The holiday season is over, and the New Year is about to begin! Last week we were discussing DIY gifts for dog lovers, and I hope you found something unique for the dog lover on your list. Were you one of the many homes that woke up to a new puppy on Christmas morning? Have you decided how to choose a name for your puppy? This week I decided to give some tips on choosing a name for your new furry family member.
Adopting a new puppy is an exciting event for the entire family, but it also brings a lot of work. You’ll be responsible for training, supervising, grooming and feeding your new bundle of joy, but perhaps your greatest task will be choosing a name for the pup. I mean, you can’t just call him Puppy forever, right?
But how do you go about choosing a name for your puppy? Should you choose a unique name, a traditional name, or try to create an original name that no one has ever heard of before. Some people name their pets after famous animals from movies or television shows. Others look up popular dog names on the internet and select one of those.
How to Choose a Name for Your Puppy
You need to keep one very important thing in mind when choosing a name for your puppy – whatever name you select will be your key to communicating with him. The name needs to be something that will elicit a quick response from your dog. Long names or names that sound like another member of your family may be confusing for your pooch.
You should also stay away from names that sound similar to any of the basic commands that you’ll be teaching your dog. This could be very confusing for him and make the training process much more difficult than it needs to be.
Dogs do not speak English, or any language for that matter. Your puppy hears the things you say simply as sounds. There is not meaning behind the words like there is for us. A dog hears a word and associates it with a command; it’s that simple. Your puppy won’t understand the meaning behind his name, so don’t worry about giving him a name that he can be proud of.
For example, I know a miniature dachshund named Brutus. For most people that meet him, his name a joke. The name Brutus does not make him feel strong, brave or powerful. It just makes everyone laugh at him when they hear it.
Many dog trainers advise pet parents to choose a name that is comprised of one or two syllables. This makes it easy for the dog to understand and he’ll learn the name faster. Also, short names are not easily confused by other care givers. This is especially important if your dog is often around new people.
Many pet parents strive to give their dog a name that reflects his individuality. Many boxer dogs are named Frazier or Tyson, after famous athletes in the field. Dalmatians named spot or a chocolate lab named Brownie are other examples. Naming your puppy after one of his defining characteristics may not be original, but it is classic.
You should be careful to avoid highly popular names like Buddy, Max and Molly. Chances are you will run into other dogs at the dog park or they may be another dog at your pet’s daycare or boarding facility with the same name. This could be very confusing for him.
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Some pet parents like to get two dogs and name them something cute that goes well together. We know a couple who have two Labradors named named Allie and Gator – Ali-Gator…get it? It’s cute right? But what happens when the dogs are no longer together, because that is unfortunately an unavoidable circumstance that will come about sooner or later. Do you like each dog’s name separately? I don’t know about you, but I’m not too keen on the name Gator for a dog.
You’ll be using your dog’s name in public at some point, and you need to be sure you’re calling him something that you’re comfortable with. Make sure it’s something that every member of your family is comfortable with as well. Some of your family members may not want to yell for “Mr. Tinkle Toes” at the dog park or sign “Fluffy Lumpkins” in at the groomers.
Along the same lines, you have to keep in mind that this name will be your dog’s name for his entire life. Calling your puppy Tootsie or Tiny may seem cute, but what happens when he grows into a 75-pound adult dog? Consider a name that is going to mature with your pet.
Maybe you didn’t adopt a puppy. Rescuing an adult dog is a great choice, but do not change his name. Your pet has lost his family and his home. Don’t make things harder for him by forcing him to adjust to a new name as well. You may not like the name that was chosen for him, but it would be disrespectful to your dog to change it at this stage in his life.
Speaking of changing names, if you adopted a puppy you should give his new name a trial run for a couple of days. Then have a family meeting to decide if the name should stick. You won’t be doing any long term damage by changing his name after a day or two. At first you may think Lucky is going to be a great name, but it may not fit the dog or you may not like it as much as you thought you did after you try it out for a couple of days.
Pick a name that suits your dog. It’s really that simple. It’s not a decision that you need to rush, but remember that the sooner you come up with a name the sooner you can get started training your pet to respond to it. You shouldn’t wait weeks to come up with a suitable name.
If you find a name that your family likes and it suits your dog, that’s the name you should stick with. As long as it is a choice that will be easy for your new furry friend to learn, it won’t matter what anyone else thinks. And remember, as soon as you select a name for your new pup get him a set of ID tags with his name and your contact information on them. Puppies have a tendency to wander, and you need to be sure that whoever finds your Fido can return him to his home.
Now it’s your turn
What’s your dog’s name, and how did you come up with it? We’d love to see pictures of your canine companion on our Twitter, Facebook or Google+ page or share your puppy name ideas in the comments below. If you have any puppy naming tips you’d like to share, we’d love to hear those too!