We base our pricing structure on how old puppies are when they are picked up. People naturally want to know what they can expect at various ages. They also want to know why it is beneficial to leave a puppy until they are at older ages. This page has our training program broken down by age. This page discusses trained English Golden Retriever expectations and what those expectations can reasonably be for our puppies. After reading this page, you should have all the information you need to decide how long you want to leave your puppy with us.
Scroll down for very detailed information on what we train at different ages.
Early Training (What We Start Before 7 Weeks)
Begin House Training Through a Doggy Door – By 5 1/2 Weeks
Most, if not all, of our puppies are fluent with a doggy door by 5 1/2 weeks of age. We are continuing to build consistency with outdoor pottying the entire time puppies are with us. We are consistent with making sure our puppies do all their business outside. It is rare for accidents to happen in our home with puppies over 8 or 9 weeks.
However, 10 week old puppies have to be taken out (or crated) often. Most of our 10 week old puppies can be trusted for about an hour loose in the house after they have gone potty. A few of them will need to be taken out every 30 minutes unless they are in a small pen or a crate. Some of them can be trusted for 1 1/2 – 2 hours at 10-11 weeks.
Though we never will say never, so far, we’ve not had a 10-week old puppy to pee or poop in a crate. However, we never leave them for over two hours straight until they are close to 12 weeks of age. At this age, we start them sleeping overnight in crates. We’ve never had a puppy over 12 weeks potty in a crate overnight. At 12 weeks, most can sleep in a crate for a 7 hour night.
Eating Individually in Crates – Starting at 5 1/2 Weeks
By 6 weeks, puppies have been eating individually in crates for about 4 or 5 days. They go into their crates on their own and are already starting to associate the crate with good things.
Meal Time Manners Starting Just After 6 Weeks
We work with puppies 3 times a day with our meal-time manners program starting shortly after they are 6 weeks. Our mealtime routine requires eye contact and waiting for a release command before eating. It is hugely beneficial with regard to building focus and self-control in puppies. At first, puppies struggle to get to their food, but within a few days, they begin getting the idea that they cannot get to their food until they get the release command. Further, they learn that the release command doesn’t come until puppies have settled down and given eye contact. This routine continues until puppies leave us. By 11 weeks, almost all puppies will wait with a bowl of food sitting in front of them giving good eye contact for a couple of seconds even with the crate door closed.
Begin Building Crate Desire – Starting at 6 Weeks
At about the same time as we begin our meal-time manners program, we begin building crate desire. We VERY GRADUALLY build up the time puppies are kept in crates, starting with only a few seconds.
We begin the process by dropping pieces of dog food kibble into the crates periodically. This process causes them to begin to anticipate that good things happen in crates. By 7 weeks, we add special bones and bully sticks that are only available at crate time. As puppies begin to get used to the crates, we gradually increase the time spent. We also gradually decrease the amount of kibble that we drop in the crates.
We work with our puppies in their crates when they are wide awake. This is the most difficult time for puppies to accept confinement. Teaching them to be happy while crated when wide awake is the hard part. Being happy in a crate while sleeping is easy.
Begin Teaching Puppies Not to Jump – 6 Weeks
Starting at 6 weeks, we begin waiting for puppies to quit jumping on us before we pet them. We don’t take them out of our puppy area for individual attention until they stop jumping. We gradually increase our expectations. By 8 weeks, we are choosing to only pick up or pet the puppies that are sitting with eye contact. This continues until puppies leave us.
It is much more difficult for puppies to maintain self-control in a group than individually. We work with them both individually and in groups of 2-4 puppies. If a puppy can control himself at our home in a group, it will be easier to maintain self-control when in his new home where there is no competition from litter-mates.
Sitting for attention is the norm with our puppies by the time they are 10-weeks of age. If a person does not give our puppies attention, most will try other good behaviors such as going into a down or sitting in different positions (in front or at your side). However, if the person still doesn’t give one of our puppies attention after the puppy has given much effort toward properly asking for attention, most, if not all will resort to jumping. Good behavior must be rewarded for it to continue.
