We all start off with the best of intentions and desires. To have a dog who does what we ask, when we ask. To clarify, I don’t want a robot dog but I do want a dog who is responsive.

Most people begin saying their pup’s name along with other cues (commands) the moment he comes home. The results are not often stellar. You chant the pup’s name, use it all the time for various reasons. You repeat come, come, come. The pup may eventually do it. Not always, not consistently.

You think the dog understands it so when you go outside you expect a good response.

It doesn’t happen. You get mad and frustrated.

What happened? 

Learned Irrelevance: “An animal that ceases attending to a stimulus because it has no consequence”. (pg 39, Excel-erated Learning, Dr. Pamela J. Reid 1996).


The pup or dog was never taught, nor reinforced the correct behaviour for come or for name and learned the cue was absolutely irrelevant to him. 

Think of how many times you say your dog’s name to get him to stop doing something and how do you respond when he does stop?

Every person I have met does nothing beyond saying the dog’s name.  From your dog’s point of view, he hears his name, turns to you, nothing happens, no need to pay attention. He stops turning towards you when you say his name.

He has learned his name is irrelevant.


Be mindful of how you use your words to avoid your dog learning they are meaningless and irrelevant to him.
To understand more how your dog learns, read my blog on? The Learning Process For Dogs.