-mail: Golden Retriever Club of America (GRCA) Visit their website for a full listing of volunteers who will provide written material and answer questions over the phone about Golden Retrievers. Website: Membership Administrator Deborah Ascher P.O. Box 69 Berthoud, CO 80513-0069 970-532-3124 E-mail:

Golden Retriever Club of America National Rescue Committee (GRCA-NRC) Website contains all rescues by state, available dogs, and how to contact the appropriate rescues. Website: Administrative Assistant Margaret Strowe P.O. Box 277 Augusta, NJ 07822-0277 E-mail: National Dog Registry Box 116 Woodstock, NY 12498 1-800-637-3647 Website: North American Flyball Association, Inc. 1400 W. Devon Avenue, #512 Chicago, IL 60660 309-688-9840 Website: Orthopedic Foundation for Animals 2300 Nifong Boulevard Columbia, MO 65201 573-442-0418 Website: Tattoo-A-Pet 6571 S.W. 20th Court Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33317 1-800-828-8667 Website:



Appendix B

United Kennel Club (UKC) 100 East Kilgore Road Kalamazoo, MI 49001-5593 Website: United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA) P.O. Box 850955 Richardson, TX 75085-0955 972-231-9700 Information Line: 888-AGILITY Website: E-mail: World Canine Freestyle Organization Ltd P.O. Box 250122 Brooklyn, NY 11235 718-332-8336 Fax: 718-646-2686 Website: E-mail:



Books and Periodicals
Alderton, David. The Dog Care Manual. Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series, 1986. American Kennel Club. The Complete Dog Book, 19th Edition Revised. New York: Howell Book House, 1997. Benjamin, Carol Lea. Second-Hand Dog. New York: Howell Book House, 1988. Bonham, Margaret H., and James M. Wingert, D.V.M. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Dog Health and Nutrition. Indianapolis, IN: Alpha Books, 2003. Bonham, Margaret H. An Introduction to Dog Agility. Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series, 2000. ———. The Simple Guide to Getting Active with Your Dog. Neptune City, NJ: TFH Publications Inc., 2002. Coffman, Howard D. The Dry Dog Food Reference. Nashua, NH: Pig Dog Press, 1995. Eldredge, Debra, D.V.M. Pills for Pets: The A to Z Guide to Drugs and Medications for Your Animal Companion. New York: Citadel Press, 2003. Fogle, Bruce, D.V.M. The New Encyclopedia of the Dog. New York: DK Books, 2000. Giffin, James M., M.D., and Liisa D. Carlson, D.V.M. The Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook, 3rd edition. New York: Howell Book House, 2000.


Appendix C

James, Ruth B., D.V.M. The Dog Repair Book. Mills, WY: Alpine Press, 1990. Klever, Ulrich. The Complete Book of Dog Care. Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series, 1989. LaBelle, Charlene. A Guide to Backpacking with Your Dog. Loveland, CO: Alpine Publications, 1993. Palika, Liz. Purebred Rescue Dog Adoption: Rewards and Realities. Hoboken, NJ: Howell Book House, 2004. Streitferdt, Uwe. Healthy Dog, Happy Dog. Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series, 1994. Volhard, Joachim, Wendy Volhard, and Jack Volhard. The Canine Good Citizen: Every Dog Can Be One. New York: Howell Book House, 1997. Zink, M. Chris, D.V.M., Ph.D. Peak Performance: Coaching the Canine Athlete. New York: Howell Book House, 1992.

AKC Gazette 51 Madison Ave. New York, NY 10010 Dog Fancy Magazine P.O. Box 53264 Boulder, CO 80322-3264 1-800- 365-4421 Website: Dog World P.O. Box 56240 Boulder, CO 80323-6240 1-800-361-8056

