Dog Training

Are Golden Retrievers Easy to Train? – A Guide to Golden Retriever Training

Here's how Golden Retrievers are with obedience training.
Written by Richard Jeng

If you’re going to get a dog, you want to get one that’s easy to train. It will make your dog-parent duties much easier. However, some breeds are easier to train than others – but what about the Golden Retriever?

So, are Golden Retrievers easy to train? Yes, Golden Retrievers are easy to train. The American Kennel Club ranks them as the 4th most trainable dog breed. And, it’s not difficult to see why: their easy-going, people-pleasing and biddable demeanor make them very willing to follow commands.

The rest of this article will cover some essential information on training Golden Retrievers, including why they are so easy to train and the best ways to train them. To learn more about training your Golden Retriever, read on. 

RECOMMENDED: 35 Best Golden Retriever Mixes

Why Train Your Golden Retriever?

This might surprise you, but dogs were not always domestic animals. The origin of the domestic dog dates back to thousands of years ago, even though disputes exist over the exact period of history when dogs began living with humans. 

What is indisputable, however, is the fact that all dogs have always had to be trained to in order to cohabit with people. They were trained to be guardians, hunting companions and herding dogs, for example.

So why exactly do we train dogs? Humans began training dogs for two main reasons: to remove their aggressive tendencies and to perform specific tasks that make life a bit easier for humans. 

For example, the Golden Retriever was historically bred and trained to fetch shot game from long distances away. To be specific, these dogs specialized in retrieving waterfowl (aquatic birds) and duck. There’s a reason why they’re such great swimmers!

Hunters would shoot birds that would fall in unsavory places like swamps or lakes, and they’d train their Golden Retrievers to retrieve the animals they’d shot. Goldens were well-suited to this task due to their soft mouths and gentle grip

Nowadays, the reasons for training your Golden Retriever are a bit more mundane. Instead of training Goldens to retrieve ducks from lakes, most owners are much more interested in training their Retrievers to go outside to use the bathroom or to sit on command.

Indeed, the modern Golden Retriever owner has different motivations for training their dogs – here are some of the best qualities that make Goldens such trainable dogs.

Why Golden Retrievers Are Trainable

There are reasons other than obedience that makes the Golden Retriever intelligent dogs.

There are specific traits that make Goldens so easy to train. So if you don’t have much patience, these dogs may be perfect for you. Let’s discuss a few of the Golden qualities. 

Golden Retrievers are an amiable breed

The list of traits that make Golden Retrievers a likable breed is long. They are loveable, friendly, eager-to-please, fun, reliable, intelligent, obedient, hard workers, and generally have a warm temperament. 

These traits make it easier for the trainer to create a friendly bond with the Golden. As a friend of a Golden, your word will certainly be the dog’s command. 

It’s easy to become a Golden Retriever’s good friend. They have the “everyone is a friend” mentality, which also makes them lousy guard dogs. But the fact is, nearly all dogs will respond differently to different handlers.

Literally my best friend. It’s been a year and I literally itch to see this guy whenever I’m at school or away from home.

– Pinenipple_ (Reddit User)

Dogs tend to respond better in obedience training with those that have a strong bond with the dog. Just think about it. Some dogs may seem well trained, but what if a stranger tried to command the same dog?

The favorable temperament of the Golden Retriever makes it that much easier to develop a strong friendship between owner and dog. As such, obedience training will be much easier as well.

Golden Retrievers are quick leaners

In our list of the 100 smartest dog breeds, dogs are evaluated based on how quick they’re able to learn commands and how obedient they are. Based on this criteria, Goldens ranked number 4 among 138 breeds.

Only the Border Collie, Poodle and German Shepherd performed better than Goldens in the intelligence trials. However, these dogs performed better than standout breeds, such as the Doberman Pinscher and Labrador.

Goldens are pretty easy to train and most are food motivated. I’d recommend puppy school because you end up meeting others with puppies. 

– Knick007 (Reddit User)

Being the 4th “most intelligent” dog breed means that Golden Retrievers are able to learn a new command wither fewer than 5 repetitions! Imagine only taking a few minutes to teach these dogs a basic command.

And if you’re curious, the average-intelligent dog breed will need 25 to 40 repetitions to learn the same command. This means that Golden Retrievers are at least 5 times faster at learning commands than the average.

Goldens are obedient and biddable

A huge reason why Goldens are highly trainable is their superb level of obedience. If you firmly establish yourself as your dog’s master, you’ll have no trouble getting them to follow your orders. 

Another criterion tested in Stanley Coren’s dog intelligence trials was obedience. He was able to measure obedience based on the success rate that a breed would obey a known command on the first attempt.

