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How we Taught Char Siew to Recognize his Name

A good family dog needs to recognize his name.  This is one of the first things that we learned at Better Dog training.  When a dog knows his name,  his humans can use it to catch his attention in situations that call for it.  In Char Siew's case, it is a valuable lesson to learn.  You see - we decided to consult with the Better Dog folks because Char Siew likes scowling and growling at other dogs.  He really likes picking fights with dogs.  Basagulero si Char Siew.  To prevent any untoward incidents involving his paper-like skin from getting scratches and nicks all over - I will need to be able to manage him.   I need to make sure that when I call his name CHAR SIEW - he knows that he needs to pay attention to me and come to me.

I heard my name Char Siew.  Did you call?

Before our actual lesson,  we had an assignment at home.  I had to place treats ( or kibble ) around the house.  On top of the TV, on the dining table, on top of the fridge etc.  This will make treats within reach wherever I go.  Anytime Char Siew comes to me - I praise him ( or if I had a clicker on hand - I mark the behavior ) and I give him a treat.  This was warm up for our actual training.

During this time - I also had to stop using his name.  We needed to make sure that when he hears his name - he cannot ignore it.  If I continue using it during this period - and he ignores it - he will continue to think that he can ignore being called.

I hear you calling me.  I looked - now where is my treat?

On the training day itself,  I brought really tasty treats ( roasted chicken ).  Every time he looks at me - he gets a treat.  The trainer from Better Dog (his name is Brad Feliciano) placed distractions around him ( like other people holding treats and another  dog ); every time he ignores the distractions and he comes to me or even looks at me - we click to mark the behavior and he gets a treat.

During the first part of training - we continued not to use his name.   In the training plan from Better Dog - you only use words with your dog when you are certain that they have mastered the behavior.  When Char Siew was able to offer his attention to me --- that's when we started calling him "Char Siew".  When he looks at me ( or better if he comes to me ) - I click to mark the behavior and I give him a treat.

Today - Char Siew has this knowledge down really well.  I use it when we walk - and he sees a cat and tries to run after it.  I call his name and he comes to me.  Of course - I need to make sure that I have a treat on hand - because he is still on training.   BTW - this is the start of off-leash training.  When your dog knows that he needs to come to you when you call his name - whatever distraction he sees - he can be off leash.   I don't think Char Siew is at that state yet.  We're still working on it.

My Canine loving readers - how did you train your dog to recognize its name?


  1. hhmmm.. didn't know that such skills can be trained, heheh... i just try to sound assertive when I call my dog.

    do you watch dog whisperer po? hong galing lang ni cesar millan!

  2. LOL. Yup - it is the most basic training that your dog should have. If you can't catch its attention when you call his name - he will ignore you and your other commands :D.

    I do watch Cesar Millan. I like watching his show. Although I know that there are dog trainers who do not like his methods. Me? I think that you really need to listen to different trainers and find out what works for you.

  3. Oh man, Laney ignores EVERYONE if she feels like it. If I call her "Laney" she may or may not listen. But if I call her "Lois Lane" it's akin to a child being called by their full name. She knows it's serious, and she listens up. This is just what she picked up. No training neccessary for her name.

  4. That's exactly what I said the first time I read that. I was telling the trainer - Char Siew knows his name - and we tested - he ignored us. :D. After the training - you say his name - and he looks at you.

    I wish Char Siew had a second name like Lois Lane. Char Siew is actually short for Char Siew Bao. Char Siew really just refers to the sauce - Char Siew Bao is the steamed Barbecue Pork Bun.

  5. I think a lot has to do with my tone of voice too. If I'm high-pitched and playful, Laney may like it but not always listen. If I lower my voice and make it more forceful, she knows it's not play and obeys... Unless we're at the dog park. LOL
    I picked up a lot from Cesar Milan too. I tried just doing positive reinforcement with her (like Victoria Stillwell), but it just didn't work as well on her as Cesar's more direct methods. Laney's too hard to motivate for positive reinforcement to work.