The friendship between man and dog dates back thousands of years. Throughout the centuries, we have come to learn a lot about our canine companions – but what about what they have come to learn about us?
What do they think? What do they of us? How much do they care about us? Do they understand what we say to them?
These are all very common questions dog owners ask themselves. Another very common question is do dogs know their owners’ names?
Dogs can know their owner’s name if they hear it said often enough. Being observant creatures, dogs quickly notice that their owners respond to a certain name when it is called out. Dogs can also be trained to learn their owner’s names – and the names of other people in their lives.
Most dog owners will agree with this, it seems to intuitively make sense that dogs would be able to know who their owners are by more than just their faces or their scent.
This article will go into look detail about how dogs can learn their owners’ names. We will also look at how you can train your dog to learn people’s names.
How Dogs Know Their Owner’s Name
Dogs can recognize their owners’ names, but not in the way we might think they do. Dogs don’t exactly understand human language.
Your pet dog might sit when you command it to, but that’s because it’s learned to associate the sound you make with the word “sit” with the instruction.
In other words, your dog doesn’t necessarily know what the word “sit” means, but it knows what to do when it hears it.
However, just because you and your dog don’t speak the same language doesn’t mean they aren’t paying attention to what you and your family members are saying. For this reason, your dog can slowly figure out who or what we are referring to when we say certain words.
Because our canine companions depend on us for so much, it’s in their interest to pick up a few things from our vocabulary and try to interpret what they might mean.
Studies show that most dogs can understand up to 89 words – and what easier place to start than human names since we say them so often.
Establishing connections between people and their names becomes easier for our canine friends if they frequently hear these names being called out.
That way, they learn to associate their owner (and other people around them) with the sound of their respective names or nicknames.
So if a person lived on their own with their dog the dog might not hear the owner’s name enough to learn it. Or a dog that lived in a family home might learn the Father’s name as “Dad” rather than their actual name.
How To Teach Your Dog Your Name
It’s not just their powerful sense of smell that helps dogs learn about their environment – they are also keen observers capable of picking up on patterns that frequently occur around them.
By hearing your name often – and noticing that you respond to it – your dog will quickly learn that ‘Mandy’ or ‘Billy’ or ‘Mom’ or ‘Dad’ means you.
However, it will take actually hearing your name being said for your pooch to realize that it refers to you. So as already mentioned, if you and your dog live alone, it probably doesn’t hear your name being called out very often.
Which means it will take some training to teach them your name.
Training Your Dog To Learn Your Name
Training your dog to learn your name can be a fun activity that can provide some mental stimulation for your pooch and help with family bonding.
With the help of a game called ‘Family Circle’ and some reward training, you can teach your dog your name – and the names of others in the process.
Here’s what you’ll need for ‘Family Circle’ and how to play.
What You’ll Need
- At least two other participants.
- Dog training treats (small and tasty treats are ideal).
- A calm and comfortable setting.
How To Play ‘Family Circle’
- Gather everyone around. Pick an ideal spot for everybody and your dog to sit around before the game begins. It could be in your living room or outside in the garden. When playing the game for the first time, every participant should be within sight of your dog.
- Say one member of your group is called Jessica. Start the game by asking your pup, “Where’s Jessica?”
- Jessica will then command your dog to go over to her. She could say, “Come” or “Here.”
- If your dog goes over to Jessica after she gives the command, give it a treat as a reward. By rewarding your pooch for getting it right, it will learn that ‘Jessica’ refers to a specific member of the group. Similarly, withhold the treat if your dog doesn’t get it right the first time.
- Jessica will then start the game over again by asking your pup about another member of the group by saying, “Where’s Brad?” Brad will then command your dog to go over to him and reward it if it comes over.
- You would continue doing this until the dog has been to each person multiple times.
- You would then need to repeat this training a few more times over the next few days or weeks to make sure they have learned all the different names.
- If the dog quickly goes to the correct person when asked where they are, you know the training is working.
Try using treats that you know your dog enjoys. The anticipation of getting their favorite treats will help entice dogs to pay attention and more quickly learn the rules of the game.
As your dog gets better at Family Circle, it should be able to correctly associate certain names with certain people (including your name). Over time, you can leave the command “Come” or “Here” out of the game.
Later on, give your pup a little bit of a challenge by playing Family Circle with somebody who is in a different room.
Before we wrap up this post, you might enjoy this video looking at how dogs understand words:
Final Thoughts On Dogs Knowing Their Owner’s Names
Dogs can quickly learn the names of people they interact with regularly simply by paying attention to what they call each other.
By hearing your name being called out every now and then, your dog will learn to associate you with the sound of your name (or nickname).
To be certain that your dog knows what you are called, train it to learn your name – and the names of others – using a game called Family Circle.
It’s a simple way to help your dog get to know you by name while giving you both the opportunity to spend quality time together.