How to Start Teaching Your Puppy Their Name:
#1 Step - Have a bunch of yummy treats ready to give your puppy as rewards!
#2 Step - Wait until your puppy is looking away and then call their name in an excited happy tone. Use praise and treats to encourage them to come to their name.
#3 Step - Have treats on you and randomly call out your pups name throughout the day, reward them when they come of course!
Trouble Shooting Response to Name:
If your pup isn't responding when you excitedly call to them, try mixing up the rewards you're using. You want to make certain that you're using a reward they find highly valuable. Usually treats that are extra smelly and extra squishy are a safe bet!
The next thing you'll want to adjust if they're still struggling, is your setting and surroundings. Are you in a quiet place or somewhere where they're being easily distracted? Adjust your settings as needed. In the beginning it's normal for your dog to become easily distracted, try moving to a quiet living room or even a bedroom if needed.
Next up, you'll want to begin playing the name game with them. The name game is exactly what it sounds like. You'll want to shout out their name and expect their attention. When they give you their attention, always be sure to praise and reward that good behavior.
Important Things to Avoid:
#1 Keep Their Name Paired with Only Positive Associations
Avoid pairing their name with bad associations like "Rover, No!" or calling their name with a bad association like "Rover, quiet!."
#2 Don't Say Their Name Multiple Times
If you get in the habit of calling their name multiple times like "Wally, Wally, Wally!" Then you're dog will start expecting their name called that many times in order to respond to you.
#3 Don't Practice in a Large Area
When you're starting out, you want to minimize the amount of distractions your puppy has around them. Don't start in a crowded party area or a busy dog park. Stick to your quiet living room, work up to more difficult environments.
#4 Don't Get in the Habit of Saying Their Name Before Every Command
If you get in the habit of saying their name before every command, it becomes an expected part of the command. For example "Rover sit" , "Rover stay," Rover come." If you teach these commands with their name attached, they become an expected part of the command. Meaning, Rover may not understand the command being asked of them if his name is not attached to the command.
#5 Be sure to Mark & Reward their Correct Responses Immediately!
Dogs are especially responsive to positive reinforcement training! This means that any time you'd like to see a behavior repeated, mark it with a positive word and give them a treat immediately after. Dogs are very live in the moment types of creatures. If you for example, asked your dog for a sit, then got up to get them a treat from the next room over. Be aware that they are likely not to make the connection to what it is they are being rewarded for. This is why keeping treats all over the house is so helpful with young pups! That way you'll never miss out on an opportunity to reward a behavior you'd like to see again.