Golden Retrievers are known for their sweet disposition. However, not all Golden Retrievers may be super sweet dogs, especially around children. So as a parent, you may be wondering whether it’s safe for this large breed to interact with your kids.
Golden Retrievers can be great with kids. After all, they were bred to retrieve in water, so they have relatively calm personalities (though they can still get easily excited). For the most part, they’re not timid or nervous and will happily follow and play with your kids. But even so, Golden Retrievers will need proper training before they can safely play with children.
There’s no denying Goldens are some of the world’s most popular dogs. I mean, they’re popular family dogs for a reason, right? In this article, we’ll take a look at how Golden Retrievers can make wonderful additions to any family with children.
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Table of Contents
The “Golden” Temperament
The Golden Retriever is a playful, intelligent, and obedient dog. What’s more, he is well-mannered and always eager to please. Golden Retrievers can cope well with family life and are very active.
They are always keen to go on a walk. Another reason they’re great with kids is that they mature slowly. They are always happy to act like a silly puppy for a long time after they reach maturity.
The Golden Retriever ranks 3rd in the U.S. in terms of popularity according to the American Kennel Club (AKC) and it’s easy to see why. They’re one of the best family dogs!
These dogs are great company on family holidays too since they do get sad if they are away from their people. Normally though, Golden Retrievers are happy dogs. You will often see them wagging their tails in happiness.
As previously mentioned, they don’t make the best guard dogs – they will greet everyone who comes in the door. They rarely bark, but when they do, it’s not in a protective way. Still, it doesn’t mean Golden Retrievers can’t be guard dogs.
Golden Retrievers with Toddlers & Babies
Golden Retrievers are one of 5 breeds listed as being good around babies according to She Knows. They are good around babies because they are patient and protective.
Their instincts to protect is very strong and so they will develop a lovely bond with a new baby in the family. Still, it’s absolutely crucial you never leave a baby unsupervised with a Golden Retriever (or any dog). They are still animals.
Let’s explore the best methods to introducing your Golden Retriever to a newborn or infant. It’s best to try out all of these methods to see which works the best.
Introducing the Baby
If you already own a Golden Retriever when a new baby arrives, you need to prepare your dog for his or her arrival. Perhaps introduce the baby furniture into the home in advance and let your dog take a look and have a sniff.
Also, introduce your dog to some smells and sounds associated with having a baby around the home. This will help your Golden Retriever create a close, protective bond over your newborn from the start.
It is a good idea to socialize Golden Retrievers with young children from puppyhood. This will make the dog happy and relaxed around children throughout his or her entire life.
Before introducing your Golden Retriever to your baby, try to bring something to him that has your baby’s scent. Perhaps a hat, a bib or a blanket. This way, your dog will feel as though he already ‘knows’ your baby upon the first meeting.
It’s very important to know, however, that no matter how calm a dog is, he should never be around a baby unattended.
Golden Retrievers are big dogs that don’t always realize just how big they are. So although they probably won’t deliberately hurt a baby or child, they might do so accidentally.
Behaviors to train into your Golden Retriever prior to bringing back a baby:
- Ensure your dog knows which rooms they are allowed to be in and which ones they are not.
- Train your dog not to play or jump at the baby (or any humans for that matter).
- Try to train your Golden Retriever to spend some time alone. Unfortunately, their presence will sometimes have to take a back seat now that there is a baby on the scene. It’ll be tough, but you can train them to accept short amounts of alone time.
Make sure to go through this process before letting your Golden Retriever interact with a baby. Even if your dog is well trained, I’d still be cautious at all times.
Raising a Golden Retriever with Kids
Obviously, a lot of the same information from the previous section still applies to small children. For example, it will still be important that your Golden Retriever is always supervised around your children to prevent any accidental knocking over!
Toddlerhood is the ideal age to encourage a loving bond between dog and child. A great way to do this is to include your toddler in your dog’s care and daily life. For example, helping to groom, feeding or playing with the dog.
This will also help your Golden Retriever see your child as a figure of authority, which is extremely important. The last thing you’ll want is for your dog to boss him or her around. The dog could also establish self-dominance over the pack of kids.
