It doesn’t get much better than having an adorable Golden Retriever puppy around the house. We have had so much fun raising the pups, but have learned a LOT along the way. People joke about it, but it has definitely helped train us for the day we decide to have children. Here are some tips and advice we would like to share, and would love to hear other suggestions!
First and foremost, make sure your lifestyle and schedule are conducive for raising a puppy. If you are away from the home for more than 4 hours at a time, are frequently out of town, or do not have a large yard for the dog to play in – it may not be the best time of your life to get a puppy. Raising a Golden Retriever puppy will require a LOT of your time, 24 hours a day. If you cannot commit to this, perhaps you can look into adopting an older Golden that is already trained from your local Golden Rescue organization. Also, understand that at times puppies can be costly. Make sure you can afford to provide food, medical services, and treats and toys for your dog.
Items to Buy
Before you bring your bundle of love home for the first time, you should have your house stocked and ready to go with the following items:
1. Food & Treats (Talk to the shelter or breeder to determine what they are currently feeding them)
2. Water & Food Bowls
3. Kennel/Crate – Be sure to purchase the appropriate size, it should be just large enough for your pup to stand up in, and turn around in. You will have to buy at least two additional kennels as your pup grows, so I highly suggest searching on craigslist or other sites to save money. Or, simply buy the crate that lets you adjust the size as your pup grows. We like the wire crates, with a blanket hung over it to make it dark and cozy.
4. Collar, harness & leash – We like using a harness when they are so young when taking the for walks.
5. Toys – Buy A LOT! Teething toys are a plus – like KONG Binkies, Nylabones, etc. Make sure they are not too small, or anything that the puppy can ingest.
6. Puppy brush
7. Dog bed/blanket for inside the kennel/crate
8. Carpet Cleaner
9. Veterinarian already selected
Also, be sure to remove any poisonous plants from your home and backyard. This ASPCA site has a list of toxic plants you should review. Puppies will get into everything, so it is better to be overly safe than sorry.
Introducing your pup to its new home
The first couple of days with your puppy are very important. The pup will be alone and away from his/her pack for the very first time and will be very scared. Your pup will cry – a lot! But don’t worry, this will stop after a few days. Brad and I highly recommend kennel/crate training your pup. It makes potty training so much easier, and you can rest assure the puppy is safe and sound when you have to leave the home. Here are some steps on introducing your pup to it’s crate:
– Place the crate in a popular place in your home, wherever you spend the most time
– Keep the door open, and let your puppy explore inside and out of it
– Encourage the puppy to go inside of its crate, place treats inside it
– Bottom line: you want your puppy to love going inside of its crate because it always gets praised and treats
A great resource on Crate Training can be found here on the Humane Society’s Website. Be patient, crate training may take a while but the results are amazing! Your puppy will cry at night in it’s crate in the beginning, so you can anticipate a few sleepless nights. Don’t get frustrated, just understand that it is away from it’s mamma and is undergoing a big adjustment.
If you have another dog at home that you are introducing the pup to, it is suggested that you introduce them at a neutral location. Quincey is so calm and mellow, we did not do this and it worked out just fine. However, Quincey was not a big fan of Roxy the first couple of weeks she was around. It took just a little while, but now they are attached at the tail. The Humane Society also has a great resource on introducing your puppy to other dogs.
Say goodbye to your perfectly clean carpet, understand there there will be piddles. Potty training takes just a little while, but soon your Golden will get the hang of it. The first step is to always keep an eye on your pup. You can usually tell when he/she is about to piddle (usually they sniff around quite a bit and walk around in the same spot). As soon as you see the signs, bring them outside to the area where you would like them to go. Your puppy has a very small bladder, so take them to that spot at least once every thirty minutes (except during bedtime) and tell them to “go potty” in a loving voice. If they do go, praise them “gooooood puppy!!” – the more exaggerated the better – and give a treat. Be sure to feed your puppy at least an hour before it goes to bed, and of course take it out right before bedtime. After bedtime, set your alarm every 4 hours to get up and take the puppy out to go potty – that is, if your puppy doesn’t wake you up beforehand crying to go out. Again, this will take a little while – but your puppy will soon be a pro at the potty.
A couple important things, never yell at your puppy for going potty in the house. Once you catch them starting to go, simply pick them up and take them outside to finish. If they already went, just clean it up. Also, NEVER yell at your puppy if they went potty in their crate. Simply clean it out and put them back in it. You always want your puppy to love their crate, they should always be praised when inside of it. Think of it this way – it is probably your fault anyways because you didn’t take them out in time, so don’t yell at them.
Get On A Schedule
The more of a regular schedule you can get your puppy on, the easier your life will be. Try to wake up at the same time (although in the beginning the puppy will wake you up earlier than you like), feed them at the same times every day, walks, potty breaks, etc. This will not only help in potty training, but it will help you and your pup sleep a lot better. Plus, you’ll know how to plan the rest of your day.
Vaccinations, Spaying & Neutering
Your breeder or animal shelter should give you a packet explaining what vaccinations the pup has already received, and what it needs. Schedule an appointment with your Veterinarian to receive any additional shots your pup may need. Keep detailed records on all vaccinations your pup receives, and take note on your calendar when others are due.
Only if you plan on breeding your pup, spaying and neutering is HIGHLY suggested. Not only is healthier for your pup by preventing cancers and diseases, it will also help prevent behavioral issues. This is one of your number one responsibilities when owning a dog – please help control pet homelessness and spay/neuter your animal if you are not a breeder. Ask your vet on the best time to schedule this. We had Roxy spayed at 4 months, and she did great! Here is Roxy’s post surgery pic – poor pup!
Feel free to ask any questions or share your own experience raising your pup!