Online Magazines
Everything Golden GR Weekly

AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials), 59, 158 AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association), 175 abscesses, 223 accidents, housetraining, 84-85 accommodations, travel, 258 administration of medications, 210-211 adult dogs activity, 266 ailments, 268 arthritis, 268 blindness, 269 cancer and tumors, 269 CDS (Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome), 270 congestive heart failure, 270 deafness, 271 dental problems, 271-272 urinary tract problems, 272 comforts, 267-268 crate training, 80 euthanasia, 273-274 getting another dog, 272-273 selection, 49-50 versus puppies, 37-38 Advantage (Imidacloprid), 192 aggression, correcting bad behavior, 149-151 agility class, 92-93 ailments, senior dogs, 268 arthritis, 268 blindness, 269 cancer and tumors, 269 CDS (Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome), 270 congestive heart failure, 270 deafness, 271 dental problems, 271-272 urinary tract problems, 272 air travel, 257 AKC (American Kennel Club), 9 registration, 29-31 standards, 11-15 conformation, 13 females, 14 importance of, 11-12 males, 14 show-quality versus petquality, 12-13 website, 13 AKC Companion Animal Recovery, 244 alcohol, 169 allergies, 214-215 alternatives to crates, 78-79 American Animal Hospital Association. See AAHA American Boarding Kennel Association, 260 American Kennel Club. See AKC American Red Cross, 240 anal sac expression, 206 Ancylostoma caninum (hookworms), 187 animal hospitals, 174 animal shelters, 35-36 Anipryl, treatment of CDS (Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome), 270


The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Golden Retrievers
bills of sale, reputable breeders, 34 Biospot (pyrethrins and fenoxycarb), 193 bite, 14 Black Locust tree pods, 67 bladder control, senior dogs, 272 blindness, 269 bloat, 220-221 blow dryers, 58 blue slips. See AKC registration boarding pets, 251, 259-261 body, 15 bones (treats), 53-55 Bordetella bronchiseptica, 182 Borellosis (Lyme disease), 182 breeders disreputable, 20-22 reputable, 22-33 AKC registration, 29 CKC registration, 31 contracts, 34 health certifications, 24-26 KC registration, 31 locating, 26-29 nurturing environment, 33 pedigrees, 32-33 UKC registration, 31 visiting, puppy selection, 46-49 broken bones, 230 broken toenails, 219 brushing teeth, 203 burns, 230 by-products, food, 61

antihistamines, 233 Aortic Stenosis, 218 arthritis, 268 Association of American Feed Control Officials. See AAFCO attention class, 92

Babesiosis, 194 backyard breeders, 21 bad behaviors. See behavioral problems bad breath, 219 bait pouches, 102 balancing nutrients, raw food diets, 167-168 bargain brand foods, 160 barking excessively, correcting bad behavior, 147 bathing, 208 Bed command, 125 Beg trick, 134 Beginning Obedience, 90 behavioral problems, 137-153 aggression, 149-151 as indication of health problem, 142-143 breaking the cycle, 138 chewing and destructive behavior, 144 digging, 146 escape artist dogs, 148 excessive barking, 147 fear of loud noises, 152-153 food raiding, 148-149 house-soiling, 145 inadvertent encouragement of bad behavior, 141-142 jumping up, 146 separation anxiety, 151-152 signs of trouble, 140 between-meal snacks, 169

Campylobacter poisoning, 167 Canadian Kennel Club. See CKC cancer and tumors, 269 Canine Adenovirus (CA2), 180 Canine Coronavirus, 182 Canine Distemper. See CDV Canine Ehrlichiosis, 194

canine gastric dilatation-volvulus. See CGDV Canine Good Citizen® title. See CGC® title Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis. See kennel cough Canine Parainfluenza, 181 Canine Parvovirus, 182 canned dog foods, 163 car travel, 254-255 carbohydrates, food, 165 Carprofen (Rimadyl), 270 cataracts, 24, 216-217 CDS (Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome), 270 CDV (Canine Distemper), 180 Central Progressive Retinal Atrophy. See CPRA CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation), 25 CGC ® title (Canine Good Citizen®), 103-105 CGDV (canine gastric dilatationvolvulus), 220 Champion title (CH), 33 chest, 15 chewing, correcting bad behavior, 144 chews, edible, 53-56 children and Goldens, 39 chocolate, 169 choke chains. See slip collars choking, 231 citronella bark collar, 147 CKC (Canadian Kennel Club), 31 classes, professional training, 89-94 agility class, 92-93 attention class, 92 Beginning Obedience, 90 clicker training, 92-93, 102, 108-123 conformation training, 93


field trial training, 94 Flyball training, 93 hunting test training, 94 Novice, 91 Puppy Kindergarten, 90 Rally-O training, 93 tracking class, 92 cleaning ears, 204 clicker training, 92-93, 102, 108-112 Come command, 119 cue words, 112 Down command, 116 heeling on leash, 122-123 introducing the clicker, 109 Sit command, 115 Stay command, 117 target sticks, 110 varying response time, 110 walking on a leash, 114 clipping nails, 205-206 coat, 8, 15, 207 Coccidia, 191 coffee, 170 Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome. See CDS cold weather, 256 collars, training, 98-100 color, 15 Come command, 118-120 commands Bed, 125 Beginning Obedience training, 90 Come, 118-120 Down, 115-116 Drop, 124 Leave It!, 124 Off, 123 Out, 125 Sit, 114-115 Stay, 116-117 Trade, 124 Watch Me!, 125