Golden Retrievers did very well with obedience. As a matter of fact, they were able to obey a known command with a 95% or better success rate. On the other hand, average dogs saw just a 50% or better success rate.

Benefits of Training Your Golden

You should get a Golden Retriever because of their personality and not because they're smart dogs.

Training makes your Golden a better dog, but more importantly, makes you a better human! That being said, one key area of dog training is obedience.

An obedient dog will be saved the strain of being locked up when the owner has visitors or when he or she goes out shopping. And because Goldens love company, being the owner’s companion makes your dog happier.

Working with your dog in training helps you better understand the canine while being more attentive to its physical and emotional needs. Besides, you also get trained in patience, one of the aspects of emotional intelligence (EQ) in humans. 

So as you can see, putting some effort into training your Golden Retriever will improve both your dog’s behavior and your ability to be patient. It’s a win-win situation for both!

A trained Golden interacts better with people

Dog training is all about giving them social skills. An obedient, friendly dog will make time spent with the owner more enjoyable. Not only will they get along with other dogs, but they’ll get along with other humans too (including kids). 

It’s important that your Golden Retriever can work well with other dogs and humans apart from you and your family members. After all, there will be times when you won’t be around to provide warmth and comfort.

Even the shyest Golden owners will find themselves in situations where their dog must get along with another dog or another human from time to time. Training your Golden will go a long way toward facilitating that. 

This is another form of training, called socialization training. Some would argue that it’s even more important than obedience training. The purpose of socialization is to develop a happier and less fearful dog when faced with new situations and people.

A trained dog is a more intelligent dog

According to Psychology Today, training your dog makes them smarter. If you put in the effort to train your dog to follow certain commands, you’ll improve their cognitive abilities and make it easier for them to find solutions to problems

Here are a few of the intelligence-related benefits training your Golden can bring:

  • They’ll learn tricks easier: Smarter dogs will have an easier time learning new tricks. If you want your Golden to have a variety of tricks they can perform, training them will make the trick-teaching process a bit less complicated. 
  • They can solve puzzles: It might sound easy, but not every dog can solve puzzles, even with training. So, if your dog persists on the task until it is completed, you’ve got one more feather in your cap for great dog training.
  • They can better tell your emotional state: Why own a Golden if he or she can’t cuddle you when you’re feeling down? But not every dog can do that. Only the smart ones know when to hug you tight. 

While most dogs can be trained in all these aspects, not every dog breed will make it so easy for the trainer. Golden Retrievers are one of the few exceptions.

As we’ve discussed, some have the “golden traits” that make dog training that much easier while others don’t. Without a doubt, the Golden counts among those that are easily trained.

Difficulties in Training a Golden Retriever

The 35 Greatest Golden Retriever Mixes.

Yes, Golden Retrievers have all the qualities that make them trainable dogs. However, not all individual dogs are the same. The difficulty you’ll face in training your Golden Retriever depends on two primary factors:

  1. The temperament of your Golden Retriever
  2. The skill of the person training the Golden Retriever

While the average Golden Retriever is easier to train than most dog breeds, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to train a dog. Getting a knack for dog training can take years of effort and honing your skills. That’s why professional dog trainers exist. 

If you’re new to dog training, and you try to train any dog – even a Golden – it’s going to take you a while to get the hang of it. The process might be a bit easier if the dog you’re working with is familiar with you, but it’ll still take you some time to get it right. 

And just as not all dog breeds offer the same ease in training, not all Golden Retrievers are equally open to training. Dogs have personality quirks just like humans do, and some Goldens are going to be more stubborn than others. 

The difficulty in training your Golden can also depends on whether you’re working solo or in a group setting with other dogs. Golden Retrievers are a very social breed, and it can be hard for them to focus on training if there are other dogs around they can play with.

Owing to their high intelligence, Golden’s can also fool you with your training tricks. If you want them to perform a trick and they do not foresee a reward, they can decline until a treat is in sight.

Recommended for New Owners

Despite differences in Golden personalities and your potential deficits in the dog training department, the truth remains that Goldens are easy to train.

Obedience is in their DNA, and that characteristic carries over into dog owners’ homes all over the world. That being said, these dogs are highly recommended for even novice and first-time dog owners or trainers.

As long as you put in the effort to train them, you won’t have too much of a difficult time. So many thousands of owners have successfully trained a Golden Retriever. And, you can be one of them too!

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About the author

Richard Jeng

Richard has been raising dogs his whole life, including a Poodle, Pomeranian, Corgi and Australian Shepherd. He's always working with animal shelters and dog rescues because of his passion for all dogs. Fun fact: his all time favorite breed is the German Shepherd. Read More.

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