I thought training every dog would be similar. For the most part they are, but there are many differences depending on the breed. When I was younger I worked as an officer for La Sierra University. My friend and co-worker was a handler of a Belgian Malinois, also known as a Belgian Shepherd Dog. I was lucky enough to help train her. For the most part that meant being bit as the bad guy. When my friend was gone on trips or vacation, I was afforded the opportunity to take care of her. That meant feeding and exercising her. I had to learn her language, which was Dutch.
Around the same time my wife and I got two Alaskan Malamutes. I wanted to train them, and I chose Dutch as I was accustomed to. Alaskan Malamutes are one of the smartest breeds that exist. That also leeds them to be some of the most stubborn dogs out there. The hardest part for them was pulling. Since they were bred to pull, that is all the want to do while on leash. Constant training over many years finally paid off.
When we got our first English Golden Retriever it was a different scenario. I presume she was taught in Bulgarian or Russian. Not really sure as she doesn’t respond to either. Since she was a show dog, she didn’t sit on command very well. Most of the time at shows you want your dog standing, which she does really well. So I resorted to treats to get her to sit. Which has worked.
I’ve used freeze dried liver as a training tool. They are expensive, and I am not sure I will use them again. Previously I’ve used other types of treats that I have broken into pieces. Recently I was told about using Hot Dogs, cutting them up, and using them as treats. I have tried that, but I need to research the healthiness of it more. Hot dogs are really cost effective though. However, using hot dogs they are very anxious and hyper. That’s not necessarily a good thing when training.
For commands I started with sit, stand, lay down, stay. The equivalents in Dutch are zit, af, staan, and blijf. I did add stay in the second day of training. I only worked with her 5 minutes at a time, twice daily. Any more than that her attention diverts and she gets agitated and begins to hate the activity. With sit, stand and lay down I did them at random. That way she doesn’t know which command to expect next. If I only did two at a time, she would only learn the repetition and not the command. I also started with fetch, or apport when playing with her.
With Tina I used a choke caller for leash training. I don’t like the name choke collar, because that is not what you are doing. With malamutes I didn’t use them because indeed I would have been choking them. I used a madengail collar for them. For Tina though she didn’t pull that much. Her first time she bucked to obtain control. I kept turning in the opposite direction that she wanted to go. I wanted her to know that I was in control. After a short period, literally just two minutes, she stood right next to at my side. For malamutes I always had to keep them in check. With the Belgian Malinois they have to be in constant check because of the liability. With our Golden though, she just pays more attention. I use a choke collar because it is an instant message to the dog. It’s a pull and release action. No choking is involved. If there is choking involved, then it isn’t being done properly. I might try a madengail on our puppy to see if there is a difference, but so far I like the choke collar for goldens. I’m sure though most people will prefer madengail collars, probably because of the name. If I felt that she would be constant pulling then I would not use the choke collar. With her though, I don’t have that problem.
I still have a lot more to work on in training our goldens. It really is a lifelong journey. Dogs can always continue to learn something new just like humans. Training a golden retriever can be rewarding for the owner and the pet.
Below is a photo of my daughter, her cousin and her grandmothers puppy. I used the photo on Johanna’s grandmothers website, but since I took the photo, I thought I would share it here as well.