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Head of the Class Dog Training LLC 

Winchester, VA

Winchester's Premium Professional Pet Training



Retrievers are some of the most loyal and beloved family companions. If you’re already a lover of these breeds, you know just how amazing they are. If you’re thinking about adding one to your family, read on to learn more about what to expect and how to prepare to add a retriever to your life.

Golden Retrievers

If you’re looking for the ultimate family-friendly dog and watchdog, look no further. Golden retrievers (a.k.a. goldies) are generally playful, well-mannered, intelligent, obedient, wonderful with children and kind to strangers. They are people-pleasers by nature and are easily trained. Goldies make great watchdogs, but because of their friendly temperament, don’t rely on them to be great guard dogs. If you’re looking for a dog who will excel at sporting competition and score high marks in obedience class, a golden retriever may be for you. For bird hunters, they make reliable bird dogs, as they have a very keen sense of smell and an instinct to hunt birds. Goldies thrive around people in large, active families.

Golden retrievers require plenty of exercise. You can exercise your dog with several walks per day and a game of fetch in the backyard. They love outdoor activities like running, hiking, swimming and chasing children around. The need for exercise and their size make goldies not well-suited for apartment life. They need plenty of space to roam.

Labrador Retrievers

Labrador retrievers (or “labs”) are also great for families. They have a pleasant disposition, are easily trained and are loyal, intelligent and affectionate. Labs are a playful breed and like to spend time alongside their owners both indoors and out. They are bred to retrieve fallen ducks during duck hunts, so they need plenty of outdoor activity, even if hunting isn’t your thing. Labs generally have tons of energy and need an outlet to run it off. They enjoy the same outdoor activities as golden retrievers — fetch, hiking, swimming, running and more.

Labs thrive in homes where they get as much time indoors cuddled up next to their owners as they do outdoors playing. Labs tend to be miserable if they don’t get affection and time near their people.

Ideally, you want to have a sizable fenced yard for your lab to run and play in. If you’re fussy about your home, a lab may not be the ideal breed for you, as they shed quite a bit. They have short, dense coats that tend to end up on the furniture and floors.

If you get your lab as a puppy, reinforce the rules of the house early on, as lab puppies will like to roughhouse and play inside as well as outside of the house. Labs grow to be over 60 pounds, so be prepared for a larger dog once yours is full grown. But don’t worry – they are very intelligent dogs and are easily trained, so you can keep this big ball of energy well-behaved with a little effort.

As you know, different dog breeds have different temperaments, and it’s very important to know which breed will fit best with your family and lifestyle. For more information on goldies, labs or other breeds, contact us here at Head of the Class Dog Training. We work with a variety of breeds and can offer some insight.

-Lisa Marino

Lisa Marino, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP, PMCT, has taken her varied teaching experiences and applied them to helping owners understand and train their beloved four-legged family members. She has more than four years’ experience leading group dog training classes at Best Paw Forward in Hartland, WI, and opened Head of the Class Dog Training LLC in Winchester, VA in 2012, where she conducts group classes and private lessons, as well as helps owners to modify their dogs' problem behaviors.

Lisa earned her CPDT-KA in 2012, is a 2015 graduate of the prestigious Karen Pryor Academy and is a Pat Miller Certified Trainer.

She has 4 registered therapy dogs and is a Pet Partner Therapy Team Evaluator and a member of HOPE AACR. As a former middle school teacher, she works well with families and children and does school presentations on various dog related topics.

What Are These Dogs We Call Retrievers?