How to Care for a Golden Retrieverby Quentin Coleman
Golden retrievers are a sociable, people-loving breed that make great pets for families with young children. They are medium- to large-sized dogs that weigh between 50 and 80 pounds. Aside from their amiable personalities, golden retrievers are also obedient and relatively easy to train. Unfortunately, like many other recognized breeds, golden retrievers have their share of genetic weaknesses and caring for them can be high maintenance. Exercise, interaction and regular visits to a veterinarian are all necessary to keep your dog healthy and happy.
Acclimate your golden retriever to his new environment slowly when you bring him home. Puppies tend to adapt to new surroundings quicker than adults, but it is a good idea to confine your new dog to a single room or floor for his first few days. While golden retrievers are rarely aggressive, the stress of a recent move may cause him to react unexpectedly if you startle him. Feed your dog the same type of food that he ate before you began to care for him. If you want to switch food brands, do it by slowly mixing the new brand with the old, increasing the portion of new food each day.
Monitor your dog's behavior for the first few weeks after you introduce him to the household. Both puppies and adults may have a disease or medical condition that is not yet apparent, so it is important to watch for signs of pain, lethargy, lack of appetite and aggressiveness. Consult a veterinarian if you notice unusual or suspicious behavior. For golden retrievers, the four most important areas to monitor are their hips, elbows, eyes and heart, according to the Golden Retriever Club of America. The breed has a genetic predisposition towards medical difficulties in these areas.
Exercise your golden retriever every day. The breed is known for its energy and playfulness, and goldens need some rigorous activity to get the excitement out of their system. Throw a ball or stick for your dog to fetch for about 20 minutes twice a day, or facilitate a similar workout for your pet. This may seem like a big time investment, but it is a necessary part of your dog's daily life. Golden retrievers that don't get enough exercise time are likely to pester their owners or damage objects inside the house out of boredom, according to Gaylan's Golden Retrievers.
Take your dog to a veterinarian for a checkup at least once a year. Golden retrievers have various genetic weaknesses that expose them to various ailments, including cancer and bleeding disorders. They are also susceptible to joint dysplasia in both their front and hind legs. One of the most important parts of a golden retriever is his heart examination. Retrievers have a natural tendency to have heart disease, and the symptoms may be impossible to notice for a dog owner without medical training.
Brush your dog's entire body several times a week to keep tangles from matting his hair. Brushing more often keeps your dog comfortable, particularly in the summer, and helps prevent your dog's hair from shedding all over the house. You can also trim your dog's hair with scissors or take him to a grooming parlor several times a year to thin and neaten his coat. Bathe your dog in a bathtub with room temperature water and canine shampoo as necessary.
Examine your dog's teeth every few months by gently lifting his lips with your index finger. Wash your hands thoroughly or wear disposable gloves before touching your dog's mouth. Consult your veterinarian if your dog has unusually bad breath for an extended period of time, or if his teeth begin to discolor. You can brush your dog's teeth on a semi-daily basis at home, or take him to a specialist for cleanings several times a year. Only use toothpaste designed for dogs, although you can use a normal toothbrush. Feed your dog hard treats instead of soft ones to reduce tartar buildup and bad breath.
- Golden retrievers benefit from obedience training. You can train your dog yourself, but enlisting a professional or training class enables him to socialize with strangers and may be more effective than home training.
- Don't neglect your dog's annual vet visit. Many of golden retrievers' natural health problems have few early warning signs, but are relatively easy to identify with the right equipment.
- golden retriever image by chirny from Fotolia.com