How to Teach a Dog His Name?

When a dog appears in your home, one of the first things you should teach him is how to respond to his name.

Dogs do not use names in their mutual communication. For us, however, it is natural and simply convenient.

Teaching your dog to respond to his name is especially useful if you have a few dogs in your home. 

When each dog knows when you are speaking to him, our communication with them will be much better.

Before you start learning, determine for yourself exactly what the dog’s name is for and what specifically you expect the dog to do when you say it.

How to Teach a Dog His Name?
How to Teach a Dog His Name?

Teaching your dog to respond to a name is all about learning to focus your dog’s attention on you.

Teach your dog that when he hears his name he is to look at you. Take your time and don’t get upset if things aren’t perfect at first and learning difficulties arise.

Once the dog hears the name, he should respond in a “come to me”, “focus your attention on me” manner.

If you want your dog to respond enthusiastically to the sound of his name, you cannot use it in negative contexts for your dog.

The dog’s name must always have a positive association for the animal and the dog’s reaction should become a learned reaction.

So you should not yell at your dog when you say his name.

It is worth remembering that apart from the name itself, the tone in which we say it is also important.

When you speak to your dog in a high and cheerful voice, it arouses his positive emotions.

A low tone of voice, on the other hand, maybe associated with an unpleasantness to the dog.

If you don’t know how to teach a dog his name, and you want to get good results quickly – this article is for you!

How to Teach a Dog His Name – the Most Common Mistakes

Most dogs will learn their name quickly on their own. 

However, during the learning process, dog owners often make many different mistakes.

So it’s worth knowing them and avoiding them to make learning faster and more efficient.

Leashing a Dog

One of the most common mistakes is letting the dog off the leash before learning the dog’s name is established.

A situation that can often be seen is when a dog does not respond to its name and the owner starts chasing it.

The dog then becomes convinced that running away is a great way to encourage his master to play together.

It is better to wait a bit for the dog to come to you on its own. Then don’t forget to reward him with food.

If you don’t reward the dog then the dog will quickly associate that it’s not worth leaving the fun for a human who has nothing in return. 

So when teaching your dog his name, use a reward every time your pet comes to you responding to your voice.

The basis of communication is to create motivation, and there is none better than food.

Can I Let My Dog Off-Leash While He is Learning His Name?
Can I Let My Dog Off-Leash While He is Learning His Name?

Always have a few of your dog’s favorite treats in your pocket when you go for walks. When your dog is busy playing, call out to him and give him a treat. Your dog will remember that it is always a good idea to come back when called by his master.

This will be a great form of motivation for him, and your dog will quickly remember the positive association with your person.

Frequent Repetition of the Dog’s Name

Another common mistake is constantly repeating commands to your dog. It is better to avoid this behavior.

Otherwise, your pooch may learn that his name is “RexRexRex” and not simply Rex.

So don’t repeat your dog’s name over and over again. You only need to do it once. 

Say the dog’s name in a happy and encouraging tone.

If your dog does not respond, help him with additional sounds, such as clapping your hands. 

And whenever he turns around, reward him with a treat or a game and always praise him enthusiastically.

Saying the Dog’s Name With Other Commands

The dog’s name should not be combined with other commands, for example: sit, give paw.

If you want the dog to do something else after the recall, you need to separate the two operations with a clear pause. 

First, we call the dog’s name, and only then, when the animal will come closer, we give another command.

Yelling at the Dog

Remember that it is very important not to punish or yell at your dog when he comes running to you after being called.

If the dog senses aggression or nervousness in your voice after being called, it will quickly become discouraged and will have no motivation to come to you next time.

It may also learn to ignore your calls because it deems them unimportant.

This is why consistency is so important when working with your dog.

So remember, if you let your dog’s trust down, it will be hard to get it back.

How to Recall a Dog?

To make learning effective, after you say your dog’s name, you must make it clear to your dog why you are calling him.

You can praise him, ask him to do a certain command, or let him play.

If, when you say the name, the dog doesn’t get the message of what you want from it, the name becomes an empty sound meaning everything, which is nothing.

How to Recall a Dog?
How to Recall a Dog?

The dog’s correct response to being recalled is therefore to focus on the owner.

So what is the best way to teach your dog his name? 

On walks or at home, try feeding your dog only from your hand. Leave only water in the bowl.

Also, use an automatic leash when you go for walks so your dog will not run away too far. An automatic leash will give your dog some freedom at the same time.

Your goal is to solidify a positive association with your person. By feeding your dog from your hand, you can create a person (owner) – treat association.

After a while, you will notice your pet’s increased concentration on your gestures. 

Your dog will want to stay close to you, and as his concentration increases, it will be a good time to learn his name.

How do You Teach a Dog Its Name?

Try saying the dog’s name and move one or two steps away. When your dog follows you, you must reward him with a treat.

Your dog will quickly associate that when you say his name and he comes to you, he always gets food.

It is important to practice the learned behavior. Without this, the dog will quickly forget what it has learned.

Do the exercise in different places and conditions. Start of course at home, then you can try it on a walk, in the presence of other people or dogs.

Only as your training progresses can you also try places with more distractions. 

How do You Teach a Dog Its Name?
How do You Teach a Dog Its Name?

Outside, your dog will have a much harder task focusing on you. Distracting situations and smells, traffic, walking people, and dogs. These will all take his attention away from you.

So make sure that you have enough attractive rewards for your dog. If the surrounding environment offers him better rewards than what you have to offer, your dog will surely choose to sniff grass or chewing sticks over playing with you.

The main purpose of these exercises is to get your dog to not only look at you after hearing its name but also to seek eye contact with you.

For this, you can use a proven exercise. This is fun for dogs that are a little more advanced and can already respond to their name and follow you.

Teach Your Dog Active Focus

To teach your dog active attention, all you have to do is turn your back to him so that you don’t make eye contact.

Then say the dog’s name and wait for its response. 

Sometimes the dog will immediately decide to walk around you and then look straight into your eyes. If the dog does this – reward it, of course.

However, it may be that your dog does not know what to do or how to behave in such a situation.

So it may sit down, start barking or do some other command it already knows.

All of these reactions show that your dog doesn’t understand what to do in this situation and you need to explain it to him.

So take a treat in your hand, put it to your dog’s nose and guide your dog to go around you and look into your eyes. 

After a few times, the dog should already be performing the entire exercise without the guidance of a treat.

Remember to back off rewarding your dog with a treat as soon as possible with all exercise.

Therefore, once he starts responding to his name you can add in some familiar dog command like “sit pretty” and start rewarding him for slightly more difficult tasks.

And remember not to do too many repetitions of one exercise. Training should always be exciting fun for your dog, not associated with something boring.

You’ll get better results by training your dog in very short series several times a day than by giving him a one-hour training session once a week.

Over time, your dog will respond appropriately to his name in any situation.

If you know how to control your dog, you will keep him safer and you will be more comfortable walking together.

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