The Name Game – Building the BEST Dog Training Response EVER!!

When you start your training with your pup the best thing that you can ever do is build in a response to his name first.  What do I mean by response?  I mean the minute he hears his name his head snaps around to look at you, each and every time, regardless of distractions.

Why do I feel this is so helpful?  Because with everything we teach our dogs it starts with them focusing on us.  If you don’t have your dog’s attention you could be saying anything and it will be meaningless to the dog, because his focus is on something besides you.

It makes sense to me if you are walking with a friend and they are looking off in the distance, the easiest way to get their attention back on you is to use their name.  When they hear their name, they automatically focus on you.  Your dog can do that too, but it must be conditioned to respond.  Does your dog respond to the word “cookie” or “treat”?


Now that you know what we’re looking for, let’s see how we can get that response.

  1. Take several baggies and put some non-spoilable treats in them, not too many, you can always refill them as long as you remember where they are. Put these at a reachable height all throughout your house so you can access them from numerous different places.
  2. While you are moving through your day at your home and your dog is somewhere nearby but not paying particular attention to you, stop at one of your hiding places and say your dog’s name in a normal strong voice (not a whisper). IF your dog LOOKS at you, immediately say “YES” as a marker, and toss the treat to the dog.  IF your dog does not look at you, DO NOT REPEAT IT, just walk away until another opportunity arises.
  3. It is extremely important that you do not repeat his name EVER, and it is also important not to give him any extra time to respond. If he does not respond quickly, don’t allow more than 10 seconds for a response, simply walk away.
  4. The first time your dog responds, he will immediately realize that you have the rewards hidden around and may start following you around, just ignore him until he wanders back to ignoring you for some other yummy doggie distraction. Be patient, it will happen.
  5. Repeat this game at least 10 times a day for several days and you will see a huge difference in how responsive he is with each successful mention of his name.
  6. The longer you continue this exercise, the more responsive he will be. You can even use his name when you are in different rooms and he’ll start running towards you voice.  Imagine how helpful this will be when you are trying to train your dog to come when they are called.
  7. Make sure to be consistent with your marker, “yes” and your reward to follow, for each successful response. Make sure to use high value rewards for even better and faster responses.


Related Articles:
How Can I Get My Kid Involved in Dog Obedience Training?
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How to Train a Dog to Stop Jumping on People
How To Train Your Dog To Have Better Impulse Control
Is It Ever Too Late To Start Training A Dog?

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