How Do Dogs Know Their Name?

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How Do Dogs Know Their Name?

If you’ve ever adopted a new puppy, you quickly learn he won’t respond to his new name no matter how perfectly it fits! But as time goes on, you notice he does seem to respond to his name all the time. Has he actually learned his name or is he simply responding to the tone of your voice? How Do Dogs Know Their Name?

How to Teach Your Dog His Name

There’s a lot of value to having a dog know his name and be happy to hear it.

  • His name can be used to distract him from unwanted behaviors such as inappropriate chewing on furniture or continual barking.
  • A great attention-getter, it can get your dog to run to you when he’s called.
  • If your dog is anxious about a situation, repeatedly saying his name can have a calming effect.

Here are 5 easy steps to teaching canine name recognition:

  1. Pack a treat pouch with a lot of little, pea-sized treats.
  2. Go somewhere with few distractions.
  3. When your pup looks at you, use a happy tone to say his name and then hand him a treat.
  4. Interact with him, but don’t repeat his name until he looks away and then back at you. Then repeat the name and give him another treat.
  5. Do this multiple times remembering to always use a happy tone of voice.

Over time, you can add another person to the “game,” where you each alternate saying your dog’s name and then handing him a treat.

Signs Your Dog Recognizes His Name

Though some experts say only about a third of dogs always respond to their names, it’s still helpful to have your dog recognize a particular sound said in a particular tone. Dogs that do understand you’re saying their name tend to perk up when their name is mentioned in conversation, immediately turn their head when you call them by name, and/or run to you from another room when you call their name.

You can test whether your pup is responding to name or tone by using the same tone of voice to call him by another name. If he responds, you have your answer. Either way, it’s a good sign that he responds!

The most important thing to remember about using your dog’s name is not to use it in anger or as punishment for perfectly normal behavior. It’s best to have him associate his name with positive feelings and actions.

And if you’re wondering if your dog knows your name, experts say that dogs can recognize faces, even in a picture or video. As to whether he knows your name, dogs often show excitement when they hear a human’s name, even if the person isn’t present. So, if the name is said often enough while you are present, he’ll start to associate it with you!

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