Goldens, Children, and the Family
by R. Ann Johnson

Golden Retrievers have an innate love for children.  I remember well my

Ch. Cummings Gold-Rush Charlie who held all the breed records for twenty

years.  In the early seventies, he was the number one Sporting Dog and was

known for his sparkling personality in the show ring.  The reason for his

special showmanship was that Charlie especially loved children.  He would

study the gallery until he saw a child; then he would focus entirely on the 

child and spontaneously wag his tail.  The gallery loved it.

The Golden Retriever is one of the most popular dogs for families.  The

adult's patient and gentle nature, intelligence, willingness to please, and

playfulness have justly given the breed the reputation as an ideal companion

for children.  Goldens are social animals, and can bond to all members of the

family, including other pets.  Puppies, however, will view young children as

playmates.  A puppy has sharp teeth and nails and cannot resist treating

children to its own "play" behavior, which includes nipping, jumping, barking,

chasing, and even growling.  This behavior can frighten a toddler or

youngster, who will often react by screaming and running away.  Thus a bad

cycle can develop because a puppy will see the child's behavior as an 

invitation to play.  To avoid this, parents must monitor the play of children

with the puppy.  Young children should be protected, and older children

should be coached in short periods of calm play with the puppy.  Older

members of the family can leash-train the puppy and take on the feeding and

grooming duties.  

Because the adult is a large, strong, enthusiastic dog, training must be 

initiated while the Golden is young and manageable.  Care and training are

activities that will develop a close bond between the Golden and family

members while fostering the desired dog behavior.

        © Copyright R. Ann Johnson, from The Golden Retriever Puppy Book (Darwin Press, forthcoming).

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