How to Teach Your Puppy Their Name?

Last updated on: Jan 19, 2024

By: Stephanie Dunne

Cocker Spaniel Puppy Looking At The Owner After Hearing His Name

Have you recently got a puppy? One of the first and most crucial steps is teaching them their name. This isn't just a fun ritual; it's important for your puppy's development and your bond with them.

Knowing their name is more than recognizing a word. It's the foundation for all future training. Especially for recall training, which is essential for their safety.

We'll show you how to teach your puppy their name, step by step.

Guide to Teaching Your Puppy Their Name


  • Start training early. Begin training as soon as your puppy comes home. This early period (8-16 weeks of age) is when they are most curious and adaptable to learning new things. However, it's never too late to teach dogs their names. Although they are at different stages of development, older puppies and adult dogs can certainly be trained.
  • Choose the environment. Start in a quiet place without distractions. Your living room or a calm part of your yard works well.
  • Bring the treats. Have some small, tasty treats ready. These will serve as a positive reinforcement every time your puppy responds correctly to their name.

Step 0: Name Your Puppy

We can skip this step. You've already chosen the name, right?

If you haven't, it's time to pick a name. A two-syllable name with clear sounds works best. Names with sharp consonants (like 'k', 't', 'b') can be more effective as they grab a dog's attention more easily.

Step 1: Create a Positive Association

  • Start by saying your puppy's name in a clear, upbeat tone.
  • As soon as they look at you, reward them with a treat and praise.
  • Repeat several times in a session
  • Have several short sessions throughout the day

Step 2: Practice in Different Settings

Once your puppy responds well at home, begin practicing in places with more distractions.

Start with mildly distracting environments and gradually move to more challenging settings. This will teach your puppy to respond to their name regardless of what’s happening around them.

You can even add movement to the name game. Walk around and call their name, reward them when they follow or look at you. This adds an element of fun and excitement.

Step 3: Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Use their name regularly throughout the day. Be consistent not only in the training schedule but also in your tone of voice and manner of calling them.

Common Challenges and Training Tips

Getting your puppy to respond to their name isn't always easy. You might face challenges like distractions, a lack of motivation, or confusion. Here are some tips:

  • Strictly Positive Associations: Never use their name for negative experiences. For example, don't use their name when you want to scold them, or when it's time for a bath if they dislike it.
  • Practice Everywhere, Every Time: Integrate name training into your daily routine. Call their name at different times and in various situations.
  • Keep Sessions Engaging: Vary the treats, the place, and the length of the sessions. Don't be afraid to stop early.
  • Always Reinforce: Whether it's a treat, a favorite toy, or just your voice, reward your puppy for doing the right thing!
  • Proceed With Caution: If your puppy doesn't respond, the conditions may be too complex or distracting. Take a step back and reduce the difficulty.
  • Involve Family Members: Let different family members play the name game with the puppy. This ensures your puppy will respond to their name regardless of who calls them.


Teaching your puppy their name is fun and rewarding.  Be patient and use positive reinforcement, celebrate small successes, enjoy the process.

Remember, every puppy is unique, and the speed at which they learn can vary. If your puppy is struggling with name training or other basic commands, consider a few sessions with a professional trainer.

You may also be interested in a guide to bathing your puppy for the first time.

And is your puppy drinking enough water? Check it out!

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