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Puppy Care & Training For Your Golden Retriever Puppy

Leaving behind their mother, litter-mates, first human family and only small part of the world they've ever seen, there's no doubt that going to a new home is a major day in a puppy's life, with potential to be highly stressful. But not only for them as it's a life-changing time for you too! Without preparation, bringing home a new puppy can be difficult and challenging time, but there are many things you can do to help things run more smoothly.
For first time puppy owners you may have many questions on how to prepare for those first few precious days and weeks to come. 
It's a lot to cover but extremely important too! So let's begin...

Preparing Your Home for A Puppy
You should treat the preparation of your home for the arrival of a new puppy in much the same way as you would for the arrival of a baby because the process is almost identical. You must be ready to provide every little thing your puppy needs in life, making sure they have water, are fed, comfortable, happy, catered for and safe.

A Nutritious Puppy Food
After trying almost every dog food on the market, I am now using Purina Pro Plan Puppy Shredded Chicken. I still believe that a raw diet is the best diet, however, with my schedule this isn't practical. If you would like to learn more about feeding a raw diet I will gladly help you through this process with your Golden Retriever puppy. 

Bowls For Food & Water
There is a bewildering array of dog bowl choices out there so choosing the best can be difficult. Looks and design aside, I recommend going for ceramic or stainless steel bowls because they are long-lasting, cannot be chewed and are easy to clean. I also recommend buying bowls with heavy rubber bottoms so they stay rooted to the spot and are harder to spill or flip over. Unless of course you buy bowls in a stand, then these problems are already solved.

A Puppy Crate & Bedding
A good crate is one of the most beneficial things you can provide for the good of yourself and your puppy. It speeds up the house training process, keeps your puppy safe and out of mischief when you can't watch over them, provides a place for them to escape to for relaxation when they wish...any many more good reasons. Provide bedding for your puppy to sleep on and I recommend Vetbed. Many puppies can chew and ingest normal bedding which can result in medical emergencies and Vetbed is the most durable bedding on the market. Once you know they won't chew their bedding, you can change to something more plush and stylish of your choice. As for a crate, I recommend a large wire crate w/a divider to grow with your puppy. Here is a link to give an example from

A Puppy Exercise Pen & Pet Barriers
It's all but guaranteed you will need to leave your puppy alone at some stage for longer than they can be fairly crated. During these times you need to provide a larger, but still safe enclosure to confine your puppy. You cannot allow your puppy free-run of your entire home, otherwise you'll find they potty, chew and otherwise cause havoc all over it, causing damage and putting themselves in danger. What I and many others do is confine their puppy to a single room by placing a pet barrier/baby gate across an entrance to confine them to one room, or you can buy and set up an exercise pen to safely hold them. Make sure if you use a gate that your puppy can't squeeze through, and if you use an exercise pen make sure it's too high for them to jump over and out. You might also like to buy a plastic sheet and some puppy pads to them to use as a potty in your absence. 

Puppy Chew Toys
Puppies chew a lot and they seem to prefer chewing phones, footwear and TV remotes more than anything else. All jokes aside, to prevent damage to your possessions you'll want to provide toys for them to chew on and actively direct all their chewing on to these toys. The best puppy chew toys on the market, strong and durable which is particularly important for retriever's are Kong toys. You can use them "as-is", but you can also stuff them with kibble, food treats, peanut butter or even frozen yogurt to make the toy interactive and keep your puppy's mind occupied and happy. Just make sure whatever toys you do buy are suitable for a puppy as many will be too large for their little mouths to begin with.

Interactive Puppy Toys
So you can play games with your puppy, provide exercise and mental stimulation, you will want to buy a few toys that encourage the two of you to interact. Balls for throwing and chasing, soft toys and ropes for playing tug, other toys for fetch, there are many available. Be sure to grab a few that will enrich your puppy's life. Just click on the photos below to order these toys.

Cleaning Supplies
Your puppy will have numerous 'potty training' accidents over the first few weeks. If they can smell in an area that they've been there before, it attracts them back for a repeat performance. So be prepared with an enzymatic, odor neutralizing cleaner that's specially formulated to completely remove all traces of urine and pet stains. Natures Miracle comes highly recommended.

