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How to Teach Your Dog to Recognize Their Name

This article was written by Steffi Trott – Founder of SpiritDog Training! Enjoy. 

How to Teach Your Dog to Recognize Their Name

How to Teach Your Dog to Recognize Their Name

Teaching dogs to recognize their name is one the best ways to get their attention, make them feel loved, and protect them, isn’t it?

In case your dog encounters any dangers or wanders here and there, they should know that it’s time to head back home to you once they hear their name. For this, you need to gain their attention and confidence at first.

If a name is often tossed out to a dog, they will eventually remember it. However, here are some tips to speed up the process as we all know the sooner, the better!

Choose the Proper Name for Your Dog

Firstly, you need to make sure that you’re naming your dog, right. Dogs are often known to have an easier time grasping words with a hard consonant and longer vowel, such as Lucky or Tommy.

Many dog experts recommend one or two-syllabled dog names. After all, though they don’t get to choose their name, they have full right to get one which they can understand and love.

It must also be noted that your dog’s name must sound different than often used command words to avoid confusing your dog.

The Name Game

Once you decide on a name that you want to give to your dog, you can train them in a fun way (read more). First, get a handful of pea-sized soft treats that your dog can chew and swallow fast.

Rules of the game

To play the name game, you just have to follow three simple steps:

  1. Make sure your dog is looking away.
  2. Call the name you want them to recognize in a bright and happy tone until they give you attention.
  3. As soon as they do, applaud and cheer them using right words like ‘YES!’, ‘GOOD DOG!’, or simply ‘GOOD!’ and provide them with treats.

To play the name game, you will be expected to follow the below provided simple steps to ensure that the game is as effective as it can be and eliminate any risks associated.

Play in an enclosed area

It is advised that you start training your dog in an enclosed area with no distractions such that you won’t have to compete for their attention. Doing this decreases the effort you’ll have to put into the game otherwise.

Also, training in large areas increases your dog’s chances of running away without even knowing their name. This might invite unwanted situations because they will not know which sound to follow to return home.

The practice is the key!

Remember, practice is the key! Once they give you attention, try to lose it again and repeat the game. Reward them every time.

It is better to have this practice session with them every couple of hours for a few days. Make sure that you make them play the game around 8-10 times whenever they do.

It is recommended to make this game joyful and provide them with positivity and smiles rather than pressurizing or overwhelming them with numerous repetitions.

Change the training locations once in a while

To avoid being monotonous, train them in different small closed-door locations. On top of that, your dog must learn to respond to your call whatever the location is.

You can alternate between the backyard and your room or any locations inside your home.

However, make sure that the distraction is as minimal as possible.

Gradually add distractions to the room

Get another person in the room, a kid playing, give him a toy to play with, or anything fun that will catch your puppy’s attention. Now call his name when your dog is distracted.

If your dog disregards your call, draw them softly toward you and call their name again. When they pay attention to you, mark the action, and reward them right away.

However, it is better if you step up your rewarding game and make your dog realize that giving you attention was worthwhile compared to other distractions available nearby.

Train outdoor

Once your dog is familiarized with their name, you can start the outdoor sessions. Start someplace quiet and familiar to them, and go back to the easy training when just the slightest focus would earn them a treat.

You can now gradually increase the rewarding time such that they will learn to give you more time and attention day by day.

Don’t stop

You’re already there, but you shouldn’t stop training your dog. Your dog must be able to stop and turn to you when they’re called despite any distractions nearby. They must know that whenever they’re being called, better things are waiting for them.

So, constantly integrate this practice into your walks, gardens, other people’s homes, or wherever you are to get the attention of your dog regardless of the circumstances.

Mistakes to Look Out For

One major thing to keep in mind is that you should never link your dog’s name with something negative. This irritates them, and they will not listen to you the next time you call them.

Never call your dog with anger or to shout at them. Instead of saying ‘LUCKY! BAD DOG!’, just say ‘BAD DOG!’ or pause for a while as in ‘LUCKY!……. BAD DOG!’. This will ensure that the name always indicates happiness for them, thus keeping them obedient and sincere.

Likewise, it is recommended to pause for a while after calling their name if you want to command something. Therefore, call him: ‘LUCKY!’, wait for a second or two, and then issue the command: ‘FETCH!’.

Teaching your dog to recognize their name seems pretty easy, doesn’t it? All you need is a little bit of patience and an immense amount of love for them. Eventually, you’ll get to a point when your call will make them want to leave whatever they’re doing or avoid unwanted situations and return to you.

Was this article helpful to you as a dog owner or future dog owner? Do you have any questions for our dog expert, Steffi? Let us know in the comments at the bottom of this page. 

Article by Steffi Trott – Founder at SpiritDog Training:

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