Since I began adopting dogs, I haven’t had the pleasure of naming them. I’ve always used their original names. I could have renamed them as it is totally possible to rename a dog. But I thought their names were fine and they were comfortable with them, so I kept them. Fortunately, my dogs have always had a positive response to their name. If a rescue has a frightened or timid response to their name, it would be best to change their name so that it is not associated with any type of negativity from their past.
Naming a dog can be quite the conundrum, especially when you have several family members that can’t agree. But it’s also a really fun part of getting a new dog! Sometime a name “just happens” based on the dog’s personality and actions. I knew a dog named “Snuggles” because he would let you hold him like a baby and curl up on your shoulder. My childhood dog, “Tippy”, was named because of his full brown body and white tipped tail. Similarly, “Boots” is often used when a dog or cat is a solid color with different colored feet!
Helping dogs learn their name
Getting your dog to recognize its name requires repetition and positive reinforcement. Say the name over and over until your dog has some kind of response, and then praise him to pieces! Repeat the exercise several times daily until your dog begins to perk up and pay attention to the sound of his name. Be careful not to use the dog’s name in any type of negative context. Also, if you’re generally conversing a lot about a dog that has not quite mastered its name, he may stop paying attention – Not out of stubbornness, but because he hears it too often in casual conversation and is unable to make a connection.
It is advisable to keep your dog’s name to one or two syllables, as your puppy will recognize it more quickly. Longer names can be confusing. Choosing consonants with a “s”, “sh”, or “zh” are real attention getters for pups. Another good recognition getter is using a hard consonant, like a “k” or “g”. Hard consonants have a sharper, more distinguishable sound than a name starting with a weak “a” or “l”, but much of that depends on the sound of the rest of the name. We have a few dogs at Holiday Barn Pet Resorts named “Luna”. Luna starts with a somewhat weak “l” sound, but the rest of the name – with its vowels sounds – is easy for the dog to pick up on.
Another thing to keep in mind is to that the name shouldn’t sound like a command. “Neal” may sound too much like “heel”. “Bo” sounds a lot like “no”. You get the idea. It could be confusing for your dog. Also, if you have more than one dog, try not to make the names sound alike. It may be cute to have two dogs with the names “Winnie and Minnie”, but that is really hard for the dogs to distinguish between. It’s even kind of hard for humans to differentiate sometimes.
Ideas for naming your dog
Most pet names come from something significant in the owner’s life; Maybe a name from the owner’s favorite movie, sports team, car, and sometimes even their favorite food. The most fun names come simply from their human’s sense of humor: “Sir Barksalot”, “Buckaroo”, or “Tiny” for a large mastiff, or “Hercules” for a teacup chihuahua! You can have lots of fun coming up with names for your new pup or rescue!
Be careful when naming your dog something time-sensitive, for lack of a better description. Remember your dog will (hopefully) live a long life, and 15 years from now, no one will remember the name “Tyrion” from the Game of thrones. “Sookie” went away with the “True Blood” series in 2014. “Kermit” went away with the Muppet Show. With exception of true Star Wars fans, who remembers who “Yoda” is? Of course, you may not care if the popularity of the name is forgotten.
Some of the best names for sibling dogs have come from our customers here at Holiday Barn Pet Resorts. We have or have had “Cash” and “Carrie”, “Fred” and “Ginger”, “Jack” and “Jill”, “Mocha” and “Java”, “Sailor” and “Buoy”, “Sassafras and Tarragon”. Aren’t those creative?
I hope you’re not one to call your dog “Butthead” or “Stinky”. I even heard of someone that named their dog “Stupid”. Really??? That makes me kind of angry. Your dog’s name should express its wonderful personality! A dog that makes you feel warm inside or brightens up your day might be named “Sunshine”. A dog that jumps as graceful as a deer might be called “Bambi”. Silly dogs might be “Monkey” or “Giggles”. What kind of personalities come to mind when you hear these names: “Bizzy”, “Dancer”, “Spunky”? How about “Angel”, “Diva”, “Prissy”, “Candy”, “Houdini”, or “Honey”?
Dog Names today
In years past, people named dogs “dog names” … Fido, Rover, Spot, etc. A newer trend is calling a dog by more human names: Bella, Charlie, Lucy, Max, Sophie, Maggie, Toby, and Jack are among the top 50 names for dogs in the United States, according to Travel and Leisure magazine. That trend is easy to understand. Pets are so much a part of our families now than in the past, and the bond with our pets is stronger. For many people, a pet is a good substitute for a child when children are not an option. It makes sense that we have “humanized” our pets by giving them more human names.
Here’s one I have trouble with. The professionals (whoever they may be) advise us to choose one name and stick with it. Well, my dog’s name always tends to grow or morph into many others: “Haley” became “Haley Bear”, then “Baby Bear”, then “Boo Bear”, then “Princess Haley”, then “Baby Girl”, then… well, you get the idea! Honestly, we once made a list of about 70 pet names we sometimes used for her! The interesting thing is, Haley seemed to know every single name!
While researching for this blog, I came across this cute article. I think you’ll like it too: https://www.care.com/c/stories/6095/101-real-and-funny-dog-names/
How did your dog get its name? We’d love to hear from you!