The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Golden Retrievers
diet and exercise programs, 170-171 dietary allergies, 215 digging, correcting bad behavior, 146 Dipylidium caninum (tapeworms), 188 Dirofilaria immitis (heartworms), 188 disaster planning, 239-246 identification of dog, 243 microchips, 244-246 tags, 243 tattoos, 244-246 lost dogs, 246 moving pet out of home, 241 preparedness kits, 240-243 where you will stay, 241-242 disease. See illness/disease disreputable breeders, 20-22 Distichiasis, 217 do-it-yourself dog washes, 208 dog bites, 231 doggie day-cares, 260 dominance aggression, 149 Down command, 115-116 Drop command, 124 dry dog foods, 162

compatibility, 37-41 children, 39 males versus females, 38-39 multi-dog households, 41 puppies versus adults, 37-38 show dogs versus pet dogs, 39 compressed meat rolls, 163 conformation training, 13, 93 congenital conditions, 214 congestive heart failure, 270 conjunctivitis, 224 contact allergies, 214 containment systems, 66 contracts, reputable breeders, 34 Coronavirus, 182 correcting bad behavior. See behavioral problems cow hooves, 56 CPRA (Central Progressive Retinal Atrophy), 216-217 crates, 76 alternatives, 78-79 bringing puppy home, 68 car travel, 255 safe place, 78 training, 80 cue words, clicker training, 112 cuts and injuries, 231

E. coli poisoning, 167 ear mites (Otodectes cynotis), 195 ears and ear care, 14, 204-205 Ectropion, 217 ED (elbow dysplasia), 22-24, 215 edible chews. See chews Ehrlichiosis, 194 elbow dysplasia. See ED electrocution, 231 electronic pet containment systems, 66 emergencies, 229-235 burns, 230 choking, 231

dangers of car travel, 255 deafness, 271 Demodectic mange mites (Demodex canis), 195 dental care, 203-204, 271-272 Dermaxx, 270 destructive behavior, 144 development of Golden Retrievers, 10 dewormers, 186 diarrhea, 221 diet. See food

cuts and injuries, 231 electrocution, 231 fishhooks, 232 fractures, 230 frostbite/hypothermia, 232-233 insect bites and stings, 233 muzzling your Golden, 230 overheating, 233 poisoning, 234 shock, 235 emergency clinics, 174 Entropion, 217 enzymatic cleaners, 84 epilepsy, 216 estrus, 201 euthanasia, 274 excessive barking, correcting bad behavior, 147 excessive scratching, 225 exercise and diet programs, 170-171 exercise pens, 59, 79 expressing anal sacs, 206 external parasites fleas, 191-193 mites, 195-196 ticks, 193-194 eyes, 14, 216-217, 224-225


FAA regulations, air travel, 257 fad diets, 168-169 fat in food, 164 FC (Field Trial Champion) title, 33 fear aggression, 149 feet, 15 females standard, 14 versus males, 38-39 Fetch trick, 131 Field Trial Champion title (FC), 33 field trial training, 94

field trials, 9 Finish command, 91 Fipronil (Frontline), 192 Fipronil and Methoprene (Frontline Plus), 192 first-aid kits, 228 fishhooks, 232 fitness versus obesity, 170 Flat-Coated Retrievers, 10 flea allergy dermatitis, 214 fleas, 191-193 fluoride toxicity, 203 Flyball training, 93 food, 59-61 AAFCO recommendations, 158 allergies, 215 availability, 161 bargain brands, 160 canned dog foods, 163 compressed meat rolls, 163 dry dog foods, 162 fad diets, 168-169 frozen dog foods, 163 junk food, 159 labels, 160 meat by-products, 60 meat meal, 60 mixing brands, 161-162 nutrients, 163-165 obesity, 170-171 palatability, 161 performance diets, 168 poisonous, 169-170 premium, 160 raw food diets, 165-168 semi-moist dog foods, 163 treats and between-meal snacks, 169 foxtails, 222 fractures, 230 Friends of Animals, 200 Frontline (Fipronil), 192


