How to Teach Your Puppy its Name

Your puppy should look at you when you say his name.
puppy image by SKYDIVECOP from

Teaching your puppy his name is one of the most important things you can do when you get a new puppy. It is the foundation of all other training as well as forming the basis of his relationship with you. Using his name consistently and positively helps your dog to know and understand when you want him and when you expect him to do something.

Step 1

Say your puppy’s name. Use a very happy, cheerful voice and make it a positive experience. Don’t say anything except the puppy’s name, and say it only once.

Step 2

Reward your puppy immediately when he looks at you after you say his name. In most cases he will look at you just to see what’s going on, but the incentive of getting a treat will encourage him to look again the next time you use his name. Use treats such as cooked liver, cooked beef heart, hot dogs or chicken, cut into pieces about the size of peas.

Step 3

Wait for your puppy’s attention to wander slightly, and say his name again. Reward him the instant he looks at you, so that he is associating his name with the treat you are giving him and your praise.

Step 4

Repeat the process of using your dog’s name about 10 times in a single session, then give your pup a break. If you overdo it he’s likely to become bored and disinterested, and once you lose his attention it will be harder to get him to respond to his name in the future.

Step 5

Practice having your puppy respond to his name in many sessions throughout the day, keeping each one fun and rewarding for your puppy. Practice in different rooms of your home and in your fenced yard. Minimize distractions such as other pets or children when your puppy is first learning, so he can focus on you.

Step 6

Hold the treat directly in front of his face, touching his nose, if the puppy is not turning around to look at you when you say his name. When you know he can smell the treat, say his name and bring the treat around so that your dog is facing you, then immediately give him the treat and praise him. He’ll quickly get the idea to turn and face you when he hears his name.

Step 7

Teach your puppy to respond to his name no matter where he is by saying his name when he is out of sight in another room. If he comes running to you, reward him immediately and praise him. If he doesn’t, continue working with him in the same room until he will respond consistently to his name, and then try this step again. Some puppies need more time than others do to learn their names and to respond, but with consistent, positive training, your pup will learn his name.


  • Don’t use your dog’s name in a negative manner, such as when calling him to stop him from getting into the trash or doing something else you don’t want him to do. Rather than calling him by name to stop him, tell him “No!” or “Out!” instead, which effectively stops him without creating a negative association with his name.


  • Choose a name for your dog that doesn’t sound like any of the obedience commands, to make it easier for him to distinguish between his name and what you are telling him to do. Be sure that you are consistent in using the same name when you want to get your dog’s attention, and don’t substitute nicknames, which may confuse your puppy.


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