Guest Post by John Woods
All you need to do is choose a new name, and be consistent with it. You’ll also need to make sure all your family members are using the name consistently, and usually your dog should have his new name mastered in under a week.
We’re going to look at reasons you might want to change a dog’s name, how to choose one, and how to re-train your dog to understand his new name.
Reasons to Change a Dog’s Name
Here are a few popular reasons you might want to change your dog’s name.
Perhaps you don’t like the name of the dog you’ve adopted. It might be a really strange or long name which takes too long to say or is confusing.
Or maybe you just want to give your dog a new name to match his new start in life.
Perhaps the dog suffered abuse at the hands of previous owners and he has a really negative association with the old name.
Whatever the reason, it’s really simple to rename your dog.
How to Rename an Adopted Dog
Choose a Name
Believe it or not, this is probably the trickiest part of renaming your dog (does that reassure you how easy it’ll be to give your dog a new name?)
Some people try to choose a name as similar as possible to the original name; for example if the old name was “Bruno,” a new similar name might be “Blue.” However, this really isn’t necessary: If you’re going to change the name, you don’t have to keep it similar, you can start from scratch and choose anything you like.
Spend some time getting to know your dog, understand his personality and look out for any unique little quirks in his appearance. This will help in selecting an appropriate name.
There are many places you can draw inspiration from when renaming your dog! You might even look to famous actors or movies to help inspire you.
Teach Your Dog His or Her New Name
- Make sure everyone knows his new name
The first step in renaming your dog is to make sure that everyone is on board with the new name so that you can be as consistent as possible. Everyone needs to be using the same name or else your dog will become confused if some people are still calling him by the old name and others are using a new name.
- Have a quiet area to use
When you first get your dog home, spend some time bonding with him, and when you first introduce his name make sure that you are in a quiet area with no distractions.
- Say his name positively
When you’ve found a quiet area to use, say his name in a happy manner. Continue to say his name over the next few minutes, praising him each time you say it. It’s really important that you always say his name using a positive voice, even more so when he is first learning his name.
Each time your dog hears his name it should be in a positive, happy tone rather than a cross, despairing or scolding manner. This is essential to create a positive association with the name.
- Use treats
When you teach your dog his new name, it’s very similar to when you teach him any other kind of command. You should use lots of positive reinforcement and give him plenty of attention whenever he responds to his new name. At the beginning, each time you call his new name you should also give him a treat.
Each day, take your dog to a quiet area, call him happily by his name, then praise and reward him. It’s important to keep these sessions short so your dog doesn’t become bored. You might even want to do this a few brief times each day until your dog gets the hang of his new name.
- Try it out
Once you think your dog has grasped his new name, it’s time to put it to the test when he’s not directly looking at you. Call his name, and when he looks over to you or comes to you, respond with praise and a treat.
- Gradually phase out the treats
Once you’re sure your dog has his new name mastered, you can start to slowly phase out the treats which you give him as a reward to responding to his name.
John Woods is a dog fanatic and has a blog over at all things dogs. He’s a dog trainer who is on a mission to educate 40 million dog owners and lovers on how to care for dogs.