START socializing your puppy through a training class after it has had its injections at around ten to twelve weeks. Do not listen to those that say one should not train a dog until it is six or twelve months old. If there is a special class for puppies under five months locally join it for they can allow for a pup’s attention span with short, positive, motivational sessions.
A mixed age social class is not always suitable for puppies. If they are introduced to badly behaved adult dogs, they can emulate the behaviour or be scared for life. There is an art in introducing young pups to other dogs and only an experienced trainer would know how to do this.
So, if a mixed age class is your only option, go along first without the puppy and ask the trainer, noting whether there are any other pups being trained and the methods. If you don’t like what you see go elsewhere. The important thing is to get them socialised.
At home the dog’s name should precede every command to act as an attention trigger. Whisper the command in a pleasant but firm, not harsh voice.
Starting this way, you will never have to shout a command.
Only give a command once, using it when you know the puppy is going to do what you want, like Sit. If the pup walks away from you say “Away”. If it come towards you say “Come”. When it gets up say “Up”. When it lies down say “Down”.
This way the pup can never be wrong.
If it does not obey, hold the collar and push its bottom into the sit position and praise. Take the appropriate action if the other commands are not obeyed.
Keep training to a few minutes, three or four times a day. This is enough to make progress without overwhelming or boring your dog.
Eye contact is important. Before any obedience exercise you must get the dog’s attention. When you call its name and it looks at you, praise it. If it will not look at you use a squeaky toy or treat to attract attention.
You will need a collar and lead, but few pet shops or vets understand what is required for training. If they did they would not stock half of what they sell. Most collars and leads are not suitable for training. Check with a knowledgeable trainer.
Use a half-check buckle collar not a choke chain and a leather or rope lead, soft to the hands, not chain type leashes or Flexi lines.
Possibly the most important command is the Down, particularly if walking and a large dog approaches. Do not pick up the puppy but put it in the Down position and allow the other dog to sniff the pup, holding the lead slack. If held tight this could indicate that you are nervous. The large dog will understand that the pup is being submissive and not attack.