I used to think that choosing a name was a simple step that didn’t need much more thought than naming them after my favourite actor, sport star or fab person I knew. I thought it just needed to be something that can easily be called out when you’re on a walk or it came with your dog if you were rescuing or rehoming them. As I trained and boosted my own skills as a dog trainer (and a dog Mum) I soon realised that it was the ultimate secret behind training your dog and there isn’t a dog who cannot learn the magic behind knowing their name.
It gives you the chance to go from just having a dog to having a dog that tunes in to you like a pro whenever you need it and it’s amazing how much is behind a name.
1 - It’s your most powerful tool as a dog owner.
Teaching your dog to look at you when you say their name is arguably one of, if not the most important thing you can teach your dog. It’s teaching your dog to focus on you and without it you are a slave to the distractions around you. We all know that distractions either make or break behaviour and having your dog checking in with you on your walks, when they’re off lead or at home is a super skill. If you need to get their attention because they’re off lead and heading over to another dog or they are pinching things around the house, if you have a strong and powerful bit of eye contact when you say their name, everything gets so much easier to manage.
2 - It’s the foundation and core skill to ALL of your training.
Recall, lead walking, not jumping up on everyone and everything and ignoring the cats that pop up on your walks are just some areas of dog training that can built around your dog knowing their name. Calling your dog back to you when you are on a walk becomes so much easier when they’re looking at you in the first place. Helping them to realise that walking on a lead at your pace instead of pulling you is a breeze if they’re looking right at you, they can’t pull and look at you at the same time. Without your dog being able to focus on you, you can’t train anything. A dog that is totally tuned out to their humans is the dog that’s not listening and not engaging and this is when we see behaviours that we don’t always like.
3 - It is absolutely changeable!
Worried it might remind your dog of bad times or you just don’t like it? You can change it. Sometimes dogs can have a negative association with their name and changing it could be the start of their new life and new journey. Or if it’s not your cup of tea you can choose something else. It’s too easy to let frustration creep in to our lives with our dogs and at one time we’ve probably said our dogs name with a slight tone (especially if it’s when they’ve pinched your best pair of socks and just have to let the neighbours see them) we’ve all done it. If changing your dogs name could be the start of their confidence boost, you can do it.
4 - Trends are trends.
It’s amazing how dog names follow trends just like baby names and it’s usually baby that follow the dog ones! What’s a popular dog name one year usually finds its way on the most popular baby names list for the following year and I’m always amazed how many babies, children and dogs I know that have the same name. Training classes just become a little bit more entertaining when you’re asking Bella to sit as you work through dog skills and you turn around to see a very lovely 6-year-old girl sitting down on a chair.
5 - We always remember the dog’s name but never the owners!
‘Oh yeah, you know, thingy, the lady we meet on our walks in the mornings. She has that really lovely Labrador called Freddie and he always says hi to us when we see him.’ It always makes me chuckle but we always seem to remember the names of the dogs we meet more than the owners. It’s a fact of having a dog, we meet other dogs on our adventures and we remember them and everything about them. You and I as dog owners then just become the entourage who accompanies Freddie, Bella or Frank on their daily walk. But we wouldn’t have it any other way, would we?!
The list of things we ‘should’ teach our dog is a never ending one and it’s so easy to be swept up in the thought of needing to do everything perfectly and do everything! If we can teach our dog just one thing, knowing their name and responding to it should be at the top of that list. Start with the focus and everything else will follow.
Helping is always key to your success and I have always got super useful guides, cheat sheets and free masterclasses available. Want to know how to build automatic focus in your dog? Or how to boost your dog’s confidence then you won’t want to miss some exclusive invites to give you a step by step guide – GRAB YOURS HERE