Bringing home your Golden Retriever puppy is such an exciting moment. But, raising a Golden Retriever puppy can prompt lots of questions.
Over the next few weeks you’ll be socializing, potty training, and making a start with puppy obedience training. This guide has top tips for this, and will also be looking at raising a golden retriever puppy while you work.
Research to do Before Getting a Golden Retriever Puppy:
|Lifestyle||Is now the right time for you to get a puppy?|
|Adopt vs Shop||Will you buy a new puppy, or rescue one?|
|Breeder research||Learn how to spot a good breeder|
|Choosing a puppy||Learn how to choose a healthy pup|
Top Tips for Choosing A Healthy Golden Retriever Puppy:
|Meet the parents||Check for obvious health issues, like skin problems or fleas|
|Make sure the parents have all their health checks||Make sure they’re a health weight – no ribs showing!|
|Ask the breeder lots of questions – and expect to be asked questions!||Look at the environment the puppies are kept in|
|Interact with the puppy – are they friendly and bright?||Check they’ve had their first set of vaccinations|
What to Buy for your Golden Retriever Puppy
|Crate||Bed or vet bedding|
|Bowls||The food the breeder has been feeding them|
|Toys||Play pens or baby gates|
|Grooming tools||Bathing equipment|
|Puppy pads (if you’re choosing this potty training method)||Poop bags|
What to do Before your Golden Retriever Puppy Arrives:
Main rooms pup will use
|Find a vet:||Book an appointment|
|Find training resources:||Books, trainer, or online course|
|The fun extras:||Choose a name|
Games and toys
What to Expect in the First Few Weeks:
|Settling in time||Small frequent meals|
|Night time waking||Potty training|
|Biting and chewing||Zoomies|
|Lots of growing||Socialization|
Most new or prospective puppy owners have lots of questions. Sometimes you just need a quick answer.
Looking at your Lifestyle
There are situations where it might be better to wait before buying a Golden puppy.
This doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to get one! But, bringing a Golden Retriever puppy into a home that isn’t ready can cause stress, frustration, and lead to puppies ending up in rescue centers.
If you have very tiny kids – remember that Goldens are fairly large dogs and are very boisterous when young. Picking up a toddler and drying their tears for the tenth time before breakfast can become wearing.
Think about the exercise needs of an active dog. If you can’t walk very far, this probably isn’t the breed for you.
If you have a very small home, or live in an apartment, think carefully before adding a big (and potentially muddy) dog to the mix.
Is Now the Right Time for you to Get a Puppy?
No matter what breed of puppy you’re bringing home, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared for everything they bring.
Puppies can really turn your life upside down, so you must make sure it’s the right time to bring one home. As yourself the following questions if you’re unsure:
- Do I have time to socialize a new puppy?
- Do I have time for training a puppy every day?
- What is my plan for potty training?
- Will my puppy have enough company?
- Is everyone in my house prepared to share puppy responsibilities?
- Do I have time to exercise this dog enough when they grow up?
- Am I prepared for potential health problems in my puppy?
- Can I afford the vet bills and new equipment needed?
- Do I have space for a puppy or dog?
If you’re uncertain about the answer to any of these questions, now might not be the right time for you to have a puppy.
It doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to have one. But, getting a puppy at the wrong time can be an extremely stressful process, for you and the puppy!
If you feel like now is the right time for a puppy, and don’t have any other commitments that would take your time and attention away from raising a puppy, the next step is deciding whether to adopt or shop.
Adopt vs Shop
Adopting a puppy from a rescue center and shopping through a reputable breeder are the two main ways of bringing a puppy home.
There are some pros and cons to each method, so it will be down to personal preference which you choose.
Golden Retriever puppy rescue is normally cheaper, and you will get a better idea of the temperament of your puppy or dog. Some dogs will even have basic training, which means you can skip the potty training accidents.
But, you may struggle to find puppies in rescue centers. Puppies in shelters tend to get rehomed quite quickly so you’ll need to put your name down with a number of shelters and wait for a litter to come up.
Dogs from shelters can sometimes have behavioral problems. But, if you’re willing to dedicate time and care to them, many make wonderful family pets.
