Tips for naming your new dog
Most people put a lot of thought into naming their new dog or puppy. Your dog’s name speaks volumes about your own personality, insight and sense of humor. It’s a great way to reveal just a tidbit of information about yourself to passersby. Some dog names are friendly, tough, funny, cute, geeky and more!
When clients ask me how to name their dog, I tell them to pick a one- or two-syllable name that doesn’t rhyme with any basic obedience commands (like sit, down, stay, come, no) and doesn’t rhyme with another pet’s name in the household. For example, a dog named “Lo” might confuse her name with the corrective command “No” and might also get confused if the family cat’s name is “Bo.”
Dogs tend to prefer short names with strong endings, such as Max, Duke and Spot. If you give your dog a long name, try coming up with a nickname that your dog responds nicely to. Ultimately, you want to pick a name that you like – and like to say – as you’ll be saying it quite often!
Teaching a puppy or dog his/her new name is easy! I use the clicker training tool to help bridge the gap in communication and to build a positive association between the name and the dog’s response to it. To teach a dog his name, put treats in one hand and a clicker in the other hand. Then relax your hands at your side. Stand with natural light behind you and position your dog in front of you. Say your dog’s new name and as soon as he makes direct eye contact with you, “click” and give him a treat. Repeat. Do this for about 60 seconds, 3-5x a day. After one day, your dog will know his new name!
Justin and I have five dogs: Zoey, Duke, Havok, Yedi and Freya. Here’s a little background on each dog and what influenced us to pick that dog’s name:
1. Zoey is a four-year-old Australian Shepherd x Border Collie mix that I rescued off Craigslist three years ago. She came from an abusive backyard breeder and was extremely skittish and fearful. She didn’t have a name yet, so I picked the name Zoey because it means “life” and it represents something sweet, kind-hearted and loving. Zoey overcame her fear and is now my right-hand dog. She’s the sweetest, most loving dog you’ll ever meet. Zoey’s nicknames are Zo, Zo Zo, Zoey Bear and Wiggle Butt.
2. Duke is a four-year-old German Shepherd that I adopted off Craigslist last year. He was extremely aggressive towards people and other dogs, and his name at the time was Louie. Whenever I said his “Louie”, he pinned his ears and glared at me. I wanted to give him a fresh start so I made a list of names and called them off. When I said “Duke,” his ears perked up and he barked excitedly so Duke it was! Duke is the name of the first German Shepherd I ever owned back when I was in the military. He saved my life twice, and for that I am forever grateful. Duke is also the name of a shelter dog that I trained while working towards my dog trainer certification in Texas. Duke’s nicknames are Dukers and Duke Duke.
3. Havok is a one-year-old German Shepherd that I purchased from a breeder in Tennessee. The name means “widespread destruction.” I picked the name Havok because it disproves the myth that dogs always live up to their names. Havok is a very sweet, well-behaved dog. In fact, at just five months of age, he earned the title of AKC Canine Good Citizen. Havok’s nicknames are Hav, Havvy and Havvers.
4. Yedi is an 11-month-old Australian Shepherd that we purchased from a breeder in Tennessee. Yedi is the cardinal numeral for “seven” which represents perfection, and it’s a spin off of the popular Yeti cooler. Yedi loves the great outdoors, and he’s the toughest, most rugged and adventurous dog you’ll ever meet. Yedi’s nicknames are Yed, Yedders and Yedster.
5. Freya is an 11-week-old German Shepherd puppy that I imported from Germany. The name Freya is Scandinavian for “Lady.” Lady is the name of the Collie dog I grew up with; she showed me what unconditional love is all about. She will forever hold a special place in my heart. Freya’s nicknames are Frey and Frey-Frey.
Choose your dog’s new name wisely because dogs oftentimes live up to our expectations of them. For example, a 4-lb teacup Chihuahua named “Sassy” is probably going to have a bit of an attitude. Not because she’s born that way, but because we allow behaviors that we think ‘fit’ with her name. Likewise, a Labrador Retriever named “Buddy” will likely become an excellent companion for his owner. Names don’t influence dogs…we do!
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