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How to Use the Puppies Name in Training

Updated: Jan 14


I want to talk about how to use the puppy's name in training. This is different than teaching the puppy its name. Teaching them their name is very easy and is a part of our Puppy Training Program. All you have to do is get a dog clicker and some treats, and you'll set the puppy up to be distracted. When you say their name and they look at you, you're going to mark the behavior with a dog click (or the word “yes”), and then you're going to feed them the food reward. Do this about 25 times, and they will know their name. It's called the Name Game, and this technique is in my book, the Complete Puppy Training Manual. It's very easy to teach your puppy its name. 

Listen to the podcast episode of this article. 

When I go to a new client's home, they usually do something like this: Dixie come, Dixie, sit, Dixie down. Dixie, stay Dixie. No, Dixie down, Dixie off. Dixie, Dixie, Dixie. Look at me. Dixie. Pay attention. Dixie stop. Dixie, sit Dixie down. And that's absolutely the wrong way to do it. You do not need to use their name before every command you give the puppy. 

Also, when your puppy is highly distracted, like when we take puppies on field trips, the owner uses the puppy's name a lot to get the puppy to pay attention to them. When the puppy is distracted by pallet jacks and forklifts and shopping carts and people and other dogs, they're calling them their name a lot, and the puppy's not paying attention. And they ask me, how come my puppy's not paying attention to me? And I let them know, that they’ve said their puppies name 50 times in the last five minutes, and the puppy begins to block it out.

When you use the puppy's name a lot, there has to be value to it. When you use their name, they have to look at you and pay attention, but you shouldn't have to say their name over and over and over again. There should automatically be a lot of value to their name every time you say it. And you should only have to say it once. The dog will eventually habituate or block out the name when it's used so many times because it becomes background noise. 

When I lived in Deerfield Beach near a train track, the first week of my residence at the apartment, I would hear the train, but after that, I would never hear it because it became background noise. I got used to it. When you say your puppy's name a lot, it just blends in with all of the other noise, commands, and sounds. There’s no value there. There's nothing that the puppy's going to latch onto because they're blocking everything out. 

There are only two times That you really have to use the puppy's name when you're training them. One, if there's more than one dog present and you're giving that particular dog the command and the other dog doesn't get the command. Let's say there's Dixie and Charlie in the same room, and I'm training them both, and I say, Dixie, come. Charlie has to stay. Each dog has their own instructions. If you did not use their name before the command in this context, you would say, come, and they both come. If you want to isolate one dog, when multiple dogs are present, you need to use their name first. 

Another time when you would want to use the puppy's name is for them to come to you. Let's say they're in the backyard, they're running around, they're going potty, they're playing, but you have to go to work. You want to use recall. You want to get that puppy to come back to you. You say, Dixie, come. Use the puppy's name before the word come, which is recall, which has a lot of value. 

Therefore, every time you're using the dog's name, they relate to them coming to you. They relate that they're supposed to not only look at you but move in your direction. So it’s bad if you say, Dixie, stay because what you're essentially doing is telling the dog to come to you and stay at the same time, and this gets confusing to them. 

Listen to the podcast episode of this article. 

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