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So little Finnegan comes home next Sunday and I was wondering how soon everyone introduces "formal" training? He will be 8 weeks old and I know the first thing we really must focus on is the house breaking. I have a plan of action for that but I was curious about other commands.

Do you start an 8 week old on a formal training schedule or do you just implement commands such as sit, stay, down as part of a play? And when you do decide to work formally do you set aside a block of time and say to yourself "this is what we are going to work on now and nothing else" and play time will be an additional reward for a job well done?

I plan on registering him for puppy kindergarten but the classes held here are for puppies age 12 weeks and up, and he will be too young for that round, so by the time the second round of classes start he will be about 16 weeks and I wasn't sure if I should just let him be a "puppy" for the first 8 weeks he lives with us.

I have been scouring tons of books and reading material here on the forum and there is a ton of great advise (hence why I am asking this) but I guess I was hoping for a detailed way to work through training since I have never done this before. Our previous dogs were "good" dogs, but I want him to be "great" when it come to listening.

Oh, one final question at this point, when you do start working on training, do you attempt to train more than one command at a time or do you not move on to say "lay down" until he has mastered "sit"?

Thanks everyone!
 

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I worked on several things at once--puppies are smart and so eager to learn you can really teach them a lot. However, you need to keep sessions short and FUN. Building a puppy foundation for me is all about them learning that commands are fun--when they later go through teen mode and don't want to listen you can then let them know certain commands are not optional.

Personally I didn't want a treat-dependent dog so I tried to limit treats when training--opting more for praise and play with my puppy. I use more treats now, but I didn't want her first experience with training to be all about getting food!

One thing you can do if you have the time/space is to teach your puppy to follow you in a field or backyard (I know, harder with the field unless you know it is safe before vaccines). Never chase them, but have them chase you and follow you around in a game. This has really helped mine from a young age to be good at off-leash and have excellent recall without using treats. I would just run away and sometimes sit and she would come bounding to me so I would say "Come" loudly and clearly and she always (and still does) thought that was so much fun!
 

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Tracer, Rumor & Cady
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Learning to keep their feet on the floor starts at 8 weeks
Sitting starts at 8 weeks ...especially at meal time.
Learning eye contact starts at 8 weeks...
Learning to stand (and keeping all four feet on the ground) while being petted starts at 8 weeks
Walking on a leash and dragging a line starts at 8 weeks
I work on downs separately from sits....(otherwise puppies seem to chain them together...more of a 'sit-down'...

BRIEF FUN Sessions... 10-15 pieces of kibble is one session - play is definitely a part of puppy training... It is one of the major building block of the relationship...

Concentrating on experiences and exposures is every bit as important as learning formal commands...its much easier to work with a dog that has had positive exposure to lots of different situations ....they dont have to work through fears or uncertainty at the same time they are trying to learn a new skill.

IMHO....puppies require...
A chance to climb in/on/under/over things...
Exposures to MANY different sights & sounds....
Exposures to MANY different textures under their feet in their mouths...
Exposure to lots of different people....
Trim there nails and work on restraint every other day....
Hands in their mouths daily - Checking their ears daily - Checking their tail daily...
 

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For me, at this age it isn't as important what they are learning, just that they are learning how to learn. I like to teach lots of tricks when they are young. The problem solving skills they develop will help them to learn quicker when they are older.

The most important thing you can do is socialize with as many people and environments as you possibly can. Take the pup everywhere.
 
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