What kind of dog sports gear could you use with your Golden Retriever?
Golden Retrievers were originally bred as sporting dogs or hunting dogs. They are used in field trials, hunting, and agility. There’s a lot of dog sports gear you can buy to help you in these disciplines. You can also find dog sports gear that will help you keep your Golden Retriever active and help if you have multiple dogs. If you do certain activities with your Golden Retriever like swimming, add some dog gear to make it more fun.
We are talking about Golden Retrievers here not German Shepherds, so don’t expect any hardcore police dog sports gear information here.
Dog Sports Gear For General Use
Making your Golden’s activities more fun brings about more exercise for you both and lessens the likelihood of weight gain in your food driven dog.
Balls and Ball Launchers
One of the best items to buy for retrievers is balls. Goldens have a natural desire to retrieve. Believe me when you throw 100 balls a day you’ll get arm ache. If you have a large space your dog can run, throwing balls a long way is a perfect way to exercise a Golden Retriever. We chose Chuck-it products as the best option. All of my Goldens like stripping the fuzz off tennis balls, they got the ball and took it off to chew. The Chuck-it launchers and rubber balls were the solution to my arms aching, lack of strength as I get older and now the dogs want to retrieve the ball to me for another throw.
The balls come in two basic colors, mostly blue and mostly orange. The orange ones were not a hit, the blue squeaker balls are prized possessions. The ball launcher allows me to throw the balls a lot further than my arm could. My son can launch them even further. Both my field Goldens love to retrieve balls.
There are other balls including glow, tennis, bouncer balls, and other Chuck-it toys like a flying squirrel and retriever bumpers.
Running With Your Dog
If you like to run with your dog you may need a more appropriate leash. Before engaging in any running with your Golden I highly recommend teaching better leash manners. Most big dogs when not leash trained will pull you along if you let them. They are strong dogs. All dogs should learn to walk to heel and do so when told or learn how to walk behind you. This is not a quick thing to learn as Goldens will pull at any opportunity. Take some training lessons if need be and practice.
Once your dog is good at heeling or walking behind you, running can start. The best leashes are those not attached to your arms.
The best leashes for runners and dogs are those that have a waistband for you and the dog leash is clipped on. The leash should be between 50 and 60 inches long, can be nylon or better yet an expanding style. Now you have arms free to run and your dog can move more freely as he runs. In the event you need a quick stop you can grab the leash and rein him in.
Running with a Stroller
A shorter leash should be used than for running and attached only to you. Most standard sized leashes are fine, either nylon, leather or braided and your normal collar or a slip knot type leash.
You should not have a leash looped over your hand either. In the event the dog decides to venture off at speed he’ll pull you and the stroller over, or you have to let the stroller go.
Learn how to loop the leash over your thumb and hold it with your hand. In the event of a hard pull, it’s safer to let the dog go than to have you and your baby tumbling all over the floor.
Tip: This is a good way to learn how to hold a leash for all walking. You can concertina the leash several times for a shortened length.
Training your dog to heel and walk beside you should be mastered before you walk or run with a stroller. Having your dog learn to sit every time you stop will work well for crossing streets and entering stores.
Water Bowls To Carry
When taking your dogs for runs and walks, remember to take water for you both. A couple of water bottles and a rubber collapsible water bowl for your dog is the perfect solution.
Most Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers love to swim. Adding in something for them to retrieve is great for teaching to the return to the base concept so they don’t get stuck out in deep water alone. When introducing your dog to swimming be sure they know the come command and will comply. You don’t want your dog to be swimming for hours when you’ve got an appointment!
There are plenty of bumper type toys you can launch for your dog to retrieve.
Hunting Gear For Beginners
Dog sports gear for trainee hunting Golden Retriever dogs is aimed at getting them used to carry out the job for which they were bred, to retrieve birds. Bumpers are a great product to use as a starting point. These can be used in the field and in water. You’ll need to teach your dog to release the item on command and better yet make him drop it at your feet without the need to be told. Repetition will produce great results.
Once your Retriever has mastered the art of bumper retrieving introduce her to fake birds. Before long you’ll have a master retriever. Don’t forget to add a bright vest when working in dense brush and trees, it’ll make your dog easier to locate. See the lightweight reflective vest below, comes in all sizes.
Agility Gear For Owners and Starters
Agility can be for fun and for competition. If you’ve never used agility equipment but want to see if your dog has any interest in participating, don’t go out and buy an expensive course. Buy one or two items and introduce your dog to them and see what happens. Some dogs are going to have zero interest, others are going to thrive on it.
We’ve just started teaching our three Goldens dog agility and it’s just for fun. We started with one hoop and four jumps. Agility activities are best for young dogs and fit dogs, and a soft landing best for joints. It’s not about making your Golden jump as high as possible as much as it is letting them be active and have some fun. The grass is the softest landing to prevent too much impact on the hips and leg joints.
Fletcher their brother just could not do it on day one. Try again tomorrow. It was a hot day so we started their training in the shade.
Other Dog Sports and Activities
Your own environment can provide a lot of different exercises your dog can do without any dog sports gear needed. One of our neighbors has a Golden and they own a vacation home on a lake. There is a floating jetty and Gordy, her name has mastered the art of dog dock jumping. There are formal dock jumping competitions.
There are thousands of AKC events for dogs and their owners. Whether you do it for fun or trophies it’s a great way to cement the bond between you and your pup. Goldens love to please and love to be rewarded. There are field trials, fast running events called coursing which is chasing lures around the field under a stopwatch, or flyball a combination of agility and catching balls in flight.
If you only have a small yard and park nearby you’ll need to walk a good long hour to expend the energy of a Golden Retriever. For a field-bred Golden that’s barely adequate. Look to see if there are any dog parks in your area. They are usually fenced and allow dogs to run free. Take a ball thrower and balls to get your dog interested in retrieving.
Snow – My experience is that Goldens all love the snow. They’ll play in it for hours. Depending on the temperature you have to be mindful not to let their paws get too cold. No equipment needed although throwing balls that sink and get buried in the snow is a great pastime of my dogs.
Dogs do not need to wear a dog coat to play out in the cold. You just need to limit the time allowed each time. The rule is this, if you have a coat on and you are starting to feel cold, so are they, time to go inside. Be sure to dry them off when they come inside and check paws for ice lumps.
Most Goldens love to have a job. One of mine loves to help carry groceries in from the car to the kitchen. He’s allowed to carry the boxes in and lightweight bags. Find something your dogs like to do and make it fun for them. Remember that mental exercise is also good for your dog. Reinforcing training for 30 minutes will make your dog tired, he’ll sleep just as long as if he had done 30 minutes of physical exercise.
Exercising on a budget? All you need is a ball and somewhere to throw it.
I love using dog sports gear for my field bred Goldens to keep them active. Just 20 minutes in my back yard chasing balls, jumping poles, chasing each other is a lot more exercise than a 30-minute walk. The reality is they spend between 2 and 3 hours a day running and playing.