Puppy classes are great and you will learn a lot! I am a trainer and there is nothing better than getting the exposure to other dogs an people. I have a new pup who is 4 months old and I am starting a class with her next week with a trainer friend of mine. I obviously can teach her what she needs to know but getting her around all the dogs and people I can recreate myself.
If you use hot dogs you can cut them in half long ways then roll them a quarter turn and cut again. then dice them into small pieces. You only need to use 1/3 of the hot dog for your training sessions and your sessions at this point should be under 5 mins and max twice a day. Any longer than that and you will burn your pup out quick. Do several sits, downs, and comes for your first Weeks session and you can start building from there. Your session can get longer as the pup grows but you still do not want to go longer than about 15-20 mins for an adult.
There are a few reasons I use food as a reward for puppies. There are two ways to train a dog to do something. Motivational- using a food or toy lure to get the behavior you want and shape the behavior or Force- making the dog do what you want. Force is an older way of training where the dogs were forced to do an action by a correction or even simply by putting the dog in a sit. When you are teaching a dog a new behavior like sit, how else do you show them what you want? You have to place them or force them into a sit then praise. Dogs learn much better through motivation and you have a better chance of long lasting obedience with little resistance.
Now you do have dogs who refuse to take treats and the only alternative is force. Now force does not mean you are overly rough but you are making the dog do what you want instead of them doing it voluntarily. I only use force when the dogs personality requires it.
Another reason I use food as a reward instead of praise is the dogs want to get paid for working for you. A good example is would you go to work every day for just a pat on the back? Probably not you would expect to get your pay check. The same thing applies to your dogs. They want to earn that pay check and will work harder and longer to get it. With out some type of reward you hit a point where there is nothing in it for the dogs and many times those dogs will shut down. Some dogs have the personality where praise is fine but those types are not as common.
Now one major complaint people say about using food is the dogs then will only work for food, and I agree to a point. I use food to teach the dog what I want and reward them. After they fully understand what I am asking I will slowing start weaning them off the food and only rewarding them after the training session instead for every command. Around the house I do not walk around with food if I give my dogs a command (after they know the command) however if I am doing a training session I always reward my dogs with food after and during. That keeps the dogs motivated and willing to work.
When you are teaching a new command there is no correction. After they know the command 100% then you can start teaching them they have to do it even if you do not have food in your hand. Once they know it you can start giving small corrections to help them understand they need to do it the first time you ask. If you correct without the dogs knowing what you are asking them you create confusion. Only give your commands once do not repeat them. When you are teaching you should be helping the dog do the command so they cannot do it wrong and associating the word with the action.
This should be enough to get you started there is a lot that goes into training dogs and how they learn. That is why a good obedience class is great to get involved in.