Tip – 26 – Dog training basics – Teaching your dog its name
One of the reasons why dogs seem to ignore their owner’s commands is simply due to the fact that the dog has not learned to pay attention when their master speaks to them. For example, many dogs do not even seem to know their own name. This is a critical thing to teach them. Your dog will indicate that it knows its name by looking directly at you whenever you say his name. This also means that you now have the dog’s attention, which makes it much more likely that he will respond to your next command. To ensure name recognition, visibly place a treat in your hand, and then extend your arm out to the side. Now call the dog’s name to get its attention. The dog is likely to be looking at the treat and not at you. Continue to call its name until he turns his head to look at your eyes. Then immediately give him the treat. Do this repeatedly alternating which side you hold the treat. Later you can just call the dog’s name (no treat involved) and use petting and/or making a fuss over the dog to reward it for looking at you.
The foundation of all training is attention and therefore ALWAYS use dog’s name FIRST before giving your commands.
Your next step is to make sure that your dog has been to obedience class where it can be socialized to be comfortable with other dogs, strange people and lots of chaotic activity. It is important that it be a class, not private instruction, because the presence of other dogs and people is important. The dog will then learn that the rules do not change just because he is no longer alone with you, and is surrounded by chaos and distracting activity. Thus the dog learns to attend to you, and you become an anchor and a point of consistency that he can rely on. This will also help insure that he responds to what you ask him to do.
© Copyright Stanley Coren, reproduction by permission only.