Ideas for Naming your New Dog

Have you gotten a new furry family member recently? Or maybe you’re planning to welcome one soon. Perhaps an adorable little puppy who is currently nameless, or an adult dog companion in need of a name upgrade. Whoever you are bringing into the family, you need name ideas, right? We’ve got you covered!


  • Take gender into account

Do you want to choose a gender specific name, or do you want a name that works for either gender? This leads to the next consideration: do you want a human name or non-human name? Many human names could be used for either gender, though they tend to be more gender specific than non-human names. Sometimes, a person might ask what your dog’s name is and with certain names they can make the assumption about whether they are a male or female dog. If you think that might matter to you, then a gender specific name could be the way to go! Taking these factors into account is a great first step in choosing the perfect name for your new pet.


  • Avoid names that sound like commands

You may want to avoid names that sound like commands so there is no confusion once you start training your dog and they learn what certain words (or in their mind what the word sounds like) mean. It could be stressful for a dog to think they are doing something wrong or being told to do a task when you’re simply saying their name. Dogs recognize the sound of the word, not the specific word, so choosing a name that doesn’t sound like something they need to know for training is a worthwhile consideration. For instance, you may not want to name your dog “Gray” since it sounds like “Stay” and that’s something they may hear often in a more assertive tone than their name.


  • Avoid negative connotations

Of course, many people choose negative terms as pet names to be ironic or humorous, but you might not be interested in naming your adorable new companion something like “Killer” or “Satan.” This could especially be something to consider if you have adopted a breed that is already unfairly stereotyped like pit bull breeds, Dobermans, and Rottweilers.


  • Avoid names that sound like your other pets’ names or words you say often

This will help avoid confusion with all pets in the household. It might sound cute to have a pair of brother dogs named Spock and Brock, but that could get quite confusing for them if they never know who is being spoken to, which could in turn make training more difficult. A common dog training tip is to say the dog’s name before the command so that they specifically know they’re being spoken to and that a behavior is expected of them. If they have a name that sounds like someone else’s they might not know they’re the one being addressed.


  • Names that end in vowels or are two syllables or less work well

Names that end with a vowel could provide a more positive happy feeling for your dog since our voice tends to go up as we say a vowel at the end of a word. This is by no means a deal-breaker if you decide on a name that doesn’t end in a vowel, but if you want your dog to glean a specific emotion when their name is said it could be something to consider. Also, names that are two syllables or less are of course easier, but if you do land on a longer name, you’ll most likely end up giving your dog nicknames that they’ll become familiar with.


  • Consider whether you will rename or keep your rescue dog’s assigned name

There are pros and cons to keeping the name or renaming a rescue animal. If you know about their past in that they came from undesirable conditions or were in an abusive home, then you may want to rename them so that they no longer have any negative associations with their previous name. A fresh start! Plus, sometimes at shelters we can all agree that the names dogs are given by shelter staff are not always the greatest since they have so many pets to name. On the other hand, your dog might already be familiar with their name so they will have name recognition ingrained in them. And if they have been adopted from more loving circumstances, hanging onto their name could be positive for them.


  • Lastly, choose a name that matches their personality!

Get to know your dog before settling on a final name and be creative with it! Choosing a name can be fun and exciting and create a bond as you get to know your new family member!

These are just a few tips you may not have thought about, but really you can’t go wrong when naming your fur baby! No matter what you call them, the most important thing is that they are showered with care, love, and their health and safety needs are met. You’ll also soon learn, if you haven’t already, that you’ll probably call your dog by about 800 different nicknames on a regular basis, most of which won’t have anything to do with their actual name. Talk about confusing! It’s just irresistible when they’re that cute and full of personality. For training purposes, however, their given name is most appropriate!

After you settle on your new family member’s name, get them their own personal tag for their collar with up-to-date phone numbers, and maybe even an address, so they can be returned back to you in the event they are lost. Also ensure your dog is microchipped if they have not been already at the shelter or place you got them from. A service like Home Again is a great tool in case your dog gets out or lost. When bringing a new pet home, establish your dog with a regular veterinary doctor so you always have one to consult with, whether it be for questions, emergencies, or general check-ups, and make sure they are up on all their necessary vaccines.

Choosing a name is just one of the first steps to a lifelong commitment to your new baby. After making sure they have all the proper care and safety procedures in place, you’ll be on your way to happy tails with your fabulously named best friend!

Shay Siegel is a young adult author, freelance writer, and editor from Long Island, NY. She has a BA from Tulane University and an MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Always a lover of animals, Shay had several cats growing up. She's now a dog mom to the snuggliest rescue pit bull, Bernie. She enjoys writing on a variety of topics and sharing her love and knowledge of animals with others!

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