Name Recognition

After your puppy responds to the clicking sound, and he knows very well that treats follow the clicking sound, you can now begin teaching him commands and tricks. Now, we are going to teach your puppy some specific things. Let’s start with the base exercise that is teaching your puppy to respond to his or her name. I assume that you have already gone through the painstaking process of naming your puppy, and now when his or her name is spoken you want your puppy to learn to respond. This can be easy, fun, and satisfying when you finally get positive results.

Teaching your puppy his name is a basic and necessary objective that must be accomplished in order to gain and keep your puppies attention during further training.

Before beginning training, be sure to gather an ample variety of treats. Put these treats in your pockets, treat pouch, or on a tabletop out of sight, and out of your puppy’s reach.

1. Ignore your puppy until he looks directly at you, when he does, click and treat him. Repeat this 10-15 times. This teaches your puppy to associate the click with a treat, when he looks in your direction.

2. Next, when your puppy looks at you, begin adding your puppy’s name, spoken right before you click and treat. 

3. Continue doing this until your puppy will look at you when you say his or her name.

4. Gradually phase out clicking and treating your puppy every time that he or she looks at you. Decrease C/T incrementally; one out of two times, then one out of three, four, and then not at all. Try not to phase out the C/T too quickly.

After successful name recognition training, you should C/T on occasion, to refresh your puppy’s memory and reinforce the association to hearing his name, and receiving a treat. Observe your puppy’s abilities and pace during this training process, and adjust appropriately, when needed. The ultimate goal is to have your puppy obey all the commands via vocal or physical cue, without a reward.

Responding to his or her name is the most important learned behavior, because it is the base skill of all future training. Therefore, you will want to give this training a considerable amount of attention, and thoroughly complete before moving on.

I advise that you repeat this exercise in various locations around your home, while he is out on the leash, outside in the yard, or in the park. Eventually, make sure that you practice this while there are distractions, such as when there are guests present, when his favorite toys are visible, when there is food around, and when he is among other dogs. Always maintain good eye contact when you are calling your puppy’s name. Keep on practicing this name recognition exercise until there is no doubt that when you speak your puppy’s name, he or she knows whom you are referring to, and they respond appropriately.

It may sound odd, but also try the training when you are in different physical positions, such as sitting, standing, kneeling or lying down. Mix it up so that he gets used to hearing his name in a variety of areas and situations, and repeat this process frequently. No matter the situation, this command must be obeyed.

Name recognition will avoid trouble later on down the line. For example, if your puppy gets into something that he should not, such as a scrap with another dog, chasing a cat or squirrel, or far worse, getting involved in a time-share pyramid scheme, you can simply call your puppy’s name to gain his attention and then redirect him. You invariably want your puppy to come no matter what the distraction, so training “come” is also a crucial command to teach, and regularly practice throughout the lifetime of your dog. Remember, your puppy first needs to know his or her name so that you can teach these other commands.

To be certain that you are able to grab your dog’s attention in any circumstance or situation, continue to practice this training into adulthood to reinforce the behavior. When your puppy is appropriately responding to his or her name, I recommend moving forward to the “come” command.

~ Paws On – Paws Off ~