Using Your Dog's NAME
you use your dog's name can cause it much confusion. Your dog
will associate related events and see a relationship between
contiguous impressions. It gets excited when you get the leash
out, right? Sure, because the leash means a walk, a fun event.
The box means treats, the food dish means a meal, a brush
means grooming and nail clippers mean getting nails clipped.
When you know very well that your dog forms many strong
associations, why believe or assume it won't make similar
assumptions and learn similar things regarding its name?
For example, I say:
"Rover, Come!" and "Rover, Stay!" away from me. The next time
I say Rover, do I expect him to break towards me or run away?
Because I was just silly enough to teach him it means both!
Look at how silly I can be: "Rover, Shut Up!" "Get Down,
Rover!" "Rover, NO!" These are great ways to teach him that
the word Rover means a reprimand. I then say: "Honey, Rover
was so cute today! When Sam visited, Rover played so nicely!
Even Carl liked Rover!" Rover just got ignored for paying
attention to his name three times because I wasn't talking to
What have I done wrong
so far here? First, I taught Rover that his name doesn't mean
him, so he can ignore it. Second, I taught him it means
punishment. Third, I taught him it means to stay away from me.
But if he doesn't come to me EVERY time I call him, I'll rip
his lips off! Do you see how we confuse our dogs?
The old belief was to
use the dog's name to get its attention and then use the
command to tell him what to do. Get its attention? What was he
doing, worrying about the mortgage? When was the last time you
entered the room and DIDN'T get his attention?! This belief
also contradicts what we know about dog learning, like
contiguous association. You know that he links related events,
so why use his name to mean whatever occurs to you? Even
without formal explanation, that simply doesn't make sense.
Another common incorrect
belief is that you must use the dog's name with any verbal cue
if you have more than one dog. Otherwise the dogs won't know
which one you're talking to. This, too, will be proven
One of the most common
desires of dog owners is to have their dog come when they call
it. This is much easier and more reliably successful if you
first remove any reason it has NOT to come when called. If the
name means reprimands or to stay away from you, you sure gave
it reasons not to come when called!
Here's the answer: Use a
dog's name only when you are directly addressing that dog
in a positive way. Say it when giving the dog meals,
treats, love, massages, petting, walks and whatever it really
likes. And the ONLY command you say it with is "Come!" because
coming to you should be among your dog's greatest joys, so
that's consistent with all the other positive things its name
is linked with. If the ONLY times your dog hears his name is
"Yes, Rover! Good Rover! Rover, here's a treat! Have a
massage, Rover!" how does he NOT come when you call him?!
A very effective way to
verbally correct a dog and avoid its name is to use specific
words. "Off!" means stay on the floor or get off of whatever
he's on. "Quiet!" means to be silent, not be bark or howl.
"Drop!" means to leave something alone or drop it from his
mouth. So now you don't need a name! If one or two dogs is/are
barking, "Quiet!" not only tells them what to do, it tells all
of them exactly who you're addressing! The quiet dogs know you
mean the loudmouths! Same with Off, Drop, Back, Out or
whatever direction you say.
See? You CAN correct
just one dog without using names! Not only can you, it's
better to do it this way! If I say: "Dogs, come!" they all
come to me. "Girls, come!" and the females come. "Boys, come!"
and the males come. Or "Mugger, come!" and Mugger comes.
Where's the problem or confusion?
The point is very
simple: Don't use your dog's name to mean contradictory or
diametrically opposed things. Use it to mean only good things
directed to that dog, and make coming to you a very good
thing. I've done this for decades with dozens of my own and
thousands of client dogs all over the world. I KNOW it works
Given what I hear about
training today, the dog's aren't the only ones confused!
Article taken from Drdog.com.
Printed with permission.
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