Not long after we were married, P complained to me that I never used his name when I spoke to him. I realized at that time that I generally didn’t use anyone’s name when speaking with them. Since then, I have made more of an effort, especially where P was concerned.
Fast forward almost 4 years and now we have a growing puppy who is learning new words on a weekly basis. One day, just for kicks, I said to her, “Where’s P?” Kona got all excited and her tail started wagging enthusiastically. She went into her alert mode and started looking around the yard. Once she determined he wasn’t in the yard she headed straight to the back door. When I opened the back door to let her in she went bounding over to P who was in the kitchen. Since then, I have discovered that if I ask her, “Where’s P?” and follow it up with a “Go find P” she will search around the yard or house until she finds him. Of course, P rewards her with lots of hugs and affection when she ‘finds’ him.
Next I repeated the exercise but used our cat, Keegan, as the bait. Without fail, if I ask her “Where’s Keegan?” her tail starts wagging and she heads straight towards the gate that divides her space from Keegan’s sanctuary.
I have started to use both of these phrases if I want to encourage her to go to another room of the house. Yes, it’s a bit underhanded and sneaky, but it’s also a quick and easy way to get her into the room that I want her to be in. I even tried it once on a walk – she had stopped being responsive and was ignoring me until I excitedly asked, “Where’s P? Let’s go find him!” and right away she rejoined me on our walk. I know we still have to put a lot of work into her recalls, attentiveness and responsiveness so that it is more consistent, but at least I have something to help me out when she is in one of those moods where obedience has gone out the window.
Now, you may be asking yourself, what about Sheila? What happens when Kona is asked “Where’s Sheila?” Well, apparently my name doesn’t get used very often, because the response Kona gives is to look blankly at P. Yes, that’s right, the very one who complained I never used his name does not use mine! We’re working on it though… P does the initial puppy wake up in the morning while I get dressed. Kona always runs over to greet me when I head down the stairs and into the Kitchen, so P has begun saying “Where’s Sheila?” when I start approaching. Hopefully it won’t be long until she knows my name too!