Supplies You Will Need
Your new puppy is depending on you to take care of it. Below you will find a simple list of things you will need to properly care for and train your puppy.
There are a wide variety of dog collars available in the pet section of most stores. They can be as simple or as extravagant as you like. You will need to purchase several collars as your puppy grows. Most collars are adjustable with either a buckle or sliding snap. Be sure to check your puppy’s collar weekly for the correct size. The collar should be tight enough so that it will not come off the dog’s head without unbuckling it but loose enough so that your dog can breath properly. A collar that’s too tight can also cause skin and hair problems. A good rule of thumb is to measure your dog’s neck circumference and then add one inch. This is the size of collar your dog will need.
We are not fond of collars that have a plastic snap piece. While it is quick to get on a and off, plastic does wear out over time. The plastic piece can break, and your puppy or dog can lose its collar. Without a collar, your puppy loses it's I.D. tag and if it becomes lost there will e no way to get your puppy home to you. If you are walking your puppy on a leash when the collar breaks, your puppy can then be exposed to traffic and could get hit by a car.
Your dog should wear an identification tag on its collar at all times. This is the quickest and easiest way for someone who finds your lost dog to find contact information. You never know when your dog will get lost, be prepared. There are many different types of tags out there, but here at Genuine Goldens, we prefer to use slide-on tags.. These tags are secured directly onto the dog’s collar, not dangling from the collar hook. They are a little more expensive than traditional tags, but they can never fall off, wear out, or get stuck in objects. The only down side to these tags is that you have to purchase the tags in sizes coordinating with your dog's collar size. You will probably need 2-3 tags to fit your various sizes of collars until your puppy is an adult.
County/State dog license
Most states and/or counties require all dogs of a certain age to be licensed and wear a registration tag on the dog’s collar at all times. Please follow your local dog laws.
You should have at least one leash for each dog you own. You will need this for training, walking, transporting, and securing. Nylon or leather leashes work best, usually in four feet to six feet lengths, and 3/4-inch to 1-inch wide. Flexi-leashes are popular with many dog owners as well. These leashes will self-retract so you never have loose leash to tangle up in your dog. There are many varieties and options to choose from. A training leash is sometimes called a recall leash. It is a very long leash, used in large, open areas to help reel your dog in or to give your dog lots of leash length without the dog feeling like he's on a leash. If you have two or more dogs, a dog coupler may be something else you are interested in. You can walk mulitple dogs with just one leash, by attaching the coupler to the end of any leash. These also come in a variety of sizes and colors.
Training collar, harness, or halter (optional)
A training collar (also known as a slip collar, choke chain, or choker) can be very useful in your dog training. These collars should only be worn during training, as if used as a regular collar, they can become snagged on items and strangle your dog. Some people prefer to use a body harness when walking their dog. These are great for dogs with neck problems or those who are opposed to using training collars. Head halters are another option. These are halters that go around the dog’s neck and snout and are often mistaken as muzzles. They are used for dogs who pull at the leash, as pulling with a halter on will redirect the head in a different direction, causing the dog to stop pulling. You may use one, two, or all of these walking/training aids. Find what works best for you and your dog.
Your puppy will need at least two food bowls, one puppy-sized one, and another one should be purchased as your puppy grows into an adult. A puppy can eat out of an adult bowl, but your puppy will be much more comfortable eating out of a bowl it’s own size. We have tried plastic, ceramic, and stainless steel bowls, and have found steel to be our favorite. Plastic bowls are easily chewed, can get deep scratches in them where bacteria can breed, and wear out easily, yet they are inexpensive and easy to replace. Ceramic bowls are heavy enough to keep you dog from carrying, tipping, or chewing on the bowl, but are quite fragile and will break if dropped. Stainless steel bowls are more expensive, but well worth it because they are durable, easy to clean, and will out-live your dog (sadly). I have one stainless steel bowl that is over 20 years old and we still use it! It has a big dent in it from being backed over by a van, but it still serves its purpose! These are the only bowls that you can sterilize!
You will also need at least two water bowls (or buckets) for your puppy. It’s nice to have an inside water bowl, and another one outside for your dog. As your puppy grows up, a bucket for outside water will probably be more sufficient. Again, we recommend stainless steel.
Your puppy will need to eat a high-quality puppy food for at least its first full year of life. You were provided a sample of the puppy food your puppy is currently eating. You can buy this brand of puppy food and continue to feed it, or you can buy your own brand. Please use the sample to help transition your puppy onto the new food. Sudden diet changes can hurt a puppy’s sensitive stomach and result in diarrhea. To switch foods, start by replacing a small portion of the old food with a little of the new food. Each day, increase the new food while decreasing the old food, until your puppy is completely on the new food. This transition should take place over five to seven days for best results.
