How to teach your dog the name of objects

Looking for a new trick to teach your canine companion? Try teaching him to identify objects!

Dog tricks aren’t just cute to watch. In fact, teaching your dog a new trick offers you both a whole host of benefits! For starters, anytime you connect with your dog in a positive way, the bond between you grows. By doing this, you’re also instilling in your dog that you are a fun, valuable member of his family. This value leads to better behavior, and encourages your pup to be more reliable and obedient in the face of distractions. What’s more, the more you teach your dog tricks or any other behaviors, the faster he learns! Bored of “sit”, “stay” and “come”? Teach your dog to identify objects!

Have you ever seen a dog pick out his toys or other objects by their name? What an amazing skill! This dog trick isn’t just fun to show your friends – it’s a great way to challenge your dog mentally. And it’s simpler to teach than you may expect. Just follow these four steps!

Step 1: If your dog already has a favorite toy with a name, such as “ball”, you are off and running. Grab your dog’s attention and gently roll his ball across the floor and tell him to “get your ball”. As soon as he goes for his ball, make a big fuss, tell him how smart he is and give him a treat. Repeat this process 3–5 times depending on your dog’s enthusiasm. You only want to keep the game going as long as he’s truly engaged, not bored.

Step 2: In a separate training session, place another toy or random object on the ground. Roll the ball again (this time toward the other object) and ask him to “get your ball.” Once he gets his ball, fuss and give him a treat. If he chooses the wrong item, just repeat “get your ball”. If he’s still unsuccessful, back up to step one and repeat until he really gets the hang of it.

Step 3: If your dog still struggles to choose his ball over other items, it’s time to change your training strategy. Instead of choosing between two items, hide your dog’s ball and have him seek it out. Once he finds it, start the rolling sequence again. After he’s picked it up three times, ask him to stay and let him watch you hide his ball. Then tell him to “get your ball”. Praise, treat, and repeat.

Step 4: At this point, your dog should know that picking up his ball on cue results in praise. To be sure, go back to step two. Offer a reward when he goes for his ball. Over time, start to introduce your dog to other toys and objects using the same method. Eventually, he’ll be able to identify a lot of them!

Voila, your parlor trick is complete. Now, get playing!