Does your dog respond immediately when you call out its name? If you’ve recently adopted a dog or you are raising a young puppy, it’s always a good idea to give it a name and teach it to recognize the name.
Name recognition is an essential part of raising a puppy. The whole idea of teaching a puppy its name is to show it that there’s always something good about to happen specifically to them when the name is uttered.
Your lovely puppy will naturally learn to associate itself with its name with a little effort if you address the puppy with the name more frequently.
However, dogs are not blessed with the same verbal cognition as humans, and the name recognition process may take some time. Fortunately, you can make the entire process easy and effortless if you go about in a strategic way.
Here are a few steps that you can take to teach a puppy their name:
Start by Getting Their Full Attention
You’ll need to have your pup’s undivided attention when you start teaching it its name. For the best results, make sure you are alone with the puppy at home, so it knows no one else is being addressed.
Make sure there are no distractions around and have a bag of treats at hand. The puppy shouldn’t be over-excited, tired, or distracted by any other activity inside the house. When you are certain that you have the puppy’s attention, say the name aloud in a happy voice and see if you get its attention.
If you don’t, it’s probably because the little dog hasn’t yet identified with the name. You should call out the name again and clap your hands or make a smacking noise to attract attention.
Mark Response and Give Immediate Reward
If you get attention after saying the puppy’s name, immediately mark the good behavior with an encouraging word such as YES or Good Dog!
To make the dog associate the name with the good behavior give it a food reward or treat immediately and a gentle rub or praise. The treat or food reward will encourage the puppy to look at you every time you call out that specific name.
If the puppy doesn’t look at you when you call its name, hold the treat close to its face or nose to make sure it can smell it and then call out the name again. The smell of the treat will get its attention and when the puppy is now facing you, say the name again and give it the treat and the accompanying praise. The dog will soon learn to turn and face you every time its name is mentioned.
Repeat the process once or twice and then allow the puppy to divert attention elsewhere away from you and try to call the name again.
When they look at you again and give you attention, mark the moment with a Good Dog or YES phrase and give praise and a treat.
The Hunting Dog has some good buying guides for the best treats to give to your dog.
Repeat the Process in Different Locations
Repeat the steps mentioned above a few times making sure not to bore the puppy, or the training may lose its effectiveness.
The key to success in this name recognition process lies in repeating it over and over again for several days. Over time the puppy will learn to associate its name with praise and a treat and will always give you attention every time the name is mentioned.
To instill the meaning of the name further, you can take the training outdoors at the backyard or even when walking in the park. Practice somewhere quiet without plenty of activities and always make sure to reward positive response with a treat.
As the puppy becomes more used to the name, make it a habit to call it even when it’s out of sight or in another room until you start seeing the puppy rushing to you wherever you are, and every time the name is called.
The key to teaching a puppy their name is repetition. The more consistent you are in the lessons, the sooner the puppy will learn to respond to its name.
Keep in mind that some puppies will take longer than others to learn, but with consistent training, every dog soon learns to respond to their name.