Dog Training and Dog Care advice from UK Professionals

Using Your Dog's Name


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Rover, Max, Pooch, Bernie.... these are all names for dogs. However, none of these are a name to a dog, WE use them as 'names' because we like to have labels for things and its endearing, but to a dog a name is a COMMAND or an 'association to action' and nothing else. It effectively means, "Oi You", or "give me your attention please".

To some people, the dog's name means
"come here" on some occasions, and on other occasions it means "don't do that" all depending on the tone its given in. This is wrong and unfair on a dog.

So, if we break this down into simple terms, if a 'name' is a command, then a dog can obey and disobey it, right? Yes, and its the most commonly disobeyed command there is, because so few dogs and more importantly, so few OWNERS understand the very fact that it is a command in the first place.

My definition of any dog training command is:
"A verbal sound or physical action which causes a specific and reliable reaction from the dog". So, with this in mind, it is ESSENTIAL that you DECIDE on that verbal or physical gesture beforehand, and also that you DECIDE exactly what SINGLE reaction you wish your dog to perform when it receives the command. This can vary, but my chosen response from a dog is for it to STOP whatever it is doing (whether that is running, eating their food, or even SLEEPING) and LOOK AT ME remaining STILL, not running back to me, sitting down, wagging their tail and jumping up or anything else. When i say one of my dog's names, that dog will do exactly what i have described, it will LOOK AT ME and AWAIT further instructions.

This is the fundamental reason why i believe a dog's name is one of the most crucial yet misunderstood COMMANDS. So many owners use the dog's name as a kind of variable command, sort of like the word means listen to the TONE of my voice which gives you the TRUE meaning of the word this time round. In other words, i often see an owner give their dog's name through many different tones, volumes etcetera and each time expecting something completely different of their dog. If i can't work out what they want from their dog, as an experienced dog trainer who speaks English as well as the language of human emotional expression, how on EARTH can we expect the dog to know what they want whilst that dog speaks neither of these languages?

Remember, the easier you make your dog's task of understanding you, the easier your dog will make your life! Think about everything from your dog's point of view, and the next time you say his or her name, remember that its a command, so decide what you want and REWARD accordingly and consistently. Before long you will have a dog which knows the sound of its name and this will prime it for the next command which you will always give.

Stop calling your dog names, and start communicating what you want from him!

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Choosing Commands
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Using Your Dog's Name

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