How To Choose A Name For Your Dog

Congratulations on adopting a new family member!

Adopting a new furry friend can be a challenge, no matter whether you choose a puppy, an adult, or a senior dog. One of the very first challenges of dog ownership is choosing the perfect name. With that in mind, we have done our research and are here to help.

This article will include helpful tips concerning how to choose a great name. Using science and a good understanding of dogs, we will show you how to choose a name that your dog is sure to respond to.

In addition, we will also be providing a few actual name suggestions, both common and slightly uncommon. Just keep in mind that this is an important decision that deserves a fair amount of thought. Okay, let’s get started!

Narrowing the Field

To help narrow the field a bit, let’s consider a few general guidelines to go by. First of all, try to avoid names that could possibly be offensive. Although you may only mean it as a joke, remember that other people will come into contact with your dog. When you are out and about, taking them to the park or the vet, you do not want to cause offence just by saying your dog’s name.

In the same line, try not to choose a name that has a negative connotation. Even if you are expecting your dog to act as a guard dog, there is no need to give your dog a name will make people view them negatively before they have even met them. Violent or dangerous sounding names would fall into this unwanted category.

If you have other pets, make sure their names are very distinct from each other. If you have two pets with similar names, it will just cause confusion and make it harder for your new canine friend to learn his or her name.

Making Sure Your Dog Understands You

Now, this might sound really obvious, but it is the most important thing to consider when choosing a name. You may think that any word or name will do, but what you may not have considered is that dogs hear and process sound differently from the way people do.

They control their ears with 18 muscles, where we only have six. If you watch closely, you can see how your dog’s ears move in response to different sounds. Note how their ears look when they are really paying attention or if they are just relaxing. The way they move their ears determines the amount of sound that comes through.

Have you heard of dog whistles? Do you know why they work? Dogs can hear these whistles because the whistles emit a sound that is much higher than what the human ear can hear, but just right to make your puppy perk up his ears!

Dogs can hear much better than humans, when it comes to far off sounds. They can hear things at four times the distance that humans can. So why does it seem like some dogs simply cannot hear their name when they are being called, even from nearby? Sometimes it is simply because they have not properly learned their name, which we will discuss a little further on.

Other times, it could be that their name is simply not a sound that will get their attention. Remember, they hear a lot more than we do, so the sound of his or her name is going to have to compete with all the other sounds they are processing.

Thankfully, some professional dog trainers and scientists have studied how dogs hear. Their research led them to find a few things that can help you choose a name that will get your dog’s attention.

One suggestion they have is to use a name that ends with a vowel sound, more specifically an ‘e’ sound. As you may have noticed, names like Rocky, Sunny, and Buddy are very common, not just because they are cute names, but because dogs respond to that ‘e’ sound so well.

Another handy trick is to choose a name with only one or two syllables. Preferably go for two syllables, just like the names we already mentioned. That two syllable sound, which changes tone in the middle, will also help to catch your dog’s attention. Try to shy away from long names because they will be harder for your dog to distinguish.

Another element you have to keep in mind, when it comes to the sound of your dog’s name, is whether or not it sounds like any common commands. For example, consider how close ‘Sid’ is to ‘sit’ or how ‘Zeek’ sounds like ‘speak’.

You will want to avoid any names that sound similar to the commands you plan on teaching your dog. Average dogs can learn upwards of 165 words, sometimes more, but you do not want to confuse them early on. You can really help your dog by choosing a name that is easy to hear and understand.

Ease of use

This leads us to how you will feel about the name you choose. A two syllable name is better for your dog and for you. As much as you may want to name your hyper Chihuahua ‘Dinglehopper’, think of how you will feel about it when you are saying it for the thousandth time?

It is inevitable that you will have to shorten the name, because who wants to be standing on the front porch calling for ‘Dinglehopper’ at six in the morning? Go ahead and choose a shorter name from the start and save yourself the trouble.

When you think you have found the right name, try saying it 10 or 15 times in a row. If you can make it through that with ease, then you have found a name that you will be able to stick with.

Knowing Your Dog Before Knowing Their Name

Last, but not least, make sure your chosen name fits your dog’s personality. This is the fun part! You might know at first sight that you have a ‘Lupin’ on your hands, or possibly a ‘Malfoy’.

On the other hand, it might take a couple days of observation for you to determine your dog’s personality. If you have adopted an adult dog, it can take a few days, or even weeks, for them to adjust to being in a new home and environment.

It is important to wait until they are comfortable, that way you will be able to see their true personality. If their personality doesn’t recommend itself to a specific name right away, perhaps their physical attributes will.

Some people like to consider the breed of their dog when choosing a name. The puppy’s fur color, size, and general look can give you some good ideas. If your new Lab has a perfect tan coat, perhaps ‘Honey’ would be a sweet choice. ‘Tiny’ is a common name for small dogs, but it can be used ironically for a bigger dog too.