A crate is essentially a cage, pen, kennel, or travel den. Crates are usually made out of metal wire or plastic but some come as collapsible cloth material. Many fold up, some do not. Many people can get away with not having a crate, but I think it is a vital piece of equipment that every puppy owner needs. They are essential to house breaking, whether you are training to go outside or paper training. They are a great place to put puppies when they can’t be supervised. Crates are also great for sick puppies and for traveling by car or plane. Your puppy’s crate should be big enough for your puppy to stand up, turn around, and lay down comfortably. It shouldn’t be too big, because during house breaking, the crate is used to confine the puppy to an area where they sleep so that they won’t soil their bedding. If the crate is too big, the puppy will be able to relieve itself on one side of the crate and sleep in the other side. Since your puppy will do a great deal of growing during its first year, your puppy will not be able to use the same size crate for its entire lifetime. You have one of two options to resolve this. You can purchase a large wire crate that will accustom your adult dog and purchase a divider to make the crate smaller. As your puppy grows, you slide the divider to make more room for the puppy. You only need one crate when using this method. Another option is to purchase several crates as your puppy grows, usually three or four crates total. You can save the out-grown crates for future puppies or other pets or you can usually re-sell them fairly easily. For an adult Golden, we recommend a crate with the dimensions of 48"Lx40"Wx33"H. Different crate manufacturers make different size crates, but as long as you get one close to this size, it will work. Be leery of crates that are 30" tall or less, as they do not provide enough head room for an adult Golden when standing or sitting in the crate. If your dog is only in the crate for sleeping at night, a 30" height won't be a problem.
Newspapers, puppy pads, or litter box (if you are paper-training)
If you will be paper training your puppy, start saving newspapers well ahead of the time you bring your puppy home. You may want to have friends and family save their newspaper too. Most people use puppy pads these days to paper train puppies. These are found in the pet section of your favorite discount or grocery store. They are cloth-like pads that are scented to attract your puppy, and will absorb a lot more moisture than newspaper. Another option is a litter box and litter. Which ever way you go all depends on your budget and situation.
Toys are not only for having fun with your new puppy, but are vital learning tools. There are many, many toys out there for puppies and dogs. Make sure the toys you buy are made for dogs, are non-toxic and age and size appropriate. Be sure to remove small toys as your puppy grows, as a small ball used in the first three months can easily be caught in the throat of an adult dog. If you find your puppy is destroying toys, you will have to limit those toys to supervised play only. Many dogs will not only destroy toys, but ingest them. This is dangerous as this can cause intestinal blockage that will cause great pain and possible death if not treated surgically. There are three toys that I recommend that all Golden Retriever puppies have: a tennis ball, a Nylabone, and a stuffed animal (with a squeaker inside). Nylabones and Kongs are the only items we are able to leave with our dogs all the time, as they are the only things they won’t destroy. They love their stuffed animals and tennis balls, but if they are left alone with them for too long, they will shred them! Rope toys, squeaky toys, and frisbees are other dog-favorites. When giving your dog a ball, be sure that it has a textured surface, like that of a tennis ball, so that it cannot slip down the throat. Do NOT use a smooth rubber ball, as they become slippery when covered in dog slobber, and dogs have been known to choke on them.
Your puppy will need a brush for basic grooming. Don’t go out and buy just any old brush. Different brushes are made for different types of dog fur. For your puppy, start out with a pin brush. Many are often double-sided with a bristle brush. This will be ideal for your puppy now. As your puppy grows and developes an adult coat, you will need some additional brushes, such as an undercoat rake, and flea comb. We highly recommend the FurBuster. It is a great de-shedding tool!
Shampoo for bathing your dog can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. There is an abundance of shampoos out there, for everything such as dry skin to different scents. For puppies, regular baby shampoo works just fine.
Toenail clippers are another must have. Your puppy’s nails will grow quickly, especially while on a high protein puppy food. There are a variety of nail clippers out there, find one that suits you best.
I like to use baby wipes to clean the inside of my puppy’s ears. They are simple to use, do a great job of cleaning out wax and debris, and smell nice. These are also great for “spot cleaning” your puppy’s coat in between baths.
Treats are something you don't necessarily NEED, but something that your puppy will enjoy. Treats should be used during training or as snack in between meals. Be sure to limit snacks to avoid weight problems. Also, if you feed too many treats, you puppy will eat less of what it should, its puppy food.
