The Name Game


Dogs love games, and so do we! The Name Game helps to reinforce name recognition and recall,dog_playing1 but it can also be a lot of fun. This game teaches your puppy that answering to his name is not only exciting but very rewarding.

As a training technique, the Name Game is important even if your dog recognizes its name already. The true purpose of this exercise is to let your pup know that when he hears his name something good happens.  When you call Sparky, he will be not only be willing but also happy to look at you and respond to you in a positive manner.


Start out slowly and build up to a challenge…

EASY – Call your pups/dogs name in a happy voice, “Sparky!“ If Sparky even glances in your direction click or say, “Good Sparky!“  Then give him a treat.  You can also toss treats if he is further away from you. Next, wait for your dog to look away from you.  Call his name in your happy voice. Say nothing but his name.  When he turns towards you, click and treat or praise and treat!

  • TIP: If your pup does not know his name or respond at all to your tone of voice try adding a kissy noise or some other ridiculous sound to get him to turn toward you.  Do not add other words.  You want him to respond to his name.
  • TIP: If all else fails drop down to dog level and call your dog’s name, pat the floor.  Praise and treat when your dog looks at you.

MEDIUM – Practice this exercise any time you are with your pup/dog..  This can be when you  are washing dishes, watching TV, working in your flowerbeds or just watching a sunset. Wait for your dog to be distracted, call his name and when he responds, immediately praise in a happy voice!  If you happen to have a treat or his favorite toy you may give that to him as well. The better the reward, the more likely he will be to repeat the behavior.

HARD – Call your dog from another room. You can even play Hide and Seek with your dog!


  • Never use your dog’s name in a negative manner.
  • Never use your dog’s name to correct him.  He must only associate it with the best things.
  • Never call your pup to you to correct a problem.  Go to him and take care of the problem in a fair manner.
  • Looking at you or running toward you when his name is called should always be rewarded.