Teaching the Dog its Name

Teaching your dog his/her name is the most important thing you would do. The name is actually a cue that should tell the dog – look at me. Having your dog’s attention is the foundation for all other obedience training later on. It is much easier to get the dog to do things for you when he/she is looking at you. It is extremely hard to ask a dog to do things when you call his/her name and nothing happens.

  1. Prepare in advance a clicker and some highly reinforcing treats.
  2. Start in a quiet room with only you and your dog in it.
  3. Wait for your dog to look in any direction (other than yours) and say his/her name once.
  4. When the dog starts to turn his/her head to look at you click and treat.
  5. Repeat 20 times.
  6. Repeat this exercise several times a day until the dog’s response is really good – you should get a head snap from your dog. The dog snaps his head towards you and looks at you. Now you are ready to add distractions.
  7. Wait for something interesting that catches your dog’s eye – then call his/her name. Say the name only once. If the dog looks at you, click and treat. If not, try to clap your hands or whistle or something to catch the attention of your dog. When the dog looks – click/treat.
  8. Hold your hand with the treats to the side of your dog’s head. The dog will look at the hand. call the dog’s name – if he/she looks at you – click and treat. If not, wait – the dog may try to sniff the hand, lick it, and paw it. Hold your fist closed and wait for the second your dog gives up and looks at you – then click and open your fist letting the dog eat the treats. Repeat many times, with both hands and various locations.
  9. Gradually, you can ask for longer durations of eye contact before the click and the treat arrive. Try to get to 5-10 seconds of eye contact before the reward before you proceed to the next step.
  10. Now, start doing this exercise outdoors. Start at a quiet location and don’t ask your dog for much – just a quick glance gets him/her the treat. Gradually increase the requirements before giving the treat.
  11. if you are unsuccessful, most chances you are trying to advance too fast. Try to do more repetitions in the previous steps and the dog proficient at them before increasing the level of difficulty again.
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