Puppy Proofing Your Home
Before you bring your puppy home, it’s best to puppy proof your home. This means removing or arranging items in your home so that they can’t easily chew on, eat, or hurt themselves on them. It’s sometimes best to get down on your hands and knees, crawl around, and look at things from a puppy’s point of view. Keep everything up off the floor. Electrical cords should be placed behind furniture or hidden out of sight. If you have a low draping table cloth, this should be removed. There will be things you don’t think of, but your puppy will point them out to you quickly, like the curtains. Some things you will just have to watch to make sure the puppy doesn’t get them. This can be tiring, so it’s best to remove anything your puppy may get into to make things easier.
House Training Your Puppy
House training your puppy may be your most challenging task as a new puppy owner. However, Golden Retrievers are very easy to house train, and many new owners report completing training within two to three weeks!
The first thing you will need to do is to decide what type of house training you will be doing. There are two ways to go about doing this. One way is to teach your puppy to eliminate outside in a designated spot. This is the most common and most desired option by most owners. Someone will need to be home to let the puppy out at least every three hours. If this is not possible, you will need to make arrangements with a friend or neighbor to let your puppy out or consider the addition of a doggy door into a fenced area in your yard so your puppy can come and go as he pleases. The other option is to consider paper training instead.
The second way is to teach you puppy to eliminate in a certain area of your home. This area is usually covered with an absorbent material, such as newspaper, a puppy pad, or even a litter box. This is usually ideal for those who may have to leave their puppies for extended periods of time or those who have no yard. It's not recommended to use both types of training, as it can be confusing to the puppy. You can start your puppy with paper training and gradually make the change to going outside to eliminate.
Regardless of where you want your puppy to eliminate, I encourage everyone to follow three simple rules when house training:
1. Confine your puppy whenever he/she can't be supervised.
2. Watch your puppy like a hawk at all times.
3. Develop and stick to a schedule consistently.
Confining your puppy is an important part of house training, as well as for the well-being of your puppy. Confinement helps teach your puppy how to hold in its urge to eliminate. Dogs have a natural instinct to NOT soil where they sleep. In the wild, dogs sleep in small dens. They crave a place to call their own to sleep in and not be bothered by others. So, by confining your puppy in a crate with only enough room for him to stand up, turn around, and lie down, your puppy will not purposely soil his bedding. If the crate is too big, the puppy will choose one side of the crate for a bed, and will soil the other side. This is why it's important to have the proper size crate for your puppy. Also, this will also work as an advantage to those who choose to paper train. If you paper train, you can a use a larger size crate, and place the paper on one end of the crate, and the bedding on the other end. Your puppy will naturally use the paper as his elimination spot. When your puppy is out of his crate, always leave the crate door open. You'll be surprised at how often your puppy will escape to his crate to nap or rest. Because the crate is his den, food and water should never be left inside the crate. Crate your puppy with soft bedding and a toy or two to keep him occupied when he's not sleeping. When you let him out of the crate, you can then take him to eliminate and then feed and water him outside of the crate. As a general rule, a puppy can control its bladder in hours for its age in months plus one. So, if your puppy is two months old, he can hold it for three hours. If he is three months old, he can hold it for four hours, and so on. Many puppies can make it all night just fine without going outside to eliminate. They are able to do this at night and not as long during the day because their bladders are dormant, or not as active when they are in a deep sleep at night time. Never attempt to leave your dog, no matter what the age, in a crate for more than eight hours. This will make your dog very uncomfortable and can cause bladder infections and accidents.
Watching your puppy like a hawk, or never taking your eyes off of him, is very similar to the confinement rule. Since your puppy will be running around the house and won't have the natural instinct to hold it's bladder and bowls, you must watch for signs that your puppy needs to be taken to his elimination spot. Sniffing, walking in circles, and whining are all signs that your puppy needs to relieve itself. Even if you leave the room for a second, you've just given your puppy the opportunity to have an accident. If you can't watch your puppy while you are doing an activity, you can either put him in his crate for a while (be sure to let him eliminate first), have another person watch him, or you can use a leash to keep an eye on him. To use the leash method, attach a leash to your belt loop or around your waist, and then attach the other end to your puppy's collar. Then your puppy must stay with arm's (and eye's) reach of you. You will be free to read a magazine, do the dishes, or fold laundry. Just take a peek at your puppy every once in a while to check in on him, to make sure he isn't getting into anything or is showing signs of needing to relieve himself.
