Teaching Your Dog His Name


My Jovi!

I have a 9 week old puppy!!  Life is certainly exciting at my house right now, especially with two dogs under the age of 1!  So I thought I would write a puppy training article about teaching your new puppy his name and then I realized…how often do people have trouble getting their ADULT dogs to come to their names?

So I shifted my focus, to a reinstatement of dog training commands, going back to literally “Square One” and teaching your dog his name, in most cases AGAIN!

We get a new dog and after we name him, we promptly assume he knows his new name.  This is what I am finding with my new family.  I say “new family” because we, too are new at being blended and they don’t come to dog training with the knowledge I have.  We named our pup “Jovi “(I am a huge Bon Jovi fan).  And, it was as if automatically everyone assumed he should know his name!

“Jovi this” and “Jovi that” has been uttered since, but no one has really taken the steps necessary to TEACH him his name and what it means!

When I get a new pup, I wait a few days before doing a lot of puppy training.  I want my pup to be able to acclimate to his new environment and his new siblings before adding much more to his plate. But, with that said I do work on teaching him his name at any natural moment throughout the day.

I believe to build a firm foundation in the beginning of dog training you must pair his new name with his food and his treats!

  • How many of you have dogs that come running, from anywhere in the house or yard when you say “cookie, treat, or biscuit”, how about if you open the food container or shake the treat jars?  I use to work for a couple that would call their cat by screaming “mouse in a can” and running the automatic can opener.  Their cat would come running like his tail was on fire from anywhere in the neighborhood when he heard “mouse in a can”…you’d think that was his name 😉 ha ha!

That is when I had an “AH HA” moment!  What if I could get that kind of intensity from my dogs when I called their names?  I love a challenge, and this was and is exactly that!

We all have pets that come running for whatever word you use for treat.


Because we have conditioned our pets—-when you hear that word, “cookie” at my house, with almost 100% reliability you will be getting a tasty morsel or something good!  Most of us don’t run the can opener, open the food container, shake the treat jar, or even say the word without following through!

  • When was the last time you said the treat word and then yelled at or beat your dog when he came?
  • Do you say “cookie” and trim your dog’s nails or do other things he doesn’t like?
  • When he gets in trouble do you say “COOOOOKIE” with anger?

NO!!  “cookie” always means something good!!

HOW Do You Change Your Dog’s Mind or Teach Him His Name?

Positive Reinforcement is the Only Way To Go With That Face!

You use these same principals!!  They are quite simple, really!

When you say his name pair it with a treat!  Vary the degree of greatness of the treat, once it might be a biscuit and sometimes it might be chicken breast or liver!!!  Not knowing how fantastic the treat may be helps give your dog the motivation to come running!

ALWAYS make it a big deal and a wonderful affair when your dog comes to you or to his name!  This is a time for celebration and fun!  His name and coming when called can save his life someday so you want him as reliable as possible!!

NEVER (can I say that again?), NEVER, EVER, NEVER use your dog’s name as some kind of verbal correction!!!  I know it’s tempting…”JOOOVVVIII get over here NOW!” is not something that makes your dog want to come to you.  This negativity teaches your dog that his name is actually a bad thing!!!  You NEVER want your dog to associate his name with bad or negative things, this will teach him to avoid you when you say his name, which is the opposite of what you want!

NEVER, EVER, NEVER do horrible things or things your dog may deem horrible to your dog when you call him; if he hates his crate don’t crate him, don’t trim his nails, don’t give him a bath, don’t reprimand him!  Bad things make your dog want to avoid you.  If you have to do these things go to your dog or teach him that doing them means the rewards will be phenomenal but don’t use his name, you don’t need it!

Jovi=treat, Jovi=treat!  You get the idea right?  If you adhere to this plan or put it into action starting today you will see a HUGE improvement in your training program almost immediately!  It’s simple and it is common sense.  Have fun with your dog!


Start Calming Down Your Over Excited Dogs Today!

Your First Lesson’s FREE:

Sign up below and we’ll email you your first “Training For Calm” lesson to your inbox in the next 5 minutes.


  1. Ronda says:

    Hi, May I add one little extra? Have a second person start with dog on leash…come running at the moment you call his name….only took 3 times with my rescue, wild year old pug….


