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!