I know of three Golden Retrievers who live much of their lives in backyards within one block of my house.
They’re victims of the Perfect Dog Curse.
It’s About the Dog, Not the Breed
We all know that some breeds (notably pit bulls and pit mixes) pay a terrible price because people expect bad behavior from them at the outset. They are outlawed and even killed because of breed bans.
But pitties aren’t the only dogs prejudged by their breed.
Golden Retrievers are known as perfect family dogs. I’ve never seen a list of best dogs for families that didn’t include them.
And, if Honey is a fair representation, they are amazing dogs—smart, responsive, easy-to-train, and loving.
Then why, of the five Goldens who live within sight of my house, do three of them spend most of their time outdoors?
I think their families were suckered by the breed hype.
Real Life with a Golden Retriever
Yes, every dog has a unique personality. If you put ten Poodles in a room together, you’ll have ten very different characters.
But breeders do select for certain characteristics and other traits come along for the ride.
So, if you live with a Golden Retriever, look for the following traits:
- an irresistible attraction to carrying things in her mouth,
evenespecially dirty socks and underwear
- fur that grows at a phenomenal rate between the pads and requires constant grooming to keep him from slipping and sliding all over the floor
- a table-clearing tail that will make a mess anytime you call her name
- a mind and body that, if not exercised, will invent games more amusing to him than to you
- an intense need to make eye contact, even if it means jumping up or sitting on your lap
I’ve heard my neighbors express frustration with just this list of Golden Retriever traits.
And after tripping over their exuberant pup one time too many, they banish him to the backyard for much of the day.
Oh, and they also flourish all kinds of lovies on Honey while lamenting their dog isn’t good just like her.
Hey people, Honey isn’t perfect either. She’s just tired.
Real Life with Honey
I can’t take credit for Honey’s sweet personality. She just came that way.
But I know Honey’s life is much different from these other outdoor Goldens:
- Every day she is fed in a challenging food toy that works her mind
- She gets at least one long walk every day, often two
- We’ve done extensive training together, including time spent with a professional trainer
- Her day is broken up by impromptu games of tug, fetch, and find the treat
It’s not that I’m a great dog person. It’s pure self-preservation.
If we didn’t do all these things with Honey, she’d be barking at us for attention and otherwise making us nuts.
Not a Rant; a Lament
I believe most people do the best they can at the time. My neighbors love their pups even if they were surprised by their normal dog behaviors.
I also know that not being a parent gives me far more time and freedom than my neighbors who have children.
I don’t even believe that spending time outdoors is bad for every dog.
But I’m sad.
I believe the dogs are missing out. And I know the people are missing out.
Because if they didn’t have the backyard as an option, they’d be forced to figure out how to live with their rambunctious, intelligent, curious, loving dogs.
And they’d probably enjoy some amazing walks, fun games of tug, and the joy of a tired (if not perfect) dog.
Has your dog’s behavior “forced” you into different management solutions? What has worked? What hasn’t?