How to Teach your Puppy its Name
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So, you’ve named your new family member.
You’ve avoided those trendy here-today, gone-tomorrow popular names; letting your pup’s personality and heritage be a guiding factor.
You’ve chosen a name that won’t confuse your pet while trying to make everyone in the family happy…
I remember when Ralphie Cocker was brand new, and I was still a dog-owner-novice.
I made all the classic mistakes.
No wonder he had selective-hearing from the get-go!
But I just couldn’t help myself, always adding other names into the mix… because I loved him so!
Ralphie-doodle was the family favourite, and for me… well, he’ll always be my ‘Charlie Brown.’
No wonder he’d never come home when called!
Oh the life… chasing quail through the long grass at dawn, and diver ducks in the Dam at sun-down – he just could not have cared less about protocol, let alone coming when called.
And that was ALL (pretty much), my own fault.
Thank goodness for the dinner bell!
So who’s up first?
Now don’t all rush at once…
No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as much as the dog does.” – Christopher Morley
After settling on the perfect name for your pet, what is the use of calling Fluff Butt by name if she doesn’t respond?
Tips for ensuring you get your pup’s attention each time you call out to her are described here.
If someone rewarded you with a piece of chocolate each time he or she said your name, you would get the point pretty quickly, right?
According to Victoria Stillwell, an expert on positive reinforcement dog training, an animal that receives a reward will be more likely to repeat a desired behavior.
To begin teaching your pet her name, arm yourself with high value rewards, such as small bits of cheese or liver, to teach your pet that whenever you say her name, she gets a treat.
For this exercise, say your dog’s name 15 – 20 times and provide a treat immediately after each instance. Repeat this activity 3 – 4 times over the course of a few days.
Once Fluff Butt knows that when you say her name something good happens, only give a treat when she looks at you.
To do so, wait for your dog to be turned away from you and then say her name. If she turns and looks in your direction, immediately provide praise and a treat.
This step is perfect for lazyefficient pet parents, as it can be practiced from the comfort of your couch while watching TV.
Next, you must practice getting your dog’s attention when she is distracted.
You want to instill in your pet that listening to you, no matter how appealing she finds that toy, child’s lunch, or boy dog next door, is of paramount importance.
When your dog is in an area that offers numerous distractions (such as the park), call her name. If she looks at you, reward her profusely as if she just won the lottery and might share with you her winnings.
After you can get Fluff Butt’s attention when distracted, the next step is for her to watch you with the same focus she dedicates to watching you eat your lunch.
To do so, call your pet’s name, and increase the amount of time she must look at you before giving her a treat.
Approach this incrementally because if you expect too much too soon, she may become confused while you, become frustrated.
Continue through Adulthood
Once you can reliably get Fluff Butt’s attention no matter her level of distraction and for long periods of time, she has mastered this lesson!
However, it is important to continue practicing name recognition throughout adulthood in order to reinforce the importance of this skill.
What Not to Do
Throughout this process, there are a number of behaviors to avoid.
If you cannot get Fluff Butt’s attention on the first try, resist the urge to repeat her name over and over.
Not only will you realize you chose a silly name for your dog, but she will learn that it is okay not to respond the first time.
Second, remember that calling your dog’s name should only be used to get her attention.
Many times, pet owners become frustrated because they assume their dogs should find their owners the second their name is called.
However, unless you trained your dog specifically to come to you when its name is called, you should not have that expectation.
Overall, teaching name recognition is an easy task when training sessions are kept short and consistent, and high value treats are used.
Remember to master one skill at a time before moving to the next, and always have a positive attitude.
Pup-Update – Eighteen Weeks
Jerry is beginning to take charge! And when I say he is becoming quite wilful, what I mean is… he is down right stubborn. His energy is endless and wants my attention all the time – even taken to nipping me (with very sharp incisors) to get what he wants. I have been reminded by our Puppy School Instructor recently, “Who is actually the Alpha Dog?” – but Jerry is not having any of it. Guess that’s my Dog-Mum lesson. Tough love – not my strong point, but I know that it’s NOW, or a naughty puppy down the track. Gosh he’s sooooo cute tho!
Ash Sukhwani a.k.a. Mother of Jerry
Jerry – Born ‘Royoni Naughty-on-Arrival’ June 17, 2017
Follow Jerry’s adventures on Instagram @jerrythecockerspan
So we’ve got your puppy’s attention and he is responding to his name.
Next we explore how to feed your little garbage disposal.
Watch this space – Chapter Ten – Coming Soon
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Photo Credits: Abby, Lily @lilylashes_cavoodle, Lewis @lewis_cavoodle, Benji @benji_the_cocker, Coco @coco_the_peekapoo, Boris, Summer, Milo, Little Brown Bear Lab, Archie Adams, Jerry @jerrythe cockerspan