Puppies from breeders will cost more and can have waiting lists that are just as long as rescue centers. But, you’ll have a better idea of your puppy’s history, health, and upbringing.
Will You Buy a New Puppy or Rescue One?
It can be a tough decision, choosing between a puppy from a breeder, or Golden Retriever puppy rescue.
Hopefully, the points we briefly discussed above will make the decision a little easier.
If you still aren’t sure, take a look at our guide to puppies vs dogs.
You can find a list of Golden Retriever puppy rescue centers on our main breed information page.
Golden Retriever Breeder Research
A responsibly bred Golden Retriever puppy will usually cost you upwards of $1000 in the USA (£800 in the UK).
However, this price will be considerably higher for show quality dogs. It will also vary depending on your location and demand.
Don’t forget that the cost of sale is just the beginning. Your biggest expense is likely to be annual pet health insurance. It’s a good idea to get some quotes in for this – it will be several hundred dollars a year.
You can find breeders through your national Golden Retriever breed club. Here are a few Golden Retriever breed clubs from around the world:
- The Golden Retriever Club of America
- The Golden Retriever Club (UK)
- The National Golden Retriever Council (Australia)
- The Golden Retriever Club of Canada
If you email the club secretary they’ll be able to let you have details of reputable breeders in your area.
Learn How to Spot a Good Golden Retriever Breeder
It’s a good idea to buy a puppy from a reputable breeder. This helps to avoid lack of health test certificates, poorly puppies, and other disappointments.
Home bred puppies can be very nice if the owners have taken the trouble to health test and raise their puppies responsibly. Whatever you do, avoid puppy mills and pet stores.
Reputable breeders will treat their own dogs well. Their dogs and puppies will be healthy, with all the up to date vaccinations needed, and no signs of problems like fleas, skin issues, or malnourishment.
Good breeders like this will care whether their puppies are going to the best homes. So, expect lots of questions from a reputable breeder.
The best breeders will answer all questions you have, and won’t mind you spending some time with the puppies and parent dogs.
Choosing a Golden Retriever Puppy
If you haven’t chosen your puppy yet, you may be undecided between a male and a female. There are a few differences in their needs and care, but not as many as you might think.
In some breeds there are greater tendencies to aggression in males compared with females. And people do worry that a male dog might be more likely to fight or bite.
However in a study released in 2008, Golden Retrievers were among the breeds least likely to show aggression to other people or dogs.
We have not seen any evidence that male Goldens are any less likely to be good tempered than females. And it’s reasonable to assume that your male Goldie is likely to be as friendly and affectionate as his sisters.
Female Golden Retrievers need a little more care than males unless and until they are spayed. That’s because female dogs come into heat every six months.
During this time, they need careful protection from males to ensure that they don’t become pregnant.
Spaying and Neutering
Neutering was once thought to be the easy solution but has now been linked with a number of different types of cancer, and with joint problems, in this breed. So it isn’t a straightforward issue.
If you don’t have your female golden spayed, you’ll need to keep a close eye on her for a few weeks after the end of each season as infections of the womb are common at this time.
Should you decide that you want to have your dog neutered – and in some regions you may be legally obliged to do so, then you’ll find that neutering a female is a more expensive procedure with a longer recovery time than neutering a male.
You’ll find lots more information to help you decide between a male or a female puppy in our guide Male Vs Female Dogs.
Choosing a Healthy Golden Retriever Puppy
Once you’ve found a reputable breeder and chosen what gender of puppy you’d like, you need to choose the healthiest puppy possible.
Here are some signs of a healthy Golden Retriever puppy.
- Clear, bright eyes – no red marks, dirt, or signs of infection
- Clean ears – no wax, crustiness
- No obvious issues with sight or hearing – follows your hands, turns to your hand if you click next to his head
- Healthy wet nose – no mucus or crustiness
- Clean mouth – pink gums, white teeth, no bleeding
- Healthy skin – no sores, redness, scabbing, or obvious injuries
- Healthy fur – glossy, clean, no fleas or ticks
- Clean dry bottom
- Steady on its feet, no limping or trouble using certain limbs
- Healthy weight – no visible ribs
- Ideal temperament – interested in things around, friendly, bright, interacting well with other puppies and things around
If a puppy seems overly scared or has any obvious health issues, it may be best to choose a different dog.
