How to Teach a Dog to Learn its Name

By Max. D Gray. Updated: January 16, 2017
How to Teach a Dog to Learn its Name

One of the first things that every dog owner wants to accomplish is to have their dog learn its name. This is a basic and essential step in training your pet and teaching it to obey you, because if your best friend doesn't know you're calling him, how could it possibly obey your commands? Sooner or later, if you have a dog you'll have to face this task, and it's important to remember that patience and perseverance are essential in success. At OneHowTo we'll give you some suggestions about how to teach a dog to learn its name.

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Steps to follow:

Before you start training your pet, it's important to learn some basic tips to choose the dog's name, so the animal will respond more easily to it. The name should be short and simple, and shouldn't be longer than two syllables. Remember that the sooner you start to train the dog, the better, so it begins to respond to simple commands from a very young age.


A dog must know its name in order to respond to simple commands. When your dog makes eye contact when his name is called, rest assured that the animal associates the sound with his name.

Although teaching a dog its name sounds easy, it does require repeated training. It's best to do sessions of 10-20 minutes every day, so you keep the animal's attention without wearing it out and you don't lose your patience.


To teach a dog to learn its name, you must train it in a place with as few distractions as possible. The place should be quiet, i.e. indoors, and be sure to have some dog biscuits on hand, so you can give half of one to reward the dog, little by little.

The instructions are simple:

  • Stand at a distance of up to 20 inches and call your dog's name when it's not looking at you. Repeat this as many times as necessary.
  • When it looks at you, make sure it knows it's done the right thing, and say for example, "good boy."
  • Then give it half a biscuit. The dog will quickly understand that responding to its name results in praise.
How to Teach a Dog to Learn its Name - Step 3

Frequently repeat the training without distractions to ensure that the animal begins to associate its name with something positive and responds to you when you call it. As the training progresses, begin to introduce distractions to see how the dog responds to its name in a less controlled environment.

For example, you can begin the training session with the telly on, an obstacle in the middle of the room, or a friend or family member that walks between you and the dog. If you have a garden, you can also go outside and see how the animal reacts. The more distractions there are, the better the reward should be if the dog responds to its name.

Remember that it's essential that your dog responds to its name in a noisy environment full of distractions, because when you take it out for a walk in the street, this is exactly what you'll encounter and you want be sure you can control the animal.

How to Teach a Dog to Learn its Name - Step 4

Never call your dog's name when it's doing something wrong. If you do, the dog will understand that the call comes with a reprimand or punishment and therefore will not respond to your call in the future.

During the training phase, the dog must associate its name with something positive, and understand that if it responds to it, there will be a reward. Otherwise, the process will be slower and more difficult.

If it does something bad, i.e. chews on the furniture, simply move its muzzle away from the object and say a firm and definitive NO! Gradually it will understand the meaning of "NO," and realize it did something wrong, without the need to say its name.

How to Teach a Dog to Learn its Name - Step 5

It's also recommended that during the training period, you reward your dog only when it responds to its name and don't call it unnecessarily. Just call your dog's name when you want it to come to you, and not for other reasons. Otherwise, the animal will lose the association with the sound and it'll be difficult to relearn it. This advice is especially important if you have children at home, because everyone in the family should be actively involved in the dog's training.

This training method can be used with both puppies and adult dogs.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Teach a Dog to Learn its Name, we recommend you visit our Pets category.

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