How to Teach a Puppy its Name With/No Treats

Helping your puppy learn their name is vital. It forms the foundation of any other training, and it helps you cultivate a positive relationship with your puppy. You can teach your dog its name using treats or without treats. Following are the steps with tips.

Teaching with Treats

Using treats is the most popular way most dog owners train their dogs to learn common tricks and tasks. Here is how to get your dog’s new name to ‘stick’ with treats.

Training you dog to learn its name with treats

Step 1

Call your puppy by its name. Use a happy voice and make the experience delightful. You should only say your puppy’s name and it once.

Step 2

Once you catch your puppy’s attention and they look at you, reward them immediately. In most instances, you only draw the dog’s briefly because of the ‘sound’ you’ve just made, but by providing an incentive like a treat, they’ll be conditioned to look again whenever you use their name.

Use treats like pea-sized cooked beef heart, chicken, cooked liver, or hot dogs.

Step 3

After the treat, your puppy will likely go back to its ‘adventures.’ Call them again by their name. Reward them as soon as they look at you so that they increasingly associate their name with lovely things like treats and praise.

Step 4

Every single training session should entail repeating the above process – calling your pup’s name, followed by a reward – about ten times followed by a break. If the training sessions are overly long, your dog will become disinterested and bored. Once your pup loses interest, it will harder for you to get them engaged in the training in the future.

Step 5

You should have a few training sessions throughout the day, make each session rewarding and fun for your puppy. Practice in various rooms in your home and a fenced yard. Ensure there aren’t any distractions like kids or other pets during the first learning – the puppy should be focused solely on you.

Step 6

If the pup is not turning to look when you call out their name, hold the treat close to his face where he can smell it. Then call out their name and move the treat so that the pup is forced to face you. You should then immediately reward them by praising them and giving them the treat. They’ll quickly learn to face you whenever they hear their name.

Step 7

Teach your dog to respond to their name regardless of where you’re next to them or out of sight. If they come running, you should instantly reward them and praise them.

If they don’t respond when out of sight, keep training them while you’re nearby, like in the same room, until they learn to be consistently responsive to their name.

The learning process for some puppies will take longer than in others, but with positive and consistent training, your puppy will soon enough learn their name.

Puppies Photo


Your dog’s name shouldn’t sound similar to obedience commands. This will make it easier for your dog to differentiate between its name and the instructions you want them to follow.

Besides, use your dog’s names consistently; don’t substitute it with nicknames. Otherwise, you’ll confuse your dog.

You should avoid combining the pup’s name with anything with a negative connotation. Any negative verbiage may alter the positive association that the dog has linked to its name to negative reactions. Don’t say, “Jack, no!” “Jack, down!” “Jack, quiet!” To make the training even more effective, reduce negative corrections, instead reward your dog whenever they do the right thing.

How to Teach a Dog its Name Without Treats

There are various things you can use to train your pup instead of treats. Treats are incredibly valuable rewards as they motivate most dogs at almost all times. But you shouldn’t depend on pieces of chicken in your pocket when training your dog.

Real-Life Rewards

Real-life rewards are non-food-related activities or items that your dog finds pleasurable and rewarding. These rewards will change depending on the present circumstances. So trainers always need to ask, “What will the dog find enjoyable at the moment?” They can then use that activity or item as a reward. Dogs will always take a food reward, but often they prefer real-life rewards.

Incorporating real-life rewards early-on in your training plan helps you in the following ways:

  • Real-life rewards accelerate the process of reducing food rewards.
  • Real-life rewards bolster your “value’ to your pup – you become a bearer of everything fun and pleasant and not just food.
  • You’ll always have some real-life reward with you, so you’ll have a way of rewarding your pup for good behavior anywhere. 

Types of Real-Life Rewards


Most dogs find touch to be pleasant and rewarding, but it’s a complicated reward to use. Before you opt for massage, rubs, and petting as a reward, consider these two questions: What type of touch does the dog prefer? In what circumstances do they enjoy being touched?

For instance, your dog may delight in a chest scratch, but find a head pat disconcerting. Long, slow strokes might feel delightful and rewarding when your dog is relaxing next to you but exasperating when the pup is waiting to dash to the outdoors.

So pay attention to how your dog behaves when you get physical with them; if they duck or are reluctant to engage with you, it’s probably not pleasurable or rewarding. If they enthusiastically engage with you and ask for more, they likely love it and find it rewarding.


