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- To teach a dog its name, say his name from a feet away. Once you get his attention and he looks at you, acknowledge the response by saying a marker word such as “Yes” then rewarding him with a treat right away.
- Avoid mistakes such as using your dog’s name as a punishment or to get him to come. It’s also important not to use multiple names and nicknames as these will cause confusion on your dog.
- Repetition is key when teaching a dog its name, however, keep each training session short and fun—like a name game. Initially, train in a quiet environment to get your dog’s full attention, then gradually move on to different locations and varying situations with distractions to test your dog’s conditioning.
Bringing a new puppy home is always exciting and rewarding for me. There are so many experiences to be had and so many tricks to teach a new furry friend. One of the most difficult things to teach a puppy is its name—but it is definitely doable.
Some owners never attempt to train their dog to know its name. They just keep repeating the puppy’s name and hope it will eventually catch on at some point. While this is most effective, I can suggest better ways to help your pooch learn his name.
While it takes time and dedication, I suggest you devote yourself to teaching your dog his name and instructing everyone on saying the name in a particular way offers many benefits for both you and your puppy.
Teaching your dog its name is an important step in establishing a good relationship between puppy and owner. This is the start of a beautiful friendship and many more training sessions over the years. Learning its name is essential for your dog’s safety and future training.
Not only does your dog need to know his name, but he also needs to respond to his name being called every time. By teaching your dog to respond to his name, you can save him from imminent danger and could save his life.
How to Effectively Use Your Dog’s Name
Teaching your dog its name is not simply a cute trick. It should mean much more. When you call your dog, its name should mean, “I’m talking to you and you need to pay attention right now.”
When you call your dog, your dog should respond by stopping immediately what he is doing and turn towards you to acknowledge that he has heard your call. The dog should then sit quietly and offer its undivided attention while it waits for a command.
Teaching your dog to learn its name and respond to you immediately is the foundation on which all other training tricks are built. If your dog does not respond appropriately when you call his name, it is going to be much more difficult to train him later, so this is an important starting point.
You Must Begin Conditioning Your Puppy Right Away
Suppose your dog is chasing a ball and the ball is about to go into the road. You call your dog, and he immediately turns to you and stops chasing the ball. If your dog responds correctly, this means he has been conditioned.
You must condition your dog so that each time you call his name, he immediately responds and pays attention with excitement. To condition your puppy, you should only use his name positively.
Never scold your dog by calling his name. You should never use your dog’s name for anything else but to get his attention. Instruct anyone else who will come in contact with the dog to do the same. Consistency is key to training a dog to learn its name.
Unfortunately, a lot of mistakes are made regarding consistency and only using a dog’s name for one purpose. Let’s discuss some of the mistakes you should avoid when training your puppy to learn its name.
Common Mistakes You Should Avoid
Making mistakes while trying to train your dog to learn its name may bring on problems later. Try avoiding the following when training your dog so he will fully understand your command and respond.
Do not use your dog’s name as a correction.
Many owners yell their dog’s name as a form of correction. Perhaps your dog is doing something he shouldn’t. You yell, “Bad dog!” and insert his name after the correction. This is one of the biggest mistakes dog owners make.
If you use your dog’s name to correct him, he is going to associate his name with negative things. Every time he hears his name, he will think he is being scolded. This is something you do not want to happen because your dog can become greatly confused!
Owners who consistently scold their dogs by shouting their names will find their dogs will ignore them. Why would your dog want to stop chasing a fun ball and get yelled at by you?
Your dog has to want to stop and pay attention, and it is your job to get him to this point. Never yell or scold your dog while using his name. Your dog’s name must never be used negatively.
Never use your dog’s name to call him to come.
Using your dog’s name can only have one meaning. Calling his name is meant to get his attention and get him to stop and wait for a command.
If you use his name to train your dog to come when called, you are making a mistake in training. To ensure you are calling your dog appropriately, you should use the following.
- First, call his name positively.
- Pause for a moment.
- Give the command of “come”.
By using this method, your dog’s name is not confused with the “come” command. If you have already developed the bad habit of using your dog’s name as a come command, you will need to work diligently to unteach this behavior.
Do not use multiple names or nicknames for your dog.
Another common mistake owners make is using multiple names or nicknames for their dogs. Yes, your puppy can learn to respond to multiple names, but by teaching him this way, you are weakening your authority. Additionally, remember that dogs respond better to shorter and simpler names. You want your dog to give its full attention to you when it is called.
Dogs Get Confused Over What Their Names Mean
If you have found yourself making the above mistakes, your dog may be confused when you call its name. It could consider a name call to have three possible meanings.
- You are being a naughty dog, and I am angry.
- Come to me. I am angry at you.
- Stop and give me your immediate attention.
You will likely find your dog will respond in multiple ways, depending on what he perceives your call to mean. It is so important to teach your puppy his name the right way, from the very beginning .
