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How to Choose a Good Name for Your New Dog or Puppy
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith
FAQ's on Pet Ownership
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Click here for a pdf version of this article. 

Q. How do I choose a name for my puppy?
 
A. Choosing a name for a new dog or puppy is an important decision. The name will be used to relate to the dog for the rest of his or her life. Take some time in choosing a name, and keep the following suggestions in mind.

Avoid names that sound like commands

How do I name my new pet?When choosing a name for your new pet, choose one that does not sound like a common command. Pets rely on 'sounds like' rather than 'means' when they try to understand what we are communicating to them. As a result, names like 'Kit,' 'Rum,' 'Fay,' 'Steel,' or 'Joe' can end up sounding like 'sit,' 'come,' 'stay,' 'heel,' or 'no!' Your dog will not know which way to turn when you call.

Effective communication between dogs and their human companions is the hallmark of a good relationship. And teaching basic commands are a must. Dogs try so hard to understand what we are saying to them, so why make learning confusing for them, especially when it comes time to teach these important commands? Avoid 'sound-alike' names and you will take one step towards effective communication with your pet.

Avoid names that sound like other names

Just as your dog's name should not sound like a command, it also should not be similar to the names of other household members (human or animal!). This would result in confusion for your dog, and the dog's namesake.

Keep the name short

Other things to consider are the length of the name. In general, shorter names with one or two syllables will be easier for your pet to recognize than longer names.

  • Try to use "hard" consonants and vowels

    Hard consonants, such as 'k,' 'd,' and 't' are easier to hear and distinguish than soft consonants such as 'f,' 's,' or 'm.' The same is true for vowels. Thus, names such as Katy, Deedee, and Tike are ones that a dog will often recognize and respond to faster than Fern, Shana, or Merl.

  • Choose a name he or she can grow into

    If you are naming a puppy, remember he or she will grow into an adult so you want to choose a name appropriate for each stage of his or her life.

    Be willing to call the name in public

    Finally, be sure to pick a name you will feel comfortable calling in public. A name you think is personal and cute may take on a different connotation when called in a dog park.

    Some of the most popular dog names in North America are:

    • Max, Maxie, Maxwell, or Maxine
    • Jake
    • Maggie
    • Buddy
    • Molly
    • Lady
    • Bailey
    • Sadie
    • Sam, Sammie, or Samantha
    • Lucy
    • Rocky
    • Daisy
    • Buster
    • Ginger

    There are many books and web sites devoted to naming dogs. Have fun exploring!

    Click here for a pdf version of this article. 
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