The first thing that’s required for a dog to respond to any command is for it to know you’re addressing it, and that starts with a name.
Your average dog can learn about 150 words, more in the case of intelligent individuals. Though this demonstrates dogs can learn a vocabulary of sorts it’s important to note that when teaching commands trainers use a single, consistent command for each task.
Most dog owners will have taught a dog or two to sit. Dogs are taught to sit with a consistent command, “Sit. Sit. Sit. Sit…”, it’s clear and concise and with repetition the dog will quickly learn. Try the same thing saying “Sit. Down. Floor. Drop. Seated. Chair. Sit. Floor. Down. Chair. Drop. Seated. Sit…” and it should come as no surprise the dog can’t follow what you’re asking.
I was prompted to write this article by a local Labrador named Charlotte, or as her owners call her; Charlie, Chuck, Charles, Lotte, Carly, Cherry… and half a dozen more nicknames. Rarely in fact do they call her Charlotte.
Unsurprisingly Charlotte is all but oblivious to her owners when they are trying to get her attention verbally, though she is not an unintelligent or stubborn dog, as demonstrated by her ability and willingness to follow commands when she’s aware she is being addressed.
In this case the dogs seeming unwillingness to return or focus on it’s owner is completely the owners fault. Their dozens of nicknames being continually called in random order has just become meaningless white noise to the dog who isn’t even aware there is a name for her.
To avoid confusing your dog and becoming a frustrated trainer, pick one name and stick with it.
Keywords: Naming your dog. What to call a dog. What should I name my dog. Dogs names.