How Old Is a Puppy Before It Recognizes Its Name?

"I know my name and come when called."
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If your puppy doesn't seem to listen to you, he's not being rude, he might not recognize his name or maybe he's too young to understand you. Part of your job as a puppy parent is to teach him his name so you can get his attention when required.

Puppy Development

The ideal age for a puppy to come into your home and separate from his litter is 12 weeks. Up until 6 weeks of age, his hearing and vision is limited, and by the time he's 12 weeks old, they're fully developed. He'll have well-developed motor skills and you're more likely to get his attention. Also, his litter mates and mother will have taught him socially acceptable behavior so you're less likely to deal with a timid, aggressive or overly dependent puppy.

Naming Your Pup

When you name your puppy, give him a likeable name that's easy to say in a clear and sound manner. Stick to short names that have two syllables. According to the Everything New Puppy Book, names that have two syllables are easier for dogs to understand, most likely because one-syllable names might sound like other commands you might give your puppy. If you name your dog Max, he might respond better when you call him Maxie.


To teach your puppy his name, train him for two minutes a day, starting in a quiet area and gradually moving to an area with more distractions. Let him sniff a treat, say his name and move the snack in between your eyes. When he follows the treat and looks toward your eyes, praise him and give the treat. Once he's doing this consistently, use just your hand without the treat and praise him when he follows it toward your eyes. Eventually, just call his name without using your hands and praise lavishly when he looks at you.

Staying Positive

Aside from regular training sessions, use your furry pal's name every time before giving him a command. Initially, use treats to reward him for listening, and over time, slowly reduce the treats. You want him to listen to his name without having to constantly give him treats. Never use his name when you reprimand him. If you call and scold him, he might make him associate you calling his name with negative consequences. He might decide that he's not listening anymore to avoid getting reprimanded.

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