  2. Kathy says:

    How simple and effective. I have a two year old king cav and a 9 year old PWD. They are both deaf when I call them. It is never too late to train!! Tried it this a.m. It works –Thanks


  3. martha says:

    I have two Yorkies, rscued. One is 10 and the other 8. I have had them for four years. I belive they love me, but they have never ever – not even once – come to me when I call them. When I call them, they turn away from me and go rapidly in the opposite direction. I took them to a trainer once and she said they were not food motivated and after an hour with minimal success, she gave up.

    I have never abused them in any way, never yelled at them (until recently) or never done bad things to them once I manage to corner them in their “dog caves” and drag them out. The last several weeks, I find myself saying their name in an angry tone – the frustration is so bad that I sometimes think my life would be less stressful without them.

    Can you help me?


  4. Ron Wells says:

    Buck, a 2 year old rescue, yellow lab/beagle, is a wonderful, loving, happy dog. He sleeps on my bed, follows me everywhere I go….except when he gets out of the yard/house! He is totally in a separate world. He is out exploring. He totally ignores me and is in danger of being run over. He avoids me when he gets out. He has been captured by strangers when I called for them to grab him. On “off leash” walks in a local dog park he comes to me but is a “far ranger”. He is constantly roaming and smelling at great distance, but keeping me in sight. I try to take him out for a off leash romp 3 times a week. It is in town, I worry about cars. He will not come. He won’t respond to treats, he forgets his clicker training! he is gone!!!! He is not running away. He is completely overwhelmed by his hunting instincts:( I train him in the back yard. He is good but outside the fence the thin domestic veneer is gone. I think he’d be fine outside if it were OK to be off leash and there were no cars. I need to be able to keep him close off leash. Help! Sorry about the long windedness but I love my dog!




  5. CandaceCatalano says:

    Just wanted to comment that on this video, The trainer constantly used the phrase “good boy” so much, that it sounded like it was part of the dogs name. I know how important positive reinforcement is, but if you are trying to isolate his name “Jovi”, shouldn’t you just limit the reward to the treat and a perhaps a pat on the head as oppose to adding the “good boy” to his name?


    Minette Reply:

    Good boy lets him know he is responding correctly, eventually it will be dropped however he is just a baby and needs to know what I want from him. It is also a way to mark the behavior without a clicker if ever I am without my clicker and training. “Good” or “Yes” becomes the marker just like the clicker and paired with the clicker they become synonymous.

    You can never praise your dog too much! They love and live for praise and later for other types of training I will no longer need to use treats…he will like “Good Boy” just as much.


  6. Jim Griglione says:

    Do you think this will work with older dogs?? I have a toy poodle that when I call his name he looks up and then totally ignores me. Now I do have to say that he is 14 and in very good health. I am going to try this when they are inside they come but outside for get it.



    Roxann Reply:

    i have a mini poodle. He is a good dog and also follows me everywhere. But he sometimes ignores me, when I tell him to come or to do a trick I know he can do. He will watch me then look away and sometimes will do it later. Its like I know what you want me to do, but I will do it when I am ready.


  7. Thank you. A wonderful short training video. All new and old pet owners should see this. Sure would make life for our wonderful dogs much easier and less confusing. Thanks again.


  8. Elsie David says:

    I have a 4 yr. old beagle. She has had training classes. Does reasonably well. However, I can’t get her completely house trained. some days she does fine, other days I have to constantly keep watch on her. I’m just about to my wits end. Have to carpet shampoo at least once a week and can’t get the dog smell completely out. Can you help me? I have been using vinegar and baking soda. Helps some, but still not completely pleased.
    How might I go about getting out smells and stopping her from going potty in the house. There is especially 4 different areas she uses. I can take her out for walks, she will pee, but she waits until we get in the house drinks some water and will go to one of her favorite spots once I get busy doing daily things and not watching her.



