At 11 weeks old, our Canine Companions puppy, Tambor, is already learning. Here is one of the methods his Puppy Raiser, Leslie Zelamsky, uses.
Do you want to learn how dogs communicate? Watch two dogs play. Is their means of communication verbal or physical? Canines communicate in an extremely physical way. As humans, we primarily communicate through verbal conversation. Words mean something to us, but to a young puppy, they are initially background noise. Puppies respond to body language and physical presence. Your body language tells your dog a lot about how you view yourself and how you expect him to behave.
Apply this knowledge to your relationship with your puppy. Too many new puppy owners rely on words to get their puppy to do what they want. When the puppy does not perform the trick, the owner gets frustrated. This is not the puppy's lack of compliance, it is the puppy not understanding what that particular word means. The early part of puppy training involves the use of a lure (treat) to show and get what you want. By using the lure properly, the dog is shown how to move his body into the position that is desired. After getting the dog to do what you want by using ONLY the food, you can start adding a word that is connected to the specific behavior. It is not the word that is important at first. What is important is that you get the dog to do it every time; at first through the use of treats.