Scheduling is a key part of house training. Puppies are VERY predictable as to when they will need to eliminate. Therefore, if you schedule around these times, you will know exactly when your puppy needs to be taken to his elimination spot. As a general rule, puppies will need to relieve themselves after they wake up, eat, drink, play, and/or have a training session and before they go to bed for the night. So if you feed your puppy every day in the morning, afternoon, and evening, you know they will need to eliminate immediately after. You will probably play with your puppy several times through out the day, so take him to eliminate immediately afterwards. You puppy will nap often, and as soon as he wakes up, take him to his elimination spot. First thing in the morning, before you make the coffee or get the morning paper, take your puppy outside, because he'll definitely have to go then! Another aspect of scheduling is drinking water. Many people don't consider limiting a puppy's water. If you leave water out all the time, your puppy may drink all the time, thus having to pee ALL THE TIME. A good rule of thumb is to offer water every three hours. Let them drink as much as they want, then take them to their elimination spot.
The actual elimination act itself also needs some attention. When you take your puppy to eliminate, always go out the same door to outside (the door you want him to go to as an adult) and if you are paper training, always keep the paper in the same area of the house. For very young puppies, I recommend carrying the puppy and then placing him down in the elimination area. Usually, when puppies have to go, they have to go NOW. Walking him to the area may cause him to relieve himself as he's walking. Puppies rarely eliminate while they're they are being held or carried. As he gets bigger, start using the leash and walk him to the area. Eventually, he can just follow you without the leash to the area. Once in the elimination spot, choose a word or short phrase as a command to tell your puppy what you want him to do. Many choose "go pee" or "go potty". Continue to say the word or phrase until your puppy does eliminate. Praise your puppy after he has eliminated. Tell him he's a good boy, pet him, and/or give him a small treat. Do not start praising your puppy as soon as he starts peeing. If you do, you may startle him and cause him to stop peeing mid-stream. Only praise him when he has finished his business. Many people are concerned when they take their puppy outside to eliminate, and the puppy won't relieve itself. After taking him back in the house, he relieves himself on the floor. This usually means that you didn't give the puppy enough time to eliminate. If it seems that its taking a long time for him to do his business, take him back in for about five minutes or so, and watch him like a hawk, double time. Then take him back out again for another try.
Feeding Your Puppy
Feeding your puppy is not as simple as putting food in a bowl and putting it down for your puppy. Nutrition is the most important aspect of raising a healthy dog. Choosing the right foods will make your puppy grow and thrive into the adult he was born to be. When you pick up your new puppy, you will receive a sample of the puppy food we feed here at Genuine Goldens. This is so you don't have to rush out to buy puppy food the day you bring your puppy home. If you prefer a different brand of puppy food, you should use the puppy food sample to gradually transition your puppy onto his new food. A sudden change to a new diet can upset a puppy's stomach, so always make changes gradually, by adding a little of the new food to the old food. Each day, add a little more new food and a little less of the old food, until your puppy is completely on the new food.
You should feed your puppy three times a day until he is six months old. At six months of age, you should transition him to two meals a day. If your puppy is less than six months of age and starts rejecting his afternoon meal, you should go ahead and move to just two meals a day (most Goldens puppies start losing interest in the afternoon meal around three months of age). At one year of age, you may continue with two meals a day or just feed once a day. We recommend feeding a puppy food for your puppy's first full year or longer. WE NEVER LEAVE FOOD OUT FOR OUR DOGS AT ALL TIMES. When we feed our dogs, the bowl is put down and they eat. They have 10-15 minutes to finish their meal and then the bowl and the food is removed. The dogs quickly learn that if they don't eat at meal time, they won't get to eat again until the next meal. We feed our dogs this way for the following reasons:
- We immediately know when a dog is sick/not feeling well. When we feed our dogs, they gobble down their food. They know if they don't eat now, it will be a while before the next meal time, so they take advantage of the food that is in front of them. When one of the dogs turns down a meal, it could be first sign that something is wrong. Some people leave food available to their dogs at all times. They may fill up the dog's bowl and the dog could care less. This dog may not want food right now because he just finished the food a few minutes ago when the owner wasn't aware. Or the dog may be ill. The owner may not recognize that the dog isn't eating for a day two after the fact.
- It develops a schedule ideal for house training. When you know when the food goes into your puppy, you will have a pretty good idea as to when it will need to relieve itself. This is vital in the house training process. A puppy who grazes all day on his food will be eliminating all day, unpredictably.
