A Life with Dogs

Chapter 9. How to teach your Puppy it's name

Chapter 9. How to teach your Puppy it's name

So, you've named your new family member. You've avoided those trendy here-today, gone-tomorrow popular names; letting your pup’s personality and heritage be a guiding factor. 

You've chosen a name that won't confuse your pet, while trying to make everyone in the family happy🙄

Now it's time to teach them their name...

I remember when Ralphie Cocker was brand new, and I was still a dog-owner-novice. I made all the classic mistakes. 

No wonder he had selective-hearing from the get-go!

I just couldn't help myself, always adding other names into the mix... because I loved him so!

Ralphie-doodle was the family favourite, and for me... well, he'll always be my 'Charlie Brown.' Go figure!

Oh the life... chasing quail through the long grass at dawn, and diver ducks in the dam at sun-down - he just couldn't have cared less about protocol, let alone coming when called.

And that was ALL (pretty much) my own fault. Thank goodness for the dinner bell!


After settling on the perfect name for your pet, what is the use of calling Fluff-Butt by name if she does not respond?

No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as much as the dog does.”  – Christopher Morley


Tips for ensuring you get your pup’s attention each time you call out to them are described here:

If someone rewarded you with a piece of chocolate each time he or she said your name, you would get the point pretty quickly, right? 

According to Victoria Stillwell, an expert on positive reinforcement dog training, an animal that receives a reward will be more likely to repeat a desired behaviour. 

To begin teaching your pet her name, arm yourself with high value rewards, such as small bits of cheese or liver, to teach your pet that whenever you say their name, they get a treat. 

For this exercise, say your dog’s name 15 – 20 times and provide a treat immediately after each instance.  Repeat this activity 3 – 4 times over the course of a few days.

Once Fluff-Butt knows that when you say her name something good happens, only give a treat when she looks at you.

To do so, wait for your dog to be turned away from you and then say their name.  If they turn and look in your direction, immediately provide praise and a treat. 

This step is perfect for pet parents, as it can be practiced from the comfort of your arm-chair while watching TV. 

Next, you must practice getting your dog’s attention when they are distracted.

You want to in-still in your pet that listening to you, no matter how appealing they find that toy, child’s lunch, or boy dog next door... is of paramount importance.

When your dog is in an area that offers numerous distractions (such as the park), call their name.  If they look at you, reward them profusely as if they just won the lottery and might share their winnings.

After you can get Fluff-Butt’s attention when distracted, the next step is for her to watch you with the same focus she dedicates to watching you eat your lunch. 

To do so, call your pet’s name, and increase the amount of time they must look at you before giving them a treat. 

Approach this incrementally because if you expect too much too soon, they may become confused while you, become frustrated.    

Continue through Adulthood
Once you can reliably get Fluff-Butt’s attention no matter her level of distraction and for long periods of time, she has mastered this lesson! 

However, it is important to continue practicing name recognition throughout adulthood in order to reinforce the importance of this skill.

What Not to Do
Throughout this process, there are a number of behaviours to avoid. 

If you cannot get Fluff-Butt’s attention on the first try, resist the urge to repeat her name over and over. Not only will you realise you chose a silly name for your dog, but she will learn that it is okay not to respond the first time.

Second, remember that calling your dog’s name should only be used to get their attention. 

Many times, pet owners become frustrated because they assume their dogs should find their owners, the second their name is called. 

However, unless you trained your dog specifically to come to you when its name is called, you should not have that expectation. 

Overall, teaching name recognition is an easy task when training sessions are kept short and consistent, and high value treats are used. 

Remember to master one skill at a time before moving to the next, and always have a positive attitude! 

So we've got your puppy's attention and they are responding to their name. Next we explore how to feed your little garbage disposal.

Chapter Ten – Coming Soon 

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