Collar & Leash
You will need to buy a good leash and collar so you can keep your puppy safely under your control when out on a walk, also so you can lead them to their bathroom spot and keep them there to do their business instead of wandering off and forgetting what they're outside for. You will also need a collar to provide a place to attach an ID tag with contact information.
What Size Collar Do I Need:
There's no straight forward answer to this as Golden Retriever neck sizes can vary wildly. Males are larger than females, genetics play a part and some retrievers carry more weight than others. We love the Blueberry leashes and collars and here are a few options.

ID Tag
An ID tag is an essential means to be reunited with your puppy should the worst happen and you somehow lose them or they run away. So buy a good, durable ID tag, have engraved upon it your address and phone number and optionally you can include your puppy's name if you wish. 

Grooming Tools
Grooming is a fantastic way to relax and bond with your puppy and even though they won't need it, you should fake going through the process anyway. You need to get your puppy used to being touched all over because you'll be doing yourself, the vet and groomers you employ in future a massive favor! They need to feel happy with being bathed, happy having their coat and teeth brushed, their feet touched, nails clipped and having their eyes and ears inspected. To do so, you should fake going the process, getting them used to being handled, the sight and of the tools and so on. To achieve this, you will need to buy and get them used to the following items:
Dog Shampoo
Combs & Brushes suitable for a Retriever
Nail Clippers
Cotton Balls
Use these tools right away and often, and give your puppy praise and tasty treats as you go so they form positive associations with grooming. You want to get them happy and accepting of being handled and touched all over while a puppy, before they become a strong adolescent or adult when it becomes extremely hard to control them if they're determined. 

Puppy Proof Your Home & Garden
The process of puppy proofing your home is very much like baby proofing before the arrival of a child. Except a puppy is far more curious, active and destructive and can themselves into far more trouble. A puppy is a new-born. They're completely naive and clueless about the world around them, what's safe and what isn't and will explore and play with everything and anything until they're taught to know better. Everything is a toy and they will run and pounce and jump and chew on anything in their environment. It's cute to see, but can also be very dangerous. So before you bring your puppy home you simply must make it safe for them. 
As a brief summary, you want to pay attention to removing everything that's at puppy level such as electrical cords, low hanging curtains or fabrics, remote controls, footwear, things on end tables and low surfaces, plants, magazines and books-anything and everything they can get their paws on must be removed or made safe. For things you cannot move (skirting boards, table legs etc.) spray them with a bitter tasting chew repellent to discourage any chewing.

Create An Enclosed Safe Area For Your Puppy To Play & Sleep In
You shouldn't let your puppy have free roam of your home because they may potty everywhere and likely get into lots of trouble and even danger. To keep them safe while still providing an area for them to play in a stretch their legs, you want to restrict their access to a single room, or otherwise create an enclosed space for them. To do so, either buy a pet barrier or baby gate that goes across  doorway to restrict them to an easy to clean and safe room, or buy an exercise pen (puppy pen) to create an enclosed space in another room. I also strongly recommend buying a crate for many reasons, but initially, mostly just to provide the perfect place for them to sleep. I shall discuss crate training a little later. 

Decide & Set Rules & Routines-For Your Puppy & Everyone
Puppy's need food, water, toilet breaks, training, sleep, play and exercise, preferably at the same times every day because they get used to and thrive routine. They also need a set of rules to live by such as where you allow them to go, what they're allowed to do, how rough they can play, what they can chew on, what they can't, and many more rules besides. It's especially important to discuss all this if there's more than just you in your household so that everybody knows, understands and sticks to the same rules, as well as knowing who will do what for the puppy and when. All of this must be decided BEFORE you get your puppy home because consistency is a key part of raising a puppy successfully. Everyone must enforce and live by the same rules for your puppy to thrive. 
Initially they have no idea how you want them to behave, or how and when they can expect the things they want and need in life. The more consistent everybody is with the puppy, the quicker they will learn all this stuff and the happier everyone will be. So decide and write down if necessary when your puppy will have their needs met, make sure everybody knows who is responsible for each task and make sure everybody knows the rules. 

How Old Should A Puppy Be Before You Bring Them Home?
It's essential for a puppy to stay with their mother and litter-mates for the first 7 weeks MINIMUM of their life. The 7 to 14 week stage is the most impressionable for a puppy, where they bond strongest with people and must be socialized to all the sights, sounds and smells of the world so they grow up confident and comfortable with their surroundings. You really want to be a part of this process to make sure it's done correctly.  