The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Golden Retrievers
spaying/neutering, 198-201 weekly health exams, 201 selecting a veterinarian, 173-178 facilities, 174 first visit, 177-178 interviews, 176 recommendations, 175 visiting facility, 176-177 taking temperature, 211 vaccinations, 178-183 health certifications, 24-26 hearing aids, 271 Heartgard (Ivermectin), 189 heartworms (Dirofilaria immitis), 188-190 heat (going into season), 201 heatstroke, 234 heel position, 121 heeling on leash, 121-123 hereditary conditions, 214 allergies, 214-215 ED (elbow dysplasia), 215 epilepsy, 216 eye disease, 216-217 HD (hip dysplasia), 217-218 health certifications, 24-26 hypothyroidism, 218 OCD (Osteochondritis dissecans), 216 SAS (Subvalvular-Aortic Stenosis), 218-219 hip dysplasia. See HD history of Golden Retrievers, 10 hobbyist breeders, 22 AKC registration, 29 CKC registration, 31 contracts, 34 health certifications, 24-26 KC registration, 31 locating, 26-29 nurturing environment, 33 pedigrees, 32-33 UKC registration, 31

Frontline Plus (Fipronil and Methoprene), 192 frostbite, 232-233 frozen dog foods, 163 frustration aggression, 150 Full Registration (AKC registration), 31

gait, 15 gastric torsion. See bloat giardia, 183, 190 Give Me a Kiss trick, 133 going into season (estrus), 201 Golden Retriever Club of America, standards, 10-15 Golden Retriever Club of England, 10 grand mal seizures, 226 grapes, 170 grass awns. See foxtails grooming, 207-208 guarding, 150 gum problems, 204

HD (hip dysplasia), 22-24, 218 head, 14 head halters, 100-101 health care emergencies. See emergencies handling fleas, 191 medication administration, 210-211 pet health insurance, 183-184 preventative care, 197 anal sac expression, 206 dental care, 203-204 ear care, 204-205 grooming, 207-208 nail care, 205-206

holistic medicine, 177 Honey Locust tree pods, 67 hookworms (Ancylostoma caninum), 187 hot spots, 222 hot water bottle and clock trick, 72 Houdini dogs, 66, 148 household products, 62 housetraining, 81 accidents, 84-85 recommendations, 83, 145 things to avoid, 82 hunting test training, 94 hunting tests, 9 hygiene. See grooming hypothermia, 232-233 hypothyroidism, 24, 218


identification of dog, 243 microchips, 244-246 tags, 243 tattoos, 244-246 idiopathic aggression, 150 idiopathic epilepsy, 216 idiopathic seizures, 226 idiot barking, correcting bad behavior, 147 illness/disease, 219 bad breath, 219 bloat, 220-221 diarrhea and vomiting, 221 excessive scratching, 225 foxtails, 222 hereditary and congenital, 214 allergies, 214-215 ED (elbow dysplasia), 215 epilepsy, 216 eye disease, 216-217 HD (hip dysplasia), 217-218 hypothyroidism, 218

OCD (Osteochondritis dissecans), 216 SAS (Subvalvular-Aortic Stenosis), 218-219 hot spots, 222 incontinence, 223-224 irritated eyes, 224-225 lumps, 223 pyometra, 224 ringworm, 225 seizures, 226-227 senior dogs, 268 arthritis, 268 blindness, 269 cancer and tumors, 269 CDS (Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome), 270 congestive heart failure, 270 deafness, 271 dental problems, 271-272 urinary tract problems, 272 ILP registration (Indefinite Listing Privilege), 31 Imidacloprid (Advantage), 192 immunizations, 178 available vaccinations, 179-183 when to vaccinate, 179 incontinence, 223-224 Indefinite Listing Privilege. See ILP registration Infectious Canine Hepatitis (CA1), 181 inhalation allergies, 215 insect bites and stings, 233 insurance, pet health insurance, 183-184 Interceptor (Milbemycin), 189 internal parasites Coccidia, 191 giardia, 190 heartworms, 188-190 hookworms, 187 roundworms, 186


