One of the most special parts of getting a new puppy is coming up with the perfect name. Whether your inspiration comes from movies, television, greek mythology, or scouring the internet for inspiration, naming your puppy is the first step you will take towards later obedience training.
Yet one thing many owners neglect in doing is teaching their dog how to respond to their name.
If you say your dogs name right this moment, how do they respond? Are they still lazily sleeping at your feet or have they jumped to attention asking whats next? How do you want them to respond?
As a dog trainer, nearly every obedience command I will give my dog has specific criteria and the name will proceed each command as an indication to my dog that they need to pay attention. So whether my dog is sleeping at my feet, or in the waves splashing at the beach, my expectation is the same.
If I say my dog’s name, they must look at me for direction. Not in a minute. Not eventually. But immediately.
And this focus IS possible and is a simple puppy game you can start with your dog with just a couple treats and a few minutes of your time.
Before you get started:
Get the treats!! Remember, the higher value the reward, the faster your training will go. An easy short cut we can take as dog trainers is skipping the crunchy milk bones and instead getting soft, chewy treats that the dog can eat quickly so we can get more repetitions in a short period of time.
Our favorite treats to use at the OC Dog Ranch are called Real Meat Dog Treats. They are soft air dried Lamb, Beef, or Venison and make the perfect training treats. You can find them on Amazon by clicking this link here.
Have your dog sitting in front of you to start. Say the dog’s name and offer a treat. Repeat this 10-15 times.
Wait for the dog to look away from you. You can have a second person make a noise or artificial distraction. Say the dog’s name and offer treat. Your dog should look away from the distraction and back to you and find a reward!
Increase the level of distractions and try in new locations! You can be out for a walk, hanging out at the park, or drinking coffee in your kitchen. The dog should understand their name means to look at you. Initially it’ll be for the anticipation of the treat but this will be built on later so they understand that their name will proceed a command in which they can earn a treat.
It seems super simple and it is! Spend a few minutes with your puppy and a baggie of treats and you can successfully lay the first step to later focused obedience!