How to Teach Your Dog Their Name

So you just brought your new puppy home. Congratulations! The first order of business: learning how to teach your dog their name. 

For a puppy, the world is a very new place filled with unfamiliar things. In nature, pups figure out the world by using their nose.

However, in society, this same behavior results in a dog ignoring you, essentially being a wild animal that lives in your house.

If you think about it, dogs and humans have names so we can grab their attention once it’s called.

If they’re not responsive to their name, what’s the point of even having one?

Why Learning Their Name is Important

Before a dog can learn anything else in life, they need to learn how to focus on their owner.

When you call your dog’s name, they should be giving their undivided attention to you, waiting for the next command.

Dog’s that don’t understand their name, or are given a new name from the shelter, think their name is just another meaningless babble word of the human language.

Basically, they’ll just ignore you and let their nose lead them around instead.

I cringe when I see owners at the park hopelessly calling their dog’s name repeatedly while their dog runs in the opposite direction, following the scents of the park over their owner.

Situations like this can be potentially dangerous because your dog can get themselves into trouble if they don’t know how to focus on you when their name is called. 

When Should You Teach Your Dog Their Name

As soon as puppies open their eyes and start walking around, their brains are already making connections.

This means you can start training them the basics like their name and can begin implementing a regular routine at this time.

With consistent training and reinforcement, your puppy can fully recognize and respond to their own name as early as 4-6 weeks!

That’s way faster than a human baby can learn their name. Puppies are smarter than we think!

teach your dog their name what you'll need

What You’ll Need

In order to teach your dog their name, the most important things you’ll need are tasty treats, patience, and lots of praise.

If you want to train your dog with a clicker, you can use that as well. Just click whenever they sit and your dog will catch on pretty quickly.

Personally, I never used a clicker with my dogs because they value treats and praise. But every dog is different and some dogs appreciate the consistency of a clicker.

Plus Cali chewed up our clicker, so I took that as an obvious sign of protest.

How to Teach Your Dog Their Name

To teach your dog their name, start by taking a handful of treats and taking your puppy to a room with minimal distractions.

Once in the room, say your puppy’s name once.

As soon as your puppy makes eye contact with you, give them a treat and tons of praise.

The idea here is to associate their name with looking at you.

If you keep repeating your puppy’s name as they’re looking around the room, they’re either going to be confused or associate their name with doing whatever they want. 

Once your puppy makes eye contact with you every time you say their name, you can begin to add in small distractions to test your dog’s focus.

The ultimate goal is to be able to call your dog’s name across the dog park or a field and be able to command their attention.

But this will take time.

It took me about 6 months before Archie would respond to his name at the dog park, but having that training can prevent him from walking into the wrong situation and getting himself hurt.

The more you train, the faster your dog will understand, so make sure to do practice sessions daily!

teach your dog their name and further education

Further Education

Once your dog has mastered their name, the sky’s the limit!

When a dog learns their name, they learn to focus on you, which is the most important factor between a dog and their human.

Once your dog learns how to focus, they have the basis to learn pretty much anything! Start with the basic commands like “sit” and “stay” first.

Then you can move onto cool party tricks like “fist bump” or “play dead”.

If you’re looking for inspiration, here are some basic commands and behaviors to start teaching your dog:


Did this article help you teach your dog their name? I’d love to know in the comments!

Did you come up with any tricks that worked better for you? Let’s talk about it and learn together! 🙂

Click here for more great articles on dog behavior, training, and all things dog mom!

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