How To Teach Your Puppy To Respond To Its Name

September 10, 2016

It is important that you teach your puppy to respond to its name. The puppy’s name should be a cue for it to stop what it is doing and go to you and acknowledge you. It should also signify that the puppy needs to give you its undivided attention and wait for further instructions.

Knowing how to respond to its name is also a safety net that will ensure the puppy will come to you if it gets lost or you need it. So how can you achieve this? How do you teach your puppy to know what to do when you call its name?

Now, training your puppy to know what to do when you call its name may seem like a chore at first, considering that puppies tend to do whatever they feel like. But it’s actually a very simple and fun exercise to do. It just requires your patience, some treats and 30 minutes to an hour of your time each day in order to teach your puppy how to respond to its name.

I will give you six simple steps that you can do to get your puppy to respond, even if it has been used to responding to something else before.


Step 1

Take your puppy out in your front or backyard, or any space where they can roam around freely without it leaving your sight or hearing. This will allow your puppy to be in its natural state and feel unconstrained. Once the puppy is settled in its environment proceed to step 2.

How To Teach Your Puppy To Respond To Its Name
  • It is preferable to do this without the use of a leash, as this will only make your puppy feel constrained. There are exceptions though that will be discussed in a later paragraph.

You can also check out this YouTube video from Howcast where the dog trainer Robert Haussmann of Dogboy, Inc. explains the importance of your puppy associating its name with something positive.

Step 2

Try calling out your puppy by its name. Make sure that you use a happy, friendly voice. Once your puppy approaches, respond with a yes and give it a treat. Doing this will help your puppy to associate its name with something positive. After giving your puppy a treat, proceed to step 3.

  • I mentioned earlier that it is best not to use a leash, but there are exceptions, and here is one of them. You’ll need to use a leash if your puppy is really hard to control so that you can limit its movement and nudge it gently towards you after calling its name. Just make sure that you still reward the puppy and call out in a happy and friendly voice. Avoid scolding the puppy, even if it takes a while for it to come back to you. You don’t want the puppy associating its name with something negative.
Step 3

After giving it a reward, let the puppy go back to what it was doing. This will further help the puppy to identify its name with a positive voice and some treats. After the puppy has done this, move to step 4.

  • Avoid using your puppy’s name with the words NO and STAY, as these words usually indicate a negative command and the puppy might start identifying its name with something negative.
Step 4

Repeat steps 1 to 3. It’s important that you allot a time during your day for this training, as repetition and patience are both key in teaching your puppy to respond to its name. This may sound like the final step, but there are still 2 more to do.

How To Teach Your Puppy To Respond To Its Name
  • ​Make sure that your puppy is already responding to its name before you proceed to step 5. Be patient, as it might take you a few days before you can proceed to the last 2 steps and complete the training.
Step 5

Once your puppy starts responding to its name, you can make the training more challenging. Try training in different locations to see if your puppy will still respond to its name. A different environment will help the puppy not to associate its name to the place where you are calling it.

Try adding some distractions, like throwing a ball, before calling your puppy’s name. This will help your puppy to distinguish its name even if its attention is somewhere else. Repeat this process until the puppy comes to you even if it is being distracted. Once the puppy comes to you, proceed to the last step.

  • You can also try doing this in an environment that is noisier to help the puppy distinguish their name even in a noisy environment.
Step 6

The last step will be to train the puppy to come to you when you call its name, even if you don’t give any treats. You’ll need to do this gradually by giving a treat the first time you call the puppy, but not the the second time. This will slowly teach your puppy that it will not always get a treat every time you call. Once your puppy responds to its name every time you call, you have completed the training.

  • ​You can replace the treat with a stroke or rub on the head or body. This will help the puppy to still identify their name with something positive. Again, never associate your puppy’s name with anything negative. Don’t call the puppy’s name to correct or punish it. If it associates its name with anything negative, the puppy won’t come to you every time you call.
  • Tip: It is important that you only call your puppy’s name once during each step. Repeating the name over and over again will only lead to the puppy tuning it out. It is also important that you only call the puppy by its name during this entire process. This will allow the puppy to concentrate on it name and not be confused by other names.

Teaching your puppy to respond to its name is a fun exercise to do that allows you to build a special bond with your puppy and draw it closer to you. Apart from being a fun exercise, it is also a safety net which ensures that your puppy will return to you should it get away from you for whatever reason.

It’s fairly simple to teach your puppy to respond to its name. It only requires your time and patience. I hope you will find this guide helpful.


About the Author


Hi, I’m Sara and I would like to thank you for checking out my blog. I have been around dogs since I was kid and I cannot imagine life without one. So now, I am sharing with you the knowledge I have accumulated over the years and hopefully it helps you too.

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