How to Stop Attention Demanding from a Golden Retriever Puppy

By: Sam Kanouse

Published Date: June 27, 2017

Boomer is a 7-month-old, male Golden Retriever puppy who lives in Omaha. His guardian called to set up a dog behavior training session with us to improve leash training and to become more respectful of his guardian’s space.

Boomer was behind a gate when I walked into the home, but was showing excitable behavior by barking and attempting to get over the barrier. After filming I asked the guardian to take down the barrier so I could see how Boomer would great a new guest. He immediately started jumping up on me and started mouthing at my arm and hands, which is common puppy behavior.

When dogs are young puppies they greet other puppies and older adult dogs by jumping up on them to initiate play behavior. However, while it is often cute when young puppies are leaping up, but as they get older it isn’t cute any more. It is important when getting a young puppy to start teaching them new greeting behaviors right from the start by asking them to sit when greeting guests.

When I sat down with the guardian to discuss Boomer’s behavior issues, Boomer was relentless at demanding attention by invading personal space, mouthing and barking. I redirected his attention by giving him a bully stick to chew on. Having plenty of toys and bones to chew on is necessary when raising a puppy, even if they are past the teething stage.

Boomer didn’t have any rules in place and although he is still a young puppy, he had established himself as the leader in the house. I gave his guardian some new rules to follow to help Boomer start to see himself in the follower position, such as: no furniture for 30 days or longer if the unwanted behavior persists, sitting before going out the door and petting with a purpose.

Petting with a purpose is our way of paying the dog for good behavior. Whenever you pet your dog you should ask them to do something beforehand such as, sit or lay down.

Boomer was very resistant to the first leadership exercise we tried; he is a smart dog and was resisting the change in leadership position in the house. Because Boomer had a lot of energy I decided to try a different exercise called the reverse sit. The reverse sit asks the dog to look to their guardian for direction. This exercise was much more successful because we could take advantage of Boomer’s energy and use it in an exercise to keep him moving forward.

See the video below to see how we helped Boomer to look to his guardian for direction.

As you can see in the video, Boomer was still resistant to giving up his leadership position, but with a couple of repetitions he started looking up to his guardian. As an added bonus this exercise will also help Boomer stop pulling on the leash during walks.

One of the keys to improving Boomer’s puppy behavior is to allow him to still have fun and release energy during training and behavior exercises. The reverse sit was successful because it achieved movement and became a fun “game” for Boomer to play with this owner. In order for Boomer to continue this good behavior on his own, his guardian will need to practice this exercise over and over again.

Golden Retrievers were bred to be companions and retrieve game for their owners. While they have a lot of energy they also want to please their human companions. Giving Boomer the opportunity to make his guardian happy by learning new tricks and behaviors is a great way for the two of them to bond and continue on their path to success. Since Boomer loves to move, he would benefit from any competitive dog sport like agility or tricks that involve movement. His guardian could teach him how to “dance” by having him learn to move around the room with her, similar to the reverse sit exercise. She could teach him how to walk by her side and mirror her movements. This would reinforce her leadership position and create a fun exercise that Boomer would enjoy.

The exercises that I introduced during the session, combined with plenty of exercise, rules and structure should allow Boomer to adopt a follower’s mindset, which will help him stop barking and demanding attention.

We wrapped up this session with Boomer’s Road Map to Success video, which you can watch below.

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This post was written by: Sam Kanouse

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