Some time ago we put out a video on strategies for using your dog’s name effectively. A lot of you asked about how to teach a dog their name in the first place or how to change a new dog’s name. Well we’ve got the rundown on that for you, coming up. Ian here with Simpawtico Dog Training and before we get into name recognition strategies please make sure you’re subscribed so you never miss any of our videos. Also follow us on all the major social networks and don’t forget to check that YouTube description for notes, links, and resources about the stuff we talked about.Now, dogs don’t have the same attachment to their names like we do. To us our name is a big part of who we are. It’s deeply tied into our identity. However dogs don’t have that same kind of attachment to it. Dogs don’t process language like we do. They really just memorize the meanings of sounds they hear often. Then they learn to respond in a particular way to particular sounds that we make. So to a dog their name is simply a sound that means, “Hey check this out!” So we use their name to call them into attention and to proceed requests and to help them differentiate requests made to multiple dogs. Due to this it’s not only easy to teach a young dog their name it’s pretty easy to change a newly adopted dog’s name to whatever you want. And if you’re newly adopted dog came from an abusive situation changing the name will help you start with a clean slate since they may have negative associations with hearing their old name. To dogs the words that we teach them become antecedents that predict something else.So for example when we say “Sit,” that should predict the action of putting their bottom on the ground. This is a classically conditioned relationship similarly if we say something like “Do you want to go for a walk?” or mention riding in the car your dog gets all psyched because they have a good expectation about what those words predict. So we need to do the same thing with their name and we do that with a classical conditioning exercise. Grab a handful of high-value treats or do this at mealtime and hand feed your dog. During the exercise say your dog’s name and give them a piece of food. Wait a couple of seconds and do it again. “Wednesday.” “Wednesday.” It must be done in this order: name, then food almost immediately, then pause. With each successive trial the sound of their name begins to predict something good. This is cultivating a conditioned emotional response a concept we’ve talked about before on the Simpawtico channel. That short pause in between trials helps preserve the integrity of each trial and makes sure the association we inttend is the one being made; the gap draws attention to the pairing.If you run them together too closely by going name-food name-food-name-food then the name becomes a short break to fill the absence of the food and they’ll actually start tuning it out, the exact opposite of what you want! Just take your time with it and do it right. This process actually happens pretty quickly; within a couple of sessions you ought to have the foundation well enough established to move forward. Think of this like a sonar ping to test the water. Hang out with your dog in a relatively distraction-free environment.Allow them to look around and explore naturally. Don’t try to actively distract them with something like having someone get their attention or by throwing a ball or something. Just hang out and let things happen naturally. You can do this inside or outside if there aren’t too many distractions. Then call your dog’s name in an upbeat, peppy tone. You’re looking for the head snap; this is something that you reinforce just like any other behavior. Back up a few steps and make this a dynamic reward event. “Wednesday! YES Good girl! Sweet girl! Good job!” “Wednesday. Yes! Good girl, good girl!” “Wendesday. YES! What a good girl, that’s awesome!” Incidentally not only is this teaching them the value of hearing their name but it’s building the spatial gravity necessary to make come and off-leash following more successful. It’s a powerful bond-building game. Now we also condition a second prompt to get their attention and this one is a physical one. Now physical prompts are typically more relevant to dogs than verbal ones but we do want to place priority on the verbal.For this reason the physical cue is just going to be something we keep in our back pocket to use when the verbal cue isn’t working. This is the butt tap. After doing the first two exercises follow this protocol: tap, name, back up and reward. As before we prefer to make this active and dynamic with lots of movement. You could do this passively by handing them the food but movement is always way more engaging and helps turn outwardly directed energy back towards you. Wednesday. YES! Good girl, good girl great job.” “Wednesday. YES! Great job, good girl, sweetheart.” “Wednesday. YES! Good girl that’s fantastic! What a good girl!” Now you have two ways to redirect attention back to you when they’re focused on things in the environment.Incidentally if you have a reactive dog rehearsing the butt tap in neutral environments will make it more likely to work when you need it out in the world. As your dog falls in love with hearing their name you have to protect the work you’ve done. We talked at length about this in our name strategies video but probably the biggest takeaway is to never use your dog’s name as a reprimand or as part of a reprimand. People tend to do this a lot and it’s a huge contributing factor as to why dogs don’t listen. As with most annoying behaviors it’s usually people’s fault. Only use your dog’s name to proceed reasonable requests or to otherwise engage with them in some positive fashion. We’ll link to our name strategies video below so you can go a little deeper with this info if you’d like. All right everyone I hope this has given you a quick and easy roadmap to follow as you teach your new dog their new name.Let us know how this has worked for you and what some of your stumbling blocks have been, and leave your questions in those comments. Don’t forget to thumbs up this video if you found it useful and as always keep learning, keep practicing and we’ll see you again soon. Thanks for watching! .