The Name Game
Playing the name game teaches your dog how to turn her attention to you.
- A clicker or other marker
- Small, special treats
- A quite place to train
- Say your dog’s name
- Mark the instant she starts to turn to you
- Reinforce with treats or toys
You can use a clicker or verbal marker, your dog should be conditioned to both. Ideally you want to try to get 100 correct responses from your dog each week. Keep your training sessions short; 1 minute is plenty for this game. Only do 2-3 name cues at a time.
To reset for another go, toss the treat after clicking so your dog must move away from you to retrieve the reward, after she has gotten it, re cue and click again for a head turn.
Tip: You might not get a full head turn to start, an ear flick in your general direction is enough to mark and reward. If you reinforce slight movements, you will be able to work towards full head turns.
If your dog does not turn to you when you cue her, she is probably too distracted. Make note of the situation and make sure you decrease the difficulty next time.
As your dog becomes more successful, gradually begin working in more distracting environments. If you get getting a lot of misses, more back and work more to strengthen the behaviour in a non-distracting environment, then add smaller increments of distraction.
Remember, when your dog does not succeed at something, it is because she does not know the behaviour sufficiently under the circumstance the failure occurred. As trainers, it is our responsibility to go back and gradually build the fluency of the behaviour.