Are you thinking about getting a Golden Retriever puppy and are curious about how active they may be? Or you might be wondering if your current Golden Retriever puppy is suffering from hyperactivity and whether that insane level of energy is typical or not.
How Active Are Golden Retriever Puppies?
Golden Retriever puppies are part of the sporting group of dogs, which are typically very active. Owners must dedicate plenty of time to daily exercise, or a puppy’s pent-up energy can lead to undesirable behaviors. Activity levels remain high for the first two years before moderating somewhat after that.
After two years, Golden Retrievers are young adults and become much better at following the rules and knowing their boundaries. While exercise requirements remain relatively high, training becomes more enjoyable.
Understanding a general timeline of what to expect through puppyhood will help if you already have a Golden Retriever puppy.
Alternatively, you may be considering a new Golden puppy. In that case, you need to know what you’re getting into and whether the puppy’s energy level and exercise needs are compatible with your lifestyle.
Unless you’re a breeder, you do not have to worry about a puppy younger than eight weeks of age.
However, due to its negative impact on socialization and behavior, taking a puppy from its mother before eight weeks is not recommended. Your work will begin at eight weeks when you bring the puppy home for the first time.
If you’re interested, I wrote an article on surviving the first 24 hours when bringing home a new puppy. You can read that post here:
How Active Are Golden Retriever Puppies During Each Stage of Puppyhood?
Puppies are unlike growing children in that you will find they go through distinct and remarkable phases.
In fact, many of the phases that puppies go through will have striking similarities to what children go through. Puppies just move through the phases much faster.
The Darling Phase (2 to 4 months)
In this phase, puppies can sleep upwards of 18-20 hours per day, so activity levels alternate between bouts of high activity and sleep.
It’s not uncommon to see your Golden puppy go from zero to 60 out of the blue (zoomies). Then just as quickly, run out of gas and conk out for a long nap (and you’ll learn to cherish these “downtimes”).
Puppy play-biting is typical in this stage and is a regular part of their play. Puppies don’t have hands, so they will use their mouths to play with you and explore their world.
Bite inhibition training is critical in addressing play-biting. However, puppy play-biting is normal, and all puppies – regardless of breed – do it. Therefore, keep the training positive and always reward good behavior.
Bite inhibition training is so important that it must be undertaken within the first 4 months of the puppy’s life. After that time, bite force is locked in.
I discuss the importance of teaching bite inhibition in this article, and I strongly urge you to read it:
Start exposing your Golden puppy to a variety of new situations and people during this phase.
Socialization is crucial, and the earlier you start, the better. Your Golden puppy must have as many positive experiences as possible to build confidence.
The caveat, though, is your Golden puppy will not be fully vaccinated yet, and socialization with other dogs should wait until such time.
Puppy Tip: A tired puppy – mentally and physically – is a more well-behaved puppy. Exercise, training, and play that include physical and cognitive challenges (e.g., interactive games) will help burn your puppy’s pent-up energy.
Pre-Adolescence (4 to 6 months)
During pre-adolescence, your Golden puppy requires far fewer naps, and he can sustain his activity levels for a longer time.
As a result, you may notice your Golden puppy bursting with additional energy at around 4 to 5 months of age.
Golden Retriever puppies typically become more independent and confident during this phase and start testing borders and boundaries much more.
In addition, with your puppy’s increase in size and energy, you may observe the tendency to explore more, including jumping up to investigate off-limit areas such as tables and countertops.
Now is a perfect time to start obedience classes for your puppy. The goal is to channel your Golden puppy’s excess energy into structured training, exercise, and play.
Remember, your puppy will not be small forever, and your Golden puppy will grow into a 55-to-75-pound adult. A large, feisty adult is not easily controllable.
So focus on establishing a strong foundation of good behavior now while your puppy is still small.
Play biting continues through this phase and may become worse due to increased energy and boundary testing. Continue to address puppy biting through bite inhibition training.
Your puppy should be fully vaccinated at this stage, meaning walks need to be a part of a daily exercise routine.
Walking not only expends physical energy, but the new sights, sounds, and smells your puppy encounters on these walks provide mental stimulation.
And walking with your Golden puppy is a great way to reinforce bonding and communication.
Continue to socialize your puppy with new people and situations. With vaccinations completed, your puppy can now begin to meet other dogs.
Play-fighting with other dogs during this time of growth is needed for proper socialization.
During play-fights, dogs learn what is acceptable mouth-play and how to use appropriate restraint.
Puppy Tip: Socialization with other dogs is essential. Interactions should be with calm, well-mannered dogs initially and supervised in a controlled environment. You can arrange playdates with well-behaved and socialized dogs or place your puppy in doggie daycare with knowledgeable staff who will watch them.
The Rebellious Teens (6 to 18 Months)
Your Golden puppy at this stage may look more like a full-grown dog but will continue to show puppy-like behavior in both energy and boundary testing.
Your Golden pup is in the teenage years now, and if you have teens, you’ll notice some striking similarities.
Your Golden puppy may regress in some training areas and not listen at times (almost guaranteed). So expect your puppy to keep testing your limits.
At around seven months, puppy play-biting levels off, and chewing behavior becomes the norm. Having plenty of chew toys and bones on hand will save your furniture, shoes, and your home in general.
Like teens, hormones are a significant factor in this stage.
As a result, your Golden puppy’s adolescent behavior will run the spectrum from sometimes listening to laziness to being defiant to downright rowdy.
Your Golden adolescent may also become snarky with some dogs during this stage. That’s fine; they won’t like every dog they meet.
Socialization continues to be important. Continue to ensure your Golden puppy interacts with other dogs.
If your Golden puppy has a best friend that he enjoys playing with, then that’s all the better.
Ultimately, the goal is to meet your Goldens physical, social, and mental needs. In doing so, you are preparing the stage for a well-behaved Golden Retriever going into adulthood.
A word of caution. Your Golden puppy’s energy levels may skyrocket in this phase much more than you might think.
An excellent outlet for this hyperactive energy is structured activities like Rally, Agility, Dock Jumping, Scent Work, etc. Golden Retrievers, with their high intelligence and energy, usually excel in these types of endeavors.
Puppy Tip: Golden Retrievers are bred to carry waterfowl and are therefore mouthy. Even when the teething stage ends, it’s beneficial to incorporate training aligned with this instinct. Play and training should include carrying something in their mouth, which opens the door to practicing fetch, let-go, drop it, and leave it commands.
On The Cusp of Adulthood (18 to 24 months)
Congratulations. Your Golden puppy has graduated from the Terrible Teens. Your Golden pup is on the cusp of adulthood and is becoming more mature and responsible.
Be prepared that your Golden may still act rebellious or stubborn from time to time, but interactions and training become much more manageable and enjoyable at this stage.
Exercise demands remain high in this phase, as does the need for social and mental interaction.
But, provided you continue to put in the work, you will be rewarded with a fun, well-behaved, and balanced Golden Retriever going into adulthood and beyond.
Puppy Tip: Golden Retrievers are young at heart and can stay puppies longer than most breeds. They are known to carry their puppyish behavior well into adulthood. While endearing some, it may not be for others who hope for a calmer dog into adulthood.
Golden Retrievers are wonderful dogs. They are eager to please, easily trainable, affectionate, and friendly.
Unfortunately, people often see a well-trained, calm, and social adult Golden Retriever and believe the dog has been this way throughout its entire life. The misconception is that all Golden Retrievers are born this way.
And the reality is this; a well-behaved adult Golden Retriever is a product of hard work and training during the dog’s highly active puppyhood and adolescence stages.