Begin Formal Obedience – Before 7 Weeks
Starting shortly before 7 weeks, we begin daily individual formal obedience training. The first few days are spent working solely on focus as we teach our puppies to make eye contact. Before puppies are 7 weeks, reward is obtained only by sitting and making eye contact.
Begin Teaching the Down – Before 7 Weeks
Starting at 6 weeks 5 or 6 days, we begin teaching what we call muscle memory. We do this as we teach our puppies to “down”. No command is given. We are simply teaching the puppies to be lured to the “down” position. As we teach this, puppies learn several other skills at the same time. Puppies learn to gently take treats from us. They increase their skills with regard to maintaining eye contact. Puppies learn to follow a treat.
Though we do the initial training of the “down” with luring, within a couple of days, we shift our training method to shaping. With shaping the treat is not shown until after the behavior is performed.
Trained English Golden Retriever Expectations for 10-11 Week Old Puppies
If you should pick your puppy up between 10 and 11 weeks, you can expect the following with regard to puppy progress in our major areas of instruction. There will be more progress in some areas than others but all areas will be more solid at 11 weeks than at 10 weeks.
Videos of our Puppies Heeling and Doing Sit/Stays and Down/Stays
The two videos below show two litters with seven puppies each demonstrating heeling and sit/stays and down/stays. Piper’s puppies were 9-weeks old and Tara’s were 9-weeks 3-days. We had worked very hard with these puppies getting them ready to leave us early because of travel issues with a few families during the the Corona Virus outbreak. These puppies are far ahead of our norm. Instead of showing our typical 9-week old puppies, the training shown here exemplifies the training on typical 10-11 week old puppies.
Teaching focus to young puppies in both stationary as well as moving exercises is our specialty. We’ve taught over a 100 puppies to heel and focus and the type focus you see in the above videos is typical of our puppies at 10 – 11 weeks of age.
Heeling is no exception. However, we don’t ask puppies to repeat this long of a heeling pattern more than once or twice in a row. In a typical training session, we reward far more often than is exemplified in these videos. Our primary goal is to create puppies that want to work with a person. Rewarding heavily in the beginning and gradually moving our reward frequency from consistent to random is key. Our puppies work like this because they think their reward could come any time. Therefore, we sometimes reward our puppies for just sitting there, sometimes after one or two steps and then we occasionally throw in a long sequence as pictured on these videos.
The longer puppies are with us, the longer the sequence and the more often the longer sequences are being asked for. By 11 weeks of age, the majority of our puppies are pretty good at keeping themselves in the correct position, even when having to regulate their pace to keep up with us as we slow down, speed up, and turn both to the left and the right. By 11 weeks of age, more than half our puppies are able to heel for short distances off-leash with minimal distractions.
For long walks, we don’t expect the kind of focus pictured on our videos. Our expectations are simply that puppies don’t pull on the leash and that they stay reasonable close to us. We want them to sniff and explore the world. A very important part of puppy socialization is letting them figure out their world at their own speed.
Sit/Stays and Down/Stays
The stays pictured in the above videos represent our puppies at their best with regard to the stay exercises. I believe only one puppy out of the 14 shown made a mistake. Further, I was able to move quite a long distance away from them for several seconds.
However, puppies this age can’t be expected to be this proficient on a consistent basis if asked to do this much over and over. As is the case with heeling, our stay exercises are practiced mostly at shorter distances and durations with occasional longer stays thrown in as are pictured in the videos.
Unpredictable Distances and Durations
By 10 weeks, puppies work staying in each position (sit and down) for a couple of minutes (before being released to get up). Many rewards come at random times and from random distances. We want our puppies to think the reward could come at any time. Being unpredictable is key. We work mostly close up (stepping back only one or two steps and waiting only a second or two). We occasionally back off to 4 or 5 feet from the puppy. Occasionally, we make them wait for 4 or 5 seconds. The longer stays that you see in the example videos below are done only once or twice during an entire training session with 10 week old puppies.