The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Golden Retrievers

tapeworms, 188 whipworms, 188 interviews, veterinarians, 176 irritated eyes, 224-225 Ivermectin (Heartgard), 189

males standard, 14 versus females, 38-39 mammary tumors, 201 mange mites, 195-196 meat by-products, 60 meat meal, 60 medication administration, 210-211 microchips, identification, 244-246 microfilariae (heartworm larvae), 189 Milbemycin (Interceptor), 189 Milbemycin and Lufenuron (Sentinel), 189 mites, 195-196 mixing food brands, 161-162 mobile clinics, 175 Moxidectin (Proheart 6), 190 multi-dog households, 41 muzzles, 14, 230

jumping up, correcting bad behavior, 146 junk food, 159 Kaopectate, 221 KC (Kennel Club), 31 Kennel Club. See KC kennel cough (Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis), 180-182 kennels, 58, 259-261

labels (foods), 60, 160 latigo leather leashes, 101-102 leashes, 101-102 Leave It! command, 124 Leptospirosis, 181 lifecycle, heartworms, 189 Limited Registration (AKC registration), 31 limited slip collars, 98 Litter Registration (AKC registration), 31 locking mechanisms (crates), 77 Lomberdale Blondin, 11 lost dogs, 246 low-cost clinics, 174 Lufenuron (Program), 193 lumps on the skin, 223 Lyme disease (Borellosis), 182, 194

nails and nail care, 205-206 National Dog Registry, 244 National Forest Service, 250 National Park Service, 250 Nature’s Miracle, 84 neck, 15 negative reinforcement training, 89, 108 neutering pets, 198-201 nose, 14 Novice training class, 91 nutriceuticals, treating ED (elbow dysplasia), 215

nutrients in food, 63-165 nutrition. See food nylon leashes, 101 operant conditioning, clicker training, 108-112 Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. See OFA osteochondritis dissecans. See OCD Otodectes cynotis (ear mites), 195 Out command, 125 oval feet, 15 over-the-counter remedies, parasites, 186, 193 overheating, 233 overshot bite, 14 overweight Goldens, 170-171 ownership, 7-9, 18


obedience training, 10 agility class, 92-93 attention class, 92 Bed command, 125 Beginning Obedience, 90 clicker training. See clicker training Come command, 118-120 conformation training, 93 Down command, 115-116 Drop command, 124 field trial training, 94 Flyball training, 93 heeling on leash, 121-123 hunting test training, 94 Leave It! command, 124 Novice training class, 91 Off command, 123 Out command, 125 Puppy Kindergarten, 90 Rally-O training, 93 Sit command, 114-115 Stay command, 116-117 tracking class, 92 Trade command, 124 walking on a leash, 113-114 Watch Me! command, 125 obesity, 170-171 OCD (osteochondritis dissecans), 24, 216 odor remover, 227 OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals), 25 Off command, 123 off-leash recall training, 120 onions, 170

pain aggression, 150 papers, AKC registration, 29 Parainfluenza, 181 parasites Coccidia, 191 fleas, 191-193 giardia, 190 heartworms, 188-190 hookworms, 187 mites, 195-196 over-the-counter remedies, 186 roundworms, 186 tapeworms, 188 ticks, 193-194 whipworms, 188 Parvovirus, 182 pedigrees, 32-33 PennHIP, 25 pennies-in-a-pop-can method, correcting bad behavior, 147 Pepto-Bismol, 221 performance diets, 168 personality, 5 Pet Assure, 183


The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Golden Retrievers
premium dog foods, 60, 160 preparedness kits, disaster planning, 240-243 preventative care, 197 anal sac expression, 206 bloat, 220 dental care, 203-204 ear care, 204-205 grooming, 207-208 heartworm prevention, 189-190 nail care, 205-206 spaying/neutering, 198-201 weekly health exams, 201 prey aggression, 150 professional training classes, 89-94 agility class, 92-93 attention class, 92 Beginning Obedience, 90 clicker training, 92-93, 102, 108-123 conformation training, 93 field trial training, 94 Flyball training, 93 hunting test training, 94 Novice, 91 Puppy Kindergarten, 90 Rally-O training, 93 tracking class, 92 Program (Lufenuron), 193 progressive retinal atrophy. See PRA Proheart 6 (Moxidectin), 190 prong collars, 99-100 protein in food, 164 Pryor, Karen, 109 puncture wounds, 231 puppies crate training, 80 papers. See AKC registration puppy mills, 20 selection, breeder visits, 46-49 versus adult dogs, 37-38

