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  • Liz MacHaffie

Name Response

Updated: Sep 10




This is a simple and very powerful, useful cue to have. Our goal is to have your dog respond to his name with eye contact, even in distractions!


(You can use it instead of “watch me” and “leave it”, too.)


Here’s how to teach it!

My Name is Awesome!

  • Stand or sit close to your pup.

  • Say his name in a bright, happy tone and then immediately give him a treat, regardless of what he is doing.

  • Repeat at least 5 times.

My Name Means Look at Mom/Dad!

  • Say your dog’s name, followed by “Puppy, puppy, puppy!” or any other word until he gives you eye contact.

  • As soon as your pup’s eyes meet yours, stop talking, say “yes”, and feed a treat!

  • Try to feed your pup from your eyes down to his cute little mouth. This helps him look at your eyes rather than your hands.

  • Repeat until your pup will look at you right away at least 80% of the time while you are close to him.

  • If your dog is having a hard time, make it easier! Immediately after you say his name, take your treat hand and put it up to your face between your eyes. When he looks at you, say "Yes!" and deliver your treat. Repeat several times, then try with your treat hand behind your back. Voila!

  • You can help your pup look away from you between repetitions by having someone else very briefly distract him OR you can play Up Down!

  • If your dog won't look at you, he may be too excited, scared, or distracted. Try again in a different location or when things are calmer.



Up Down

This is a great game for dogs first learning to respond to their names.

  • Say your dog's name, followed by "Puppy, puppy, puppy" (just like before), until he gives you eye contact.

  • When his eyes meet yours, say "yes" and then take a treat and move it to your eyes, and then put it on the floor.

  • Your dog should drop his head to eat.

  • Just as he's finishing the treat, call his name again! He will be looking down, and should quickly bring his head up to look at you.

  • As soon as his cute eyes meet yours, say "yes" and repeat!

  • This is usually a fast game! You can keep it nice and short. Just 5-10 repetitions are great!

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Adding in Distraction

  • Repeat this in increasing levels of difficulty. It should be fun!

  • Build on success and make it easier if your dog is making mistakes.

  • Inside close together.

  • Inside 10 feet apart, then 15, then 20

  • Inside with guests over!

  • In the backyard, then in the yard 10 feet apart, then 15, then 20...

  • On walks! In public places!


The Golden Rule for Your Dog's Name​

Make more deposits than withdrawals!

  • Deposits = calling your dog and rewarding him with GOOD STUFF!

  • Good stuff = anything your dog likes! Attention, treats, playtime, a new toy or chew, etc.

  • Withdrawals = calling your dog and doing something he doesn't like.

  • Some popular withdrawals are calling your dog to come inside from the yard and then shutting him inside and ignoring him, calling him and then crating him, or calling him and then leashing him. Try to avoid these wherever possible.

  • If your dog stops responding to his name in certain situations, think about what the consequences for him usually are. Is something accidentally punishing? Scary? Just a bummer? Can you provide a reward to make it worth his while?


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