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The Name Game

Updated: Feb 21

Does your dog know their name?


Not just at home but everywhere?


If you want your dog to pay attention to their name in all circumstances, first you must teach them what it is.


To give the name value so the pup will want to respond to it, give them a name that is quick, clear and easy to say.


Step 1: Say the name and give the pup a valuable reward – treat/ attention/ game. 


They don’t have to DO anything. You are just linking the sound of their name with a reward (learning by association).


Repeat 10 times.


Do this in many different places and situations.


Whenever you are going to give the pup dinner and you’re sure you have a keen pup waiting to eat, put down an empty bowl and feed them dinner by the handful (or for small dogs, spoonful) saying their name before every handful.


Say the name, THEN reach for a handful of food and put it in the bowl.


(If your pup is already aggressive around food – be careful. This game might help, but it may make things worse. Ask me and we’ll work out a solution.)


You are depositing value into the ‘name’ bank account, so that the pup will develop the connection of name = good things. Every positive connection adds value.


Step 2: Any time you think the pup will give you attention – say their name and reward the attention.  The MOMENT your pup turns their head towards you, praise and continue the praise as the puppy approaches you. Once they reach you, give a reward.


Only ever use their name if a reward will follow (praise/ pats/ treats/ game) .


If you plan to practise response to their name in harder situations PRIME the puppy’s response by saying their name and rewarding immediately. You're just reminding the pup of what needs to happen, before expecting it to happen.


Repeat 3 to 5 times before asking the pup to actually look at you when you say their name in that situation.


Try to keep anything to do with their name upbeat and positive. Grumpiness, scoldings, anger will withdraw from the value of the name's bank account.




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