    Jeanette Reply:

    Elsie I have the same problem only my Pomeranian who’s 2 does both in the house after being taken outside .I think we are the ones trained because he does great when I take him out. some times he saves number 2 for in the house.I was told not to use vinegar or anything with Ammonia in it because it smells like urine to them and to use bleach,when I use vinegar my house smells pickled and he still goes to the bathroom in the house.well good luck and let me know if you find out a better solution



    I have an 11 yr. old Yorkie (Max) who is undoubtedly the best dog in the world! Yorkies are known for a constant battle of wills with his/her owner. However, I’ve been very fortunate that he is also very intelligent. I have put what I call ” puddle pads” out for him to use. They are really incontinent pads for humans, but so much cheaper than the ones made for animals. I put them by the door that he exits to go outside. At night or during the day if I’m not home, he uses the pad to go on, not the carpet. Give it a try. Put your pooches pads where he likes to go now and slowly take them up one at a time until you just have the one by the exit door he uses. Good Luck!


  9. Anita Baker says:

    This training technique is great for those who do not show their dogs in obedience trials.Obedience trials the dog needs to come on the word COME not on his name, so a person could modify this with the word come instead
    of the dogs call name.


    Minette Reply:

    I do both in the beginning, especially when they are learning. You HAVE to teach them their name right? So then it becomes there name and come = “Jovi…COME” He gets the idea from hearing his name and it reinforces the COME command from the start. Then you can drop his name if you so desire.


  10. Charlesie says:

    I have a wire fox terrier that will not come to me when I call her. any suggestions.


  11. Candy says:

    Never thought of this in this way. Makes sense. I am having some success with my dog coming, but with a boost of this training, I’ve got it made.


    Minette Reply:

    Once my dog has his name down = treat I can add the recall or “Come” command and have it equal treats or a game or whatever his strongest motivator is…it really works well!


  12. Valerie says:

    Great video ….. I have practiced this process since my two Golden Retriever sisters were tiny puppies and it usually works well.

    But ….. have you any ideas on how to recall TWO sister dogs who are in the process of running away (to play) in bushland at the rear of our property. I’ve found once they get farther than say 250 yards from me, even though they can hear and see me, they just will NOT come back. I’ve then lost them for up to 16 hours !! Until they return home exhausted and hungry in the night.



  13. Frank David says:

    I totally agree, treat or food is not the only way to teach your dog their name. In fact you get better results when you leave food out of the process.

    The key practice here is consistency. Once you achieve that watch as your dog takes to its name like he takes to food.


  14. Katie says:

    I have always called my dogs, cats and horses in a friendly and exciting manner. I have now 6 dogs and two cats and always look at each individual when I call them by their personal name. I have never used treats or food rewards to imprint their names. I did the same with my children, I looked straight at each and called their name. Children aren’t born with the knowledge of their individual names either, I think the same principle applies there. I never call my dogs or cats by name when I am angry or peeved off with certain undesirable behavior they display, I rather wait until I have calmed down. If I catch any of them in the act of bad action, the phrase is usually “bad boy” or “bad girl” in a very stern voice. It works for me and my little family.


    Larry Perkins Reply:


    Please do not take this as a criticism, just a request for additional information. You said, “I have now 6 dogs and two cats and always look at each individual when I call them by their personal name.”

    Do you mean you “look at them” during the “training process”; or, do you mean that you don’t use their name unless you can see them? I am betting on the former, since having a critter (or child) obey, even when you do not have eye contact, is essential.


  15. Lori says:

    I appreciate the suggestion of treats. Our Teddy (a teddy bear breed) does not come well to our calling his name….But he certainly will for treats! So I’ll use that concept….but what do you call him when he’s bad? I tend to use his name to get his attention. He responds to a squeaker for discipline….has squeaky toys but is afraid when I use the squeaker so stops what he is doing–sometimes hides! He’s something of a wimp! Thanks for all of your help!


  16. Gary Huschle says:

    I think you missed the mark here. “Come” should be the treat word, not their name which is the attention getter for who you are talking to.


    Minette Reply:

    I like both 😉 There can be several words that bring your dog running to you!


  17. Carla says:

    I am going to try this teaching trick. Both my dogs come running when I mention the word treat but how do I get them to come to me when they are doing something bad. One of them has just started chasing cars! Bad!! After the chase he knows he has done wrong because he hides. What do you suggest?


