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I pick up my new 8 week old puppy in a few days, and I am feeling overwhelmed by everything I want him to learn! I can't teach everything first, and I want to set realistic expectations. I plan to use a lot of shaping and clicker training, all R+.
What should I plan to teach first, and what is realistic to expect him to get down in the first couple weeks? I know he's just a baby, but I want to start him out right.
 

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At eight weeks old he just needs to learn to respond to his name and to bond to you. You can start with the basic "sit" and "come______"..... but don't expect a solid response LOL!
A good puppy game for him to learn his name is for you and another person to sit on the floor across the room from each other and call the puppy back and forth by his chosen name, treating him each time he comes.
One of the most important things you can do also at this time, is to handle his feet, ears,& mouth to get him accustomed to grooming/cleaning/ clipping nails/ brushing teeth, etc.
Also, just a reminder, DON'T take your puppy to any public places where other dogs frequent..... until he is fully immunized he is at risk for parvo!
 

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Yes, teach him his name! Another way to do this is to show him a treat and bring it up between your eyes as you say his name. He'll look at the treat, then at your eyes, at which point you give him the treat. He will learn to look at you/make eye contact when you say his name :)

Teach him that the sound of the clicker and/or your marker word (i.e. "good" or "yes") means he's doing something right and a reward is coming--just mark and treat, mark and treat, no matter what he's doing. He'll quickly learn to associate the sound with the reward.

Teach him to be comfortable wearing his harness and/or collar and with having a leash attached--introduce him slowly, let him sniff each item for a while, touch them to his body a few times without hooking them on, etc. Give lots of treats and praise.

And teach him that his crate is a nice, fun, safe place to be. Again, introduce him slowly. Very slowly. You have to go slower than you think you do. I wish I had spent more time on this one within the first couple of days!
 

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There is soooo much to choose from I couldn't possibly say which first! Not sure of your previous experiences, but just about any test item from the Good Canine Citizen test is essential. Depending on your pup's breed, impulse control might be more important than anything else. Knowing their name and sit is an excellent start. I can only begin saying how often I use "sit" every day!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks everyone!! Good reminders to keep it simple.

Also, just a reminder, DON'T take your puppy to any public places where other dogs frequent..... until he is fully immunized he is at risk for parvo!
This reminds me of my other question. I am TERRIFIED of parvo! I live in a very dog-friendly apartment complex so there isn't really any grass that hasn't been visited. I plan to keep him to the area right outside our apartment (we have a sliding door right to a little lawn area, but it's public so who knows how many dogs have been there, right?) because I do want to start potty training outside from the very beginning - should I rethink and puppy pad train instead?
 

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For housetraining, you can try bringing a puppy pad outside for him to use while you wait for him to get through with his shots. Then once he's fully vaccinated start fading out the pad and have him go on the grass. To fade it out just make the pad smaller and smaller until he's using the grass, but you may get lucky and he'll simply go on the grass right away.

Have you checked out Kikopup on youtube? She's a great trainer and has some really good puppy training videos, including what she recommends training first.

Here's on with tips on what to train your pup and what not to train https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCwh7_SjUVM
and here's one to her youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCwh7_SjUVM
 

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Not necessarily first, but very early on, I train a good solid "leave it" command. This can save your dogs life.

Good luck with your new pup! :)
 

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I would say start with priming the clicker, priming the marker words you're going to use, teaching his name, and working on desensitizing him to wearing a collar/harness/leash by having him wear it and drag the leash behind him. By "marker words" I mean whatever word you'll use if you happen not to have a clicker on you, I like to prime it the same way I prime the clicker by saying the word, giving a treat, saying the word, giving a treat, etc 10 times randomly though the day like I would with a clicker.

I like to teach "sit" first, because it's often very, very quick to teach. "Down" is also an easy teach. Nose touches to hands are also very easy to teach. I also tend to start working on "leave it" very quickly, because it's good for impulse control. Start with very simple things that will allow him to learn how to learn and help the two of you build a working partnership. With very young puppies, if I notice they're not getting something and starting to get frustrated I will tend to shelve that until a later date. I tried to teach a paw target when my dog was like 2.5 months old and after 2 different short sessions she had made no progress and was getting visibly frustrated; I ended up shelving that as a behavior to learn later on and tried again a month or two later and she learned it in minutes.

I would highly suggest finding a puppy kindergarten-type class to take him to, they're great for socialization and for teaching a dog that they still have to listen to you even when their are other fun dogs around, and they set a good pace to introduce new things.

For a pup that young, go slowly. Keep session short, no more than 5 min or so; end before he gets frustrated or loses focus. Pick easy things that he can catch on to quickly so you build confidence. You can easily spread 3, or even 4, 5 minute session through the day- its been suggested by a few different studies that dogs learn best when they learn in several short sessions versus one long one.
 

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Teach him his name, 'sit' (with a tiny bit of 'wait'), 'come', and 'go potty' on command. Just tell him 'go potty' repeatedly every time you take him out, and give him treats once they go. This has been big for my dog, because when we get on new surfaces (e.g. gravel, sand, grass) he doesn't know if he should potty or not. Telling him 'go potty' helps him know what to do.
 
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