Apart from health, our other major focus is temperament. We use the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test to evaluate the puppies when they are seven weeks old. This test helps to determine the behavioral tendencies of a particular puppy in order to help better match them to their future homes. In addition to that, we know each puppy inside and out by the time they’re even old enough to take the Volhard test. The more we know about you, the better we can help guide you in choosing the best puppy for you. Temperament is inherited, so we only breed dogs who meet our standards for temperament. Our Golden Retrievers are friendly, sociable, happy, intelligent, and intuitive. They are eager to play, learn, and spend time with you on adventures out in nature or in public places where they can meet new friends (human or animal). As a result of the dogs we choose to breed, our puppies are versatile and grow into adults who are able to perform a variety of jobs. That said, genetics can only get you so far. Socialization is the key to a well-rounded puppy, and very early socialization gives your puppy the tools to face new experiences later on. We begin to socialize our puppies when they are just days old and continue to do so until they leave for their new homes. We expose our puppies to other dogs, a variety of people (different ages, ethnicities, etc), various sounds (vacuum cleaner, blender, sirens, fireworks, etc.). We frequently rotate puzzles, objects, toys, and textures–things for them to climb on and explore. We take them for car rides, bathe and blow dry them, trim their nails, and play with their feet, ears, and mouths. Our goal is to give our puppies the best start in life they can possibly get. Our puppies are born in the bedroom and grow up in the living room. In the summer we set up a mini agility-esque course and often a baby swimming pool in the kennels outside and encourage the puppies to engage with the water and obstacles for extra exposure. They are very curious and love to explore these new things. In addition to that, we take them outside to run in the yard with supervision. We want them to adjust to new objects with confidence, be comfortable with the feeling of grass, gravel, and concrete under their paws, play with sticks and leaves, splash in the water. We want them to experience nature and do all of the things puppies love to do. Socializing and training have been found to change the physiology of a dog’s brain for the better. Dogs never stop learning as they go through life, but it is extremely beneficial to teach them–from the very start–how to navigate new situations and problem solve when learning. Dogs who are able to think for themselves and who have learned how to learn are much quicker at picking up new commands and are often more focused during training. A good start in life will strongly increase the likelihood that your puppy will grow into a balanced dog. Of course once they leave our home, their new parents must be responsible for keeping up on this socialization process and working their puppy through the “fear stages” that almost all dogs of any breed will start to go through around (on average) 8-11 weeks, 4-6 months, and 8-10 months. These fear periods are very similar to those that human children might experience between the ages of 2 and 12 years old. While some of our puppies never experience this, it is up to you to support them now so they can develop to their full potential.