Puppies at a young age of around 8 plus weeks are at a perfect time to start basic training. The following training tips and basic commands will get your puppy on the right track.
TO BEGIN – start your training inside the house where there are fewest distractions and preferably in a quiet location. Use a 6′ leash attached to a harness; not a collar at this young age as it can choke the trachea.You will begin with using a ONE word command word and your puppy’s name. For example “Bella SIT”.
SIT: The sit command is a very useful dog command and gives leadership over your dog. With leash and collar on your dog, say the command “DOGNAME SIT” while pushing your dog’s rump down, pull the leash up or hold the dogs head up. If he tries to stand during this command, quickly say “NO” and push rump back down. Keep your puppy in the sit position. Once sit is completed, gently pet, saying “GOOD SIT” and release puppy from the sit position by saying “OK”. Repeat technique and have them sit longer the next time. Remember to use “OK” when you decide they have completed the command action successfully. Remember a lot of praise!
DOWN: For the down command, guide or coax your dog into the down position by saying “Dogname DOWN” taking the leash and gently pulling your dog’s head down while at the same time pressing down between puppy’s shoulder blades with the palms of your hand. If not responding, you can take a hold of the front legs and extend them out in front. After practicing this a few times, try putting puppy in a “down” position by raising your right arm with palm facing flat towards dog, say the command “DOWN” and coax if you may, either extending the front legs or pressing between puppy’s shoulder blades.
STAY: For the stay command, start your dog in a “SIT” position. Raising your right hand with palm facing flat toward dog, say the command “Dogname STAY”, and then step right in front of them. Start there standing in front of your dog. If puppy moves any time after you say this, tell him firmly “NO” and return him to a sitting position. When you dog stays after half a minute, praise him vocally, only. Petting and excitement may cause puppy to move. Once your puppy is able to stay for a few minutes, gradually work out to a further distance until you reach the end of your 6’ leash. Remain standing in front of your dog until each command is over, always releasing with an “OK” and then praise and treat. Eventually begin working longer stays. Try walking around as your puppy remains in a stay position.
SIT STAY & DOWN STAY: After completing the first three command words successfully, work up the dog commands “SIT” and “DOWN” until a “DOWN STAY” and “SIT STAY”. In time your dog should remain in the “Down Stay” position for 5 minutes or longer. You can do this exercise while watching tv, working in the kitchen or outside during yours walks on leash. Practice, Praise and Repeat.
HEEL: The heel command teaches your dog to walk beside your. We recommend you play with your puppy in our backyard first to allow him to burn off excess energy before taking him for any “controlled” walks before teaching puppy the “HEEL” command.
SOME PUPPY GAMES
Fetch – a classic, of course. To teach your pup to play, get two toys. Throw or roll one, and when Bella grabs it, wave the second toy around so that she’ll come running back. When she gets to you, gently take the first toy, and throw the second one.
Toy-on-a-string – great for puppies who need to be encouraged to chase a toy. For some reason, even dogs who don’t like fetch love this game. See instructions here.
Chase – Get down on the pup’s level, gently shove her around, then run away. Let her catch you, and praise and offer a toy or treat when she does. This teaches beginner come-when-called skills.
(Have the puppy chase YOU, don’t play chase-the-puppy. You don’t want her to learn that running away from her human is a fun game)
Puppies love to play, but they have very short attention spans. Hold several 5-15 minute play sessions throughout the day.
In the first weeks, some puppies will be too shy or overwhelmed to play. That’s okay. Proceed at her pace, and she’ll come around eventually. It took my shy, very serious puppy Jonas several days before he’d play with me. He eventually became very enthusiastic about fetch and tug-of-war.
Always end your puppy command training sessions with play time. Throw a ball, run in the yard, make it fun! Toss a toy…. Do whatever you like to do when playing and relaxing with your puppy. Reward with a treat and say “Dogname GOOD DOG”. Keep sessions to no more than 15 minutes. Puppies have short attention span and can easily tire. Keep that in mind so you will not get frustrated.
These are basic commands to start your puppy off on the right track. We also encourage you to enroll in a puppy class. Not only are puppy classes great for learning basic commands, but for socialization skills with other dogs and people of all sizes. This will help your puppy become a well-rounded pet companion who will also be very smart!