How To Teach A Dog Their Name

  Summary: If you’ve brought home a puppy, or are renaming a re-homed pooch, you’ll want to know how to teach a dog its name. We’ll learn about teaching a dog their name, in this blog…    So, you’ve settled on a name for your new pup. But, how does your dog know what their […]

Oct 18, 2023·4 min read
How To Teach A Dog Their Name


Summary: If you’ve brought home a puppy, or are renaming a re-homed pooch, you’ll want to know how to teach a dog its name. We’ll learn about teaching a dog their name, in this blog… 


So, you’ve settled on a name for your new pup. But, how does your dog know what their new name is…? By you teaching them! 

It’s super important a dog knows their name so you can get their attention quickly. This may be to stop them from doing something naughty or prevent them from harm. Having them learn their name quickly will help in all aspects of their future training and in keeping them safe.   

a small, cream Shih-Tzu puppy with brown and tan ears in a turquoise harness, bounds onto a green lawn between two small shrubs. Behind them is a patio with an outdoor, metal table and open sliding glass doors


Teaching A Dog Their Name  

Positive reinforcement is the most effective way of teaching a dog their name; rewarding them every time they respond correctly/in the way you want them to. 

Once you’ve chosen a name your household is happy with using for the rest of the dog’s life, you should consistently say their name out loud in a positive and enticing way throughout training. This is so your pup will learn to associate their name with positive interactions and rewards which encourages them to continue responding to it.  

PetLab Co. Pro Tip: Until your dog knows their name, restrict your household from using nicknames or other cute names – these can be confusing for a dog while their learning their name.  

Training should also take place in a familiar space that’s calm and quiet with limited distractions – particularly if you’re training a puppy who will be very curious and easily distracted. Remain cheerful and calm throughout the training process too. Training should be a positive experience for both of you! 

Before you begin, make sure you arm yourself with lots of healthy treats that are suitable for your dog’s age. You’ll need to reward them a lot in the initial stages of training, so you may want to cut up treats into quite small pieces so as not to overfeed them.  

a Golden Retriever puppy sits on dank lawn surrounded by the remnants of snow looking upward in the camera’s direction

How To Teach A Dog Their Name 

  1. Reward Their Attention 
    The first step is to simply reward your pup with a treat and a verbal “good boy/girl” every time they pay you attention. If they look at you or come near you, reward them with plenty of fuss and a treat. Do this all the time whether formally training or not in the first few weeks of them being at home. This way they’ll learn that paying attention to you is a good thing to do! 
  1. Name Them 
    Next, when standing away from them, say their name. If they give you attention in any way – whether they physically move toward you or look at you – praise them and reward them. Repeat this multiple times a day. This way they’ll learn to associate responding to their name as a good thing to do.  
  1. Don’t Mix Commands 
    In the early days, separate your training out. Don’t say their name and then command them to “sit”. This will confuse a new puppy. Reward them for responding to their name only until you’re confident they know it. Teach them commands during separate training sessions. 
  1. Go Public 
    As your confidence in your dog’s new knowledge grows, move locations and do the same there. In the yard, on walks and then in the dog park (once your puppy has completed their essential vaccination course, obviously!). If training was successful, they’ll drop what they’re doing and come straight to you when called! 

Remember, never punish your dog for ignoring you. Dogs don’t process punishment in the same way we do – they just learn to be scared of you which will prove detrimental to your bond. Just repeat positively training them until they get it! 

Concentrated training sessions should also be kept short – no longer than 10-minute bursts at a time. Your dog’s attention span, particularly if they’re a puppy, will naturally wane and if training is no longer fun for them, they’re less likely to retain what you’re teaching them.  

Stay consistent with your rewards, even when out and about and when they’ve gotten a little older. Positive reinforcement only works if it’s consistently being positively reinforced!  


“How To Teach Your Dog Their Name” Pure Pet Food, Apr 19. 2022  

Sarah MiltonS

Sarah Milton

Comes from a family of animal lovers and got to grow up with a menagerie of pets! I believe owning a pet is a privilege and I love researching and creating informative, fun content for fellow pet owners to help their furry friends have the happiest and healthiest lives. When I’m not writing blogs, you can find me sharing a walk with my pet dachshund or at a yoga class!

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The information contained within this site is not intended as a substitute for professional medical or veterinary advice. PetLab Co. is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If your pet has, or you suspect your pet has any medical condition, you are urged to consult your veterinarian. Medical conditions can only be diagnosed by a licensed veterinarian. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Results May Vary. Not intended for human consumption. Please consult your veterinarian regarding any change in treatment or supplementation.
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