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Hey guys!

So here’s my situation: it has been growing harder and harder to get my 4 month old golden retriever to focus and behave while out and about. I got her at 11 weeks old, and she was very timid. I spent a lot of time building up her confidence and socializing her, and she’s is a great. She wants to run up to, meet, and play with nearly every person and dog she sees. She picked up some unfortunate bad habits about greeting and playing from a friend’s super hyper (and an aggressive playing) chocolate lab.

I can work on the play issues, but the crux of my problem right now is getting her to pay attention to me while we’re out and about.

She gets two walks a day, each between 40 minutes and an hour and a half. I don’t have my own yard, so I try to make the best of the multitude of parks in the area. Be it with fetch (she’s not too good at it, yet), playing chase, or whatever. She has her basic commands down extremely well- in my house. But outside, it’s a challenge to even get her to look at me.

I was using a clicker and treats for a while, but she somehow developed a reaction to them. I haven’t come across a treat yet that doesn’t cause her to get diarrhea for a few days, so that leaves me with warmed up hot dog- which I use exclusively for recalls.

Anyway, when I take her out, she wants to bolt off in every direction to sniff, pick up, chew, run, chase, play, and just be a dog. She will walk perfectly by my side (as I trained her with clicker/treats) when she has something of interest in her mouth…but as soon as she gets bored of it, she’s off to find something new. If she sees another person or animal, she wants to lunge over and play. I try my damndest to restrain her, get in front of her and get her attention- but she just tries to move around me. And then there’s the people: “Oh, I don’t mind! Let me pet her!”

Ugh.

So I guess my question is…am I expecting too much from a 4 month old pup? I know she needs to be a dog. She needs to explore and experience the world, as it’s all very new. But I can’t afford to not take her on these walks until she is well trained- she has too much energy to be cooped up inside.

Can someone offer a little insight, advice, or reassuring words? I sometimes feel like I’m on an uphill battle here, and its just getting harder.
 

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So I guess my question is…am I expecting too much from a 4 month old pup?
Yes and no. A 4 month old Golden can be a real gnat-brain. Mine sure was. But that's not an entirely bad thing. What you're seeing is curiosity, intelligence, friendly self confidence, and independence. These are all things you want in a big dog. It takes time, and a lot of work, to mold these critters into well mannered adults. Don't expect much focus from a 4 month old Golden, but keep working on that focus like you expect to see it any second. Well trained dogs don't get that way by osmosis.

Can someone offer a little insight, advice, or reassuring words? I sometimes feel like I’m on an uphill battle here, and its just getting harder.
It will get harder, but the payoff is well worth it. Goldens act like big goofy puppies their whole lives. They can be big, goofy, well trained puppies, but they are sillier than most other breeds. The same methods as work with any other breed will work with a Golden, but you want to use that off-the-hook play drive to your advantage. If the dog has a sensitive stomach, you can use a toy or fetch object to motivate her.

Work on the fetching as that will be a powerful tool. If she is acting like a butt head, the game ends. If she does right, she can be rewarded with a ball or bumper. A ball or a bumper can work like a magic spell when working on the recall, and it can be used to distract/redirect an overly exuberant puppy when she wants to jump on strangers.
 

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I would suggest you get a book "Control Unleashed" by Leslie McDevitt. In there is the "look at THAT" game and other suggestions on how to gain focus.

I would also work on the stickies at the top of this forum such as NILIF, Impulse control, Doggy Zen etc.

As your are finding, puppies become more independent as they grow up (which is natural). However, just because they are more independent does not mean they cannot learn to focus and respond to your cues.

There is another book/DVD combo I would also recommend for you by Brenda Aloff, "Get Connected with Your Dog."
 

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I don't understand amateurs with the incessant drive to have puppies doing everything immediately. Of course I guess I should, when I was young 8 billion years ago we started in kindergarten. Now we have Pre-Pre-Pre-Pre-school, Pre-Pre-Pre-school, Pre-Pre-school, Pre-school, Kindergarten etc for our kids. I suppose our puppies have to have the same pressure on them. Relax amateurs these are babies, all will come to pass. You start puppy work in distraction free places and as puppies grow and mature you add distractions. I understand the need to work puppies but not the worrying that goes on when they don't fullfill one's personal needs of what they think these young rascals should be doing. The general trend is that a mature dog will never be smarter than a 3 yr old child, what exactly are the requirements you can realistically expect from a 16 week old pup. OP this is not meant to offend you, this thread has been repeated many times from other high expectation type owners. Relax enjoy your puppy. "don't worry"
 