As puppies get older, the longer stays before the reward comes get to be more often as well as longer. Our philosophy of training is built around the idea that puppies need to feel like a reward can come at any time. If stays that are pushing the puppy’s abilities become the norm, the puppy will loose his motivation and his ability to focus on his work.
Occasionally Puppies Just Plain Get Confused and Forget What They are Supposed to Do
Most days puppies will perform as in the above videos. However, occasionally all of them will get “stuck” in a state of confusion that must be worked through. The sit/stay is especially troublesome for many puppies under 11 or 12 weeks. They tend to want to go into a down the minute you begin to back away from them. The puppies in the above video did not demonstrate this on the day of the video, but every one of them at some point in time before leaving us had training sessions with troublesome sit/stays. The younger the puppy, the more often the confusion.
The Place Cot
Prior to 10 weeks, we primarily work the down/stay on a place cot. We work the sit/stay primarily on the floor. Working the sit/stay and the down/stay in two different (but consistent) locations (the floor verses the cot) helps them to remember which position they need to be maintaining. Puppies are able to maintain a stay for longer on the cot because there is no question as to which position we are asking for. It is always the down position.
Starting right at 10 weeks of age, we begin working both positions more seriously on the floor or ground.
Loss of Focus is Not the Norm For Our Puppies
Though our puppies sometimes confuse the position (sit or down) that they are being asked to stay in, it is not the norm for our puppies to loose focus, walk off, and blow us off. Creating a desire to work and focus is what we do best!
Luring is Not Necessary
Puppies will sit and down with only a hand motion and a verbal command (both together) right at 10 weeks. Luring is not necessary. In fact, our philosophy of training is to show the treat to the puppy only AFTER the behavior has been performed. Puppies who are consistently shown a treat before doing what is asked will never learn to successfully work when treats are no longer the norm.
No Popping Up to Grab the Treats
Puppies will repeat the sit/stay and down/stay exercises several times before being released (usually about 10 times at 10 weeks). In other words, we work with puppies to continue to stay in position while we return to reward them without popping up between rewards.
We teach puppies not to take the treat until the “yes” marker word is given. Puppies are trained by 10-weeks not to jump up to try and grab the treat before the exercise is finished. We train this by waiving food in front of them tempting them to jump up and take it before being released to take the food. This forces them to learn to maintain self-control until they are released to take the food. Puppies occasionally forget and pop up, but it is not the norm.
Other Videos Showing the Progression of Our Training
Our goal with puppies prior to 10-weeks is consistency at short distances. We add distance, duration, and distractions after the 10-week mark.
As puppies get older and as puppies develop more confidence, the frequency of the longer stays increases as do the lengths of the stays. The frequency of rewards also declines as puppies advance. You can see the difference as puppies get older in our 10-week videos and 13-week videos pages. 13-week old puppies have a much greater capacity to focus, sit still, and remember what position they need to be in than 10-week old puppies. Therefore, they can hold the stays for far longer.
Starting at 10 weeks, we add distractions to the stay exercises. We take puppies off our property 3 times per week and work these exercises in various locations starting at 11 weeks 2 days. Starting just before 12 weeks, we drop food around them expecting them to ignore it.
Meal Time Routine at 10-11 Weeks
Puppies are dependable with meal time waiting before eating by 10 weeks. They will give eye contact for about 2-3 seconds with a bowl of food sitting in front of them waiting for the release to eat. By 11 weeks, most of them are dependable enough for me to close the crate with the puppy still giving eye contact and not eating the food for a few seconds before I release them to eat. All of them are to that point by 11 1/2 weeks.
Building Crate Desire and Increasing Crate Time
We keep our 10 week old puppies in crates for about 20 minutes in wire crates at meal times. They are happy while wide awake with special bones or bully sticks that they only have access to during crate times. If families will combine crate times with times that their puppy is sleepy, they will be happy in there for MUCH longer. They will eventually fall asleep after chewing their bones for awhile.
