Why is it important to say your dog’s name before starting a training session?

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Your dog can be thinking of anything at any time—like how to finally get that pesky squirrel or those birds that always seem to be mocking her. So when it’s time for a training session, you want to be sure to have her complete attention, not have her mind wandering off someplace.

First, you want to be sure she knows her name. Making sure she knows her name is fun as well as bonding. Most of all, though, it provides some safety; if she ever gets away from you for any reason, you want to be able to call your dog’s name and have her return to you.

NOTE: When choosing a name for your dog, be sure it’s practical (not fancy or too long) and easy to understand. Many experts even say choosing a name that ends in a vowel can be easier for them to understand. If the dog doesn’t understand her name, she’ll never know that you’re talking to her.

When you are training it is important that all attention is on you. Calling your dog’s name should mean “look at the pack leader” so make sure you say her name at the beginning of each command. You don’t want her to think her name is part of the command, though, so if you need to repeat it, just try to repeat only the command word—not her name.

If she starts to lose focus or look distracted, say her name (dogs really respond to an excited, high pitched voice, so you may try that) and gently put her face up toward yours.

Make sure she makes the association that when she hears her name something nice is going to happen, whether it’s additional praise, a treat, or some special playtime. Use the name often also when petting or feeding her—but not so often that it becomes “white noise” that she just ignores. And never, ever use her name when correcting or punishing her!

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