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Teach Your Dog Her Name

Formally teaching your dog his or her name will help with your recall and all other behaviors!

Teaching name response is great foundation for recall / coming when called!

Teaching your dog to look at you / come to you after hearing his or her name is a great way to begin recall training and it also improves all of your dog’s obedience / tricks such as leash walking.

Here’s how to get started: First decide on the name you would like to use. I suggest you choose two names for your dog. One which you do not always reward when they respond to it and one that you do. So for example, if your dog’s name is “Oliver” you might say “Ollie” for casual use and “Oliver” for when you are training. This will help your dog’s name response be strong and reliable.


To prepare: Grab some small pea-sized treats that your dog is excited to work for and put them in your training pouch and get your clicker. If you do not have a clicker you can use the word “Yes”, but the clicker will make your training go a bit faster. Begin teaching this in a boring area without much going on.


How to train name response: Say your dog’s name and when he or she BEGINS to turn her head, click (or say yes) and hold out the treat to your dog and have her come and get it from you. It is important to click the beginning of the head turn as it will help your dog to learn faster.

To restart, toss another treat a bit away from you so she has to go get it - this will give you another chance to call her name again. Do this for a few minutes at a time.


This is basically it! It’s simple to start and then you will add challenges for your dog when she is ready by training around more distractions.


Here are some example distractions you can practice with:

  • Being outside in the yard with nothing much going on.

  • Being outside when she is slightly distracted by something to sniff, etc.

  • Being around other pets in the home.

  • Having another person in the room.

  • Having another person in the room who is holding a toy,

  • Having another person in the room who is holding a boring treat.

  • Being outside with another animal far off in the distance.

  • Saying your dogs name from a great distance or out of site (here is where it starts to become a “come” cue or recall)

What if she doesn’t respond?: It’s helpful to only call your dog’s name if you feel fairly confident she will respond. So go slow and build on success. If your dog doesn’t respond to his or her name that means one of the following things is happening: Your dog is too distracted (see how you can make it a bit easier for her), your treat is too boring for the level of distraction (improve your treat) or perhaps you have been training for more than a few minutes and she is getting tired (take a break).


Happy training and feel free to reach out if you would like some help! I specialize in In-home and Zoom based sessions.

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