- It helps establish pack leadership. No matter how many dogs you have, you should always be the pack leader, the one in charge, the boss. By "telling" your dog when and where you want him to eat, you are taking charge and developing your position as a pack leader.
- It keeps food fresh. By providing food and then removing what is not ate, you are keeping your supply of dog food fresh. Food that is left out will go stale. No one wants to eat stale food, not even a dog.
- It creates less waste. Food that is left out will often be wasted. It can spill, get wet, or eaten by insects and other animals. Not only are you offering food to unwanted animals, you are wasting your dog food and your money.
- It's the only way to feed multiple dogs at once. If you have more than one dog, scheduling regular meal times means you will be right there watching (or standing close by) your dogs eat. You will know they are eating their own food out of their own bowl. This is important if your dogs eat different amounts or even different foods. This cannot be accomplished by leaving food out all the time, unless you keep your dogs separated.
- It prevents fat and obese dogs. Dogs that eat at-will often become fat or even obese. By measuring your food according to the package directions, you are ensuring your dog stays fit and trim, which makes a healthier, happier dog.
- We do not need to train with treats. Because our dogs are always hungry for their food, we can use a piece of kibble for a treat when training. We don't have to spend the extra time and money purchasing or making treats for our dogs. If we want to do a training session before a meal, we can use the dog's actual food amount and take the "treats" away from the food bowl. The dogs still get their treats and their allotted meal, all in one!
Grooming Your Golden Retriever
Grooming is vital for your Golden for a few reasons. Grooming is necessary to keep your Golden looking great. It will cut down and eliminate many health issues. Shedding will be limited and kept under control. A great bonding experience is waiting for you and your Golden at grooming time.
For the Appearance of Your Dog
There is a big difference in looks when you compare the un-groomed Golden to one who is freshly groomed and bathed. Everyone likes to look nice, including your dog! They seem to walk with a little bounce in their step when they know they look great. You will get more comments on your Golden, and you can't help but feeling proud.
For the Health of Your Dog
Many people don't realize how grooming can affect the health of your Golden. It can in several ways. The most obvious thing will happen when you don't comb or brush out long Golden hair; it will tangle and mat. Tangles quickly turn into mats, especially once they get wet. Mats will get bigger and bigger the longer they are left untreated, getting closer and closer to the skin, tightly pulling on your dogs skin. It would feel like someone pulling your hair all the time. I once encountered a Golden who had a mat growing from its tail and was attached to another mat on the feathering of its hind legs. It was one giant mat that even restricted movement of the leg and tail. To ignore such a mat is inhumane. How does this affect the health of your Golden? When a mat is lying against the skin, the skin cannot breathe. With no air getting to the skin, an itchy rash or even bacterial infection begins and can spread. Ears that are not properly cleaned can quickly escalate to bacterial and yeast infections. Mites also may become a problem. These can all be avoided if the ears are properly cleaned. Toenails that are left to grow and are never trimmed are also a hazard. They can get caught on items, like the upholstery in the furniture or in a floor vent in your home. The result is usually a bloody mess, followed by the possible loss of a toenail or even a toe! Dirty teeth can turn into a host of problems, from gum disease to entire degeneration of the jaw! Take the time to notice any physical changes in your dog during grooming. I've found many lumps, abrasions, cuts, and ticks on dogs that I never knew were there until I took the time to groom them. These are things that are often overlooked because they are hiding under all that hair. So, as you can see, its best for the health of your Golden to keep his grooming quite routine.
For the Shedding of Your Dog
I would say the number one reason people tend to NOT want a Golden is because of the shedding of the long hair. Goldens do shed, especially once or twice a year when they "blow their coats", however it isn't their long hair to blame. It's their undercoat. The undercoat is the dense section of hair that lies under the longer coat of hair you see when you look at your dog. The undercoat can be seen by parting your dog's hair. You'll notice a different hair texture and it's usually lighter than the color your dog's top coat. This short undercoat is there to insulate your dog. Most dog breeds have this double coat, and they will shed. Dog breeds like the Poodle and Maltese just have one coat, which is more like hair than fur. This is why they don't shed. The actual length of your Golden's coat has nothing to do with how much it will shed. The only downside to the length is the tangles and mats that can develop. Feeding a great dog food filled with a good balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids will help lessen the shedding process, as well as make for a great coat and skin health. Nonetheless, your Golden must be brushed, at least weekly to tame that shedding!
