How to Teach Your Puppy his Name

Puppy American Cocker Spaniel Breed in front of a white backgroundOnce you have chosen a name for your puppy, you need to teach him what it is. Your objective is to teach him that when his name is called he must immediately give you his full attention, that is, stop what he’s doing, turn his head and look directly at you.

As you go on to teach your puppy other commands, such as come, sit and stay, you’ll do this successfully if your puppy is focussed on you whilst you are teaching him these commands – this is why it’s so important he knows his name and responds to it.

Your puppy will start to learn that the sound of his name will be followed by a command, so for him, his name means ‘I must look at Mum because she wants me to do something’.

When you use your [tag-tec puppy name]puppy’s name[/tag-tec], it must always be associated with good things. Don’t call his name and then proceed to tell him off because he’s chewed your slippers – if you do that too often he’ll start to associate his name with being told off and won’t respond when you call his name. This is easier said than done, believe me, particularly when your puppy has just chewed through another book, but it’s worth the effort in the end!

How To Do It

Arm yourself with a few treats and put your puppy on a leash, that way you have full control if he’s distracted by something and wanders off.

Call his name in a happy and interesting voice – puppy’s love to hear the sound of your voice and will naturally look towards you when they hear you speak. What you do is reinforce that behavior by giving him a treat and praise.

As he looks towards you, give him a treat and praise him verbally with words such as ‘good boy’ or ‘yes’. Repeat this a few times every day until he consistently looks towards you every time you call his name.

Only use his name once, if he doesn’t respond, give a very gentle tug on his lead or tickle his leg so he turns to look at you.

Next, call him and hold the treat near to your face so he has to look at you – reward him with the treat and praise as he does so. Once your puppy does this consistently, swap the food for a toy. His reward for looking at you will then be to play with you for a couple of minutes.

The next progression is to introduce distractions, so try it with other people in the room, outside in the garden, in the driveway, when you are at a friends house and anywhere else you can think of. Don’t rush this stage and always make it easy for your puppy to succeed, he wants to please you, so make it easy for him to do so!

You need to teach your puppy that wherever you are, whatever the distraction, if he hears his name he needs to look at you and wait for the next instruction.


  • Keep the training sessions short;
  • Keep them fun;
  • Give lots of praise when your puppy does what you want him to do;
  • Try and train before meal times so your puppy isn’t tired and is interested in food treats;
  • If neither of you are in the mood, play instead; and always set yourself and your puppy up to succeed – take little steps that you know you can achieve, then you will both look forward to training sessions!
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  1. Shaquille says:

    Thanks this is really gonna help! I’m getting my dog tomorrow so I’ll favorite this website and get back to you in maybe 2 weeks on how its going! Thank you!

  2. Some very good advice, especially about keeping the sessions short. It stops you getting frustrasted when your puppy begins to lose interest.

  3. That tips is really great…I have 4 months old chow chow and his name is Brian…He struggle in knowing his name because people in our house call him in different name…OMG the dog is confused in his name…But I guess this tips will help me correct my dog behavior regarding his name…And i believe that eventually he will know what his real name is…

  4. shelly tay says:

    im doing a report on dog training and this helps oh so much!!!!!!

  5. ok, we got this puppy and we’v decided to name it BREWSKY it’s a shepard doverman mix!! Were so excited and we hope these tips will help us to teach him to learn his name. Thanks!

  6. Riley3-2-09 says:

    Hey thanks I just got a puppy yesterday so thanks alot

  7. Thanks-I just got a 1 1/2 year old chihuahua from a shelter and his old name is not known. With your advice, he’ll be starting the rest of his life with his new name.

  8. A loud and angry voice may sound threatening to him. Say it joyfully and praise him with words, such as “good boy” or “nice puppy”. Training your dog to respond to his name the right way takes time, just be consistent and persistent. Remember to say his name in a happy and gentle manner, reward him for every successful response, and associate his name with happy situations only.

  9. Nice advice when you call your puppy’s name he should recognize his name ….

  10. Thanks for the information, I’ve just got a new rottalier puppy, naming her Buffy, she’s following suit at the minute, except she’s a sleep slayer rather than a vampire slayer… -.- But she’s lovely, thanks for the advice it’s coming in handy and training is going great!

  11. thanks, i just got a golden lab and shes still a puppy she doesnt know her name and people around the house call her different names hopefully this will help and i think it will but shes a really stubborn dog.

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