Teaching a puppy its name is one of the first steps to training your puppy effectively. If they don’t know their name, they won’t be able to respond to name calls and commands, and it will make the training process difficult.
It’s an essential step that to keep the puppy happy, engaged and safe, they need to learn basic control and training exercises, such as toilet training, responding to commands and name calls, and understanding when their presence is required. If they aren’t aware of their name, they won’t know when they are being spoken to.
Training your puppy to understand its name is the very first thing they should learn.
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Why is it important to teach your puppy it’s name?
Puppies are super adventurous and will get up to no good in their early years, they will go for wonders, play with things they shouldn’t, and maybe do things that aren’t safe. In order to keep your puppy safe and engaged, they’ll need to know when to respond to name calls and understand when they shouldn’t do certain things.
As part of the training process, you’ll use your puppy’s name a lot to get their attention, such as when you teach your puppy how to sit, when it’s dinner time or when they need to go to bed. If your puppy responds to its name well, in the future, they can enjoy lease-free walks in the parks or woodland areas, as you know they will come to you when their name is said. If the puppy doesn’t respond to their name, leash-free walks can be dangerous, as they won’t respond in times of danger or when they are in an unsafe environment.
How do you teach a puppy its name?
Everything you need to know to start teaching your puppy its name and improve the bond between you both.
1) First find a quiet spot with your puppy
The quiet spot should be away from distractions so your puppy can focus on you, this means no noises nearby, cars driving by, people, toys, or other things that may distract your puppy. If your puppy is super energetic, even the slighted distraction will disrupt the training process.
The spot could be a quiet room in the house, a nearby field, or the garden, and your puppy can be on or off the leash, depending on your preference and how well behaved they are.
2) Pick a tasty treat for your puppy
You’ll need a tasty treat to be able to reward your puppy when he/she reacts to their name being called, as dogs have short attention spans, a treat will help keep them engaged throughout the training process.
Where possible, mix up the treats, if the puppy has their usual treat, they may not be as excited compared to something new.
The treat doesn’t need to be of big size, you can snap the treats in half to avoid overfeeding your pup, as dogs thrive from the number of treats received and not necessarily the quality of treats!
3) Say your puppies name in a clear and happy voice
Dogs react to their human’s tone of voice and when they hear something said energetically, they react positively to that emotion. You will need to say their name clearly during your training, like “Max!”, and at first, the puppy may wonder what you’re saying and look at you strangely.
Once you’ve got their attention, say their name again and give them a treat.
Repeat this process several times a day and they’ll soon realize that what they are hearing is something super positive, and they’ll get excited every time they hear it.
You could even try running away from your puppy while saying their name, this will get them to chase you, which will not only be fun for the puppy, but they will soon realize that once the name is said, the action is to come to you.
Another approach is to put your puppy on a long leash and move to the other side of the quiet place that you’ve picked, call their name in a happy voice, and when they run to you, reward them with a tasty treat. If they don’t come to you, try pulling on the leash very gently and as they move closer towards you, say their name happily and reward them.
4) Keep it simple and consistent
At first, don’t overcomplicate it, don’t say their name with something else like “Maxy boy!” as this will confuse them at first, and don’t say their name in an aggressive way, or alongside negative words, it should be a happy experience for your puppy.
Don’t use nicknames or try to be smart in saying their name in different ways, keep it simple at first, otherwise this will cause confusion and distress for your puppy. It should be a simple and fun process.
Plan frequent training sessions with your puppy, as a rule of thumb, we would expect at least three sessions a day that consist of 5 minutes each, that way you are giving plenty of time for your puppy to understand the exercise and move a step closer to learning its name.
It shouldn’t take long for your puppy to learn its name, it could take a few hours to a few days.
5) Mix up your approach
Once you are confident that your puppy has understood the assignment and they have received lots of tasty treats, it’s time to mix it up and move outside of the quiet place you’ve picked.
When they least expect it and are busy doing something else, like playing with a toy, say their name and if they come to you, reward them with extra tasty treats and say “good boy!” (or girl) in a super excited manner. You could even then rub their belly or pick them up and give them a big hug. Your puppy will soon realize that it’s a positive response.
You shouldn’t call your puppies name if they are eating, as it’s important that they get all of the nutrients from their food, so pick the time carefully but keep it consistent, and keep training.
That’s how you can train a puppy to learn its name. Once you are confident that your puppy understands its name and they consistently respond to your calls, you should start to wiggle them off the treats, because you don’t want them to put on unnecessary weight!
Start to increase the time between each treat, at first it needs to be frequent, but later in the process, you could lengthen the treat time to every 5 name calls, to eventually, none. By this point, your dog will continue to respond to its name out of habit and no treat will be required! Congratulations!