Say My Name
Fido. Lassie. Bella. Charlie. Sven. How many times a day do you say your dog’s name? Me, I say my dogs’ names often. I usually say one of their names to get their attention. It’s good practice to teach your dog to look at you when she hears her name. But let’s face it — we all use their names for a lot of other reasons.
When I hear my dog over at the front window giving a low growl, indicating that she’s about to bark at something outside: “Ruthie…”
When I see my dog’s nose sloooowly approaching the counter near the chicken that’s waiting to go in the oven: “Meera!”
And when both dogs are sitting intently at the base of a tree while a giant squirrel taunts them: “Dogs! Meera! Ruthie!”
In these examples, I say my dog’s name when what I mean is “be quiet,” “that’s not yours,” or “leave the crazy squirrel alone before it messes you up.” It’s a default, knee-jerk reaction. If my dog was human (she isn’t), she would look at me and say, “WHAT!?” Then I could use the English language to tell her what I want her to do.
But dogs aren’t human, and even though we can teach them that some words mean we want them to do certain things, they do not know the entirety of the English language (or any other verbal language).
Luckily, I have taught my dogs to look at me when they hear their names. And, I’ve taught myself that I need to follow up with instructions for my dog — using cues I’ve previously taught them when I need them to do something — and to reward them appropriately.
When Ruthie’s about to bark at the window: “Ruthie.... Come here!” When Meera starts sniffing around the counter: “Meera! Leave it.” And when the dogs are about to have a rumble with a squirrel: “Dogs, here!”
What happens if they don’t respond? Well, then I know that it’s my job to keep teaching them, and that we need to practice more.
Have you got your dog’s name on repeat? Drop us a line and we can help!