Naming Your Dog

Given that you’ll be living with your dog for the next 10-15 years, it’s a good idea to spend a little time thinking about what to name your new furry companion. Here are a few tips for naming your dog.

1. Keep it simple. You’ll be using the name with commands such as "sit" or "down" so pick a name that is easy to say. When we were thinking up names for our dogs, we stuck with names that are just two syllables and it has worked out well.

2. Avoid confusion. Don’t name your dog something that sounds similar to a command or anyone else’s name in the household. "Kit Sit" may sound like it’s fun to say, but your dog will probably just be confused. If you have a son named Brian, don’t name the dog Ryan. If you have multiple pets, try and keep the names as dissimilar as possible.

3. If you have a purebred with a long AKC name from the breeder, don’t try and use the whole name. Virtually every show dog with a long, fancy name also has a short "call name." Many call names have absolutely no relationship to the AKC name.

4. Avoid embarrassing or stupid names. It may be cute to call the furball of joy "Puppy" for a few days, but it’s just lame to still be using that name when he has grown into a 150-pound hound. Try to be a little creative anyway. However, don’t name your dog something rude that you wouldn’t want to say in a public place. You will have to say his name to the vet, who probably won’t find it funny, so think about that before you get a little too creative.

5. Opinions differ as to whether you should change a dog’s name when you adopt him. On the one hand, if the dog is well adjusted and came from a happy home, using his "given" name is probably no problem. However, if the name was used improperly, such as for punishment, you may want to divorce yourself from that prior association. If you opt to change the name, use the dog’s new name with things he enjoys such as treats and going for a walk.

For example, when we adopted our dog Leto, his foster family had named him Pika. Since we already have a dog named Tika, clearly Pika was not going to work. (Plus, I didn’t like the name.) Leto latched onto his new name quickly and it’s never been a problem.

If you are having trouble thinking up names, you can turn to any number of sites on the Internet, baby name books, or even a dictionary. Some dictionaries include names and their definitions in the back. If your looking for ideas, pull that old dictionary off the shelf and see what you can find. I’m sure you can do better than "Puppy," "Rover," or "Spot."

About Susan Daffron

Susan Daffron is the author the Alpine Grove Romantic Comedies and multiple award-winning nonfiction books, including several about pets and animal rescue. Check out all her books on her Amazon Author page.