  18. Cathy says:

    Why would you use a squeaky toy for discipline? Toys are supposed to be fun for dogs. He must have been hit at sometime if he hides when you discipline him. You need to gain his trust before you can teach him anything.
    I have a rescue Bichon who was afraid of everything. His personality has completely changed because he trust me knowing I will not hit him. If he does something wrong I only ask him what he did and he knows it was wrong just by the sound of my voice. Even my neighbors say how he completely changed after I had him a few months. Having your dog afraid of anything is not good. He must have respect and love for his master and you can teach him anything. Expect the best from them and you will get it. I don’t know why it still amazes me when my dog does what I say the first time but I attribute it to trust and love. Even my kids dogs will do as I say and they don’t see me everyday they just know I say it only once if they do it they get “good dog” if not I wait until the do it and they want that praise. Patience is the key to all training!


  19. Cathy says:

    I can’t tell you enough times how much I love your training tips. I would love to become a professional dog trainer.


  20. Rachel Nuttall says:

    I could call my dog by any name and she would come. I think she recognised the tone of my voice. I never over use the name or I believe the dog becomes desensitised to it for people that do use the name. Just think how many ‘false alarms’ we use the dog’s name during a day or even in conversations on the phone with a friend. Poor animal would be exhausted if it responded EVERY time it heard its name being called. I also believe in training from the earliest possible moment. Toilet Training can be done in a few hours if you are on the spot and you know what to do. The word I often used if I wanted my dogs attention would normally be ‘Here’ to get her back or ‘Aa’ if I wanted to stop a behaviour. Seems to work for me but we all have our ways.


  21. Mary says:

    My son’s dog is almost two and she NEVER comes when she is outside. We adopted her from the pound at 9 weeks old. She was sick two days later with severe kennel cough and she was crated for almost three weeks per vets orders to keep her calm and not to let her run or play. When she was beter we took her outside, on leash, and a neighbor dog walked up to her and tried to bite her. From then on she was very shy around everyone. Now, she tends to be aggresive with other dogs sometimes and food. She never comes, ever.

    We have treat trained her, leash trained her like Cesar to walk and stay calm, submit. When she is inside she is fine and obeys. Comes, sits, stay, crate, leave it, etc. But if she can break outside, which she does every chance she gets because she knows how to open the glass door by herself if the main door is not locked. With kids, the main door is not always closed properly. She waits for it and breaks out. Once outside, she knows she has done wrong and gets very defiant. She puts up her tail and runs around the neighborhood bothering everyone’s dogs, barking at them if they’re in a fence and jumping on them if they’re on leash or tieout. She is very ugly. NO ONE in the neighborhood can catch her. Everyone dislikes her. She may not come back for hours and hours, sometimes days before we can catch her. We are the laughing stock of the neighborhood and everyone assumes we have been mean to her because we can’t touch our dog or get her to come.

    I tried your treat training outdoors with a 50 foot leash and she’s perfect. At the dog park with a fence, she did fine, outdoors with no fence and she refuses to come no matter what. She is a smart enough dog to know if she has a leash, fence or other boundary and if she doesn’t nothing we have tried has worked. If she sees treats outside, she sticks her tail up and goes the other way. I really dislike this dog at this point. I regret letting my son get her. I have never owned a dog so horrible in all my life. My son loves this dog (he’s 10) but he can’t get her to obey at all. He gets very upset if I mention finding her a home because he picked her out and loves her. As I write, she is laying at my feet, perfectly. Of course, the cat is not in the room for her to growl at. The cat has taken to hiding because of the dog. If she can break out in ten minutes, she won’t come back all day and will stick her tail up in defiance. It’s like two different dogs.

    I have watched all the video you have but none of the training with treats,clickers, play, praise or anything make any difference if this dog gets outside off leash. She will not come.


  22. Minette says:

    I want my dog to associate his name with something GOOD so that he responds with happiness and it is something that needs to be taught.

    I have other tools for when he does something wrong!

    And, there can be many words and/or cues that make them come running because there is potentially more information coming. You don’t just need ONE word or cue always. This is what keeps training fun and exciting at my house!


    Larry Perkins Reply:


    I think you missed my point. The Dog or the person’s name is simply an attention-signal. I want the dog to “alert” when their name is said. If I am working stock with multiple dogs, the last thing I want is for any of them to come running to me just because I said their name. I may want them to “go”; to “sit”; to “watch”; to “circle”; or, possibly, to “come”; but, I want them to wait for the second part of the command to execute.