Chunky is a good name for some of the stocky breeds such as Bulldogs or Pugs. But, if your slender dog’s coloring reminds you of your favorite double chocolate chunky ice cream, then by all means, name them Chunky. What about ‘Sleepy’ for a Terrier or ‘Bruno’ for a Shih Tzu?

Do not let breed stereotypes keep you from choosing a name you love. Your pet is very special to you and as a result of that, they should have a special name. Do not worry about people judging you just because they do not think your dog’s name fits. You know better.

A Few Suggestions:

If these tips haven’t quite helped you to finalize your decision, then here is a list of a few popular names. Never feel guilty about choosing a ‘common’ or ‘normal’ name. These names are popular for a reason! They are great, simple names that work well for both owner and pet.

Male Names:

  • Copper
  • Max
  • Lucky
  • Toby
  • Charlie
  • Teddy
  • Roy
  • Rover
  • Shaggy
  • Duke

Female Names:

  • Roxie
  • Chloe
  • Zoe
  • Penny
  • Rosie
  • Molly
  • Lady
  • Marli
  • Bella
  • Trixie

Maybe you would like something a little less common? Really, as long as you follow our previous tips, you can combine sounds and create a completely unique name. If you are not feeling quite that creative, but still want something different, consider:

Male Names:

  • Juju
  • Vinnie
  • Tonka
  • Loki
  • Albus
  • Soba
  • Comet
  • Ripley
  • Indy
  • Milo

Female Names:

  • Journi
  • Cardi
  • Etta
  • Latte
  • Luna
  • Kaiya
  • Whinnie
  • Izzy
  • Bree
  • Suri

The world is full of names and ideas that can be made into names. With a little effort, you are sure to find the right one. Now that you are packed with knowledge and ideas, all that is left is to put all of these tips together, choose the name, and start teaching your new friend to respond to it.

Helping Your Dog Learn Their Name

First of all, make absolutely sure that you are going to stick with the name before you start teaching your dog. Switching back and forth will only cause confusion and make it hard for them to learn their official name. Try it out on him or her a couple times to see if it is something they will hear. If they seem to respond well to it, then it is time to play the ‘Name Game’!

The Name Game is a pretty common practice. It is a simple, reward based process that teaches your dog to associate their name with good things like treats and praise. Once they make this connection, they will respond to their name easily and quickly.

Start out with a pocket full of small, soft treats. You want them to be small and soft so that your dog can eat them quickly and get back to the game. With your dog on a leash, so that they are close to you, say the name in a happy tone.

Every time your dog responds, give them a treat. Be sure to always sound happy and positive throughout the game. This will reinforce the idea that if they come to their name, they will be rewarded.

Did you adopt an older dog? Well, first of all, Thank you! You made a great decision! But what if you do not like the name they were given initially? That’s okay, old dogs can learn new tricks! You can easily play the Name Game with older dogs too. If they seem to be struggling, try choosing a new name that is similar to their old one. If their old name was Lardy, why not try Jordy or Brady?

After the game is over and your dog seems to be responding to their name pretty well, try not to use their name when they get into mischief. Remember that positive reinforcement is the best way to train your dog, but if you must scold them, do not use their name.

When you use their name angrily, it can diminish that positive association. A lot of hard work and treats went into building that connection between the name and being rewarding, we do not want to mess that up. Simply say, “No!” instead of “No, Cedric!”. This will prevent them from making a connection between hearing their name and getting into trouble.

When you are teaching your dog, whether a puppy or an adult, remember to be calm and patient. We all know that learning something new can be difficult and requires work. Just be patient with them and yourself, and you will succeed in teaching them their new name.

Bringing it All Together
We have thrown a lot of information at you, but with a decision this big, it is important to know as much as you can. The key point to take away from this article is that naming your dog is very important and that you should definitely put some thought into it. Do not overthink it though. There is always the chance that you will see your new companion and immediately know what you should call them.

A few other takeaways:

  • Remember that the sound and the length of the name will make a difference in how well your dog will respond to it. They have to be able to distinguish it amongst the myriads of other sounds they will be hearing, such as commands.
  • Consider yourself and how much you like saying the name when making your choice. Too long may mean too cumbersome for everyday use.
  • The breed and look of your dog could also inspire a fitting name. Give them a look over and see what springs to mind.
  • In addition, take their personality into consideration, it is their most important attribute after all.
  • And finally, do not forget to be patient when teaching your canine friend their new name. It may take multiple rounds of the Name Game to reach a point where they really react to the sound of their name. It will be worth it though, so keep at it!

Congratulations again on the new addition to your family! We hope this article will help and inspire you to choose the perfect name for your new fur baby.

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