A dog’s kindergarten teacher shares a foolproof way to teach her pet its name

Naming your pet is an important responsibility. And the right name is the one that sticks. For example, my cat’s name is Stanley (a formal name because he’s a tuxedo cat), which over time became Stanley Boy, then Stanley Boo, then just Boo, and then Bobo. Now he responds almost exclusively to the names Bobo, Bubba, Bubba, or even Bobby.

But does Stanley, or any pet for that matter, actually? they know Her name suggests that a name has meaning for our beloved children, but not in the same way it does for us.

As with any cue, animals learn their names using good old-fashioned positive reinforcement. Vanessa Woodsan evolutionary anthropology research scientist and director at Duke University Duke Puppy Kindergartensays. upside down.

To teach a dog its name, Woods treats the dog every time he sees it in response to hearing the dog’s name. “In general, the research is that dogs respond like children,” she says. When your pet hears their name, “just like a child would, they know they have to respond and either they come or they want to see you.”

They also differ in tone of voice. Like children, dogs respond to what Woods calls “madrisi,” which is “when you artificially make your voice louder (and) more excited, the way (we) talk to children and pets.” are.” Research shows That babies respond more to their mother’s voice than to other tones. However, Woods emphasizes that dogs can distinguish their names even in mothers and know when their human uses their own name or another word.

As with any cue, animals learn their names using good old-fashioned positive reinforcement. Vanessa Woodsan evolutionary anthropology research scientist and director at Duke University Duke Puppy Kindergartensays. upside down.

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This attachment to the mother extends to cats, as shown in a. 2022 study Published in Journal Animal cognition. According to one, even cats can recognize their names with similar words. 2019 study Published in Journal Scientific reports. Over the course of four experiments, 34 cats from local households and a cat cafe could say their names with a common noun, even when strangers spoke – but the cafe kitties couldn’t say their names separately. When one of their names was called, several cats responded. The authors explain that different humans in the cafe may all pronounce the names differently, which “may prevent cats from discriminating their name from the names of other cats,” they write.

If you’re teaching your pet a name using Woods’ reward technique, in other words, challenge them by throwing in your best mom or similar names. Don’t praise them, she says, for responding to a different word than what mom said “so they know it’s not the tone of voice, it’s their real name they have to respond to.” “

The same goes for learning new names, whether you’re bequeathing your adoptee a new moniker or you just can’t stop coming up with a nickname for Dumpling. Woods says your pet can actually stay intact. She says dogs can commit to more than a thousand words in their vocabulary, including a few nonsense names. “If you want to start your dog saying something random, you can definitely teach them to respond,” she says. And, especially if you’re using therapy, Woods says the process shouldn’t take long.

Other than what they do, it’s hard to say what pets associate their names with. “What their name means to them, I think that’s a really tough question,” Woods says. “It’s very esoteric, and I don’t think you’ll ever be able to figure it out.”

So Stanley and Dumpling may never internalize these conditions as part of their identity, their self, but at least they will come when called upon.

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