Name Recognition and Attention


Just like you would turn to look when someone says your name, dogs can learn to do the same. If your dog learns to pay attention to you when you say their name, they are more likely to hear when you give them verbal cues, see where you are going, and learn what you are trying to teach them.

What You Need

  • Soft treats like cheese or jerky cut into pea-sized pieces.
  • A clicker, if you use one. Otherwise, say “yes!” to mark the behavior.
  • A quiet area without distractions for practicing.
  • Two minutes several times daily.

How to Train It

Step 1. Put several pieces of food in one hand. In a cheerful voice, say your dog’s name. When they look up at you, click or say “yes!” and immediately hand them a treat. As soon as they swallow, say their name again. When your dog looks at you, click and hand them a treat. When they swallow, repeat—name, click, treat. Do several trials.

Step 2. Next, say your dog’s name, click or say “yes!,” then praise them just before giving them a treat. When they look up at you for the next treat, say “yes” and bring your hand up a few inches above your dog’s head. If they look up to follow the lure, click and treat him.

Step 4. In the beginning, ask for only a few seconds of focused attention before clicking and treating. Have another treat ready so you can reward your dog for looking back at you when they have finished the treat. Each time, try to bring the lure an inch or two higher, aiming to get your dog to look up at your face.

Step 5. After a half dozen rewards, turn away from your dog. If they follow you and offer to watch you voluntarily, click or say “yes!,” praise them with “good watch” and treat them.


  • Remember, if you click or say “yes!,” you must deliver a treat each and every time in the beginning.
  • End the game while your dog is attentive.
  • Throughout the day reward your dog when they are looking at you, especially on walks.

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