Description

Golden Retrievers or 'Goldies' are a long-coated, large-sized dog breed. They are intelligent, loving and playful companions who keep the playful energy and joyfulness of a puppy well into adulthood. They are devoted to their owners which makes them easy to train and obedient, but also means that they get anxious when away from their family. Their heritage as waterfowl retrievers makes them obsessed with water and running.

Neonatal

During the first 4 weeks of your Golden Retriever's life, they should spend most of their time with their mother and litter-mates. It is highly unusual for the puppy's owner to care for them during this time and is best left to a responsible, reputable breeder. Your puppy's body will double in weight as their muscles, organs and bones develop.

Nutrition During the neonatal stage, your Golden Retriever puppy will get most of their nutrition from their mother's milk. At around 4 weeks you may wish to introduce a mush of minced protein such as beef, but always consult your vet first before changing your puppy's diet at this stage.
Health During this time it is important to monitor your Goldie for any infections, diseases or birth defects. Puppies are unable to urinate or defecate by themselves initially, so their mother helps them but may additionally require your assistance.

Keep your vet's contact details close by and educate yourself thoroughly on this stage of puppy development. By the end of this period, your puppy will be mobile and will explore the world mouth first — be sure to keep choking hazards and toxic foods out of their reach.
Behaviour During most of this time your Goldie will be asleep or inactive, but they will soon be playing with their brothers and sisters. After 3-4 weeks they will go through as much sensory development as a human baby does in a few months. It is important to avoid disturbing the puppies' mother as she will be likely be protective, but some interaction with the young pups is normal so they become used to human touch.

Weaning

When you take your Golden Retriever home (usually at around 8 weeks) you should provide them with lots of stimulation and attention. This is a formative time for your puppy and will be when they learn to walk, play, bite, hold their bladder, and interact with others. In this time your Goldie will learn who your family is and will quickly become attached. They will thrive on positive reinforcement, so make sure to praise good behaviour but never be harsh with them as they will be stressed by loud, angry voices.

 

Nutrition During the weaning stage, you should slowly introduce into their diet a nutritionally complete dog food which is appropriate to your Golden Retriever's large size and young age. This breed tend to not be fussy eaters but care should be taken to avoid overfeeding them as they are prone to obesity. Avoid any fatty dog treats and table scraps. You should also familiarise yourself with lists of toxic foods and plants to avoid as Goldie's love to snack.
Health During this time you should provide your puppy with a small, shallow bowl of clean water and refresh the contents frequently. Familiarise your Goldie with hair brushing early as this will become a daily necessity for their entire life. Golden Retrievers love being outside and in the water, so it is essential that they are accustomed to having human hands in their mouths, ears, between toes and around their hindquarters.
Behaviour Due to the changes in their environment, your Goldie will initially be under a significant amount of stress. It's important that you provide lots of attention and build your relationship early — this breed is very friendly and affectionate, but care should be taken to normalise cars, other animals, loud noises, rain and strangers as they are prone to barking.

Puppy

By the time your Golden Retriever reaches puppyhood their personality will be well developed and you will have a loving friend. Your Goldie will be full of energy and require lots of time exercising, such as running and swimming, which both appeal to their instincts as gun dogs. Your puppy will likely do well at training school, doing almost anything for a treat or cuddle.

 

Nutrition Your Golden Retriever puppy's diet should be based around a high quality, nutritionally complete puppy food. You may also wish to introduce them to fresh, lean raw meat — however, don't feed your puppy any meat you would not feed to a fellow human being. It is particularly important that you make sure your pup has the right diet at this time to encourage strong bone and joint development.
Health Golden Retrievers are energetic and require regular exercise to stay lean and avoid destructive behaviours from boredom. You can support their chewing instincts by providing large rubber toys for them to chew, which will also reduce plaque buildup. Cleaning inside their floppy ear is important later in life, so familiarise them with touching around their ears. After around 8 weeks your puppy will be due for some vaccinations, so they will need a checkup at the vet and to arrange for boosters after that.
Behaviour Golden Retrievers are energetic and goofy, meaning they will play with you, their dog friends, or any new friends they meet at the park indiscriminately. They will make bad guard dogs as even their barks at strangers are curious instead of aggressive. Train your puppy on a leash from an early age to avoid dragging — which can result in back and neck problems later in life. Obedience training is recommended, especially if you plan to walk your dog off-leash as they will sniff out bodies of water to swim in.

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