Are you scratching your head how to teach your dog to recognize his name?
We know that you’ve spent ages picking up the perfect name for your dog!
Now, of course, you want him to actually come when you call it!
Well, below you’ll find some fantastic tips to help you achieve this must-know feat.
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How to teach your dog to recognize his name?
FYI, I use “recognize his name” throughout because I loathe calling a dog “it,” but obviously these tips work just as well for training your female dog to recognize her name, too!
Have you ever wonder why it is important to teach your dog to recognize his name?
For one, Pongo needs to know that you’re calling him and not another dog when he wanders off the leash.
You’ll also need a name to attract Pongo’s attention during training or when he is about to do something dangerous!
“Pongo, leave it!” tends to work better than just yelling the “leave it” command on its own.
At its core, name teaching is an easy job. You just have to know the right way to do it.
➔ READ MORE: How To Teach Your Puppy Their Name
#1 Choose the right name
Many pets start their lives with long, complicated names after a lengthy debate among the family members.
But as time goes by, you suddenly discover that you’ve started calling Prince Albert the Magnificent Mutt just plain “Mutt.”
So, here are a couple of things you should consider before you start looking up complicated doggy names:
- The name should be short and easy to remember. One or two syllables are enough.
- Pay attention to the sounds. According to experts, dogs recognize names containing hard consonants such as “k” easier than ones containing soft sounds.
- Ensure that the name is not too close to basic commands. For example, your pooch might confuse Spot with “Stop.”
I also advise that you avoid common human names for your pet because that leads to embarrassing misunderstandings when you’re calling your dog in the park.
In case you’re not sure about the name you’ve chosen, try saying it aloud a couple of times to determine if it rolls off your tongue smoothly or whether you’d be embarrassed saying it in front of other people.
# 2 Use positive reinforcement
If you want your dog to learn his name, Pongo should connect his name with good things.
He has to realize that every time you say “Pongo” something amazing will happen. For example, he will get a tasty training treat, a petting, or a walk.
To do that, we’re going to use positive reinforcement, a very useful method in dog obedience training. In fact, teaching your dog his name will be the first “command” he learns.
The only thing you need is a bag full of delicious treats and a room with no distractions:
- Wait until you have your dog’s full attention.
- Say the name in a happy voice and wait for Pongo to look at you.
- Then mark the behavior by saying “Yes,”
- Give Pongo a treat immediately.
- Wait a few seconds and repeat.
Dog behaviorists point out that you should avoid creating negative connotations. That means that you shouldn’t use the name when something unpleasant is about to happen, for example, a trip to the vet.
Some experts suggest that you choose a second name or a nickname that you’ll use for these “unpleasant” situations or when you need to correct your dog’s behavior.
#3 Be persistent
Once the dog makes the connection between his name and the tasty treat, your job is halfway done.
What’s left is to continue reinforcing the response and teach your dog to focus on you when you call his name.
To do that, you’ll need a ten-foot leash:
- Wait until the dog is not looking at you.
- Call the name and wait for the dog to respond.
- If he doesn’t, don’t repeat the name because Pongo will tune it out.
- Gently pull the leash and praise the dog when he turns towards you.
- Repeat until the dog reacts every time you call his name.
After your pooch has mastered this exercise, you can go to the next level.
Follow the same steps but with enough distractions in the surrounding area. Don’t forget to praise and reward Pongo when he answers his name.
#4 Stop the treats
Eventually, Pongo should respond to his name without hesitation. When that happens, you can phase out the treats slowly.
- Instead of giving a treat every time, give them every other time.
- The dog should continue to react to his name, as before.
- If he lapses, you should go back and practice the previous step.
In time, you’ll be able to elicit a reaction even without the treats. That’s because Pongo knows that his name means good stuff is about to happen.
#5 Say the name every day
Once Pongo has learned his name, the most important thing is that you should use it constantly to reinforce the response. For example, use the name when you’re about to:
Should I change my dog’s name?
When you adopt a dog from the shelter, he might come with an awful name like “Beast,” or “Killer.”
You’d be right to want to change that name, especially if the dog has already established a negative connotation with it.
You can do that without feeling guilty. Dogs don’t hold the same emotional attachment to their names as we do.
What’s more, they are quick learners when properly motivated.
Use positive reinforcement as much as possible, and your dog will start answering his new name before you know it.
Well, that’s how you teach your dog to recognize his name. It’s not rocket science, and believe me, the hardest part is choosing the right name.