So you have just adopted a new puppy or perhaps rescued a dog from your neighborhood shelter (good for you!). With all the excitement of the new member in your family comes the often overwhelming process of how to name your dog.
Unlike naming human babies where we have to conform to certain 'rules' regarding our heritage, the options of naming a dog is not limited by these boundaries. Fictional characters from books or TV series, names of cities or even your favorite food are all viable options. Now this is both exciting and likely overwhelming.
Here are some "how to name your dog" considerations and tips to help you out.
Name her only after adoption
Don't feel compel to name your dog before you met her. In fact, don't feel compel to name her right away just after adoption. Engaging and observing your new dog for a few days to a week after will greatly help you come up with a name that feels more connected to her personality and appearance.
For example; if your dog is a Shiba Inu, a Japanese name will reflect her origin well. If the color of her coat is sesame black, perhaps a name like 'Goma' (sesame in Japanese) might click with you. Or maybe she reminds you of a celebrity or politician? Factor in her personality and quirks, the combinations and options are limitless.
If you have rescued an older dog, chances are she already have a name. If for any reason you want to change it, choosing a similar sounding name will help ease the transitions. For example; 'Barry' is a great alternative for 'Henry'.
It's possible to completely change an established dog's name, it simply requires a little more time and patience for her to adapt again. The process of positive name association otherwise remain the same as if naming any new dog; lavish her with treats, praises and hugs whenever she acknowledge your calls. At the same time, avoid using her new name for reprimands and punishments.
Optimal number of syllables
Many single syllable names tend to rhyme with some everyday words and unintentionally confuse your dog! For example; naming your new dog 'Steve' might lead to some questioning looks from him if you have a sibling named 'Steven' or when you advice your elderly to use caution on those 'steep' stairs.
As much as it is confusing for your dog to get mix up with someone or something else, name rhyming becomes even more problematic if said name clashes with the commands(which are easily single syllable words) used during training. A dog named 'Kite' will have trouble differentiating 'Right!'.
Two syllables is the Goldilocks approach to dog naming, keeping it short and simple enough for your dog to learn and responds to while distinct enough to avoid possible confusion.
Three syllables names are fine, anything more than three increase the chances of mispronunciation from owners or misinterpretation from their dogs. This is especially true when you have kids or elderly in the family who might have difficulties pronouncing longer words with accuracy consistently. Moreover, its tiresome to repeat a four syllables name over and over, something you surely have to do for years to come.
That's not to say you should avoid all single, three or four syllable(s) names altogether. Consider this to be more like a 'best practice' approach instead of a hard and fast rule. There are many great and successful dog names from all these instances as long as you understand and willing to work around the possible issues (e.g., longer names are less of a problem if you are confident consistent pronunciation is a non-issue in your family).
Also, some languages lend themselves well even as longer names. The Japanese city of 'Yokohama' is a great name with distinct and easy to pronounce syllables. So keep your options open!
Keep it appropriate
An important question in this how to name your dog process; 'Am I comfortable using this name in public?' . While you shouldn't be over thinking it (naming your dog should be fun and fulfilling), what you name your dog does say a lot about you. As a general rule, avoid names with negative connotations.
Celebrities are great source of inspiration for names. But the same may not be true about naming your dog after the people around you. You might find it cute or maybe just its just your way to remember someone by but some people do consider it offensive and degrading. The last thing you want is souring your relationships over your new dog. If you are still compel to use their name in some form, talk to them and ask for permission first.
Use her name often and positively
Upon decided her name, use it often! Don't forget to involve your family in the process too. The best and fastest way for your dog to grow accustom to her new name is by lavishing her with hugs, kisses, pats or treats whenever she reacts to it. Even if its a simple act of looking up at you upon your summons!
The key here is associating her name with positiveness. On that same note, never use it during or for reprimands or punishments.
Go back to more Unique Dog Names
Return to New Puppy Care Guide (Homepage)