What’s in a Dog’s Name


Names are very important to us. They are part of our identity. A dog’s name is important to him/her too. It’s one of the first words s/he learns to recognize. If you have multiple dogs, each one learns to respond to the sound of his/her name.

We’ll refer to the dog as her from now on just to make things easier.

A dog usually pays attention to the sound of her name because it should mean something good is about to happen.

If you use your dog’s name in anger, she is getting mixed signals. Name calling can mean something good or bad. Your dog very possibly will hesitate to respond as her long-term memory can be confusing. In this case you can consider changing your dog’s name and use it only for positive situations. Many of us have nicknames for our dogs, so it won’t take long for your dog to recognize her new name.

Using the dog’s name is a signal to get her attention. It doesn’t take the place of other commands such as come, stay and so on. Once you have your dog’s attention, use your word for the command you wish her to follow.

It’s vital to the safety of your dog to know her name and respond quickly to it, particularly in emergency situations. Always use a positive approach when calling your dog’s name.

When you call your dog’s name and she is fully focused on you, quickly give a favorite treat whether it’s in the form of food or a special toy. If she doesn’t respond, don’t repeat the name. Instead use a noise to get her attention. Keep training until your dog responds quickly and focuses her full attention on you.

When your dog has learned the quick response to the sound of her name, it’s time to start adding distractions, small ones at first.

You can ask another person to engage the dog with a sound. Then call your dog’s name. If the dog doesn’t look at you immediately, use your sound to get her attention. If you feel your dog is not ready for distractions, continue training without them until she has it down pat.

As your dog learns, you can add other distractions. If your dog doesn’t respond immediately at any point, back up a step and go slower.

Be patient and always use your dog’s name for positive, fun things.

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