What’s In a Name? – The Art & Science of Naming Your Pup

So, you have a new pup in your home and calling it “Pup,” “Puppy,” or “Stop that!” is getting old. Now it’s time to get down to the business of coming up with the perfect name for your new best friend.

You may be surprised to hear that a lot of research has gone into finding the most effective name for your four-legged friend. Here are some of the most common tips for a name that’s easy for your dog to learn.

Keep to one or two syllables

Limit your name choice to one or two syllables to make it easy for the dog to understand. Lengthy names are difficult for your pup, due to their strange inflection and multiple syllables or words. Think names like “Rocky,” “Lucky,” or “Lady.”

It’s also recommended that you end the name with a long-sounding vowel. A long vowel will help assist the dog in differentiating the name from commands and instructions. It will also alert your dog whenever you call him loudly by his name.

Avoid names that sound like commands

Names with similar endings to common commands will wreak havoc on your pup’s training in the future. Avoid names that end with similar sounds as “sit,” “down,” “stay,” “no,” or “come.” Some examples would include names like “Kit,” “Beau” or “Mae.”

Steer clear of the most popular names

If you have any intention of taking your dog to the dog park or other public places in the future, you will want your pet to have a name unique enough that 20 other pets won’t be running your way when you call their name to leave. The five most popular male dog names of 2016 were “Max,” “Charlie,” “Buddy,” “Cooper” and “Jack.” The most popular female names were “Bella,” “Lucy,” “Daisy,” “Lola” and “Luna.

Aside from the science that goes into picking your new pet’s name, there’s also some fun in making the decision. If you’re stumped, try taking some of these ideas into consideration.

Research your dog’s breed or dominant breed

You may be able to use your dog’s heritage to help look for names that might suit your pet. For example, if you have a German shepherd or dachshund, try looking up German names, or Irish names for a wolfhound or setter.

Observe personality traits

Sometimes a quirky behavior in your pet may inspire his or her name. For example, if your pet has a tendency to bounce around instead of run, or if they are particularly lazy for a puppy, then you might find inspiration there.

Finally, there are a few suggestions of things not to do once you have decided on a name.

Don’t use your dog’s name too much during training

Overuse of your dog’s name could cause them to disassociate with it, and they may end up just ignoring the name altogether. There’s a fine line between using a dog’s name enough times so they can learn it, and using it too much, so they begin to disregard it.

If you’ve adopted, avoid changing the name

This is particularly true if you are adopting an older dog. The adoption of your pet may already have been a traumatic experience, so tossing in a name change among it is an unnecessary adjustment.

Use their name before the command

Researchers who have worked with training a dog to learn his/her name also found that using the name first before saying a command, rather than the other way around, seems to help the dog understand that you are directing the command at him or her.


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