The Flat-Coated Retriever is an eternal puppy, brimming with happiness and energy. They adore people and will greet everyone they meet as if that person were their best friend (which makes them lousy guard dogs). Flat-Coated Retrievers are excellent sporting dogs, and hunters can use them to hunt on land or in the water. After a day of hunting or playing with the kids in the back year, the Flat-Coated Retriever will turn into a lapdog – don't be surprised if you find him sleeping in bed under the covers. Though this breed is friendly and social and gets along well with other household pets, their extended puppyhood and constant energy can make them a challenge for first time dog owners.
Couch potatoes should steer clear of this active breed. Flat-Coated Retrievers have energy to spare, and just when you think you've tired your dog out, he's caught his second (or third, or fourth) wind. They tend to behave themselves indoors, but if your Retriever isn't getting his daily exercise requirement met, he'll let you know by promptly chewing valuable household items. Apartment dwellers should only adopt this breed if they can give him at least an hour to run every single day.
Active families are best for the Flat-Coated Retriever, as they love to run and play. They'll walk, jog and hike and can keep up alongside a biker. Hunters enjoy this breed because they are so versatile – they are equally proficient on land as they are in water.
The Flat-Coated Retriever looks like a dark colored Golden Retriever, but don't let the appearance fool you. Whereas Golden Retrievers are a dog trainer's dream, the Flat-Coated Retriever is a bit less reliable. They are prone to willfulness and love to test boundaries. Patience and an even temper is important when working with a Flat-Coated Retriever. Discipline will often backfire, so rewarding good behavior with affection and lots of treats is the only way to go.
Flat-Coated Retrievers have an extended puppyhood, and many individual dogs don't lose their puppy-like exuberance until they are well into adulthood. This means they basically never outgrow jumping and carrying on when someone enters your home. To keep his manners in check, it is important to train a Flat-Coated Retriever early on to obey “down” and “stay” commands.
This breed, like his Retriever counterparts, has a tendency to be “mouthy.” If it fits in his mouth, he'll pick it up and run with it. They also have a tendency to mouth people's hands and sleeves. Giving your Flat-Coated Retriever enough of his own toys to chew on and teaching him to obey commands early on are important, as this can be very tough behavior to break in adulthood.
Flat-Coated Retrievers often develop Separation Anxiety, which usually involves destructive chewing. They are a true family dog and can become depressed quickly if left alone for too long. People who work long hours shouldn't commit themselves to this breed. Families with a stay at home parent or those with flexible work schedules are much better suited. Proper exercise is also important to stave off anxiety.