Monday, March 2, 2020

6 Pet Parent Hacks to Picking The Perfect Name for a Dog

All Things Dogs, Used by Permission
"Max in the Car!"
(C) All Things Dogs, Used by Permission

Even if you have just said your dog’s name once a day, at 365 days in the year, for an average lifespan of anywhere between 10-14 years, you would be saying it thousands of times.

For a name which is going to be used that many times, it deserves some thought. Not to mention the fact it will be the name to which you refer to your furry friend before every command and action!

So how do you choose the perfect dog name?

We have collated our top six tips to help you out and avoid making any mistakes when it comes to choosing the perfect name for your new puppy.

Make A Dog’s Name Short And Snappy
By this we mean, keep your dog’s name to one or two syllables.

The length is crucial!

We use names to identify but also to gain attention and give commands.

If you need the attention of your dog, who is running towards traffic, you want to get it as soon as possible.
All Things Dogs, Used by Permission
"Staffordshire Mix"
(C) All Things Dogs, Used by Permission

Example “Max, Stop!” is much quicker than “Elizabeth Taylor, Stop!

It could be the difference between them stopping on the sidewalk, and actually making it to the road.

Intonate Your Voice
Being short in length makes it easy to intonate.

This means you can easily change your pitch as you are calling your dog’s name.

You can increase or decrease as needed.

Studies have shown that dogs can tell the difference between praising and non-praising tones, so if we want them to show us attention and actually do what we ask, we need to be able to use a praising tone when we call their name.

The praising tone fires up the reward center in the brain which actually improves attention, motivation, cognition and ultimately learning.

This is even more important with easy to distract puppies!

Everything is so much more interesting – so you need to be more so! Choose a name you can call jovially and happily not one which sounds negative and unhappy.

Consider How Your Puppy Will Fit Into Your Current Family
When choosing a name, you must consider how it fits with the names of other members in your home.

There’s only going to be confusion if you call pup, Harry, but both Barry and Harry appear!

Or even worse, your nephew or son appears too.

Not only that but if you have a few dogs, ideally all their names should be short.

If you are trying to get their attention, it’s much easier (and quicker) to call “Pip, Belle, Ace and Jack!” as opposed to “Stephen, Eduardo, Madison, and Alexandria!”

Try it.

You will be surprised.

Avoid Names That Sound Like Common Commands
Another one that may cause confusion with first-time pet owners.

If you are calling Kit, but they thought you shouted “sit!” or Beau will always think you’re saying “no!”

All Things Dogs, Used by Permission
"Bruno With a Harness!"
(C) All Things Dogs, Used by Permission
Is Faye supposed to come or stay? Or wondering why Bishop keeps stopping?

Your dog may just be that sensitive to sounds.

Think of the commands that you will want to teach your puppy and practice saying them with any name(s) you choose.

The command should be clear and easy to say. You may feel silly, but it’ll pay off when you’re on the sidewalk and can’t afford to get tongue tied. A good puppy name should not conflict with a common command!

Keep It Simple, Stupid!Whilst it can be tempting to want a unique dog name, as we don’t want our dog to be called the same as everyone else’s dogs.

This also comes with its own drawback.

Whilst some names can be hilarious in the first instance, will they honestly stand the test of time?

Will popular series characters even are known in 10 years’ time or will you have to explain your TV watching habits to random strangers?

Will you have to explain your sport team choices to the receptionist at the Veterinarian’s Office or Groomers?

Most importantly, are you happy shouting the name, in public, regularly? If you are not, or you are not sure, choose another name.

That said – popular names are exactly that. You may find multiple Ben’s in the park, or several Bella’s out on your evening stroll. You may have the wrong dog return to you, as may the other Ben owner!

Be Mindful When Using Nostalgic Names
It is tempting to use the names of historical figures, these are generally well accepted unless they have a religious or political association – do you really want to get into those conversations on your 6am walk, before you’ve even had your coffee?

Some owners like the thought of using family names.

If they are alive, double-check with the family member that they are happy having a dog named after them.

If you no longer have them with you, consider whether you can cope with the daily reminder of that person.

Even if you can, consider whether it is beneficial to your grief and future steps.

When choosing a dog’s name, give yourself plenty of time.
All Things Dogs, Used by Permission
"Rescue Collie!"
(C) All Things Dogs, Used by Permission

If you have worked with animals or kids (or huge numbers of adults), you likely have an association for most names.

This could be good or bad. Practice the name before you collect your pup to see if any feelings surface!

This is sometimes where dog only names come in (you lessen the risk of human association, but you still have the risk if you work with animals).

You will say your pup’s name many times, so he deserves a good one. Have a bank of potential names and practice them before you bring him home.

You will know the name when you see his face!

Train the name with plenty of positive reinforcement and rewards; you want him to know it and associate it with good things happening. It will be the cue for many commands, so if he is predicting a positive consequence, he’ll look straight at you.

John Woods 

Author Bio
 John Woods is a dog parent to Nala (a working lab) and is a recognized member of the association of professional dog trainers.


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