How to teach your puppy their name
Thinking of a name for the new puppy and then having everyone use it until the puppy learns to associate themselves with that name is the way most households go about teaching a puppy its name, but there is a much more efficient and reliable way to go about it. Dedicating a little time to teaching pup her new name will go a long way towards ensuring future obedience training sessions are more effective and easier. A dog who is trained to recognize her name properly will always respond reliably when she is called, rather than the haphazard way many household dogs respond to their name – when they feel like it or not at all.
Positive Association With Their Name
When you use your dog’s name it should mean to them that you are talking to them and they need to give you their undivided attention. Once you can reliably get your dog’s attention after calling them all subsequent training sessions become much easier because the dog is focused on you. It also makes it easier to get your dog’s attention should you notice them running into danger, such as crossing a busy road to chase a wayward ball.
A little basic knowledge is needed to start training your puppy to recognize her name. Firstly, never use the puppies name in a negative way, such as for scolding when she makes a mistake. Reward the pup lavishly whenever they do respond to their name, and never use the name for any other reason. It’s in this area where a lot of people go wrong.
Dog owners often use the dog’s name as part of a command, or yell it to tell the dog off. This is never a good way to use your puppy’s name. She will eventually learn to ignore it altogether as her name becomes associated with negativity and being in trouble. Why would she turn and give you her undivided attention when she knows that she’s just going to get a severe talking to. However, if she is positively associated to her name then she is always going to turn to see what you want her to do next.
Get the Puppy’s Attention
First start by getting her attention. Pick a time when there are going to be no distractions, and puppy is not tired or over-excited. Say your puppy’s name once only in a warm and happy tone. If no attention is forthcoming make kissing noises or clap so she looks at you. Once she does look at you treat her with a reward and lavish her with praise.
Let her attention wander and then repeat the above process. Once she looks at you again immediately reward and praise as before. Repeat the process for 8 – 10 minutes only as puppy will soon get bored with the experience and the training won’t be as effective. With one to four training sessions a day and lots of praise and treats your puppy will soon learn to respond to her name every time.
As you progress in the training vary the locations, such as in different rooms of the house, or your backyard. Make sure distractions are still at a minimum as puppies have a ridiculously small attention span. Start extending the time between calling her name and rewarding her. Try to get her to a level where she is giving you her attention for about 5 seconds before receiving the treat.
Once you can reliably hold her attention for about 5 seconds add some distractions such as a child playing in the room, or her favorite toy. When she is completely distracted try calling her name. Give an immediate reward and praise this time, without the 5 second delay. You might like to have a leash applied at this stage, so you can apply some gentle correction. Once she successfully turns her attention away from the distraction up the time delay between calling and reward as before, until you once again get her to 5 seconds.
Keep repeating the above process until you can successfully get your puppy’s attention no matter what is going on around her. Always remember to never use your puppy’s name as a command, but merely as a way to get her attention while she waits for you to tell her what to do next. Also, never use her name to call her over for anything unpleasant such as nail trimming, or putting into a crate. And be sure to always call her name in a pleasant happy voice, and never with an angry tone.