Now, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Golden’s are highly intelligent, they are working dogs after all! But it’s just a question of how clever are they? A study of 208 dog obedience judges from the US and Canada concluded that they ranked as the 4th smartest breed, behind Collies, Poodles and German Shepherds. To put it into perspective, they have the same intelligence as a toddle and can learn up to 150-170 words!
These dogs are quick to pick up commands and also retain a lot of information, given consistent training, and so their popularity as service dogs is a perfect fit for this breed. They are at their happiest when mentally occupied. And this can be achieved either as a working dog or in a mentally stimulating home environment. Golden’s can be more than happy in a family home as they are social dogs and aim to please! Their history of working closely with their human counterparts translates into their behaviours even today. If you don’t work your Golden, you can put their intelligence to good use in the home! Keeping them mentally stimulated throughout the day by getting them to help around the house is a perfect way to keep them happy! You can have them helping to empty the tumble drier, or putting their own toys away in a box, just anything that pleases you whilst also making them engage their brain is ideal!
With their training, you can start with simple commands almost as soon as you welcome them into your home! (Let them get settled first of course!) But they are extremely receptive to learning even from 8-10 weeks old. As mentioned earlier in this video, we know that they have the capacity to learn a lot of words. However, you still want to keep the first commands they learn to simple, single words. So ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘wait’ ect. As they mature, you can start to introduce more complex commands. It is still important to keep the first, simple commands throughout their training, even as they mature. This keeps everything fresh in their mind and it also tests their capacity to retain information! Be sure to make it fun. For example, as they get older, you can introduce new toys to them and teach them a name for each toy! This way you can test their memory and make a game of fetching specific toys to you!
Now, due to their people-pleasing nature, they respond extremely well to positive reinforcement. That can be with a tasty treat or even simple praise! Try both from a young age and you’ll quickly learn which one your Golden prefers. Consistency is still key when training an intelligent dog. Don’t think that because they retain information that you can teach them until they know and then stop training them! They still need daily training to stimulate them mentally. A bored dog becomes a destructive one very quickly! If you don’t always have time to do a full training session. You can, on occasion, give them puzzles to figure out on their own. Puzzle feeder are perhaps one of the best ways to keep a clever dog happy and out of mischief! You can forgo feeding them in a bowl, just using a puzzle feeder a couple of times a day at mealtimes will kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.
So, to recap this video. A Golden Retriever is in the top 5 most intelligent breeds and are able to learn and retain over 150 words! Given the correct and consistent mental stimulation, they can be a joy in a family home! And they could even be taught to help with some of the chores! And whilst they are quick to learn, make sure to keep them occupied in a healthy and fun way, or they will become mischievous and even destructive! And lastly, a puzzle feeder may be your best friend so it’s worth looking into one if you decide on getting one of these fabulous dogs!