For Bonding with Your Dog
Grooming your dog may take just 30 minutes a week to accomplish, but that's 30 minutes of extra bonding time you and your dog will have. I especially enjoy grooming all of my Goldens. It's one of the few times I get to spend individual time with my dogs. They love the one-on-one attention and enjoy how they are the only ones getting talked to and such.
When to Start Grooming
You should start a grooming routine with your dog as soon as you bring him home. Although he's just a puppy and his coat needs minimal care, this will be a great training tool. It teaches your puppy to be patient and to tolerate some of the grooming that he won't enjoy. If you start young and continue the process, your dog will more than likely just sleep through the whole grooming process. At Genuine Goldens, we've already started this process for you. From day one these puppies are handled and have been "imprinted" with socialization. Many of the things done to them have to do with the grooming process, such as touch and stimulating the inside of their ears and mouth, and in between their toes. They've been brushed and had their nails trimmed since they were one week old. When you groom your puppy, it won't be something new to them, they've been doing it their whole lives!
Many want to know when their puppy will start to lose its puppy coat and grow the adult coat. While this varies from individual puppy to puppy, this process usually starts around 3 months of age. This is also when you will start to notice the feathering forming on your puppy's tail. The feathering will start to grow in and adult hair begins to grow on the tail first. You may first notice one or two longer hairs poking out of the puppy "fuzz". This continues to happen until the puppy fur is gone. The puppy fur doesn't fall out or shed, it just gets covered up by the adult hair, thus making the puppy fur your puppy's first undercoat. The undercoat will get thicker as you puppy matures as well. Once the tail starts transforming, the process moves to the body, starting at the base of the tail. It will appear as slightly darker (or a lot darker depending on the color of your puppy) than the puppy fur. When looking down on your puppy with a bird's eye view, the new hair against the puppy coat will appear as a stripe. It will extend from the base of the tail up the spine of the puppy. The stripe of hair will get longer and wider, working its way over the back and then down the sides of your puppy. Again, some puppies transform into adult hair quickly while others aren't in a full adult coat until a year of age. It sometimes takes 18 months for the hair to reach its full length.
Cleaning the Ears
Ear cleaning is usually the job that most people don't want to do and the job that most dogs don't want to have done. The first thing you should know is that, unlike humans, you cannot damage your dog's ear drum. When you look into the ear, you'll notice the canal or "hole" goes straight down. The hole then turns at a 90 degree angle and leads to the ear drum. This abrupt turn in the canal prevents anything you put in there from touching and damaging the ear drum. The second item of importance is that you should always keep your dog's ears dry. Moisture in the ear will lead to infections.
To clean the ears, I recommend using baby wipes. Most all baby wipes contain alcohol. Alcohol will evaporate our of the ear, keeping the ears dry. They smell nice and are convenient too. If you don't have baby wipes, you can use Q-tips and cotton balls dipped in rubbing alcohol. A cotton ball works great for the outer ear, just rub a little and the dirt and wax will come off. To clean in all the crevices of the outer ear, use your Q-tip or take a corner of your baby wipe and twist it. It will create a long, sturdy portion of the wipe that will easily fit into all those places that hold dirt! Lastly, clean down it the canal. Remember, you can go all the way down without hurting your dog. Do the other ear and you're done!
Trimming the Toenails
Trimming the toenails is actually quite easy, as long as your dog complies. But most people are afraid to do it. You can take you puppy to the vet or to the groomer just to have their toenails trimmed, but you'll pay a fee, usually around $10. I recommend that puppies have their toenails trimmed once a week, and adults every other week. Puppies nails grow more quickly because they are being fed a high protein diet, and their nails grow right along with the rest of their body. We trim our puppies nails from the first week they are born, so they are used to having the procedure done. If you continue to trim the nails on a regular basis, your dog won't mind. To them, it's just part of life. But if you don't do it for quite some time, you dog may object to having it's nails, or even his feet touched, let alone trimmed.
For puppies, I recommend trimming nails after they've had a long walk or play session. They will be tired and less likely to wiggle around. Most Goldens have white or light brown toenails, so you can visibly see the pink part of the toenail, the quick. The quick is the blood vessel. If you cut this, it will cause some discomfort at first and will bleed. Depending on how far you cut into the quick depends on how much it will bleed. This is usually what scares people. But if you can visibly see the quick, you should be able to trim the nail as short as possible without cutting it. If you do cut it, just apply a cotton ball or cloth to it with slight pressure. It will stop bleeding and its not the end of the world. Just continue on with the rest of the nails. If a dog's nails are trimmed the appropriate length, you WILL NOT hear the clicking of the nails when the dog walks on hard surfaced floors. The only exception to this rule is if your dog has long quicks within its nails. If a dog's nails go for a long period of time without being trimmed, the quick will start to grow longer too. Then, even when the nails are trimmed as short as possible, they are still longer than ideal.