What to Buy for a Golden Retriever Puppy
Once you’ve chosen your Golden Retriever puppy, you need to make sure you’re prepared for their arrival at home with you.
They’ll be old enough to come home at 8 weeks. So, you should have plenty of time to prepare.
We mentioned the key products Golden Retriever puppies need at the start of this article. So, you can scroll up to remind yourself.
We also have a number of articles that review the best products for Goldens. And you can find more reviews on our main products page
Here are some you might enjoy:
- What do I need for a new puppy?
- Best Puppy Beds
- Toys for Golden Retrievers
- Food for Golden Retrievers
- Dog Nail Files
- Best Harness For Golden Retriever
Raising a Golden Retriever Puppy – Setting Up
Before your puppy comes home, you should work to set up everything that they’ll need. It’s much easier to do this before you have an excited puppy running around your feet at every turn.
Three of the most important things to set up are your crate, your puppy zone, and any baby gates that you’ve bought.
Make sure your puppy’s crate is big enough for him to turn around in, and sleep comfortably in. But, remember that if it’s much bigger than this, your Golden may try to use one end as a bed and the other as a toilet.
If your crate is too big when your puppy comes home, you can use a crate divider to create a smaller bedroom area.
A puppy zone is an area in your house that is puppy proof. It usually contains your puppy’s crate, some toys, and fresh water. You may choose to feed your puppy in their puppy zone too.
Some people create a puppy zone within a playpen. But others like to dedicate an entire room, like the kitchen. If you want to do this, it’s best to use baby gates on the doors, so that you can get out easily without releasing your puppy.
Raising a Golden Retriever Puppy – Puppy Proofing
Another key element of setting up for your puppy is to puppy proof areas that they will have access to. This can mean their puppy zone, the garden, or any other room that you plan to let your puppy access.
This means removing anything that your puppy could swallow or choke on. Cover up any exposed wires that your pup could chew or scratch at.
If there are chairs or benches that your puppy could climb on, make sure the surfaces near them are clear. Otherwise, your puppy could eat things it shouldn’t.
Remember that puppies like to pee on soft surfaces – so they’re more likely to do this on carpet than hard floors. And hard floors are much easier to clean. So, supervise your puppy in carpeted rooms.
Also remove anything that you don’t want your puppy to destroy by chewing, scratching, or toileting on. This can just mean moving it higher, out of your puppy’s reach.
Make sure there are no poisonous plants in your puppy proof rooms, or in the garden. In fact, you may choose to restrict your puppy’s garden access to a small part of the garden, or just to a large pen.
Raising a Golden Retriever Puppy – Finding a Vet
Most of us have our puppies vaccinated. Vaccines are not completely without risk, but the risk of serious disease for unvaccinated puppies is usually considered by experts to be much greater.
Most puppy parents want to know which shots their puppies need, when their puppies can go outside safely, a few want to know what happens if they decide not to vaccinate their puppies.
You’ll find information on all those topics in the articles below:
- When can puppies go outside?
- Puppy Vaccination Schedules
- My dog has never been vaccinated – does it matter?
Schedule an appointment with the closest vet to you so you can speak to them more about exactly what your puppy will need in the upcoming weeks and months.
You’ll also find lots more information in our puppy health and care pages.
Raising a Golden Retriever Puppy – Training
You have a great advantage when starting to train your Golden Retriever puppy because Goldens are a highly co-operative breed and most Golden puppies are very easy to train.
You also have a range of fantastic guides right here on the site. The Happy Puppy site was created by dog expert Pippa Mattinson.
You’ll find many of her puppy training guides and a range of guides by our team of highly qualified professional dog trainers, in our training section.
Here are some to get you started!
- The right way to train your puppy
- Train your puppy to sit
- Train your puppy to lay down and stay
- Puppy training stages
They are packed full of training tips and information, together with links to more advanced training topics. You can also check out our puppy training archives.
What About Training Courses?
You can also get a start on training by enrolling your Golden puppy into a training course.
These are available in person, but also online. You could attend a group class, or hire a personal dog trainer to work with you individually.