Be aware, however, that if you have a Golden Retriever puppy around a toddler, it is likely that the puppy will view your child as another puppy!
Teaching Kids to Be Around Golden Retrievers
Children, especially young ones, won’t appreciate a dog’s need for appropriate boundaries and interactions. Even the gentlest of Golden Retrievers will get fed up while being pulled about, teased or bugged.
With that said, it’s extremely important to teach children to be gentle and respectful of dogs. Just as you wouldn’t tolerate your child repeatedly tapping another child, don’t let them do this to your dog.
Make sure you teach your child to:
- Not pull your dog’s ears, fur or tail (This can be very hurtful and shock your Golden Retriever).
- Not grab or hit your dog.
- Stroke your dog gently and in places that are appropriate.
- Use gentle voices with no squealing or yelling (Some dogs are hyper-sensitive around loud or sharp noises).
- No running at the Golden Retriever. It may startle the dog.
If your children cannot obey these simple “rules,” then they may be too young to play with your Golden Retriever. It’s better to wait until they’re old enough to respect these dogs.
Training Your Golden Retriever for Children
They really love praise and treats too. In other words, they do best when you use positive reinforcement and lots of delicious snacks. Leash training a Golden Retriever can be a bit hit and miss though, so it’s best to start young.
Training your dog is so important. There are some Golden Retriever owners who don’t think they need to really train their dog since they are naturally good around children. However, don’t underestimate what a difference good training can make to your pet, especially around your kids.
This dog requires heaps of exercise (at least 1 hour daily). They need at least one walk a day. Golden Retrievers love any form of exercise, from long walks to fetch and swimming. They are also really sociable with other dogs and will love to play and run around.
Proper exercise is vital. Without it, your Golden Retriever will be bored and unhealthy. If your Golden Retriever does get bored, this is when he will become less obedient and more destructive around the home.
This isn’t great for anyone, especially at home with children who will get upset if their toys get chewed. If you are unable to provide your Golden Retriever with enough physical exercise on a daily basis, the chances of aggression may also increase.
It’s been known that Golden Retrievers are some of the smartest dog breeds, ever. In fact, they’re the fourth most intelligent in terms of working and obedience intelligence.
The “problem” with smart dogs is that you’ll need to keep them mentally stimulated. Mental stimulation can come in many forms, such as obedience training, dog puzzles or smart toys.
It just needs to be something your Golden Retriever can keep his mind busy with. With that said, I’d highly recommend getting your Golden Retriever some puzzles for this. For example, the Nina Ottosson Dog Puzzle is one of my favorites.
This comes in three options, but I like the Hide N’ Slide variation. My Australian Shepherd loves this and can spend a great deal of time figuring out how to move the sliders to get to his favorite treats!
If you’re interested, check it out at here (on Amazon).
Another fantastic puzzle for your Golden Retriever is the StarMark Bob-A-Lot. It may not seem that impressive, but it’s a great way to make your Golden Retriever work for his or her meals/treats.
It comes with two chambers, meaning you can put both your dog’s favorite treats and kibbles in there. For your Golden Retriever, make sure to get a large size. You can check it out at Amazon here.
You don’t absolutely need to pick one of these dog puzzles that I suggest. What’s more important is you find something for your Golden Retriever. If you have the time, constant obedience training is the best.
Mental stimulation keeps your dog occupied and healthy, decreasing the likelihood of unfavorable behavior around your children. It’s perhaps just as important as physical activity, if not more.
Are Golden Retrievers Right For My Family?
Golden Retrievers are without doubt one of the best family dogs for children. Whether you have infants, toddlers or small children – a Golden Retriever will adapt.
Just make sure you provide the necessary training for both your kids and dog. These dogs are generally sweet and kind, but still need to learn how to be around kids.
Socialization is a must, especially if you’re bringing home a toddler. The more socialization training they receive as puppies, the better. Bring them to dog parks, family outings and more.
A Golden Retriever will thrive in a situation where they feel like they’re part of the family. If you can provide this atmosphere for your dog, I’d highly recommend a Golden.
There are so many things great things about these dogs and few families have ever regretted bringing home a Golden Retriever. Give them a chance and you’ll certainly be pleased.
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