Naming Your New Dog
As a responsible dog lover, when you choose to adopt a dog, you’ll probably choose a pet in need from a shelter or rescue organization. Depending on the circumstances, the dog may either have come with a name from her previous owner, been given a name by the shelter attendants or 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 helping her become accustomed to her new name. If you have any trouble getting your new dog used to her name, always consult your dog trainer.
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How to Choose a Name for Your Dog
The following are a few guidelines for choosing a name for your new dog recommended by Dr. Fosters and Smith:
Avoid Command-Like Names
Dog training is essential to 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.
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!
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Don’t Repeat Names
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 to teach her the “come” cue, you do not want the dog becoming confused.
Pick a Short Name
Shorter names (one or two syllables) will be easier for your dog to recognize and respond to, particularly during dog training. A canine’s name should be simple and easily recognizable.
Emphasize Hard Sounds
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.
Choose a Name You’re Proud Of
Choose a name you won’t mind saying out loud in public. If you’re working on obedience cues or playing ball in the park, you won’t want to have to call out an embarrassing name.
Teaching a Dog Her Name
If this is the first time your dog has had a name, you’ll have to help her get used to responding to a name in general. 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 Renaming Your Dog
If your dog had a name given to her by her previous owner or kennel attendants that you’d like to change, 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. Repeat this often 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.