Golden Retrievers As Service Dogs

As any dog lover will tell you, golden retrievers are up there with one of the sweetest breeds and are known as the perfect family dog. Many movies have been made with a gorgeous golden retriever as the leading actor.

And who hasn’t shed a tear or two at the amazing bond between dog and owner and the unconditional love that exists between them. 

The question is do golden retrievers make good service dogs and if so why? But firstly, let’s examine exactly what a service dog is. 

What is a Service Dog?

A service dog is a specially trained canine that works with people that have disabilities and need support in their day-to-day lives. They perform tasks that individuals may find difficult and help protect them from unsafe situations. There are many types of service dogs.

Golden Retriever Breed

Goldies have some amazing qualities which make them perfect for so many reasons. They are friendly and calm. Of course, as puppies they are like any other puppy, boisterous and energetic, however they are highly intelligent making them super easy to train. Females mature quicker, so are easier to train from an early age. 

Goldies are really loyal. Once you have established a bond, you can rely on these dogs to stay connected and protective. They are eager to please, meaning you can teach them easily, and they will be motivated to obey. They are active dogs and need to keep stimulated, so it’s important they have the opportunity to do that. In addition, they always remember who you are even if years have passed. You can trust them to remain by the side of those that they are entrusted to look after. 

Another beautiful quality of the golden retriever is their ability to sense when their humans are in pain or hurting in any way. They are super sensitive and instinctively know when something isn’t right. Many Goldie owners can relate to a time when they have been upset and their faithful friend has been right at their side. These qualities make them perfect as companions to those that suffer with illnesses or psychological and emotional difficulties.

Goldies are also non-aggressive most of the time. They are alert and protective without being reactive, which provides the best balance for an owner. They are also super sociable and can tolerate being touched and petted (a regular thing for service dogs). 

A fully grown golden retriever is strong and bulky. They weigh in at about 65-70 pounds, which makes them a great choice for service dogs. They are sturdy enough for owners to lean on, and their strength provides reassurance to those with complex needs. 

Training

Training any dog to be a service dog takes a huge amount of time and patience, but working with a goldie is well worth the effort. During the puppy years, they will go through rigorous training and attend obedience classes from a very young age.

Typically, you don’t need qualifications to train a dog, and you can volunteer through organizations and charities. It’s a big commitment, but you get the satisfaction of knowing that you will be helping someone receive a better quality of life once they receive their fully trained dog.

How long does it take to train a service dog?

Generally, it will take 6 months to 1 year to train a service dog, then they will be ready to join their new family. However, you will need to be prepared for their arrival by purchasing everything you need to continue training at home.

What is the best training method?

Reward-based training works well with most dogs as they are food-driven. However, you can also use toys or a mix of the two. Initially, you should start with the basic commands; heel, sit, stay, fetch, stop, etc. Your goldie will love receiving rewards and verbal praise, and this will encourage them to cooperate.

Is it easy to train the dog?

Goldies love being engaged and learning, so training is seldom an issue. Once they have learned the basics you can easily move on to more complex commands and start teaching them how to handle situations that involve danger, traffic, behavior, anxiety, etc.

Tasks a service dog can help with

Before teaching them more complex actions, think about the tasks that they will need to be doing. If they are training to support someone with limited mobility, they’re going to need to master picking things up and returning them.

Furthermore, they may need to figure out how to turn lights on and off, alert others in case of emergency and get someone out of danger if need be.

They will learn how to carry things, assist with dressing, and can support when their owner gets in and out of cars or lifts. These complex tasks will take time and effort for both you and your goldie, but you can be sure that they are up to the job; they love to help, it’s what makes them unique.

The key to successful training is consistency and your dog will need the opportunity to practice all that they learn. However, they will also need time to relax and play, so don’t overdo it. Always reinforce a job well done, they love that!

Are goldies good service dogs?

Golden retrievers have the perfect temperament for training to be service dogs. Their calm, intelligent, gentle, loyal nature provides a comforting and reassuring presence to all those suffering from a disability, whether mental or physical.