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Choosing what to name your new puppy can be a difficult task. Is she more of a Bella or a Lucy? You try name after name and finally settle on the perfect one. You call your puppy over and nothing. She doesn’t respond. What’s the point of choosing the perfect name if your puppy doesn’t even realize it is hers? Once you find a name for your new pup, it is time to train her to respond to it.
Training a puppy to know its name is an important part of welcoming your new member into the family. With a little patience, this process can be a good way to bond with your new puppy. In addition, having your puppy respond to her name can help gain her attention during future training sessions and protect her from danger. In general, puppies are fast learners and should gain this skill within a few weeks with consistent training.
When you are choosing your puppy’s new name, there are a few things to keep in mind. Generally, dogs respond better to short names of one to two syllables. You should also avoid names that can cause confusion, such as names which sound similar to commands.
While you should start out in a distraction-free area, you want to practice calling your puppy's name in a variety of environments. You will need some of your puppy's favorite treats, and for some methods, you will also need a collar and a training leash. Remember to always call your puppy’s name in a happy, clear voice and use her name with positive commands. Do not scold your puppy if she doesn’t come to you right away. Keep in mind that you are building a relationship with your new friend and want her to be excited to come to her name.
The Name Game Method
Place your puppy on a leash
Find an area with plenty of space, such as the backyard or a park, and put your puppy on a leash. You want a good amount of distance between you and your puppy, so you may want to use a 10-feet training leash.
Call your puppy's name
Give your puppy about five feet of leash and let her wander around for a little while. When she is looking away from you, say her name in a happy, excited voice and make sure she comes to you. You may need to reel in her leash.
Give your puppy a reward
As soon as your puppy reaches you, give her lots of praise. A reward for your puppy can include a treat or physical affection, or a combination of both. The goal is for her to associate responding to her name with a positive result.
Reinforce the behavior
Continue to repeat the process in short sessions until your puppy is consistently responding to her name. Keep in mind that if you practice in a park or public area, you have to be the most exciting thing in the world, so keep your voice happy and excited whenever you call your puppy’s name.
Practice without the leash
Once your puppy gets the hang of the name game, you should practice calling her name when she cannot see you. If she doesn’t respond to her name when you are out of sight, keep practicing on the leash until she does.
The Lure Method
Get your puppy's attention
Hold a treat directly in front of your puppy’s face, touching the tip of her nose. When you know she can smell the treat, say her name and move the treat so she is facing you.
Immediately reward your puppy
As soon as your puppy is directly looking at you, give her a treat and praise her. Avoid saying her name repeatedly during the praise. Say things like “good job” instead. Too much repetition of her name can make it turn into white noise.
Practice makes perfect
Repeat the process about ten times in a short training session. Keep the sessions short, fun, and full of praise and perform a few sessions each day. For some puppies, it will take longer for them to start responding to their name. Be patient and stay positive with your pup.
Try calling your puppy's name without a treat
With the lure method, you want to quickly wean your puppy off the treats. As soon as your puppy starts to get the hang of responding to her name, try calling her without using a treat as a lure. You should still reward and praise her if she responds to her name.
Call your puppy from another room
Once your puppy starts responding to her name consistently without the lure, try practicing in different environments and in situations where your puppy can’t see you. She should still run to find you when you call her from another room. If she doesn’t respond when she can’t see you, go back to training in the same room until she can.
Wean your puppy off the treats
In the beginning, it is important to give your puppy a reward every time she responds to her name. Once you feel confident she understands the trick, start offering her a treat less often until you are praising her with affection only.
The Chase Method
Find a good distraction-free area
For more energetic puppies, a good method for training them to react to their name is by having them chase you. You should start in an area where you have room to run and there aren’t too many distractions.
Dogs love to chase things. Start running away from your puppy while calling her name in an energetic voice. She should chase after you. If she doesn’t, try showing her you have treats before you run.
Let your puppy catch you
After calling your puppy’s name a few times while running, let her catch you. Praise her energetically and give her a treat.
Extend the chase
Let your puppy’s attention wander away from you and then repeat the process. Call her name and run away, letting her chase you for longer before stopping and praising her for following you.
Call your puppy's name without running
Periodically, you should test to make sure your puppy in recognizing her name, not just chasing you for fun. Call her name while standing still and see if she runs over to you. If not, she needs more practice.
Add in distractions
Once your puppy gets the hang of responding to her name, you should add in distractions. Practice in a busy park or try throwing a ball at the same time you call her name. You want your puppy to respond to her name even in chaotic situations, as doing so can protect her from dangerous situations.
By Christina Gunning
Published: 02/19/2018, edited: 01/08/2021