And an easily trained dog is sheer bliss. In my experience there is a certain personality in a dog that makes training easy. This in-bred temperament combined with people socialization from an early age is the difference between having a friend/helper for life and a troublesome companion. It is primarily for this reason that, in my opinion, Golden Retrievers are the ideal family pet. It’s one of the reasons I’ve owned them my whole life and couldn’t imagine life without one.
As far as training goes, the three most basic and important commands that a dog must learn are sit, stay and come. Working with Goldens, it has never taken more than a few sessions for them to obtain a basic understanding of these commands, and only a little more consistent work to ingrain these commands into their minds permanently. You don’t need a professional trainer. We aren’t. Neither do you need to spend hours per day. Anyone can do it.
Of course, this is assuming that the dog you’re working with has the necessary temperament and has been socialized properly. Dogs that do not fit these categories can probably still be trained, but it will require a much greater commitment on the part of the trainer, and the desired results may never be fully attained. I’m not saying it won’t happen, but it will be harder.
For the past week or so, I’ve been working with Mal to bring his training to the next level. Our plans are to mold some of our Retrievers into working game dogs, so, starting with Mal, I’ve started working with him on the sit, stay, come commands “notched up” a bit. My first goal is to solidify these commands in varied situations then move on to molding his retrieving play abilities (which he already loves and simply cannot get enough of) into reliable working abilities. For starters, he needs to obey commands no matter where he is; whether he is near me or far away. On command (which is a whistle blow), he must stop and sit exactly where he is:
And again in another area:
I should be able to walk away, sing a song, dance a jig and eat a canoli while a parade of raw beef and bacon dances just out of his reach. He must *stay* until he is commanded to do otherwise, no matter what. Here, “sit” and “stay” are being combined into one command. “Sit” (one blow of the whistle) really means “sit and stay”. Then, here I walk away:
And I continue to walk away until I am out of sight.
I stay out of sight for a while. Here I stayed for five minutes, but it could have been longer. I should be able to go in and eat breakfast and he should “stay” right where he is – and he does. Here I am walking back:
Now he receives the “come” command, a trolling whistle:
And he comes to my right side and sits:
“Did I do good? Huh? Did I??” / “Awesome Mal. Good boy!”
I can count on my fingers the number of sessions that it has taken to teach him these things. Next we move on to obeying commands when out of line of sight. It is such a joy to work with such a great dog. I love this guy!