There are plenty of books and resources available for all dog owners to buy, too.
Take a look at Pippa Mattinson’s online training courses here.
Raising a Golden Retriever Puppy – The Fun Extras
We have wonderful puppy naming resources on this site. In 2016 the Happy Puppy site launched the International Dog Names Survey.
Each year we update our puppy names lists with the latest data on dog name popularity for different breeds and in different parts of the world. So you’ll find heaps of inspiration.
We even have a puppy names list devoted entirely to Golden Retrievers. Don’t forget to add your puppy’ name to the survey once you have made your final choice!
Another fun part of raising a Golden puppy is the toys and games you can play with them. Here are some guides that will show you our favorite dog toys. We bet your puppy will love them too!
- Best Toys For Golden Retrievers
- Indestructible Dog Toys
- Dog Puzzle Toys
- Squeaky Toys
- Best Interactive Dog Toys
Raising a Golden Retriever Puppy – Settling In Time
It could take a while for your puppy to settle in properly to your home. It can be stressful for puppies.
After all, they’re leaving their mother, siblings, and the only home they’ve known to come and live somewhere completely new and unknown.
You can help your puppy settle in faster by keeping them by your side so they aren’t ever alone and scared, and showing them how great their new life is.
It can also help to follow a routine for a while. This will include feeding your Golden puppy, training them, and socializing them.
Some common problems that new puppy owners face in those first few weeks include: biting, potty training accidents, waking at night, and over-excitement.
Feeding Schedules and Guides
Small puppies need small and frequent meals. As a rough guide:
- Four meals a day until three months
- Three meals a day until six months
- Two meals a day until one year
We’ve written about our favorite foods for Golden Retriever puppies here.
Many people worry a lot about getting food quantities and schedules exactly right and want to know how many ounces or grams of puppy food to give their Goldie pup at each stage of their lives.
You can find all this and more in our guide:
Golden Retriever Puppy Waking at Night
Another problem that a lot of new puppy owners experience is night time waking.
There are a number of reasons puppies wake at night. They may be scared, in pain, or hungry.
Puppies may also wake at night because they are lonely and want attention, or because they need the toilet.
For the first few nights after you bring them home, keep your Golden’s crate by your bed. This will reduce the risk of them waking out of fear and loneliness – because they will see you and know they aren’t alone.
Puppies will need the toilet through the night when they first come home. So, if you aren’t using puppy pads, you’ll need to take them outside throughout the night to pee.
Potty Training a Golden Retriever Puppy
At eight weeks old, your Golden puppy will just pee whenever their little bladder is full. No matter where they happen to be.
So it’s important to think about how you are going to protect any carpeted areas in your home for the first few weeks.
TIP: Baby gates help keep small puppies in areas with washable floors.
By eight months things will be very different. Your puppy will be able to last several hours without emptying their bladder, and will have learned to use the appropriate areas for bathroom purposes.
The tricky part is getting there, and you may need a little help and support.
Potty Training Tips
The aim in the first couple of weeks is to make sure you take your puppy outside at frequent intervals and wait outside with them until they empty their bladder.
Make sure you take them out after meals and when they wake up from a nap, and whenever they are getting excited – playing with another dog for example.
When your puppy is indoors you need to supervise closely. If you need to leave the puppy for a few minutes, pop them into a small crate as puppies will try hard not to wet in their own bed.
Crates are a wonderful training aid and our expert puppy crate training guide is a great help for potty training puppy parents.
You can also get more help in our Puppy Parenting training course.
Golden Retriever Puppy Biting and Chewing
All puppies bite. Even Golden Retrievers! Biting is linked to teething, but it’s also an important part of play between puppies and other dogs.
Biting down on fur isn’t too painful. But biting on skin really hurts and puppies have to learn not to do this.
Play biting is commonly mistaken for aggression because puppies snap and growl when they are playing. For this reason, biting is by far and away the most common reason for new puppy parents to seek help in our support forum.
Our complete guide to stopping puppies biting will help you quicky through this phase in your puppy’s development.
Golden Retriever Puppy Zoomies
At first, it might not seem like zoomies should be anything to worry about. But all puppy owners can tell you just how destructive these random bursts of energy can be.
