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I have two 13 and 1/2 week old Papillon puppies and they are already showing signs of being so smart. This is the first time I have owned a Papillon, as I am used to Golden Retrievers. I am wondering at what age is it appropriate to start teaching them tricks like sit, shake a paw, etc. I'm not sure if I should bother right now because they are too young to understand, or if I should already be trying to get them into a habit.

I know that Papillons are highly trainable and these two come from a long line of champion dogs. Any suggestions?
 

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With a young puppy like that, I'd be more concerned about teaching basic life skills that they will encounter such as accepting touch from strangers, positive socialization with people and dogs, walking on a leash, housebreaking, learning what to chew and what not to chew, self control, properly greeting strangers in the house, etc. My dog missed out on all of that as a puppy and it's much harder to make up later in life.
 

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The girls have met lots of people already and are responding well to strangers. They like when people come to visit and play with them so I'm not too concerned about that. They have met a couple other dogs but cannot walk too far on a leash yet because they need their third set of shots, which includes the Parvo shot. Until they get that we can't walk them where other dogs might have been. We are teaching all of that other stuff that you mentioned as well, so I guess you are suggesting that until they master all that I shouldn't worry about other tricks/commands?

Thanks for your response.
 

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I think you can do both...all the important things mentioned above and basic commands. We started teaching our pup to sit as soon as we got her at 8 weeks old. We would do very short training sessions (5 minutes) a few times a day. I think we tried to teach a new command each week. First was sit, then down, then stay. Once she knew those we started with the fun commands, like shake and rollover. I was shocked at how fast she learned all the commands and tricks and I'm sure each pup is different so the rate at which you teach new commands may differ. And to us, one of the most important thing to train is "recall". So, along with all the other commands we always practice "recall" using the "come" command.

IMO, pups need mental stimulation in addition to exercise. Luckily our pup is food motivated and seemed to enjoy learning new commands and tricks. We made it fun by rewarding with lots of praise and treats. Once she seemed "to get" the commands we weaned off using treats for rewards and did more praising.
 

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I think you can do both...all the important things mentioned above and basic commands. We started teaching our pup to sit as soon as we got her at 8 weeks old. We would do very short training sessions (5 minutes) a few times a day. I think we tried to teach a new command each week. First was sit, then down, then stay. Once she knew those we started with the fun commands, like shake and rollover. I was shocked at how fast she learned all the commands and tricks and I'm sure each pup is different so the rate at which you teach new commands may differ. And to us, one of the most important thing to train is "recall". So, along with all the other commands we always practice "recall" using the "come" command.

IMO, pups need mental stimulation in addition to exercise. Luckily our pup is food motivated and seemed to enjoy learning new commands and tricks. We made it fun by rewarding with lots of praise and treats. Once she seemed "to get" the commands we weaned off using treats for rewards and did more praising.
Heck, yeah! When Tag (papillon) was 10 weeks old I was already taking advantage of his puppy-sponge-like brain and not only doing the real life stuff, socialization, and he was responding to sit, down, and stand signals. And he "knew" come (more like he responded to the prompt).
 

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The girls have met lots of people already and are responding well to strangers. They like when people come to visit and play with them so I'm not too concerned about that. They have met a couple other dogs but cannot walk too far on a leash yet because they need their third set of shots, which includes the Parvo shot. Until they get that we can't walk them where other dogs might have been. We are teaching all of that other stuff that you mentioned as well, so I guess you are suggesting that until they master all that I shouldn't worry about other tricks/commands?

Thanks for your response.

I mean, you can teach tricks/cues anytime after they are 6 weeks old. The reason why I mention the life skills stuff is because your concern should be in making sure their life is fulfilling and stress free. Early socialization to situations they will encounter is the best way to ensure this. I learned the hard way as I rescued my dog when he was 1.5 and he seemingly had no basic life skills. Tricks are entertaining to us, but not terribly important to their mental well being. That's all.
 

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I was watching a video of very young pups being taught basic commands. They were only 3-4 weeks old if I remember correctly. I taught my puppy to automatically sit for his dinner as soon as he came home at 8 weeks old. It took him 3-4 feedings to get the idea. Their brains are sponges and they have a great time and lots of fun learning new commands and earning treats.

Dogs love commands and treats, even old dogs. My previous dog always got excited with a training session, even when she was an old lady of 13.
 

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My puppy knows a trick, but I think you should take advantage of puppies being learning machines and focus on basic manners and obedience when they are this young. They have all of the rest of their lives to learn tricks, but living with a dog with no basic manners is difficult.

It's never to early to start teaching puppies stuff, as long as you understand that they have very limited attention spans and keep training sessions short.
 

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Honestly, I start teaching from the second I get a dog. Yes, start with the basics but throwing some trick training in for fun shouldn't hinder you in any way. I teach sit, down, shake all kind of around the same time. changing it up keeps it fun for both of you. Puppies learn so quickly and keeping it fun is the key to success. One step at a time and enjoy the ride. :)
 

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As soon as you get home.
 

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Honestly, I start teaching from the second I get a dog. Yes, start with the basics but throwing some trick training in for fun shouldn't hinder you in any way. I teach sit, down, shake all kind of around the same time. changing it up keeps it fun for both of you. Puppies learn so quickly and keeping it fun is the key to success. One step at a time and enjoy the ride. :)
This is what I do, too. The way I see it, my dogs are learning to learn when they're babies. It's not all about what they're taught, it's about how they're taught and how they learn. It makes teaching more complicated things down the road a lot easier if they know how to "play the game".
 
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