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Picking a Dog Name – Naming a Puppy

Bringing home your new best friend is a momentous occasion that heralds celebration. In all the excitement and the “getting to know each other” phase, it’s amazing how little people stop to think about picking a dog name. This process is actually rather important, in part because you are going to use this name incessantly during the first few months that you are together, usually followed by, “No!”

Believe it or not, dogs know when they are being ridiculed, or at least laughed at. Thus picking a silly name that makes fun of their protruding fang or other noticeable feature is likely to encourage teasing. While you may find their one floppy ear adorable, people you meet on the street might not be so kind. It’s remarkable how quickly we develop a sense of emotional protectiveness toward our pups. It won’t take long before someone’s critical comment (brought about by the name you chose highlighting the imperfection) makes you feel put off. This is just part of the natural process of falling in love with your dog. Thus, when picking a dog name it is best to avoid making fun of his less than perfect physique.

Choosing names that are gargantu-normously long means that you have to get that name out of your mouth before the command. God forbid you went and named your dog King Serus of Montanamo the third and you need to call him in an emergency. By the time you are dine spitting out the first half of his name, the emergency is over and the results are in. Stick with shorter names, or write the gargantu-normously long name down on his papers (if you went pure bred) and stick with an easier to speak in a hurry nickname, like Serus.

Dogs hear the vowel sounds in their name much more clearly than they do the consonants. So your dog Bo-Bo isn’t really going to hear the difference between “Bo” and “No.” Running across the room shouting, “No, Bo-Bo, no!” is going to sound a lot like “Oh, oh, oh. Oh!” At the same time, choosing a name with significant vowel sounds, especially those that end in a long E sound, will be more distinguishable to your pet. That’s Charlie, Sammy, and Maxie all make great dog names. That long E sound is something dogs respond well to, and it makes not only learning their name, but recognizing it even when you are in a hurry or in a huff much easier for them.

I’ve always been partial to picking something a little unique for my guys. After all, there are plenty of Scooters and Kings out there in the world. I want my pet to stand out a bit. That is just my basic personality. My dogs seem to appreciate my creativity at the dog park. Several times when I have been at the puppy park with Jeremy and Deogie (pronounced like you are spelling “dog,” D-O-G) I have seen dog owners call out a sharp “No, Spike!” Three dogs turned around. Princess and Precious seemed to bounce off each other in confusion despite having slightly different names. While not every dog will have puppy park issues that will land them at their nearest puppy psychologist’s office, having something just unique enough to help your guy keep his name straight is always a benefit.

Letting kids pick out a name can seem like a great idea. After all, they will promise to feed the dog and wash the dog and walk the dog, but we all know that very few kids will do this on a regular basis. You get a dog for your kids to play with and feel like they have a dog, but we all know who that dog really belongs to. Allowing them to name to new pup gives them a sense of ownership and even responsibility, but unless you want the seventeenth Fluffy on the street, you might at least want to offer them guidance. Regardless of your guidance, if you said they could name the dog, and they get stuck on some silly, incredulous name that you want to whisper when you cart the pooch off to the vet, you’re going to be stuck with it. It’s usually better to tell the kids that they can help name the dog. Sometimes kids will surprise us and come out with something really neat. Mine came out with Mariko Pete when he was only four. And that was just for a fish!

Picking a dog name is something that can either be done ahead of time or once you actually bring your floppy eared, dribbly little wonder home. Most people wait until they at least meet the new family member before deciding on a name. Some names just go better with some personalities. Likewise, sometimes giving a dog a name that ordinarily wouldn’t fit turns out to be exactly fitting. Our blind beagle was deemed Scooter, after changing it from the previously named Boomer. Blind and slow as he is, and as uncreative as we found the name, he is by all means a little Scooter pin balling his way through the house. It just ended up working.

Changing a dog’s name, as we just mentioned, is best done in either one of two ways to help alleviate confusion on your little guy’s end. You can use the trick we did and match the vowels sounds and the syllables to make a subtle change. Sometimes subtle changes are much more livable even if your pup never knows the difference. After all, Boomer?

The second easiest method is to use a hyphenated name. If the dog you adopted is named Max, and you want to change it to Phoebe, start calling the dog Max-Phoebe. After about a week, switch it to Phoebe-Max. After about another two weeks, try dropping the Max. If it doesn’t work, go back to the hyphenated name for another few weeks. Some dogs take longer to make the association. A few dogs will come no matter what name you choose. Especially those living in multi dog households who come running when you call any other pup in the house. After all, they don’t want to miss out on the goodies. They suddenly remember their name when they realize the only goodie waiting is a bath!

The most important aspect of picking a dog name is doing what works for you. Have fun. Get creative. Have a family contest. Write out possible names on slip of paper, attach treats to them and scatter them about. Which ever one your new dog goes to first gets the honor. Whatever will make the process fun for your family and your dog is the best way to choose your new dog’s name.

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