You want your dog to hear its name and immediately think, “It’s my name! Something good is about to happen! I’m excited!”. With the right steps, you can get your pup to this point without so much misunderstanding.
10 Steps to Teach Your Puppy to Learn Its Name
Yes, your puppy will eventually learn his name if you speak it enough. Based on the above information, you should approach teaching your puppy its name in a properly structured manner.
The following steps should be carried out precisely and in order. By using these steps, your dog will stop when its name is called and stand at attention, waiting for its next command.
Step One: Get Your Dog’s Attention
You should start name training sessions when it is just you and your puppy at home. There should be no one else around and no distractions.
Make sure your puppy is not overly tired or excited. Start when you already have your puppy’s full attention.
Say your puppy’s name in a bright and happy tone. Your goal is to get his attention. Realize he may not give his attention right away because he does not know his name.
If your puppy does not respond to you calling its name, wait for a few minutes and then call his name again. This time, add a sharp clap with your hands. If the name-calling does not get his attention, the clap should.
Step Two: Immediately Mark & Reward
The very second your dog turns at you, mark immediately. Use your chosen marker. It could be vocal or by clicker training, if you prefer.
After marking with a vocal response or a clicker, give an immediate tasty treat. It will be this praise and treat that will first encourage your puppy to look at you when his name is called.
Step Three: Allow Your Puppy to Turn Away From You
Next, you are going to want to allow your puppy to turn away from you and become distracted by something else for a moment.
Repeat your puppy’s name. If your puppy looks at you, immediately mark it and offer a reward. If your puppy does not look at you, keep trying here and there until he does.
Step Four: Repeat the First Three Steps
Repetition of the first three steps is important for training your puppy to learn his name. Repeat the steps about ten times but no more. Pushing too hard will only lead to boredom on the part of your puppy.
You will need to repeat these steps every couple of hours for a few days. Eventually, your puppy will begin equating his name being called with getting a delicious treat.
Step Five: Change the Location
You must vary the places you teach your puppy. Remember, your puppy’s attention span is very tiny right now. Be patient.
Do not attempt to train your puppy in areas where he will be distracted or in danger. Keep to the indoors for now. Try moving to different rooms when practicing his name training.
Eventually, you can try the first three steps in your backyard, as long as it is fenced in and safe. Wireless dog fences and dog GPS trackers should aid in training. Keep monitoring the speed at which your puppy responds to its name. Once he responds quickly every time, you can move on to the next step.
Step Six: Increase the Time Before Your Puppy Gets Rewarded
This next step may take a bit longer than the ones before, depending on how well your puppy responds. Try calling your puppy’s name. The moment he looks at you, mark immediately but wait a couple of seconds before offering a treat.
This step is meant to increase the time your puppy stays at attention. Increase the time by a second or two each time. Eventually, you will want your dog to stand at attention for 5-10 seconds before you give a treat.
Step Seven: Add Distractions During Training
Once your puppy can easily stay at attention for at least five seconds, it is time to put his training to the test. Start calling his name while there are distractions in the room.
The distraction can be another person or a dog toy. Once your puppy is distracted, try calling his name.
At this point, you are going to need to go back to instant marking and reward. You are asking your puppy to take his mind off the distraction, so your offering needs to be exciting.
You may want to put your puppy on a leash at this point. On a dog leash, you can offer a gentle correction and pull him back if he stops paying attention to you or begins to wander off.
Step Eight: Increase the Time & Distractions
For step eight, you are simply going to keep working with your dog. Your goal is to get your dog to hold attention for more than five seconds as often as possible.
Step Nine: Move the Training Outside
You’ve successfully gotten your dog’s attention inside your home and in the backyard. Start taking your puppy to outdoor locations away from home. Start in a quiet place first. As your puppy continues to respond, you will need to increase the distractions outside.
Step Ten: Don’t Stop!
You have finally reached the point where you can easily get your puppy’s attention consistently. You will need to be diligent and continue working with your puppy over the coming weeks. Once again, repetition is key. Same rules apply to adult dogs.
FAQ on Teaching Your Dog Its Name
1. How long does it take for your dog to learn its name?
It will take a few weeks of consistent training for your puppy to learn its name. You can expect to train for about two to three weeks. Consistency will help make the training process easier.
2. How hard is it to teach a dog a new name?
Teaching a dog its name is not easy, but with consistent work, it can be done. Make sure to stay patient. Work with your dog slowly.
Now, you have the basics down. The following are some tips that will help you continue in your dog’s training.
- Always stop the training before your dog gets too tired.
- Make sure to always call your dog in a high-pitched and cheerful voice.
- Never call your dog in anger.
- Do not overuse your dog’s name.
When you first get your precious puppy, start working with him a bit at a time. You and your puppy will be able to bond during this training time. Soon, your puppy will know its name.