Preparing For The Journey Home
The ride home is all about safety, minimizing stress and catering to your new puppy's needs. You have to expect some crying and whining because it's a highly stressful time for your puppy. So don't get worried or annoyed, it's perfectly normal. 
If you're driving home alone, placing your puppy in a crate is the best of all your options. Having a loose puppy in the car presents a very real danger of leading to a crash, they can easily climb out of a box and now is not the time to use a harness and car safety belt. If the crate is small enough you can place it on a front or rear passenger seat and secure it with the seat-belt. Fully line the crate with absorbent paper in case there are any accidents, this will keep most of the mess of your puppy and make cleaning easier. And finally, place a chew toy or two in the crate to keep your puppy occupied. They will likely ignore it and cry, but it's definitely worth a try. 
If you have another person to help you, your puppy can ride home in their lap if the journey is short. Though if longer, it's best you use a crate and the puppy can go between the two: The crate and their lap. 

Your Puppy May Get Travel Sick
Some puppies get travel sick during their first journey in a car so you should prepare for this. Take with you some towels, plastic bags, paper towels and deodorizer to take care of any accidents. 

What To Do When First Arriving Home
The very first thing you want to do is carry your puppy straight to the place you've chosen as their bathroom spot. Whether this in inside on paper, or a spot outside, as soon as your arrive home carry them there, set them down and wait for them to do their business before doing anything else. This might take 30 seconds or it might take 10 minutes, but patiently wait and when they go, praise them profusely. Well done! You've just started house training by getting off on the right foot. And then it's time your puppy got to explore the place that's now their new home and to meet their new family.

Shut Away Other Pets, Make Sure All People Are Calm
If you have other pets, now is not the time to introduce them. Shut them in another room away from the puppy as things are intense enough as it is. Of course, every person in the house will be excited and eager to say hello right away, but make sure beforehand you've instructed everyone to remain calm and quiet. It's especially important that you give instructions to children who can easily frighten your puppy if they get over-excited. Explain they have to be calm and gentle during the first introductions. 

Put Puppy Into Their 'Free-Play Zone' & Let Everyone Say Hello
After coming out of the car and their first toilet break, put your puppy into the enclosed room or exercise pen you've set up as their safe area and free play zone. Let them sniff and look around, getting used to the area and their new little world. You can now let people come and say hello. They should step into the puppy's area and get down to the puppy's level so they're less intimidating. Have people sit or kneel to greet them. Let your puppy explore and go to them, don't have people running over and scooping puppy up, this may frighten them. Once everybody has said hello, you should stay with your puppy, show interest but stay calm. Your puppy needs time to adjust and relax into their new world which won't be easy if everybody is over-excited. Keep them in the little puppy zone you've set up. There's no need to show them all the bedrooms and cubby holes of your home, there's plenty of time over the coming months to break them into the rest of your home. 

Allow Your Puppy To Sleep
After all the excitement, stress, massive change and huge amount of mental stimulation your puppy has just been through, they will likely need to sleep soon after arriving home.

What Behavior Can You Expect The First Day?
They might speed round like a little hurricane, sticking their nose into every little thing they can, yapping, bouncing and playing hyperactively. On the other hand they might feel completely overwhelmed, retreat into themselves and show reluctance to explore. They might slink into a corner silently and sit there watching their new world with wonder but apprehension, before falling asleep for hours. And when it comes to the first night they might sleep right through , or they might cry and whine the whole night. There's just no way of knowing so expect to see either extreme or anything in between and just accept that it's perfectly normal. 

What Can You Expect From Day 2 And Beyond?
As your puppy begins to get used to everything, their character will start to shine through and you will begin to see their true personalities. Exactly what this will be is different for every will be fun for you to find out! And by being the provider of everything they need in life, giving them all that is good, it will only take 2 or 3 days for your puppy to learn to love you and get excited and happy to see your when you turn up. Also, by following rigid schedules for feeding, play and potty breaks as described earlier, it will only take a few days for your puppy's body clock to fall into a routine. So your task is to set up and stick to these schedules, begin training your puppy and help them to learn how you want them to behave and when they can expect the things they need in life. 

How Much Should You Feed Your Puppy?
Puppies need to eat a lot because their rate of growth is very high. But you shouldn't feed them too much because being overweight is bad for their health. Generally speaking, you should follow the quantity guidelines that came with your puppy food, then adjust how much you feed depending on your puppy's body condition. You shouldn't be able to see their ribs, but with light pressure you should be able to feel them. If you can see them, increase their rations, if you can't feel them then reduce their rations. I recommend feeding 3 times a day until 26 weeks and then 2 times a day.

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