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How To Teach a Dog Its Name

Written by FOTP Team

Updated

Dog coming back to owner

One of the great things about dogs is that you can simply talk to them as you would another person. Over time, they pick up on important points and respond to your commands. Dogs don't understand language in the same way we do, however. If you've recently adopted a dog, you need to know how to teach a dog its name.

How To Teach a Dog Its Name

Humans bred dogs over tens of thousands of years to pick up on human body language and verbal cues. Most dogs can pick up on certain words or phrases with no intensive training. This is fortunate for you, as virtually no other animal on the planet can do this so easily. Even wolves, dogs' most immediate ancestors, don't tend to care what you tell them or what you call them.

It's possible to teach a dog its name without doing much at all. Waiting, however, can waste precious training time that you might use for more advanced lessons. Naming is a baseline training exercise that creates the foundation for your relationship.

During the first days of owning your new companion, be sure to use your chosen name every time you provide commands and encouragement or express disapproval. Use the name especially when your dog isn't paying attention. As soon as your dog responds, offer up an exciting treat you know your pooch will enjoy — dull treats won't do!

How To Teach a Dog Its Name if It Had Another Before

A lot of new pet owners wonder whether they can change the goofy names shelters or previous owners sometimes assign. The answer is yes; you absolutely can. A goofy or undesirable name is no reason to forgo adopting a pet in need. All that's important is that your pup understands that you're talking to them.

In many cases, giving a rescue dog a new name can be incredibly beneficial, especially if they’ve not had the best start in life. If they’re used to being shouted at or even hurt, a new name can help reinforce the mindset that their old life is behind them now. New name = new behavior and love.

If you’re adopting a shelter dog who was only assigned their current name when they entered the shelter, there’s a good chance they might not even fully understand it yet. Even if they do, they could again appreciate a new name to help symbolize their new life with you.

To begin, have some exciting treats on hand. You may also want a clicker, which can help animals understand exactly what you're rewarding.

When your pet isn't looking at you, say their name. When they respond, use the clicker or reward the dog with food immediately. Make sure to combine this reward with enthusiastic praise. In very little time, your dog should respond anytime it hears its name.

To begin with, your dog will likely just be responding to your voice. If they’re in a new environment, they’re likely to be feeling anxious and will be hyper aware of their surroundings. Calling their name in a gentle tone of voice and instantly rewarding their acknowledgement, not only helps teach them their name, but also helps them understand they’re safe and snacks are on tap.

Sometimes, nervous or wary dogs won't respond and don't particularly care for treats. This is perfectly fine. All dogs inevitably need food, so you can just use dinnertime as your training period instead.

Since you can't always have treats or food on hand, you'll need to get your pup to respond to you without an incentive. After you've had some success getting the pooch to respond to its name, try staggering your rewards, so you only give them occasionally. When your pet starts to respond without rewards, you can taper your offerings until you're only providing praise.

Now that you've learned how to teach a dog its name, you'll quickly grow to appreciate the importance of high-quality treats. Since treat training is a vital part of your training regimen, you should give your pet the healthiest, most enticing rewards possible. At Front Of The Pack, all of our treats and supplements use safe, proven ingredients. Visit us online today.