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How to Teach Your Dog Their Name

fenrir focus on teaching name

How To Teach My Dog Their Name?

Puppy Getting a new dog is an exciting process, no matter their breed, or their age: Dogs are veritable masters in bringing joy into our lives. But how do we shape our new, perhaps completely uneducated, dog into a well-mannered canine companion? One of the easiest methods is by teaching them their name. In this article, we will explain how to do this - and why it is so important.

Naming Your New Dog

Choosing the perfect name for your dog is an extremely personal matter. If you buy a pedigree puppy, their kennel name will be fixed. But many breeders will let you chose your puppy’s “first name”. Before you select one, be aware that you will be using this name for the next 10 – 12 years of your life! Another thing to consider is how quickly dogs grow: In only a few months’ time, your cute little puppy will have grown into a lanky adolescent. And a few months after that, they will be fully grown adults. Puppyhood is the shortest period of a dog’s life. So, you are naming the dog your puppy will grow to be.

When it comes to picking a name, we recommend selecting one that is relatively short, and easy to pronounce. Names with one or two syllables are more practical than longer ones: Just imagine having to shout, “Aristoteles, Here!”, or “Zephyrus, Down!” multiple times a day in the future. It is far easier for everyone in your household to uses short names, for example: Charly, Cooper, Hunter, River, Moose, Bear, Bruce, Jax, Lucy, Lily, Sunny, or Luna.

Teaching Your Puppy Their Name

Essentially, you are using your dog’s name to draw their attention to you. By saying: “Lola!”, for example, you are telling her: “I need you to look at me right now, because I am going to ask something of you.” Once Lola complies and looks up to you for guidance and direction, you can add any cue you like. Common examples include commands like “Here!”, “Sit!”, “Sit – Stay!”, “Break!”, or “Eat!”. Saying your dog’s name before asking anything of them is important, especially if you live with multiple dogs.

With a bit of practice, hearing their name shifts your dog’s attention to you. This alone will boost your obedience training– simply because the dog has learned to look to you on cue. And the first cue any puppy should be taught is their name.

Training this is very easy, and here is how you do it:

  1. Give your puppy the opportunity to go potty
  2. Get some treats ready
  3. Take your puppy into a low-distraction environment (such as your office or laundry room)
  4. Put the practical, dog-friendly Ragnar Slip Leash or a light puppy leash on your dog
  5. Say their name in a light, cheerful tone (voice inflection is highly effective with dogs)
  6. Be patient, and repeat saying the name until the dog looks at you
  7. As soon as they make eye contact, immediately mark this success with an enthusiastic “Yes!”, then feed them a treat.
  8. Repeat this 3 – 5 times initially, then gradually increase the number of repetitions
  9. Once your dog has learned to look up to you on cue, repeat the same exercise outside in the garden, then in front of the house, then out in public, gradually increasing the levels of distractions.

The leash is only in place to secure the dog, as you want to avoid them walking away during training sessions, even in an indoor environment. Before too long, your puppy will have learned that hearing their name is their cue to look up to you, making eye contact. By marking that eye contact with a “Yes!”, you tell your dog that you like what they are doing – and that a reward is on the way. Over time, you can phase out the treats, and transition to verbal praise instead.

Raising And Training Dogs A - Z

But what if you have adopted an older dog that does not listen well to their name? Many dogs have learned to ignore their names, simply because their owners did not reward them for responding to them. Perhaps, you want to give your new dog a new name. This is perfectly fine: Dogs are highly adaptable beings, and they will adjust to their new name quickly. And you can use the same 9-step process we have just described.

The Ragnar Slip Leash is an ideal tool for teaching the name-cue to puppies and adult dogs. Unlike conventional leashes, this slip leash secures even large and powerful canines from getting away out in public. This added safety is very important, especially during the first few weeks after adopting an older dog: Until your new canine companion has bonded with you, they might try and slip out of their collar during walks – and run away. With the Ragnar Slip Leash, you will not have to worry about this.

Teaching your dog their name is an integral part of the training process. And we cannot emphasise enough how important the name-cue is. By teaching your puppy (or adult dog) to listen to their name, you build the basis for loving leadership. Doing so is the foundation for achieving reliable recall and other skills. You can take your dog’s education as far as you want – and it all starts with teaching the name.


Teaching your new canine companion their name is quite simple. And by following the 9 steps outlined in this article, you will soon have a dog that looks to you whenever you say their name. Such a dog is easy to influence in any circumstance, and why? Because they will have learned that listening to you, their loving leader, always works out to their advantage.