Reflex to Name

What you are training

You’re teaching the dog to automatically look at you when he hears his name.

Why you should train this

  • To get your dog’s attention immediately by saying his name so that you can then ask him to so something, e.g. Rover, sit or Rover, come.
  • To be able to interrupt an unwanted behaviour and ask your dog to do something more appropriate.

How you will train this

We’ll use rewards to make a really positive association with the dog’s name.

Step 1

Note that your dog does not have to do anything to get the treat, he doesn’t have to look at you, he doesn’t have to sit, he doesn’t even have to be facing you.

  • Say your dog’s name
  • Reward
  • Repeat


If your dog doesn’t look at you reflexively when you say his name, don’t continue to say his name in the hope that you’ll eventually get his attention as this will ‘devalue’ his name.  Instead make a noise to attract his attention, like a kissing noise, a clicking noise or maybe squeak a toy to get his attention (called a Positive Interrupter), then continue practicing this exercise.  


  • Ask each member of the family to do this exercise with your dog (you can use your dog’s kibble and add treats intermittently).
  • Vary the locations where you do this exercise; different rooms in the house, in the garden, when you’re out for a walk.
  • Continue to do this exercise daily until your dog looks at you and every other member of the family automatically when you say his name.

More reading

We’re using ‘classical conditioning’ to help the dog make positive associations with his name.