Have you been trying to call your dog by its name, but it isn’t responding to it? You’re not the only one facing this issue. Many dog owners are confused when their pet acts this way.
There can be a lot of reasons for your dog to behave this way. Maybe it’s ignoring you deliberately, but it must be doing so for a reason. Or it may still be unaware of what its name sounds like!
This article discusses why your dog isn’t responding to its name and what you can do to overcome that challenge. This will help you understand the shortcomings much better.
There’s always the opportunity not to name something, be that an animal, an object, or whatever we all name. So why do we name our pets if we can skip on it?
Naming something makes it more personal for us. It allows us to have an emotional attachment, making us commit to loving it more, and as a result, we take care of it more. A pet isn’t just a pet. Instead, it’s a playmate for us whom we can treat like babies as well.
Giving our dogs names also allows us to communicate better. Initially, the name will feel unnecessary to your dog. However, we can train them with the sound of their names which will allow us to bond better.
You can give generic names to your dog or something more fun and unique. You can find unique names for your pet from websites like PuppyLists and learn how to teach your dogs to respond to commands.
You may sometimes wonder whether dogs have self-awareness; in other words, whether they know what they look like or recognize their own name. Dogs have a concept of self, including their own body and smells.
But do they think of themselves as “Fido,” the way that humans identify with their own names? Most likely not, as the concept of naming requires an understanding of language.
But dogs can recognize up to 100-200 words, including their name. And they can understand that hearing their name means that you want their attention.
There can be a lot of reasons your dog has stopped responding when you call it by his name. It doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t recognize your name or voice. You may feel confused about it initially. However, carefully observing your tone and when you’re calling your pet can help you understand the issue.
Dogs are social creatures and learn a lot from the people they spend time with. Training is a big part of owning a dog, and a lack of consistent training can result in a dog that is poorly behaved or one that doesn’t always respond to your commands.
One of the most basic things you need to train is a dog’s name. You’ll need it to be able to call them back to you and get their attention. We’ll cover training in more detail at the end of this article, but for now, we’ll say that training needs to be done consistently, positively, and incrementally.
Work on getting your dog to recognize and respond to their name by saying their name once, and if they look at you or respond, reinforce that with praise or treats. Once you’ve mastered that, move on to other training commands.
Try to think and observe carefully. How’s your tone when you call your dog? Or how are your interactions with your pet most of the time? The way you sound will affect your dog’s reaction a lot whenever you call it by its name.
If your tone is always pretty harsh, or your face looks angry whenever you call your dog or command it for something, it’ll associate your voice with negative feelings. This will make your dog anxious whenever it hears you, making it more nervous and scared of coming near you.
After all, pets crave affection from their owners. They may feel discouraged to want some if your tone doesn’t have love, happiness, and softness in it.
Dogs may often find it irrelevant if you frequently repeat something when training. It’s something we are habituated to do. But dogs don’t function like us. So why does this happen?
Let’s say your dog’s name is Sam. If you call it with the command, “Sam, fetch! Sam, fetch!” it won’t respond to your “Sam, fetch!” You have already conditioned it with repeated calling, which means your pet won’t recognize your command when you say it once.
Dogs learn to respond to calls if they have a reason to respond, such as getting treats or playing with toys. So, if you call it by its name but there’s nothing for it to come to, your dog will associate your calling as unnecessary.
Whenever you call your dog, take it out, or give commands, associate these activities with positive things. Any negative association with commands like “come” or “sit” will cause them anxiety, making them fear that command.
Let’s give an example. As a pet owner, you may practice taking your dog out to the dog park, where your dog can run around freely, play with other dogs, and have a lot of fun. If you use the term “come” only when you’re about to leave, your dog will know that the fun is about to end. This makes a negative association with a word that’s entirely neutral.
Or, you always call its name in a rough, angry voice. This makes it associate its name with negative emotions, making it feel scared of you and loathing its name. A dog that thinks its name is a punishment will rarely respond out of fear and may feel bad about itself.
Pet owners should avoid keeping complex names at all costs. We all love giving nicknames to people with complex names that require too much effort. Naming your dog something complex will make you do the same, ultimately confusing your pet when you call it by its nickname.
Dogs are simple creatures. Anything complicated will confuse them, ultimately making them avoid it altogether. Although they don’t understand human language, they know what something sounds like. Besides, calling your pet by two names will puzzle it even more. Your dog will ultimately end up not responding to your calls.
Instead of naming your pet something complex like Benjamin, name it Ben. Ultimately, you’ll be calling it by a short name if you give it a complex one, so why not habituate your dog to the nickname? It makes things much easier!
No matter what you’re training your dog on, associating it with positive reinforcement always helps them to learn well. They become more curious and active and want to hear it more and more. In hindsight, you end up training your dog successfully!
Here’s how you can train your dog with its name, especially if you’re adopting a dog for the first time:
Call your dog by its name lovingly every time you call it. Make your voice soft, happy, and full of loving emotions. Dogs may not understand human language, but they can understand emotions by just hearing the tone of what you’re saying.
And if your dog is near you, have a gentle and happy look on your face when you’re calling it. In case a situation arises where you may need to be rude, it’s better to do it away from your dog.
Avoid repeating your dog’s name at all costs. If you have named it Ben but repeat its name, like “Ben, Ben, Ben, Ben,” then your pet will think that’s its name. That way, it will rarely recognize when you just call it Ben.
Instead, call your pet’s name once and when they respond, give positive feedback.
A pet isn’t a toy you just get and leave in a corner. It would be best if you put effort into your bonding as it’s an investment for you. Just like training babies on feeding, speaking, and defecating, you must consistently train your dog to recognize its name and other commands.
You should also spend considerable time ensuring that you repeat the cues and train them consistently. Otherwise, a significant gap in between will make your pet forget what it learned.
Dogs learn well when you associate the training with positive rewards. Have a treat ready every time you call its name, and use a clicker to make it recognize the sound. That way, your pet will have a purpose to come to you.
Always use positive reinforcement when training your dog. If it runs to you every time you call its name or follows your specific command perfectly, hug your dog, rub its belly, and call it “good boy!” Positive emotions and encouragement will make your pet look forward to more from you.
Lastly, always be gentle. Even if your dog does something it shouldn’t have, don’t scold or be harsh to it. Make it understand with a stern yet gentle voice why that particular action is unappreciated.
Your facial expression shouldn’t be too angry. However, it should show disappointment enough to make your dog understand it did something wrong.
And when it’s about giving love, be all excited about it! That way, your pet will always be excited when you give it affection.
Training dogs may get confusing sometimes, especially if you falter with something as basic as making them respond to you calling their names. However, with proper knowledge of how to familiarize your dog with its name, you can get it to respond every time you call it.
Follow the tips mentioned in this article, and avoid making the common mistakes that most dog owners make. By being only a little bit more mindful, you can successfully train your dog to respond to its name and come running to you.