For this blog post, I want to focus on the “come” command. This command is one of the most unusual of all commands because it’s more than just an obedience command. “Sit”, “Stay”, “Lay”, “Heel” and many others are simply obedience commands that an English Golden Retriever can master after hours of repetition with distractions. Your white Golden Retriever is definitely doing great in these commands. “Come” is also an obedience command, but it’s a little more than that. We do train “Come” by using the word “Come” and an open palm tap to the chest. If you watch our YouTube videos you can see many videos of our pups listening to Cara or Kim or Nikki very attentively. What you don’t see is the relationship that we have built with your Golden Retriever. More than likely your Golden Retriever won’t “come” as easily and readily to you as they are coming to our trainers right now. Why? Because you haven’t built the relationship up with your pup. That takes time and trust. As you spend time with your pup and love on your pup, they will develop the desire to be with you. As you consistently reward your pup and reprimand your pup, your pup will develop trust in you. If you “fly off the handle” for no good reason or show lack of concern for your pup, or let your pup “get away with murder” then you will lose that respect and love that’s necessary for a consistent “come”.
Training Tips on Building a Relationship With Your New Puppy
First, spend at least a week without any structured obedience training and develop a loving relationship with your pup. Spend time with them and do not over correct them. Do your best not to correct them at all. The first week is always difficult because they are away from everything they know and are used to. The sights, the sounds and especially the smells are all different. Use this time just to have your pup get comfortable with you and learn to love and trust you.
Second, bribe them. Sounds horrible, but it works. English Golden Retrievers LOVE food and the fastest way to their heart is through their mouth. Carry treats with you everywhere at the beginning. Have some good soft treats, maybe chicken hot dogs or the other treats we recommended (even a Lickity Stik) when you go on walks or in public somewhere. When they start getting stressed, scared or distrustful, give them a treat and you will see their beautiful black eyes light up and many times their mouths will start knocking from pure excitement!
Thirdly, after a week or so start having a training session every day. The best time to train is when your puppy is very hungry. First thing in the morning or before their afternoon meal is the best time. Spend maybe 5-10 minutes tops working with their commands like you see Recherche Goldens doing. After they are done with their training session, give them their food. They are used to this routine as we have been doing it since 6 weeks of age. It will also get them to look forward to spending time with you.
The last thing I do want to prepare you for is a possible “rebellious stage.” Puppies, like people, can go through a rebellious phase. It’s what I call their “teenage years” and it happens between 4-10 months of age. It’s the time where for no good reason they just refuse to come. Sometimes it’s because the relationship hasn’t been built and sometimes it’s “just because”. It’s a very delicate time because if you are not careful you could cause permanent issues. You do not want to be overly harsh during this time. If you correct your dog strongly for not obeying “come,” then their rebellious period will turn into a very serious “fear period” which could last the rest of their lives. Just work through it with patience. Keep training them. If you have to, put them on a 20 foot leash and stretch it out. Reward them when they come. If they start going the other direction, you will have the leash handy to grab. You can also put treats near your doors, and so every time you call your dog to go inside you treat them. If they run away, the worst thing to do is to go after them and discipline them harshly. That just makes it worse. Just try to forget about it (I know that’s hard!). They will get over their “rebellious phase” typically around 10-12 months of age, as long as you don’t cause permanent damage.
Remember, your English Golden Retriever knows the “come” command for obedience, but the dog/owner relationship has to be strong for it to “come back to them!”