pet health insurance, 183-184 pet loss website, 274 Pet Plan Insurance (Canada), 183 pet sitters, 261-263 pet spas, 260 pet stores, 22 pet-quality dogs, 11-13, 39 PetCare Insurance Programs, 183 petit mal seizures, 226 Petshealth Insurance Agency, 184 pig ears, 56 pills, medication administration, 210-211 plants, backyard hazards, 67 plastic travel crates, 77 poisons, 169-170, 234 polygenic diseases, ED (elbow dysplasia), 215 pools, backyard hazards, 67 pooper-scoopers, 58 popularity of Golden Retrievers, 4-5 positive reinforcement training, 89, 108 Bed command, 125 clicker training, 108-112 Come command, 118-120 Down command, 115-116 Drop command, 124 heeling on leash, 121-123 Leave It! command, 124 Off command, 123 Out command, 125 Sit command, 114-115 Stay command, 116-117 Trade command, 124 walking on a leash, 113-114 Watch Me! command, 125 pounds, 35-36 PRA (progressive retinal atrophy), 25, 217 pregnancy, 227-228 Premier Pet Insurance Group, 184

Puppy Kindergarten, 90 puppy-proofing your home, 61-66 backyard, 64-66 garage, 64 house, 61-63 purchasing a Golden adult selection, 49-50 disreputable breeders, 20-22 puppy selection, 46-49 reputable breeders, 22-31 AKC registration, 29 CKC registration, 31 health certifications, 24-26 KC registration, 31 locating, 26-29 UKC registration, 31 pyometra, 201, 224 pyrethrins and fenoxycarb (Biospot), 193 quick, 205


health certifications, 24-26 KC registration, 31 locating, 26-29 nurturing environment, 33 pedigrees, 32-33 UKC registration, 31 rescue alert stickers, 241 rescue groups, 35-36 responsibility of ownership, 18 retractable leads, 102 Revolution (Selamectin), 190 Rimadyl (Carprofen), 270 ringworm, 225 RMSF (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever), 194 Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. See RMSF Roll Over trick, 133 roundworms (Toxocara canis), 186 rules of training, 95-96

rabies vaccination, 180 raiding food, correcting bad behavior, 148-149 raisins, 170 Rally-O training, 93 ramps, senior dogs, 267 raw food diets, 165-168 rawhides, 55 redirected aggression, 150 registration papers, 29-31 release words, Stay command, 117 remedies. See treatment removing ticks, 194 reputable breeders, 12, 22-31 AKC registration, 29 CKC registration, 31 contracts, 34

safety, bones, 55 salmon, 170 Salmonella poisoning, 167 Sarcoptic mange mites (Sarcoptes scabei), 196 SAS (subvalvular aortic stenosis), 24, 218-219 scissors bite, 14 seat-harnesses, car travel, 255 seizures, 226-227 Selamectin (Revolution), 190 self-training your Golden, 88 bait pouches, 102 CGC ® title, 103-105 clickers, 102 collars, 98-100 head halters, 100-101 leashes, 101-102


The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Golden Retrievers
splayed feet, 15 spray bottle method, correcting bad behavior, 147 St. John’s dogs, 10 Stand, conformation show, 93 standards, 5, 9-15 conformation, 13 females, 14 importance of, 11 males, 14 obedience, 10 show and field, 9 show-quality versus pet-quality, 12-13 therapy and assistance, 9 Stay command, 116-117 subvalvular aortic stenosis. See SAS supplies edible chews, 53-56 food, 59-61 necessities, 52-53 “nice-to-have” supplies, 58-59 toys, 56 systemic treatments for fleas, 192

rules of training, 95-96 treats, 103 semi-moist dog foods, 163 senior years activity, 266 ailments arthritis, 268 blindness, 269 cancer and tumors, 269 CDS (Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome), 270 congestive heart failure, 270 deafness, 271 dental problems, 271-272 urinary tract problems, 272 comforts, 267-268 euthanasia, 273-274 getting another dog, 272-273 Sentinel (Milbemycin and Lufenuron), 189 separation anxiety, correcting bad behavior, 151-152 sexual aggression, 150 Shake Hands trick, 129 shaping behavior, 111-112 shedding, 8 shelters, 35-36 shock, 235 shoulders, 15 show and field, 9 show-quality dogs, 11-13, 39 Sit command, 114-116 skin snap test, 233 sleep arrangements, 71-72 slip collars, 98 snacks, 169 snap chokes, 100 spas, 260 Spay USA, 200 spaying pets, 198-201 Speak trick, 129 spider bites, 233