Especially with a relatively large breed like the Golden Retriever.
In fact, it can lead to broken ornaments, ripped fabric, muddy pawprints all over the house, and knocked over children. It can be quite distressing for new puppy parents!
Running after your puppy can often make this worse – as it seems like a fun game to your puppy.
Instead, encourage calm behavior by rewarding your puppy when they’re relaxing peacefully.
Golden Retriever Puppy Growth
As a medium to large breed, Golden Retriever puppies carry on growing up to and beyond their first birthday. In fact growth isn’t complete until the middle of the second year.
However, those last few months are mainly about ‘filling out’ and your Golden puppy will have reached close to their maximum height at between 9 and 12 months of age.
You can read all about puppy development stages and puppy growth in our guide:
Golden Retriever Puppy Socialization
Every new puppy owner will hear about the importance of puppy socialization. But not all puppy owners carry out this important process effectively.
Socialization means introducing your puppy to many new experiences before they reach the age when they become shy of strangers and strange objects. That age is surprisingly young and most dogs need to be socialized fully before they are 13 weeks old.
That means you need to get going right away with your new Goldie pup!
Your puppy needs to meet lots of different men and women, in different situations, children, other dogs, trains and lorries, and much much more. All from the safety of your arms. And all before he or she is four months old.
Puppy socialization is vital because it helps to prevent dogs becoming aggressive and increases the retention rate of puppies in their homes.
You can find an excellent puppy socialization plan and lots of useful information on The Puppy Plan website provided by the Kennel Club in association with international charity The Dog’s Trust
Raising a Golden Retriever Puppy When You Work
We all lead busy lives. And most of us don’t have the luxury of being at home all day. One of the most common questions we are asked is “how long can I leave my dog alone”.
Many new puppy parents take time off work when they bring their puppy home. But it isn’t uncommon for people to think it’s okay to simply leave their puppy alone in the house all day when they return to work.
This is rarely successful. Young dogs left alone for long periods tend to get up to mischief and some become distressed, destructive, or both.
And you cannot successfully house train a puppy if there is no-one there to let the puppy outside. Raising a puppy while you work full time is possible, but it takes planning and thought.
You can’t leave a puppy shut in a crate all day so you’ll have to get help in the form of a doggy day care placement, or a professional dog walker, or a friend or relative willing to babysit your puppy for a few hours each day.
Check out this article Doggy daycare – choosing and using a carer for your puppy and join the forum to talk to other puppy parents that have juggled work and puppies successfully.
Where to Get Help and Advice
Puppies are great fun, but they can also be hard work. At times you’ll benefit greatly from the support of other new puppy parents.
We used to be able to help new puppy parents by answering questions in the comments on this website. But there are now so many that we needed a better way.
Do check out our support forum. You’re welcome to simply browse and read the answers to other people’s questions. Or you can join in and ask your own.
It’s free and we’d love to see you there!
Are You Raising a Golden Retriever Puppy?
At times, when your puppy is small, you may question whether or not you have made a mistake in bringing a Golden Retriever into your home.
There is a period of adjustment, often known as the ‘puppy blues’ when raising a puppy can all seem a bit much.
Rest assured that Golden Retriever puppies do grow up into great family dogs. They have one of the best temperaments of any dog breed and are ideally suited to a young and active family.
Are you expecting a Golden Retriever puppy? Do tell us all about them in the comments below – and don’t forget to join our forum community!
References and Resources
- Duxbury, (et al), ‘Evaluation of Association Between Retention in the Home and Attendance at Puppy Socialization Classes’, Journal of the American Veterinary Association (2003)
- The Puppy Socialization Plan, The Kennel Club and The Dog’s Trust
- Duffy, D. (et al), ‘Breed Differences in Canine Aggression’, Applied Animal Behavior Science (2008)
- Torres de la Riva, G. (et al), ‘Neutering Dogs: Effects on Joint Disorders and Cancers in Golden Retrievers’, PlosOne (2013)
- Howell, T. (et al), ‘Puppy Parties and Beyond: The Role of Early Age Socialization Practices on Adult Dog Behavior’, Veterinary Medicine: Research and Reports (2014)