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Puppy Training: Name

Puppies respond best to positive training.

Some people bring their new puppy home, give him a name, and expect him to respond to it immediately. Unfortunately, a supernatural psychic phenomenon does not suddenly occur in a puppy's mind just because you've decided between Buddy and Butch.

It may take several days to a week for your pup to know his name. And this lesson is the first step of many in the training of your new friend.

Perform Puppy Training Using Rewards, Not Punishment

Puppies learn better when they are trained using rewards, not punishment. The best rewards are treats and praise. Dogs just can't get enough delicious morsels or enthusiastic "atta boys!" from a pleased owner. Establishing a positive training method for your new puppy when training him to learn his name will go a long way toward a great training relationship with him in the future. Following is a step-by-step guide for using positive reinforcement to teach your puppy his name.

  1. Get his attention. When you decide on a name, use it every time you speak positively to your new puppy and the whole time you are with him. Lightly clap your hands together, snap your fingers, or slap the side of your leg when you say his name in order to get his attention.
  2. Positively associate his name with good things. Every time you say your puppy's name and he responds by coming to you, or merely looking at you, give him a treat. Praise him with "good dog!" and pets and hugs. Reward him often with small treats. In no time at all, he will associate his name with good things from you.
  3. Stay away from negative reinforcement. Remember: do not use your dog's name in a negative way. If he is chewing on something he shouldn't or has an accident indoors, do not yell "Buddy! No! Bad boy!" or "Buddy! Stop!" He will instantly associate his name with unfavorable things and outcomes—contrary to proper reward training—undermining all of your efforts. Your puppy needs to associate his name with only good things. When he does, it will make training much easier because you will be using his name in order to get his attention for the commands such as "Buddy—sit," "Buddy—stay."

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