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Key Commands to Teach Your Dog at 8-Weeks Old

By Jason Wright

May 26, 2023

Bringing a new puppy into your life is an exciting and joyful experience. But as a responsible dog owner, it is crucial to understand the significance of early training for your new pet. While training a dog as young as eight weeks may seem too soon, it's pivotal in establishing good behaviour, setting boundaries, and preventing any unforeseen accidents from occurring while they are young.

Given the impact that early training has on your pet, it is important that you understand how to train them and what commands should be focused on. The following blog post outlines which commands are key for your dog to learn from a young age and tips and tricks that will allow you to teach them effectively, ensuring good behaviour and boundaries as they grow.

Why Should I Train My Puppy?

Whether you've owned a dog before or are a new pet owner, it's important to understand that training your puppy is a crucial and essential aspect of responsible dog ownership. As we've mentioned, although they may seem small and innocent, early training significantly shapes their behaviour, temperament, and overall well-being. 

Here are some reasons why training your 8-week-old puppy is crucial:

  1. Establishing Good Behavior: Early training allows you to establish a foundation of good behaviour in your puppy. You can prevent undesirable behaviours such as excessive barking, biting, chewing, and jumping by teaching them basic commands and proper manners. Training helps your puppy understand boundaries and acceptable behaviour, promoting a harmonious living environment.
  2. Building Trust and Communication: Training sessions allow bonding with your puppy and establishing a strong foundation of trust and communication. Through consistency, you can develop a mutual understanding and a language of cues and commands. This communication helps your puppy feel secure, understood, and connected to you as their owner.
  3. Ensuring Safety: Basic commands like "sit," "stay," and "come" are invaluable in keeping your puppy out of harm's way. Being able to control their actions and recall them in potentially dangerous situations, such as near a road or encountering aggressive animals, can be life-saving.
  4. Promoting Socialization: Early training facilitates proper socialization, exposing your puppy to various people, animals, and environments. Socialization helps them develop confidence, learn appropriate social behaviours, and reduce the likelihood of fear or aggression toward unfamiliar situations. 
  5. Preventing Behavioral Issues: Addressing behavioural issues can be challenging and time-consuming. Early training sets a positive behavioural trajectory, reducing the likelihood of developing destructive habits, separation anxiety, or fear-based aggression later in life.

Establishing Basic Commands

Certain commands will help establish a solid foundation for your puppy's training as they grow, allowing you to work with them on more intricate and complex commands. But before we get to this part of their training, it is essential to start with the basic commands that will teach them how to be trained and will be used most often.

Here are the commands that you should start with when training your 6-week-old puppy:

1. Sit: Teaching your puppy to sit on command is a fundamental skill that promotes discipline and obedience. We recommend using a Balanced Dog Training method when working with your pet. Start by using treats as positive reinforcement, and gently press down on their hindquarters while saying the word "sit." Repeat this process until your puppy learns to associate the command with the action.

2. Stay: The "stay" command is crucial for your puppy's safety and your peace of mind. Begin by asking your puppy to sit and then take a step back while using the word "stay." Gradually increase the distance and duration of the stay, rewarding your puppy with praise and treats for their compliance.

3. Come: Teaching your puppy to come when called is essential for their safety, especially when off-leash or around certain triggers such as other dogs, bikers, or cars. Begin in a quiet and distraction-free environment, using a cheerful tone and their name followed by the command "come." 

4. Leave It: Puppies are naturally curious and often tend to explore things they shouldn't. The "leave it" command helps prevent them from ingesting harmful substances or objects. It also prevents poor behaviours from establishing, such as chewing on or picking up unwanted items like shoes. Start by placing a treat in your closed hand and offering it to your puppy while saying, "leave it." When your puppy stops trying to get the treat, reward them with a different treat or praise.

5. Thresholds: Thresholds may be the most important command when establishing boundaries and controlling your puppy's impulses. Thresholds teach your pet to control their impulses, whether triggered by another dog or person or have unwanted behavioural habits such as jumping on your guests. For a complete breakdown of threshold training, check out our blog here. 

Working with Your Pet in Various Environments

Training your puppy goes beyond simple commands. It also involves socialization, helping your pet to develop confidence and adaptability, and ensuring they grow into well-rounded adult dogs. 

Here are a few tips to aid in their socialization:

  • Introduce your puppy to new people, animals, and environments in a positive and controlled manner. This does not mean bringing your dog to a leash-free park and letting them roam uncontrolled. Instead, gradually expose them to different sights, sounds, and situations in a controlled setting. 
  • Organize "playdates" with other well-behaved and vaccinated puppies to encourage healthy social interactions. This allows your puppy to learn appropriate play behaviours, body language, and canine communication skills. Again, this should not be done in a chaotic setting like a dog park. We also recommend consulting a professional before working with your dog on socialization, ensuring no unforeseen mistakes are made.
  • Expose your puppy to various stimuli, such as different surfaces, objects, and noises. This exposure helps them become accustomed to the everyday sights and sounds of the world around them, reducing the likelihood of fear or anxiety later in life and preventing them from being triggered to misbehave at particular noises.

Training Tips and Techniques to Use While Working with Your Pet

If you are newer to dog training, it is important to understand that it is a serious time commitment that may be slightly frustrating, especially in the beginning stages. However, it is important to remain consistent and work with your pet daily, helping them learn their commands and preventing poor behaviour.

The following key elements are also important to keep in mind when working with your dog:

  1. Remain Consistent: Set aside regular daily training sessions, keeping them short and focused to maintain your puppy's interest and attention. 
  2. Be Patient in your Training Efforts: Remember that puppies have short attention spans, so keep the training sessions brief and frequent to maintain their focus and prevent boredom. Be patient with your pet as they learn their new commands.
  3. Use a Balanced Training Approach: Using the four quadrants of operant conditioning; positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment and negative punishment, you can teach your pet that certain behaviours have positive or negative reactions, helping to set boundaries and establish commands.

The iTK9 Way; Training Your Puppy

Training your 8-week-old puppy is a crucial investment in their future and the quality of your relationship. By teaching them essential commands and providing proper socialization, you are setting them up for a lifetime of good behaviour, obedience, and happiness. 

If you're struggling to work with your pet or unsure where to start, our trained professionals can help. They fully commit to working with them through behaviour, obedience training, and continued learning safely and effectively. 

We do the hard work for you to attain a happy home and a healthy relationship with your pet.

Included in all of our programs are the following;

  1. In-Person Learning: Midway progress training video, two go-home lessons.
  2. Online Learning: Owner education course, instructional training videos, iTK9 member community, e-books & additional training resources.
  3. Owner Support: Photo updates of your dog training with our team and access to our team for questions & support.

Contact us today for more information on our programs, including Board & Train.

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