Brushing the Coat
As you may have guessed, brushing your dog is the most time-consuming part of grooming. The more often you brush, the less time it takes to complete. On average, if you brush once a week, it will take around 30 minutes (for an adult Golden with a full coat). If you brush every day, it will only take around five to ten minutes. While I am by no means a professional groomer, I am experienced in grooming Goldens to make them look their best. While it may not be ideal for the show ring, it's great for your best friend!
Always brush your dog in the direction the hair lays, from nose to tail, and from the back down to the ground. I always start with a pin brush and brush the head and ears, followed by the hair underneath the ears. Next, I brush the chest, still using the pin brush. I then switch to an undercoat rake and brush the back of the dog, stopping at the base of the tail. Next, I brush each side of the dog, starting at the back where I left off and stopping where the feathering begins on the belly. Do NOT brush any feathering with the rake! It will cause much more of the feathering to pull out than necessary. I then go back to the pin brush and brush the featherings on the front legs, the belly, the hind legs, and finally the tail. Be very delicate around the genitil area, and around female's teats, as the pin brush can be painful to these areas. I do not like slicker brushes because they seem to break the hair. Pin brushes seem to avoid this problem.
If your dog has any tangles or mats, first address how bad they are, and then decide what to do with them. You can either cut them out of the coat, or try to comb them out. Unless the mat is huge and in a conspicuous area, I usually cut them out. It's much less work for you, and less tiring on the dog. To cut a mat out, always place a comb between the skin of the dog and the mat. Then place your scissors against the comb and cut away the mat. The comb helps you from cutting the skin of the dog. To comb out the mat, you will need lots of patience. Some de-tangling spray can be helpful too. Using an undercoat rake or a flea comb, start slowly combing the very end of the hair on the mat. At the same time, hold onto the mat where it meets the skin, to help release the tension to the dog coming from all the pulling and combing. Slowly the mat will come out and you can work your way to the skin. After you've successfully combed out a mat, you won't allow your dog to develop another one!
Bathing Your Golden
Always brush your dog before bathing it. If you fail to remove dead hair and comb out tangles and knots, you will make your problems worse! Water will cause tangles and mats to tighten and become bigger. Lots of dead undercoat left on your dog will hold the shampoo and will not rinse out properly, leaving your dog looking worse off than before he had a bath.
When it's time to bathe your dog, get all of your necessary supplies ready. You will need your shampoo of choice, towels for drying off your dog, a bath mat or additional towel to lay in the bottom of your bathtub so your dog doesn't slip or scratch your tub, and a leash if your dog tries to escape. Wet your dog down completely, being careful not to get water in the ears. Apply shampoo and work into a lather. Avoid getting shampoo in the eyes. Don't forget the common areas many people forget to wash on a dog, in between the front legs, the armpits, and the genitilia. Rinse your dog thoroughly. Just when you think you have all the soap off, rinse a little more. You do not want to leave any shampoo in your dog's coat. After you are done rinsing, run your hands all over the body, checking for any left over shampoo. Rinse again if you find any. You can follow up with a conditioner if you wish. Towel dry your dog. If you wish, you may then dry your dog with a hair dryer (on a low setting). Once your dog is completely dry, brush him again to finish up his new look.
Vaccinating Your Dog
Vaccinations have been a staple in dog care for many decades now. They help prevent disease, especially the fatal diseases parvovirus (parvo) and distemper. The following is Genuine Goldens vaccine schedule. You may follow this schedule or ask your veterinarian for his or her recommendations.
6 weeks of age...2 in one vaccine 9 weeks of age...2 in one vaccine 12 weeks of age 5 in one vaccine 16 weeks of age 5 in one vaccine and Rabies vaccine *1 year of age... 5 in one vaccine and Rabies vaccine 2 years of age... 5 in one vaccine 3 years of age... 5 in one vaccine 4 years of age... 5 in one vaccine and Rabies vaccine
5 years of age and up...repeat from the * (annual booster vaccine and Rabies vaccine every 3 years)
De-worming Your Dog
De-worming, or worming as many call it, is essential to your puppies well-being. All puppies are born with worms, and there's really no way of avoiding worms altogether. This is why you puppy should be on a regular worming schedule. The most dangerous worm is the heartworm. Heartworms are extremely fatal, as they choke the heart. Monthly preventative is highly recommended. The following is Genuine Goldens worming schedule. Consult with your veterinarian for his or her advise on worming your dog or puppy.
