Teach them new skills
Teaching your puppy new skills is a great way to engage their mind. Before you start, ask yourself what do you want your puppy to do as an adult dog? A pointing breed needs to point, whoa, and retrieve, while a Lab needs to sit, run marks and blinds and retrieve to hand. Think of how you want your adult dog to be and work on the commands that will get you there. Come, stay, whoa, heel, and sit are some of the first commands to work on. Start with an easy command like ‘come’ and stick with that command until the puppy has mastered it. When the puppy has it down, move on to another. Encourage puppies to perform the task and reward them with treats, praise, and lots of pats when they do it right. Be positive and upbeat and your puppy will grow into a bold, confident dog.
Train in short, focused sessions
Don’t let their tremendous energy fool you, for puppies have short attention spans. While their nervous system is almost fully developed at 10 weeks, their bodies won’t be fully developed for a year. Puppies tire quickly and they nap a lot. One key to engaging their minds is to take advantage of the time just after they’ve woken up from a nap. They’re alert, so train in a short, 5–10-minute session. Then let them run around and play. Soon after they’ll nap again. Train for short, focused amounts on a daily basis. At their young age your puppy will absorb information quickly.
Stimulate by playing
Puppies love to play, and you can use that play time to teach them skills they’ll need as an adult. If you want an adult dog to retrieve in the water then introduce them to water when they’re a puppy. First, let them play in a tub or backyard kiddie pool. Then, follow it up with a walk through a small, slow-moving stream. Then, introduce them to a shallow pond and let them get acclimated. Take your time, and make sure puppies are happy doing what they’re doing.
Socialize them to the world
Introduce puppies to the adult world. Play with their paws, trim their nails, clean their ears, perform a tailgate check and give them baths. If they realize those behaviors are normal and regular it’ll make adult life easier. Let them meet other people and take commands from them. Introduce them to other dogs and animals but start slow. Not all dogs, horses or cats like puppies, so be sure theirs is a positive experience. If you travel a lot then they’ll need to know two things: a kennel is a safe place for them, and driving is part of the program. Slow and steady wins the race, and make sure each of their experiences in the fields, woods, waters, and with people and animals is positive. They’ll gain confidence along the way which helps them perform future training tasks at a higher level.
Puppies are young for such a short time, so make the most of it. Their minds absorb information like a sponge, and if they are positively stimulated and motivated, they’ll be eager to learn new skills and confident to explore new things.