Do Dogs Know Their Names?
Just like the age-old question of whether the chicken or the egg came first, people have wondered if dogs really do know the names given them by their owners. Although some dogs have been proven to have the ability to understand as many as 1,000 words, most experts doubt dogs actually know their names per se. Instead, when considering do dogs know their names, one possibility is that they recognise the sound made by their owner talking, rather than the name itself. But since dogs are so smart, who knows who is right or wrong? If you're curious, you can see your vet get a professional opinion. In the meantime, here are some fascinating tidbits of information to keep in mind when talking to your dog.
How Dogs Understand Their Humans
Should you be curious as to how dogs understand us, humans, when we are speaking to them, science has determined it comes from a combination of deductive reasoning and positive reinforcement. In addition, your dog will also examine your body language and context of the events taking place to gain a better understanding of what's going on around them. Thus, if you say good morning to your beloved Fido, your dog may deduce that their favourite human is speaking to them and that something good usually happens afterwards, such as getting fed or going for a walk.
Have Dogs Always Had Names?
Apparently, the Ancient Greeks were well ahead of most other civilisations in regards to naming their dogs. Thus, Greeks who owned dogs gave their canines names that were strong and powerful, often emphasising the dog's strength, speed, or beauty. For example, some dogs in Ancient Greece were named Blue, Dagger, Killer, and Swift, which surprisingly sound like names still used in today's modern world.
Choosing a Dog Name
While you may be tempted to choose a name for your dog that is quite long and elegant, experts suggest you do the opposite. Instead, when thinking about how do dogs learn their name, do as the Ancient Greeks did and give your dog a name that is short and distinct, with no more than two syllables. For example, while dogs do have incredible hearing, names containing hard consonants, such as Max, tend to be easier for them to understand than names with lots of vowels. Also, should you choose to go long in your quest for a dog name, chances are the name itself will sound muddled to your dog, leaving them confused.
How to Teach Your Dog Their Name
After you've spent time wondering do dogs recognise their names and have finally settled on the one you believe fits their personality, it's time to start teaching your dog their new name. Of course, this will almost always be easier if your dog is a puppy or somewhat young. However, even if your dog has a few years on them, it's still quite possible to teach an old dog new tricks.
To get started, it's best to keep the training sessions to no more than five minutes at a time. Also, have some of your dog's favourite treats at the ready to give them each time they respond properly. When you're ready, say your dog's name in a warm, welcoming tone, and always make eye contact with them while doing so. When your dog comes to you in response, give them a pat on the head, a "good boy" or "good girl," and a treat or two as a reward. Most of the time, this training method works wonders.
After you've been able to master this aspect of training, you can try more difficult situations. For example, let your dog roam around in your home or yard, letting them get distracted. Once this occurs and you are more than a few feet from them, say their name in a positive fashion and wait for them to run to you. When they do, be ready with a treat. By practising this over and over and always giving your dog positive reinforcement, you'll soon have a well-trained dog.
Signs Your Dog Knows its Name
When you're wondering do dogs know their names, there are numerous signs you can look for in your dog's behaviour that will let you know you have trained them well. Regarding your dog's body language, name recognition can be determined by such things as a wagging tail, perked-up ears, barking, head tilting, and staring at you. Also, you may notice your dog will perk up when you mention their name in the course of a conversation. Yes, even though they may be guilty of eavesdropping, it may be a good idea to slip them a treat or two.
What if My Dog Doesn't Respond to Their Name?
If your dog is not responding to its name consistently, a visit to the vet may be needed. Should your dog be getting older, they could be losing their hearing. In other situations, they may be distracted due to allergies or fleas that may be diverting their attention away from your voice. Consider using our flea drops for dogs to combat the pest problem. Along with these possibilities, it could simply mean your dog needs a bit more training. This can happen if you bring a dog into your home that is a bit older and may have gone by another name for several years. Essentially, you will need to reprogram them with their new name, and this can take a while now and then.
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When Not to Use Your Dog's Name
Since you have put so much effort into figuring out how do dogs learn their name and making sure they associate their name only with something positive, don't make the mistake of using your dog's name when they are being punished. If you do, your dog will become confused, and may actually start to get afraid each time you call it by name. Also, try not to use your dog's name in situations where you are not wanting them to respond to you at that moment. Like being punished, this may confuse your dog as to your intentions.
Reacting to Your Dog
If there is one thing you will hear much about when discussing do dogs recognise their names, it is how you should react toward your dog when they do as you wish and come to you upon being called by their rightful name. As was mentioned earlier, positive reinforcement is the key. To begin with, always look and sound happy. By having a smile on your face, a spring in your step, a cheerful tone of voice, and naturally a tasty treat in your hand, your dog will become more and more eager to come when called. Also, it's vital that you be consistent. For example, if your dog is dealing with fleas and is somewhat distracted or worn out from scratch, don't get upset. Instead, exercise patience, remain calm, and still say their name in a positive tone of voice. In addition, if you're furry friend is plagued by fleas and currently being treated by our flea drops for dogs consider using our dog shampoo for itchy skin to help alleviate the itch and kill fleas for good.
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What About Professional Training?
Should your voice just not have the magic sound needed to get your dog to recognise its name, you can always try getting some help from the professionals. While most dog training is focused on obedience training, you can also enlist the help of a pro to help you with teaching your dog its name. Along the way, it will probably be best to also focus on the obedience commands. After all, if you're finding it more difficult than you imagined to teach your dog its name, it stands to reason you may also experience problems if you alone try to teach them to sit or stay. But even if you require the assistance of others, chances are all will work out well in the end.
Whether you decide to give your dog a name like those of dogs found in Ancient Greece or opt for something more modern, it's a good bet they will learn their name in no time. Once they do and they realise great-tasting treats or fun walks always follow, you'll have a friend for life.
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