    Imagine you were the captain of a sports team and you were trying to shout an instruction to one of your team members, “Hey, Fred, watch on the right.” But, if every time you said a team-member’s name, he came running TO you instead of waiting for the rest of the information, using the player’s name would be pretty limited

    The intent is for their name to be “neutral” not “good” or “bad.”

    (OBTW: Did you notice how I used your name to direct my communication to you? It’s the same concept.)


    Minette Reply:


    I disagree, especially with puppies and when people are having trouble getting their dogs to listen. They have taught their dogs their names mean nothing. Not all articles can be catered to the masses. This was for people having trouble, and those getting a new baby.

    Most people use whistles for stock.

    I will stick by it, when I am “teaching” my dog his name, like the article states, I am going to use treats and positive reinforcement. I have phenomenal recalls and obedience and my dogs always know what I want and which dog I want it from and I am always praising them in the beginning for each step well done, and then for a job well done.

    However, you may train however you like. I understand what you are referring to, I just go about teaching my dogs a different way. I also think heel should be taught as a position 😉

    You know what they say 2 trainers can only agree on what the 3rd is doing wrong! There are lots of ways to train dogs and some different for different types of work. This should work for those people who’s dogs aren’t listening!


    Minette Reply:

    Thanks Larry, I appreciate it 😉


  23. Lidia says:

    This is such a relief! Mhy dog, Julie, is 2 years old now. She always gets exited when she hears the word “walk” or “treat” but never comes to me when i call her name. The only person she listens to is my Dad caus he is the tallest and he is like the boss and she only ever comes the third time he calls her.

    Im just wondering if you can help me with another problem. Whenever i make my dog do tricks, in order to get a treat, she barks, does whatever skips through the commands and has even forgot some of them. Heres what i mean:

    Me: Ok,(holding a treat) Julie, sit…

    Julie: bark bark bark (sit)

    Me: ok Julie….

    Julie: (Lies down and roll over) bark bark

    Me: no Julie no….. lie down…..

    Julie:(sits, rolls over while lying down) bark bark

    SHE NEVER LISTENS!!! ALL SHE WANTS IS THE TREATS!! I think this is because before i ALWAYS did the same commands in the same rutine and now she cant be bothered doing what i say and just wants the treat.

    I tried changing it but she STILL DOESNT LISTEN!! ITS SSSSOOOO FRUSTRATING!!!
    Please help, bye


    Minette Reply:


    You have to back up in the training process and go back to square one with her! Change her cues if you have to…if you always say her name first, only give her the command. SIT then before she barks be prepared to HELP her sit with the use of the treat.

    If she does bark walk away. Refuse to work with her when she is loud and demanding unless you ask her to bark (which I wouldn’t for a while).

    She needs to understand that when she demand barks at you…it equals you leaving and also NO treat.

    If you are consistent and patient and try to HELP her by guiding her first and letting her know what you want. I think you will see changes. Remember patience…it is harder to “un-learn” and change bad habits than it is to learn new things. Sometimes dogs simply revert back to what they knew first so understand how hard this is going to be for her but be diligent and good luck!


  24. Cindy says:

    Your tips are great. Just when I think I have trained my dogs to come, it’s like they become deaf. I certainly am going to try the “come” tip tou described. Thanks for your help.


  25. Betty says:

    I was hoping to read a reply to the person whose dog wandered when allowed free from the leash outside…..my six month old Great Pyrenees knows “sit”, “paw”, and “come”(while on the leash), but I am afraid to allow her off the leash, when not on her run. She has so much energy and curiousity… I thought I should get a shock collar or maybe a citronella collar, just to keep her on our property. Any advice?


  26. Janet says:

    This works great except when there is a squirrel running up or down a tree or crossing the street. Also works well except when another dog is within vision or hearing. My girls want to chase squirrels and greet all the people who come within their hearing or sight. This is my worst problem as the fine is $250 if they are caught out of my yard which cannot be fenced Any other ideas?


  27. Braelyn says:

    I have two dogs nine months old puppies they are bassett lab mix. They are sisters. Layla knows her name but maylee doesn’t know hers. When I got maylee my roommate got Layla but she got rid of her an I found her on Craigslist and I wanted a playmaker for may lee which happeneded to be maylee’s sister but I can’t get maylee to listen to her name. She knows to sit, shake and lay down but can’t learn her own name. Any suggestions?


    Minette Reply:

    Watch the video and read the article


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *