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TL/DR: What can you tell me about hiking with golden retriever puppies?


My husband and I are seriously considering bringing a puppy into the family. To give you some idea as to how long...we've been together for 7 years (newly married as of 4 months ago) and we've been talking about getting a dog together for about 7 years lol

We recently moved into an apartment complex. I know apartments aren't the greatest set up to have a dog - especially the breed we're thinking of - but we've talked to a bunch of residents and it seems very doable.

The apartment complex is very dog-friendly and many of the residents have larger breeds. The complex has a dog park on-site.

We want to get a golden retriever puppy. We've found a breeder and are prepared to purchase.

There are a number of reasons we're opting to purchase rather than adopt.

1. My husband is leery of adopting an older dog because he's concerned with any potential history the dog may come with. He feels, with a puppy, the only one to blame if the dog ends up screwed up is yourself.

2. Our complex has breed restrictions and, unfortunately, is a if-it-looks-like-it-it-is policy. They don't allow German Shepherds, Pit Bulls, or Rottweilers. Unfortunately, in our area (We've been to all the shelters in the area) all the dogs are either mixes of one of those breeds or they look like they are. :(

3. Neither of us have ever had a puppy and we want to experience it.

*Note regarding #3: Our families have had puppies that we've helped raise.

So.....to the questions.

We've done a lot of research about how to puppy-proof the apartment and feeding/sleeping/potty schedules.

My husband and I love to hike. We hike every Saturday. We want to bring our dog with us on our hikes and are 100% able to tailor our hikes to the needs of the puppy.

But, how long before dogs are old enough to hike? I read online that you should wait to take them outside until they have all their shots? How old do you figure for how long of hike they can go?
 

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There are a lot of things to consider when getting a puppy in an apartment. There is nothing wrong with deciding to buy a dog instead of adopting but be careful of the type of breeder you are buying from.

If I were in an apartment I would want a breeder that did a heck of a lot of not only socialization to people but to strange sounds, objects and definitely begun crate training! The reason for this being that puppies tend to cry and scream at first when left alone. This can cause a problem for you with the neighbors. While not full proof, if a breeder has puppies that have already been positively exposed to crating for the past few weeks before being sent to new homes it can make a big difference!

Since you are in an apartment I would stay away from all the areas with the highest traffic to let the puppy out to potty to avoid parvo. I would stay away from the dog park for sure before full vaccination but also because dogs parks are not the best place to properly socialize a dog. Socialization is about creating controlled and positive experiences for a puppy. Dog parks are left way too much up to chance and one scuffle at the wrong time in a dog's development (or anytime really) can lead to a very reactive dog (yes, even a Golden). I like to do puppy classes and take puppies to low dog trafficked areas. Puppies should not stay cooped up in the house until shots are done because those first 16 weeks are SO important for socialization. You just need to be very careful where they go. I don't know the exact age for exercising but strenuous exercise should not be done until 2 years of age. I started very short walks when my puppy was fully vaccinated. I can imagine short hikes would be fine especially on soft ground terrain. The issue is not causing injury to growing joints by doing too much hard exercise.

My personal check marks for a breeder are that they do genetic health testing (eyes, heart, hips, elbows etc), have a contract to cover heath issues and what happens to the dog if I can no longer care for it (should be return to breeder) and they do some kind of socialization program such as "Puppy Culture" at the very least. Then I also require dogs that do something (show, work, sport) but not everyone cares about that.

Golden Retrievers are struggling in the breed with cancer, cancer, allergies, heart issues and more cancer. I would be asking so much about the longevity in those lines before committing to a puppy. OFA and or PennHip Hip clearances would be helpful too, as Goldens can often run into hip issues. I know you said you already have a breeder in mind but I would definitely be careful out there. There are a lot of "puppy mills" and breeders who are in it purely for profit. Ask about longevity! Ask about allergies, cancer and heart issues! Oh and definitely ask about temperaments. Meet the parents. I have met some nasty Golden Retrievers lately.. most of them coming from "mill" breeders or "English cream" breeders.

Puppies are a lot of work. They will eat up all of your time and energy. They need taught EVERYTHING and they bite soo much. They are not a fun experience for everyone. I can only imagine they are that much harder in an apartment. Some first time puppy owners get through it just fine and others have "puppy blues" get overwhelming anxiety. Or there are those of us that have had multi puppies and still end up stressed like crazy. No right or wrong answer.. just what you are willing to deal with.

There's also other options. Breed specific rescues or show breeders. Sometimes breeders have older puppies that were returned usually by an overwhelmed owner. Sometimes they have dogs that they "retired" and they feel would be happier in a smaller household kinda thing. etc.
 

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Puppies won't be able to hike for months - you can't take them where other dogs go until they have all their shots, which is pretty much 16-17 weeks, then they really can't walk longer than 5 minutes per month because too much walking is not good for their joints... so you CAN get a puppy, but you'll have to be patient and stick to very short hikes at first. Also, puppies don't always know their limits, and just because they will walk 2 miles doesn't mean that they should (I'd say a 2 miles hike is probably ok at 8 months or so).

I used to hike and wanted a hiking partner as well - I got a puppy and that just didn't work out, lol. First I couldn't leave for 6 hours to go hiking because I needed to stay home with her, then she grew leash reactive, and she has a high prey drive, so I pretty much gave up hiking because I don't want a crazy dog that pulls on the leash like crazy while I'm going down rocks and trying to not to slip on my ass. I also had a golden retriever that was scared of wooden bridges for absolutely no reason, and we had to carry him across those. Good times.

Be wary of puppies barking in apartments as well. And make sure that the breeder you've found does OFA testing on the parents, so you don't end up with a dog with hip issues at 2.
 

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any time I had to move for the military I made arrangements to have leave to help the dogs adjust to the new place with me being with them. puppy barking you can ask your surrounding neighbors and get their feelings on it. One of my pups was a monster mouth for over a week. When I realized he was going ot be a handful I did talk to my neighbor and let him know I felt it would be short term and asked if he could understand. They were agreeable to give the pup a chance. Puppies would be limited for the first 2 years for forced activity.. You can always get a back pack to carry the pup when small and think about an enclosed buggy when they were too big to carry .. Enjoy your day having a way for the pup to come along and rest part of the hike.
 

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PatriciafromCO - I was also thinking about the backpack/buggy idea as an option to bring the pup along. I also work every other weekend so we wouldn't be hiking every weekend. Just every other.

As for the barking...this is a thing to consider, thanks for mentioning it. Our apartment complex is VERY dog-friendly. I don't know all of our neighbors, but the ones across the hall have two young children (approx. 3 and 5) and we're friendly with them. They're really excited for us to get a dog lol

Our cat is very vocal and we haven't gotten complaints about her, yet. She's a cat, though, and I understand they're different lol

Everyone has made some good points. Thank you :)
 
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