Some Thoughts About Growing Up and When to Start What?

7-8 weeks This is the time that the puppy goes from the warmth and security of the nest to see the outside world. New smells, new sights. It will all be very strange to puppy to start with, he may not venture far in the garden on his own. He may spend pennies etc just outside the door. Confidence will soon be built up and he will explore more and more during the first weeks. He may also seem afraid to go out in the dark, this is quite normal. Try not to have too many people or children to see the puppy during the first week, let him associate life is fun with your family first. He will also be learning his name and this must mean that when he comes to you something nice happens. Never call your dog and then scold him. If a telling off is necessary go to him and do it. Cuddles, praise and warm security are vital at this time.
8-9 weeks By now he will have been to the Vets and had his first inoculation. Now is a good time to try his collar. Get a little nylon one at this stage and then a larger one when he grows a bit more. Put it on and leave him, he will scratch and worry it for a bit and if possible leave him to sleep with it on. About an hour to start with is enough.

Although puppy cannot go out for a walk yet, try to take him out either in the car when collecting children from school or local shopping. If it is possible to carry him down the local High Street or similar this will pay dividends. It will get him used to noise, hooters, lights, loud music and people. It is guaranteed that if you take a puppy in your arms to the shops, you will be accosted by people dying to give them a stroke.

You may find the puppy is jumping up to you, and it is becoming a problem. Now is the time to curb this singularly annoying habit. The puppy is so pleased to see you, but if you make the mistake of picking him up, this will only encourage him to jump up more. Push him down gently from the shoulders, then get down to his level and make a fuss. He may be only small now, but a six month old weighing 50+lbs is another matter.

10-12 weeks By now the puppy should feel secure in their surroundings, be quite happy to be left, and your house training should be well underway. You may find them starting to leave some food. If this is the case the last meal at night can be dropped and tea given slightly later. This will also help with being clean all through the night.

The collar should be staying on for longer now and it is a good time to try the lead! Try clipping the lead onto the collar and allow the puppy to run about with it on. Supervise carefully, and take care not to tread on the end as he speeds past you being followed by he doesn't know what. After a little while pick up the end of the lead and very gently pull him towards you. Lots of praise must be given when doing this. You can then try walking along, not on a tight lead but with plenty of encouragement. If all goes well, try it outside. You may well get the 'bucking bronco' act, with the puppy jumping and pulling against the lead. Again lots of encouragement is needed, and praise for the smallest of steps. Bribery with titbits can also help.

12-16 weeks By now the learning programme should be well underway, short walks on the lead are permissible but be careful. If you have a safe area near you, it is an ideal time to let the puppy off the lead, but I suggest you take someone with you the first time. Go laden with biscuits and when you let him off the lead make a big fuss and then walk on slowly, Hopefully he will follow, he will be unsure of going off on his own to start with. Encourage him to take a few steps on his own away from you and then call him back and give him lots of praise, a biscuit and a cuddle and repeat the process. Although this may seem early to do this, it is much easier for the puppy to learn that coming to you is normal behaviour, rather than leaving it until 5 or 6 months of age when they can run much faster than you!

Try to find an obedience class near you who will take a puppy at this age, if you wait until he is six months (as some classes insist) many bad habits have started and the puppy is very strong which makes correction far more difficult. Sitting and waiting can be started when feeding and the waiting time can be lengthened gradually.

16-20 weeks You may find that your puppy urinates when you come home having left him, this is due to the excitement of seeing you, and will quickly be out grown. About this time the teeth are starting to change and teething, much the same as in babies, can be painful.

Another habit that can start about this time, is eating their own faeces, a disgusting one to say the least, but perfectly acceptable to the puppy! The simplest answer is to clear up after the puppy straightaway, and really scold them if they are caught in the act.

Jumping - about this time they will try to jump on furniture, attempt the stairs etc. The puppy must learn what is allowed and what is not, but be consistent, it is very confusing to allow the puppy to sit on the furniture one day, but not the next. A baby gate is quite a useful item of equipment to have available. If they are constantly trying to follow you up stairs, a gate across the bottom will stop them. You may also find it a boon if you wish to confine the puppy to an area, perhaps if they are wet or muddy.

21-26 Weeks By now your puppy will be getting quite big and new coat will be coming through thick and fast, they should be getting more obedient and trustworthy. Don't forget, that although they are nearly fully grown physically, mentally they are still very much puppies and it is all too easy to expect too much sometimes.
Lastly We live in a world where circumstances and situations can change dramatically. If you find yourself in a position where you can no longer give your Golden Retriever the love and attention they need, always contact your breeder first for help and advice.