A reader has recently taken on a golden retriever, after years of being a Labrador owner. Jeremy Hunt offers some advice.

A question about golden retriever training

Q: After many years of having Labradors, I have bought a working-bred golden retriever puppy. I know this breed has a reputation for being slow to mature and more challenging to train, but this youngster is a joy to work with. However, he is rather enthusiastic on the return when I send him for a retrieve and often circles me. How do I slow him down to enable him to present the retrieve correctly?

A: It’s great to hear you are enjoying working with your golden retriever puppy. A good golden doing his job well is beautiful to watch and often has a stylish way of working. But, as you say, golden retriever training can be challenging compared to a Labrador.

What you don’t want to do is destroy his enthusiasm, but you need him to learn to do his job in the right way.

The most tried and tested way to avoid a dog going behind you or circling you is to stand with your back against a fence or wall, so that the dog has nowhere to go but in front of you. But there are other things you could try.

  1. Reduce the length of the retrieve. A shorter distance means the dog needs to think about you and the delivery a lot sooner than if he has a long run back.
  2. Try getting down on your haunches, opening your arms wide and making as many encouraging silly noises as you think fit. All that encouragement should overcome any thoughts of going elsewhere. Do this with your back against a fence.
  3. Another option is to do both of the above but try sending him to retrieve down an incline so he has a bit more work to do on the way back, which acts as an involuntary braking system.

Golden retrievers do stay puppyish for longer than Labradors , so be patient. It will be worth it.