2 weeks of ageNemex 4 weeks of ageNemex 6 weeks of ageSafeguard 8 weeks of ageNemex, start monthly heartwormer and give EVERY month
10 weeks of age Nemex
12 weeks of age Safeguard, and give EVERY 2 months
Socializing Your Puppy
Socialization is critical for a well-rounded dog. Socialization is the process of exposing your dog to a wide variety of sights, sounds, smells, and experiences. A well-socialized dog is not afraid or aggressive in uncertain circumstances, such as a trip to the veterinarian. Many dogs are afraid of the vet for a variety of reasons. Many are afraid of the flooring itself, usually tile or linolium. The smells of the vet are of many other animals, medications, and cleaners. Then there are always other animals there and strangers your dog won't know. To a puppy who was never socialized, this is a nightmare. To a well-socialized dog, this is a walk in the park.
Socializing your dog can be done at any age. However, the most critical time to socialize is when your puppy is very young. Around seven weeks old, a puppy's brain is like a sponge. They soak up everything and learn quickly. By socializing your puppy at a young age, and then periodically thereafter, your puppy will be prepared for most anything. Take a look at how dogs are trained for the blind or as service dogs. They start in puppyhood and are usually raised by "puppy raisers". Puppies are obedience trained and then socialized to be accustomed to a variety of situations. It's not for a good year or two after socialization is established that true training for the dog's job begins.
Before you start socializing your puppy, be aware that there are two extremes that you want to AVOID when it comes to socialization. The first extreme is of course NOT socializing your puppy at all. The second extreme is socializing your puppy only with you and creating serious separation anxiety whenever you leave your dog. Taking your dog with you everywhere you go is not socialization.
How to Socialize Your Puppy
You can start socializing your puppy as soon as you bring it home. Remember, your objective is to make your puppy comfortable in almost any situation, so the ride home is his first socialization event! The following is just a few ideas on places and things in which to accustom your puppy:
Entering and exiting your vehicle (must wait until he's big enough to get in and out by himself)
Riding in the vehicle in restraint (crate or seatbelt)
Meeting new people
Meeting new FRIENDLY dogs
Walking by passing vehicles
Walking into strange homes or buildings
Walking on a variety of surfaces (grass, dirt, gravel, carpet, linolium, hard-wood floors, etc)
Exposing your puppy to sharp, loud noises (thunder, gun shot, passing train, a dropped book, loud TV or stereo). *Please remember loud noises can damage your puppies ears and they should be avoided, but it's good to socialize for them, just in case.*
Praise can be your best friend or your worst enemy when it comes to socialization. The key to remember is to only praise or give a treat when your puppy is showing the desired response to each situation. For example, if your puppy happily greets new people and dogs, give them lots of praise. If they hide or run from loud noises, do not pet or soothe the puppy. While you are only trying to comfort the puppy, you are actually telling him that it's okay to be scared. Puppies associated whatever behavior they are doing as a good thing when they are praised for it. You must correct the puppy and teach him the desired behavior, then praise him when he does what is expected from him.
Training Your Puppy
Training your puppy should begin the day you bring him or her home. At seven to eight weeks of age, a puppy's brain is like a sponge. Golden Retrievers are very intelligent and learn quickly. It often only takes a few repetitions of desired behavior for a Golden to learn it.
There are MANY methods out there to achieve a well-trained dog. You can take your dog to an obedience school/trainer, where you often leave your dog for several weeks while it is trained. When you pick up your fully trained dog, you are taught how to keep his new skills sharp. There are also obedience classes that you attend with your dog. These are usually weekly, and an instructor teaches a group of people how to train their own dogs. You practice at home with your dog, then have the opportunity to bring questions and concerns with you back to class. This is often the best option for those new to training dogs. Another option is train your dog at home yourself by using self-help resources (books, internet, videos). All three ways will work, but you must choose the option that works best for you and your dog.
Here at Genuine Goldens, I prefer to use clicker training. I was introduced to clicker training in 2000 when I attended a training "camp" with my dog, Daytona. The camp was led by Debbie and Joanna Smith, dog trainers with dogs titled in obedience, agility, and therapy. I was amazed, and have relied on these techniques ever since. There are many, many books and web sites dedicated to the subject. Instead of trying to describe how to do this in my own words, I've provided links to excellent website articles on how to accomplish this.
Clicker Training Basics