By 11 weeks, puppies are to the point where they will be adjusting their nap times better to a family’s schedule. As long as they’ve had good exercise prior, they will usually chew bones for much longer than 10 week old puppies and will eventually fall asleep during most crate sessions. By 11 weeks of age, our puppies like their crates so much that most will just sit there even when you release them to come out. If you don’t take the bones out of the crates, they don’t want to come out!
We don’t let puppies have free access to crates. Crates are the “forbidden fruit” with the extra special goodies inside. Our puppies’ crate desire grows hugely between 7 and 12 weeks.
We train a conditioned response to a very specific recall. By 11 weeks, puppies are amazingly in-tuned to my voice. They turn away from distractions and come when called instinctively. By 10 weeks, puppies are well on their way to this same response. We initially train this by heavily treating puppies when we call them at times that they are about to come any way of their own accord. I (Karen) do this many, many times gradually calling them under more and more distracting situations.
We teach new families how to transition this conditioned response from my voice and my tone to their new voice. However, no dog (of any age) will reliably come when called to a total stranger. Though our puppies come to me, most of them do not respond to the “puppy come” of the new family right away. It takes some time for the puppy to make this transition. However, we show you how and if you follow our instructions, the transition should be quick (a couple of days).
The recall becomes more and more solid the longer families leave puppies with us. However, for it to remain solid and heavily motivational, families must continue to heavily reward it for several more months.
Focus and Work Ethic
All of our puppies like to work and have incredibly good focus at 10 weeks. They all actively try to figure out what it is you want. We easily transfer that skill from us to you. We spend considerable time at puppy pick-up time showing families how to work with their puppy.
House Training for 10-11 Week Old Puppies
There are two very important skills that puppies must learn for house-training to be successful. The first skill involves having a desire for peeing and pooping outside along with a disdain for doing it inside. This is our Phase-1 which is usually complete by 7 1/2 weeks of age. The second skill involves holding their pee and poop until they can get outside. This second skill cannot be taught until Phase-1 is thoroughly mastered. These two phases prepare puppies amazingly well for continuing house training in new homes without a doggy door.
Phase 1 in House Training
By the time puppies are 8 weeks of age, puppies have been consistently doing all of their business outside for over 2 weeks of age by letting themselves out through a doggy door. In addition to puppies freely and independently going in and out our doggy-door, prior to 8 weeks of age, we walk out with the entire litter multiple times per day. This includes just before our crate time routine, just before we bring them out of their pen loose in our home, and just before bringing them into our training room. This routine ensures that puppies don’t have accidents in our home or in their crates during their initial weeks of house and crate training.
Phase 2 in House Training
However, starting around 7 1/2 to 8 weeks of age, we begin making a few changes to our house-training routine that moves them into being more dependable by 10 weeks of age. This new phase of house-training can’t begin until puppies are thoroughly conditioned to want to potty only outside. It is rare that we have a puppy that is not to this point by 8 weeks. With most litters, all puppies are ready to move into our Phase-2 of house training by 7 1/2 weeks.
Phase-2 of house training includes several changes. First of all, we gradually reduce the number of times that we go out with puppies to potty starting at about 7 1/2 weeks of age. Secondly, we want puppies to start learning to “hold it”.
In Phase-2 of our house-training program (starting just before or right at 8 weeks), we introduce the skill of “holding it”. We teach this by NOT taking our puppies out prior to crate time, house-time, and indoor training time. It is imperative that this phase of training not begin too early. Therefore, we are very in-tuned to where each and every puppy in the litter is with regard to house-training.
Once we start Phase-2 of our house-training program, puppies quickly learn to hold it as we ask them to stay for longer periods in crates and even loose in our home.
The Best Possible House-training Method for Very Young Puppies
We believe that our two-phase program is the key for making house-training easier for families. When there is no doggy door, puppies are forced to hold their potty before they have thoroughly been conditioned to want to potty outside. This sets them up for failure.
Without a sufficient desire to go outside, puppies will make mistakes when not watched perfectly. The more mistakes a puppy makes, the more conditioned he becomes to potty in the house. Potty training can become an endless loop of failures without someone constantly supervising the puppy. This type house training can be exhausting.
Our house training program sets puppies up for success which is what we strive for in training puppies in all aspects of life.
