Follow us on:
follow us on facebook follow us on twitter

Teach a dog its name

share this page:
Teaching a dog its name
Photo: Teaching a dog his name

If your puppy does not have a name when it joins your home, or you are re-homing a dog whose name is not known, you first need to decide on a name and teach it to him. 

It took me a few days to decide upon a name that I was happy with and that I felt suited my dog. I  had researched and written down lots of different names before I collected my pup but when I saw him, I didn't think any suited him.

Once you have decided upon your dogs name, it is important that you immediately start to teach it to them. Your dog or puppy  will need to know its name at the very start of their basic training. To train a puppy you need to get their attention and get focussed on you, so naturally the very first training step is to teach them their name.

When saying your puppy's name do try not to associate it with anything negative that he may not like (such as bath time) and do not use it when you are telling him off, if you do it will make it more difficult for your training to be sucessful.

Don’t change the puppy’s name or call him by a nickname as it will confuse him. Once your dog has learnt and responds well to their name, it is ok to use a nickname.  Woody, my dog who is 4 years old, now has a number of nicknames and responds to all of them.

I found the best way to teach my puppy it's name was to use it constantly. I would say his name whenever I made eye contact and spoke to him, or if he looked at me.  It is important that you try and keep your voice calm but use an upbeat and a happy tone.

Say your dogs name and when they look at you or come towards you, give them a reward, (treat or toy, click immediately if using a clicker) at the same time giving them loads of praise repeating their name.  Extreme repeating and rewarding will help your dog learn his name quite quickly.   Do this exercise a few times a day.

Gradually move onto to calling your dog’s name when you know that they are completely distracted.  As soon as they look at you, reward with a treat, toy or click and reward. You can also do this by putting your dog on a lead and if you do not get a response,  gently tug and the moment they look at you, reward and praise them.

Most puppies learn their names very quickly and with ease but do not be discourage if your puppy fails to respond.

It is worth keeping in mind that saying a dogs name is not the same as using the Come command.  It should be used for the purpose of getting your dog’s attention.  Once you have their attention you can then give an additional command.

Tip: Always keep training sessions for puppies short and fun with lots of rewards.

We have mainly referred to puppies in this training article but if you are in a situation where you are re-homing an older dog and his name is not known, the training method would be the same.