How Long Does it Take a Dog to Learn Its Name?

by Naomi Millburn, Demand Media
    "Oh, you're calling for me?"

    "Oh, you're calling for me?"

    If you're bringing home an adorable doggie from your local rescue shelter and have a fun name already prepared for him, don't be disappointed when the poor thing doesn't instantly or quickly take to recognizing it. Thankfully, it doesn't usually take long for these smart creatures to learn their new monikers.

    Time Frame

    Whether your new dog is a wee puppy or a seasoned and mature adult, he may be able to begin recognizing a totally new and previously unfamiliar name in the span of mere days, according to the canine behavioral expert Sue Sternberg of Petfinder. Even if your dog remains unresponsive to his name for the first day he's in your life, he may recognize it in less than one week, so relax and be patient.

    Teaching Your Dog His Name

    For some dogs, constant repetition of a new name may be all you need. For others, you may want to try some other techniques out. Establish a "happy" link to your pooch's name. Yummy canine treats usually do the trick. When your dog is focusing on you, stand in front of him as you hold a few treats. Clearly and slowly say your pet's name. Then say "OK," and without further ado, give him the tasty stuff. After half a minute or so, do the whole thing over. By doing this a few times over the course of the day, not only may you encourage your dog to learn his name, you may even encourage him to come to you immediately after you use it -- success.

    Ignoring Names

    Some dogs are fully aware of their names, but choose to ignore them because of the lack of rewards. If your dog knows his name but won't budge an inch when you use it, it's because he doesn't see any reason or incentive to acknowledge it. If you have a feeling that this may be the case with your dog, it may be time to train his mind. Doing this may involve a lot of repetitive use of his name -- and encouragement in the form of not only doggie treats, but playtime, fun toys and petting sessions, too. When your dog begins to connect his name to the idea of fun stuff, he certainly won't ignore it any longer.

    Negative Association

    If your dog doesn't seem like he knows his name, it may be because he actually associates it with bad things. If your dog chews on the living room couch and you firmly say "No, Spot" to him, his brain will begin linking his name -- Spot -- to something not too wonderful. To prevent this from happening, abstain from using your dog's name in these types of circumstances. If you're worried that your dog doesn't know his name after months or maybe even years, consider the fact that he just doesn't think too fondly of it -- and then do something about it.

    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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