If you have a new puppy, the first, most important command you can teach them is their name. Teaching them a name solidifies their identity; they will now know when you are talking to them! Their name is something you’ll be using every day of their life. It’s not particularly hard to train, and it’s something you can do as soon as you get your new puppy.
The training session can be split into two different kinds: focused training and relaxed training. For the focused training sessions, make sure to prepare some delicious treats and a clicker. A clicker is the most useful tool in training a dog new tricks. It is absolutely indispensable. It’s not that you can’t train without a clicker, but that a clicker makes the training at least twice as fast!
In your focused training session, sit down in an enclosed space with your puppy. Make sure there aren’t any toys on the floor or other things that can easily distract your pup. Place your treats in an easily accessible place, like on a counter top. This way, your puppy won’t be crazily digging at your hands to get to the food. Next, call your puppy’s name in a happy voice. As soon as your puppy makes eye contact with you, press the clicker and reward your dog. “Good puppy! Yes! What a superstar you are!” Repeat this process a couple of times. One of the most important things is to wait for your puppy to make eye contact with you before you reward them. It’s better to keep the focused training sessions short because a puppy doesn’t (usually) have a very long attention span! Five-minute sessions a few times a day will be key in teaching your new puppy their new name.
For the relaxed training sessions, make sure that you are constantly carrying treats in your pockets or a treat bag whenever you are with your puppy. Whether you are playing with them or taking them on a walk, occasionally stop to call their name. “Rover!” Make sure you do not also add the “come” command to their name command. (That means no, “Rover, c’mere boy!”) We want to isolate the skill you are working on so we don’t confuse the puppy!
Also, the name command does not mean that your puppy needs to come to you — it just means your puppy needs to look at you! So, regardless of whether your pup makes eye contact from 10 feet away or right at your feet, make sure to reward them when they make eye contact. With the relaxed sessions, you don’t necessarily need to use a clicker. However, if you do have one with you, it will make your training that much faster!
This is usually a command that doesn’t take a lot of time to teach. If you stick with it, your puppy should be able to learn their new name within the span of about a week!
Have you taught a dog their name before? How long did it take them to learn it? Let us know in the comments down below!
Erika Newcomb is a full-time college student with a passion for pooches! She’s been training dogs for over 13 years and has been teaching agility classes for the last 3 years. As part of the behind-the-scenes support for @endeavorsofego, she can often be found brainstorming photo ideas and playing with Ego.