Hi Chad, I’ve just started your Online Obedience Course and I have been through dog training classes before with a different trainer. In the videos, it seems like you are only saying the dog’s name to teach them to look at you but when I trained my last dog, they wanted us to always say the dog’s name before every command. Do you also teach this or do you disagree? Thank you for your time, I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts. 


That’s a good question and I suppose I should have mentioned it in the videos. I assume you mean something like, “Rover Sit, Rover Down, Rover Come, Rover Heel, Rover Stay.” I am aware that some trainers teach that way but the short answer is that I definitely do not. I see no value in saying the dog’s name before every command and, personally, I find it to be kind of a nuisance. That’s just my preference but, for the sake of clarity, I will go into more details as to why that is my preference.  

For me, the dog’s name is an action command, so I would not repeat it when the dog has already performed the action of giving me their attention. In other words, saying the dog’s name simply means look at me, pay attention and be ready for further instructions. Or, if all I wanted was for the dog to look at me, then I would follow their name with praise or whatever reward system I was using. I often do this “Name Game” with my own dogs just to keep them sharp and to give them a quick and easy way to get a reward once in a while. 

Here’s my question: If the dog is already looking at me, then why would I say their name? It might be harmless but, in my opinion, it is the equivalent of repeating any command when the dog is already doing it. It would be like saying “Sit” to a dog that is already sitting. Why would I do that? Again, this could be harmless but it could also be confusing or counter productive. The dog may be thinking, “What do you want from me? How much more sitting can I be? I thought he said sit but maybe he meant something else?” Therefore, if the dog is already looking at me, I just go ahead and give the command. 

Multiple Dog Exception: If you have multiple dogs in front of you and all are already looking at you but you only want to give a command to one of them, then you would need to say the name of the one you are talking to before the command. However, once you are clearly focused on one dog and not the others, you could go through a sequence of exercises without repeating the dog’s name with every command. For example: Let’s say you have two dogs, Rover and Fluffy, but you only want to work with Rover. You say “Rover, Come!” and he comes to you and does a front sit. You say “Good boy” and give him some pets and a treat. He is still looking at you so you say “Heel” and he moves to sit in the heel position. You say “Good boy” and then say “ok” or whatever your release word is. Do you see what happened there? Once he was focused and Fluffy knew you were not talking to her, there was no need to repeat his name before every command. 

There you go. That’s my preference and a little bit of the reasoning behind it. I hope it made sense and you found it helpful.

Chad Culp – Certified Dog Trainer, Canine Behavior Consultant, Owner of Thriving Canine. 

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