Praise could a simple ‘happy talk’ or “Good dog!” It’s also the most common reward. Some dogs naturally derive a lot of pleasure from praise, even for dogs that are enthused by praise can gradually become praise seekers if your pair praise with pleasurable things.

For instance, if you train your dog to respond to their name followed by a game of tug or a treat, you may add “Good dog” as you dish out the treat, or play tug.  Your pup will soon learn to link happy praise with tug or treats, and “Good dog!” will be a reward on its own.

cute chihuahua puppy
Cute chihuahua puppy

What Names do Dogs Respond Best to?

The sound of the name you choose for your dog will influence how it reacts to it. Veterinary behaviorists recommend “choppy” and “short” sounds because dogs respond to them quickly. Conversely, dogs don’t respond well to “long, slow, soothing tones.” So “Huck is a better name than “Huckleberry Finn.” 

Many experts assert that names with a hard consonant sound like “k” and “C” are much more distinguishable from ambient noise and thus preferable. Names with sibilant consonants, too, like “sh” and “zh” stand out from the usual cacophony of sounds.

The people Names Debate

A lot of people call their dog people names. According to the New York Times, there is now a trend of people giving their dogs their grandparent’s names.

However, some trainers believe that giving a person’s names to your dog may lead to you overly projecting human qualities to your pup.

When in Doubt

When struggling to pick a name, say the potential names loudly. Which one sounds and feels natural? Which one comes out more quickly? Which one won’t mortify you at the pack? You won’t know until you call out “Nico!” vs. “Nicodemus!”

Ultimately choose a name that you love, a name that will give a warm, fuzzy feeling whenever you call your dog.

How to Train a Puppy to come to his Name

How Long Does it Take for a Puppy to Learn its Name?

The speed at which a dog learns is primarily hinged on the age at which you start training it. At the age of 6 weeks or less, your puppy’s eyesight and hearing haven’t fully developed. For the best result, wait until your puppy is a least 12 weeks old. At this age, the hearing and eyesight have peaked. 

In the case of an older rescued dog, you can start teaching them soon as they get home.

Which Dog Breeds Learn their Names Quickest?

Dogs’ intelligence is assessed, to a certain extent, by their speed and ability to learn and then follow commands. This isn’t just anecdotal; studies show that smart dogs learn faster and have a more exceptional ability to read human commands. They are also easier to train and more compliant. 

In similar research, when known smart breeds were compared to less bright breeds, it emerged that ‘slower’ breeds are less capable of reading human body language and understanding commands. Besides, they are more aggressive and dominant. 

Therefore, smarter breeds are ideal for first-time dog owners who’re unseasoned in training and caring for dogs. They’re also better suited for households with other pets or kids.

You’ll be able to fix behavior problems much more quickly with smart dogs; therefore, they’re less likely to be aggressive, and you’re less likely to have to re-home your puppy.

That said, pretty much every dog is smart enough to be trained. But based on their level of intelligence, some breeds are better learners than others. Here is a list of some fastest learning breeds:

  • Border Collie
  • Poodle
  • German Shepherd Dog
  • Golden Retriever
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Papillon
  • Rottweiller
  • Australian Cattle dog
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Boxer
  • Cane Corso
  • Rough Collie
  • Brittany Spaniel
  • Canadian Welsh Corgi
  • Belgian Tervuren
  • Belgian Sheepdog
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Siberian Husky
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Pug

What Breeds are the Slowest in Learning?

The breeds below are quite challenging to train. Sure, they are lovable and loving, but they’re not the fastest learners. This due to their natural attributes like “aloofness,” “independent thinking,” “stubbornness,” and “naughtiness.” They are simply not terribly motivated to perform owner-pleasing actions, which are vital for formal obedience and training. Here are the hardest to train breeds:

  • Bulldog
  • Chow Chow
  • Fox Terrier
  • Irish Setter
  • Kerry Blue Terrier
  • Mastiff
  • Pekingese
  • Pug
  • Weimaraner

In a Nutshell

Teaching your pup their name is essential as it allows you to catch their attention whenever you want to give them a command. For you to be effective in teaching your puppy their name, you should ensure the learning process is rewarding and pleasant.

With consistent training, your puppy can start responding to their name in even two days. But, various breeds have varying learning abilities. Ideally, the name should be sharp-sounding and short.