Once puppies are in new homes, the option for puppies to use a doggy door is usually gone. However, the doggy door would have served its purpose and puppies make the transition well as long as families will get puppies outside on a schedule.
Early Pick-Up for Trained Puppies
If someone should need or want to pick their puppy up between 9 1/2 and 10 weeks of age, we can probably double up on your puppy’s training and get him to the point of a 10-week old puppy in most areas. Some puppies train quicker than others. Some are more mature than others.
We have trained a puppy to this level by 9 weeks 2 days. However, it was difficult and this was an exceptionally smart and driven puppy. We wouldn’t be able to do it any sooner.
The price is the same at 9 1/2 as at 10 weeks (or even at 9 weeks 2 days). We need at least a week’s notice if you need to come before puppies are 10-weeks of age. See the videos above of 9 week old puppies trained to the 10-week level of training.
Although we can double up on the obedience training and make considerable progress, there are several reasons that we encourage families to leave their puppies for at least 10 weeks. First of all, some areas of training are more age-dependent than others. Bladder control is one of those areas. Also, building crate desire cannot be rushed. In addition, some puppies are less mature at earlier ages and therefore have more difficulty with some of the obedience exercises at younger ages. A more mature brain just “gets it” better. A final and very important reason for leaving your puppy longer is so that your puppy has more time to build bite inhibition. Building bite inhibition with litter-mates is especially important if you don’t have another dog at home. If possible, it is best if your puppy stays with us until he/she is at least 10-11 weeks of age.
Trained English Golden Retriever Expectations From 11-12 Weeks
Starting at 11 weeks, we add off-site environmental desensitization and over-night crate training to our program. Daily obedience lessons continue. However, the rapid progress in obedience lessons slows down as we turn our attention toward environmental desensitization, working puppies off-site, and getting puppies sleeping in crates over-night.
Puppies are taken on at least one field trip for every two days left past 11 weeks of age. Some of these excursions are to places where we do obedience exercises. Others are where we simply “experience” new things such as the mule rides discussed in the next section.
Off-road Vehicle Rides
Our excursions include mule rides (off-road vehicle, not an animal!) in the warmer months.
The mule rides are super environmental desensitization experiences. On these mule rides, we expose puppies to a wide variety of roads, neighborhoods, sights, and sounds. In addition, the experience of the mule itself is valuable. The mule is loud and sometimes a little bumpy acclimating puppies to sounds as well as the roughest car rides they would likely ever experience.
Our mule rides are super desensitization opportunities. They sit in a lap and enjoy being petted while they stick their noses in the air and smell all kinds of new smells. While they are enjoying the breeze, they hear all kinds of new sounds and see a whole new world of different sights.
Sleeping Overnight in Crates – Almost 12 Weeks
The biggest advantage to leaving puppies with us until 12-13 weeks is that they are sleeping through the night in crates by this age. For some families, this (understandably) is a big deal.
Puppies picked up prior to 12 weeks do not sleep overnight in a crate. Rather, they sleep in a small area in our side foyer with free access to potty outside. Since we have doggy door access, we take advantage of this helpful tool for a couple of reasons.
First of all, the doggy door allows us to gradually build up crate desire before requiring puppies to spend entire nights there. We don’t need to use the crates for forced confinement like most new families will. Puppies accept forced confinement better when it is introduced later. Actually, our puppies don’t even see crate confinement as a negative at all. Because of our slow and gentle introductory process, our puppies look forward to crate times.
The doggy door also allows us to postpone overnight crating until we know that the puppies are able to hold it all night. This prevents those occasionally problems with puppies who habitually get their owners up in the night for far longer than is necessary. Habits are easier to prevent than to break. At our home, we never start the get-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night routine to begin with.
Easy Transition to Overnight Crate Training
Though we do not start our puppies in crates overnight unless left until 12 weeks, the daytime work we do with them transfers easily into night time crate training.
When puppies are left with us until they are 12 weeks or older, we transition them to the crate for overnight between 11 1/2 and 12 weeks. At this age, the majority of our puppies are happy in crates and able to hold their potty for 6-8 hours (most 7-8 hours).