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ya you are right:) I don't ever remember worrying about everything my other dog did as a puppy, we just went with the flow, complained, life went on and the pup matured. I guess everyone including me expects all these pups to behave at all times and if not get them into training immediately, which of course they can be helpful but really we could grab a good book and do it all on our own and save some money, unless there's some big aggressive issues and you still want to take them in public. I think we have to learn to relax a little;)
 

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ya you are right:) I don't ever remember worrying about everything my other dog did as a puppy, we just went with the flow, complained, life went on and the pup matured. I guess everyone including me expects all these pups to behave at all times and if not get them into training immediately, which of course they can be helpful but really we could grab a good book and do it all on our own and save some money, unless there's some big aggressive issues and you still want to take them in public. I think we have to learn to relax a little;)
Do you think there is a chance of ruining puppies because of unrealistic goals. I know I get a lot of young dogs that are dropped off for training and people say they are stupid. (they are not)
 

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I'm guilty of this - maybe not so much of too much, too fast, but just maybe too much.

I want Wally to learn this and that, and do this cool trick I saw on Youtube or what another dog does that a member here mentions, etc.

I want to develop his mental ability so he can learn and do problem solving. Want him to do this session or that shaping, and sometimes forget he might be mentally tired (although he still tries hard and generally gets it right eventually, bless him. I know they say dogs have no "desire to please" just "desire to get rewarded", but Wally really makes me question that belief).

I have to remember that he'll do these things, eventually, though some of them will hit his weak spots (like that crazy amount of time it took him to learn "easy" stuff like speak and shake), but he'll get it if I'm willing to keep working on it.

Also have to learn not to look at things as easy or hard. Like to me, going downstairs on command with no real training (just me saying it as he's doing it everytime) is harder than giving five/shaking - but for him, it was the reverse.
 

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Please understand it's not the actual working the puppies, it's the worrying and then possible pressure because of the pup not just jumping in and doing whatever it is owner wants. To me pups/dogs along with all they offer us should be fun. I have seen fine young bird dog puppies 5 to 12 months old out hunting with owner and 5 or 6 of his cronies and a bird flushes and 5 or 6 shots ring out to kill a bird and the puppy runs out of the county gunshy. That's an extreme case but undue pressure with young dogs has always been a pet peeve of mine. I have stated many times on DF that puppies can do no wrong. It's pretty easy to stop to, because if you are working a young dog and feel yourself get frustrated, you are not having fun and you can bet the pup is not having fun.
 

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I realize you said you weren't trying to offend, but the tone was...well...condescending.

Perhaps I am expecting a lot, but this is just how I am. I have high expectations of everything and everyone around me, especially myself. Call it a side effect of being an officer in the military (or hey...maybe that's why I became one).

My intent was not to discover if there is something wrong with my puppy, I do not believe she is stupid. In fact, I believe she is extremely intelligent and capable- already outperforming many acquaintances dogs who are more than twice her age. I was simply trying to see if there is something I may be doing wrong, either in my training methods or in pushing her too much. I fully understand her need to go out and be a puppy, and I often let her do that- exploring and sniffing to her hearts content, with minimal interference by myself for some occasional training.

I thank everyone for the advice, I'll surely be asking more.

I don't mind people who get frustrated with repeated questions. Hell, I've been an old head before on several other forums and exhibited the same attitude every once and a while to the new people. But it's probably not a good idea to make someone feel unwelcome because they're asking for help.
 

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Well I wasn't trying to offend or be condescending. I just try to be straight forward and keep it as simple and easy as I can.
 

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Do you think there is a chance of ruining puppies because of unrealistic goals. I know I get a lot of young dogs that are dropped off for training and people say they are stupid. (they are not)
That's really sad that people have told you their puppies are stupid:( misunderstood maybe but never stupid. I think some people have unrealistic goals with their pups since some do learn faster than others but some just care to please their people more than others and besides puppies that I've seen don't have a long attention span. I didn't know you trained dogs and I give credit to people like you ( you sound like one of the good trainers) that has the patience. I hope your clients realize that you teach their dogs but they have to keep it up at home too. Gee, am I off topic here and high jacking the thread?:eek:
I think basic obedience is great for young pups and I'm realizing in order to keep sane I have to relax, do my best, find what works with mine and just let her be a pup too
 
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