As a responsible animal lover, when you choose to adopt a puppy or dog, you will probably choose a pooch in need from a shelter or rescue organization. Depending on the circumstances, the dog may come with a name from her previous owner, have been given a name by the shelter attendants, or have no name at all. You may desire to change her name, or you may need to provide her with her very first name. A dog’s name, especially her recognition of her name, is essential in dog training and obedience. Here are some suggestions for choosing a name for your new canine companion and for helping her become accustomed to her new name. If you have any trouble getting your new pup used to her name, always consult your dog trainer or animal trainer.
Choosing a Name
The following are a few guidelines for choosing a name for your new dog or puppy, recommended by Drs. Fosters and Smith at www.PetEducation.com:
Dog training, including teaching your dog obedience cues, is essential in having a communicative and understanding relationship. Thus, you should avoid names that sound like obedience cues or commands that are commonly used to train dogs and that you will therefore use with your dog in everyday life. For example, “Tidbit” sounds similar to “sit,” “Kay” can be confused with “stay,” and “Bo” sounds too close to “no.” Dog training, especially when using vocal cues, relies strongly on the animal’s recognition of human sounds. Don’t confuse them!
Steer clear of names that are the same as people in your household. Your dog will surely be perplexed if he thinks he’s being told to “take out the trash” or “drop off the car at the auto mechanic’s shop.” Also, when it comes time for you or your dog trainer to teach her the “come” cue, you do not want the dog becoming confused.
Shorter names (one or two syllables) will be easier for your pup to recognize and respond to, particularly during dog training. A canine’s name should be simple and easily recognizable.
Hard consonants (b, k, d, t) and vowels (y, a, e, i) are easier to hear and distinguish than soft consonants (f, s, m, n) and vowels (i, e, u). Thus, “Tito” or “Buddy” will be much easier for a dog to recognize than a name like “Fern”. Again, proper dog training requires the dog to recognize human sounds, so the dog’s name should be easily decipherable to her. If you are unsure of what cues will be taught to your dog during her training, consult a professional dog trainer.
Choose a name that you won’t mind saying out loud in public. If you are working on dog training or playing ball in the park, you won’t want to have to call out an embarrassing name.
Getting your Pup Accustomed to Her New Name
If this is the first time your pup has had a name, you’ll have to help her get used to responding to a name in general. Your dog trainer can help you and give you tips for acclimatizing your pup to her new name, but since your dog trainer doesn’t live with you, you will be responsible. Begin by using her name regularly in her everyday life and encouraging her to focus on you using her new name only. To do this, say her name excitedly, but don’t repeat it excessively. If she focuses on you in response to hearing her name, reward her instantly with a food treat, verbal praise, a favorite toy, or petting (whichever she finds the most rewarding). Repeat this exercise often until she focuses on you consistently after hearing her name.
Tips On Name Changing
If your dog had a name given to her by her previous owner or by the kennel attendants that you’d like to change, it will be necessary to help her transition to her new name through dog training. Begin by saying her new name followed immediately by her old name. When she focuses on you, reward her (food, praise, toy, petting). Repeat this often in everyday life and during dog training until she focuses on you consistently. Then, drop the old name and begin using the new name exclusively. Every time she responds to her new name by focusing on you, reward her. She should soon respond to her new name dependably.