Getting a new puppy? What name did you pick? Names are important; you want them to be something meaningful, cute, roll-off-the-tongue, fits the puppy or it has a deeper meaning to you personally.  Whatever the name is, you want the puppy to respond to it, right?  Well, think about the first few days and weeks that the puppy is with you. When do you use his or her name? Whenever there’s interaction? When you praise him? When you throw a ball? When he pees? When you correct him? When you put your puppy in his bed or crate? Whenever you call your puppy to you?  As much as possible? Is there a right time?  Actually, there is a correct time to use the puppy’s name.

At the beginning of your relationship with your puppy, using his or her name often will help to ensure that the puppy learns the name of choice. But think of the long-term use of the puppy’s name. By that I mean, calling the puppy by name, logically speaking, is with the intention of having the puppy come to you. It should not be linked to sit, stay, go in your crate, or anything other than coming to you because NAME MOVES THE DOG.   Think about it this way. Let’s say your name is Joe. If you hear someone say “Jo??”  “Stay there!”.  Would that sound peculiar to you?  I know we cannot assign human thoughts to our dogs, but the use of a name in a positive, friendly voice to a puppy, means “you are calling him” and you want him to come to you. Take advantage of that. Let’s take the worst scenario. The puppy or dog gets loose and is outside without his leash, or even in the back yard. If you call his name, you want him to come to you. You don’t want him to sit or stay where he is.  When he comes to you, then you want him to sit or stay. If you are right in front of him and you don’t need to use his name. 

So, as a professional trainer, I always use the name before I say come.  Harley, come. I NEVER say Harley sit, Harley stay, or Harley wait.

Now you’re at home with your new puppy. Call the puppy by name to come to you. Then start backing up a little at a time and keep saying the puppy’s name, followed by lots of praise. Call the puppy by name to give him his food, a toy, to pick him up, and go outside, to come inside. Bending down is dog-friendly body language.  As time goes on and your puppy matures, bend down to call him, then stand when he approaches you and tell him to sit. That is the time to put his collar and leash on. It’s called “sit to dress.”   But that for another lesson.

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