tags, identification, 243 tail, 15 Take a Bow trick, 130 talents, 9-10 tapeworms (Dipylidium caninum), 188 target sticks, clicker training, 110 Tattoo-A-Pet, 244 tattoos, identification, 244-246 teeth, dental care, 203-204 temperament, 15 temperature taking, 211 theobromine, chocolate, 169 therapy and assistance, 9 ticks, 193-194

titles (pedigrees), 33 Toxocara canis (roundworms), 186 toys, 56, 132 tracking class, 92 tracking leads, 102 Trade command, 124 training Bed command, 125 clicker training, 108-112 Come command, 118-120 crates, 80 Down command, 115-116 Drop command, 124 heeling on leash, 121-123 housetraining, 81-85 Leave It! command, 124 Off command, 123 Out command, 125 professional classes, 89-94 self-training, 88 bait pouches, 102 CGC ® title, 103-105 clickers, 102 collars, 98-100 head halters, 100-101 leashes, 101-102 rules of training, 95-96 treats, 103 Sit command, 114-115 Stay command, 116-117 Trade command, 124 trick training, 127-135 Beg, 134 creating your own tricks, 134-135 Fetch, 131 Give Me a Kiss, 133 Roll Over, 133 Shake Hands, 129 Speak, 129 Take a Bow, 130 Wave Good-Bye, 133


walking on a leash, 113-114 Watch Me! command, 125 travel, 249 accommodations, 258 air travel, 257 boarding pets, 251, 259-261 car travel, 254-255 crates, 77 packing, 253 pet sitters, 261-263 planning, 251 treatment arthritis, 268 bloat, 220 cancer and tumors, 270 CDS (Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome), 270 ED (elbow dysplasia), nutriceuticals, 215 fleas, 186, 192-193 heartworm, 190 parasites, 186 treats, 103, 169 Trichiasis, 217 Trichuris vulpis (whipworms), 188 trick training, 127-135 Beg, 134 creating your own tricks, 134-135 Fetch, 131 Give Me a Kiss, 133 Roll Over, 133 Shake Hands, 129 Speak, 129 Take a Bow, 130 Wave Good-Bye, 133 tricuspid valve dysplasia. See TVD tumors and cancer, 269 TVD (tricuspid valve dysplasia), 24 Tweed Water Spaniels, 10 Tweedmouth, Lord, 10


The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Golden Retrievers

UKC (United Kennel Club), 31 undercoat, 14 undershot bite, 14 United Kennel Club. See UKC university clinics, 175 unsafe foods, 169-170 unsafe household products, 62 urinary tract problems, senior dogs, 272 USDA, posting missing pets, 247

vaccinations, 178 available vaccinations, 179-183 when to vaccinate, 179 veterinarians, 173-184 boarding facilities, 259 clinics, 174 first visits, 69, 177-178 interviews, 176 pet health insurance, 183-184 recommendations, 175 vaccinations, 178-183 visiting facilities, 176-177 Veterinary Pet Insurance. See VPI visiting breeders, puppy selection, 46-49 vomiting, 221 VPI (Veterinary Pet Insurance), 184

websites AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association), 175 AKC (American Kennel Club), 13 AKC Companion Animal Recovery, 244 American Red Cross, 240 Friends of Animals, 200 National Dog Registry, 244 Pet Assure, 183 pet loss site, 274 Pet Plan Insurance (Canada), 183 PetCare Insurance Programs, 183 Petshealth Insurance Agency, 184 Premier Pet Insurance Group, 184 Pryor, Karen, 109 Spay USA, 200 Tattoo-A-Pet, 244 USDA missing pets, 247 VPI (Veterinary Pet Insurance), 184 weekly health exams, 201 whipworms (Trichuris vulpis), 188 worms heartworms, 188-190 hookworms, 187 roundworms, 186 tapeworms, 188 whipworms, 188 X-pens, 59, 79 Zubrin, 270

walking on a leash, training, 113-114 Watch Me! command, 125 Wave Good-Bye trick, 133