To you, your puppy’s name is as much a part of his identity as his eyes, nose, paws and coat. You might wonder, does he “know” his name and identity the way we know ours? Can a young puppy make the association between hearing the sound of his name and realize the person saying it’s referring to him? In the event you call out “Jake, come here”, is the furry, tail-wagging Jake thinking “That’s me” when he pricks his ears up and trots over or is “Jake” an auditory symbol he’s come to realize has meaning for him? Chances are it is the latter.
A puppy may respond to his name when you are not speaking to him directly. For instance if your pup hears you say “Cork was rolling around in the basement these days and he looked so cute covered in dust,”‘ Cork might react and look over at you but stop paying attention once he realizes you are not addressing him. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if he is having difficulty learning, you may need to call him by name numerous times to get him to focus on you. Owners understandably may resort to using an exciting word which will elicit a response from their pet, like a food item he loves.
A trainer might advise that you call your puppy one name when you talk to him and a various name when talking about him to make it less likely that he’ll turn out to be desensitized to his main name.
One way to help your puppy recognize his name more effortlessly would be to choose an unusual one that’s in contrast to other words your pup is likely to hear you say. Choose a single-syllable name with a tough sound i.e. Rick. Perhaps it somewhat resembles the short sharp sound of a dog’s bark and that’s why your puppy is likely to respond to it much more readily. Keep in mind that the tone of voice you use also helps your pup to know he’s being called.
Whenever you want your pup to obey a command, always use his name first. This will draw his attention. When he comes, give him praise and affection so he understands he isn’t in trouble and not about to be punished. Only speak your puppy’s name when you want his attention as it will lose power over time in the event you preface every command with it.
Trainers will also sometimes advise you use words apart from “no” to train your puppy since when the word no is used you are often looking at your puppy and he along with a million other puppies will come to believe his name is no. Other word choices such as “Stop” or “Leave it!” are much more particular and your dog is much less likely to confuse them with his own name.