If a puppy changes homes and makes the transition to a crate a week earlier when puppies are 10 1/2 to 11 weeks, the overnight time frame drops to about 6 hours for most puppies. However, a 6 hour night is do-able for most and most puppies transition to overnight crating fairly easily even at 10 1/2 weeks.
Trained English Golden Retriever Expectations From 12-13 Weeks
Starting at 12 weeks, your expectations can include several new milestones. Puppies continue to be taken off property 3 times Obedience training continues on a daily basis. Most puppies can stay for a minimum of 20 feet for about 15-20 seconds as is pictured on our 13-Week Videos page. We also begin working with them on waiting for us to walk around them, as well as putting food on the ground that they aren’t allowed to touch to tempt them to break their stays. These new behaviors may not be solid right at 13 weeks, but they are well on their way.
We continue with heeling practice on a daily basis. However, the improvements are not as visible as with regard to the stay exercises. At 12 weeks, we add a formal finish command to our training which is helpful in getting the puppies started in heeling. By 13 weeks, most puppies do extremely well on a leash and have very good focus.
By 13 weeks, most puppies are sleeping an 8 hour night in a crate, but there are a few that still need taking out sooner. Daytime bladder control is increasing. However, it is with regard to house-training that there is the most variance between individual puppies. Some puppies house train unbelievably easy and can be trusted loose in the house without being taken out for 2-3 hours. However, a small number still cannot be trusted loose in a home for more than 30 minutes or an hour. They must either taken out often or put in a pen or crate when you can’t. All of our 13 week old puppies (or even our 7 week old puppies) prefer to go outside if you will get them outside when they need to go. They don’t have accidents in my home and are 100% used to going outside to the bathroom. All of them will hold it if in a crate or small area. Keeping things small is still key.
So….When Should You Pick up YOUR puppy?
We think the ideal age to pick up a Summer Brook puppy is around 11 weeks. However, picking up your puppy earlier or later could be the right time for you depending on what you want. Here is a summary of the advantages of pick-ups at the different ages.
Advantages to a 10-week Pick-up
Picking up your puppy right at 10 weeks could be the best thing for you under these conditions. 1. You are anxious to get your puppy as soon as possible. 2. You are excited about the possibility of continuing the training of your puppy yourself. 3. You are fairly confident in your ability to learn to continue the training. 4. You are wanting to keep training costs down as much as possible.
If you are fairly dog savvy with a degree of dog training skill, this might be your best option.
Advantages to an 11-week Pick-up
As we mentioned, we think that picking up your puppy right at or a day or two before or after 11 weeks is ideal. By 11 weeks, good manners are more ingrained, basic obedience commands are more solid, crate training is better, meal time manners are more solid, and puppies are closer to being able to sleep a full night. (Of course, at this age, you must continue the training or your puppy will forget it.) One final advantage is that by 11 weeks, all puppies are out of the first fear period. Though most puppies come out of it shortly after 10 weeks of age, it takes a few up until 11 weeks.
Advantages to a 12-week Pick-up
If having a puppy sleep through the night in his/her crate is important to you, picking up at just over 12 weeks is an option with many of our litters.
The next biggest advantage to leaving your puppy until 12-weeks is the off-site training and socialization we begin at 11 weeks.
We do not offer to keep puppies past 11 weeks for many of our litters. Check our puppy questionnaire for the maximum pick-up age for the litter you are interested in.
Advantages to a 13-week Pick-up
Picking up your puppy at 13 weeks would be best for you if you are interested in the most solid training possible prior to 3 months of age.
If you are flying, there could be some challenges getting your puppy home. As is mentioned in many places on our website, we don’t ship our puppies. They must be able to fly home with you in the cabin or you must drive. They WILL fit in the small amount of space alloted in an airplane’s cabin. However, at 13 weeks it will be very tight. Airlines are constantly changing their policies and no two airlines are the same. Most 13 week old puppies are over 20 pounds. Check with your airline. Driving should be no problem.