Can You Rename a Dog? How to Rename a Dog?

Dog Reiki


A dog’s name is part of their identity in as much as it is for the owner of the dog. Apart from identification purposes, your dog’s name is one of the best ways you can get their attention and give them commands. This acts as a signal of sorts that lets them properly follow what you want them to do.

If you have a new dog coming into your life, you might have thought long and hard about what to name them, only to find out they already have an existing name. Thankfully, you don’t have to feel disheartened at all as renaming your dog is possible no matter their age.

For those of you that don’t like your old dog’s name for whatever reason, changing your pup’s name is easier than you think. Get to know how you can rename them successfully and make them feel at home with their moniker with the help of this article.

Reasons Why You Might be Thinking of Renaming Your Dog

There are various reasons why you would even want to rename your dog in the first place. Learn what some of these valid reasons are to gauge whether or not you should make the switch.

  • Changing Their Adoptive Name to a More Personal One

If you have adopted your dog from a shelter, chances are they’re given names by those manning the shelter. Most of these people rename dogs to make them seem more appealing and marketable to prospective adopters. Shelters also change a pet’s name if this might prevent them from finding their forever home.

If this is the case, your adoptive dog might not be well attached to their name yet or they’re particularly unused to the name given to them, so changing this out may not be a problem.

Those who have had previous owners, however, and those who have just surrendered their dogs to shelters may have given their pets names. Those who have had names may still be quite responsive to their old names, but that doesn’t mean you can’t change their name at all.

  • If You Don’t Know Their Real Name

It definitely makes sense to give your dog a name, especially when you don’t know their name in the first place or there aren’t any signs or tags that point to their previous name. This can be applied in cases where you have found an abandoned dog on the side of the road and other similar circumstances.

Giving them a name to call makes it easier for you to form a bond with them and to help tie their identity to something more tangible, if you will.

  • They Keep Ignoring Their Name

Not all dogs are attached to the name given to them at first. As a matter of fact, you may even find them not responding when you call their previous (or current) name. When this happens, it’s definitely time to switch up their name for something new.

You don’t want your dog to ignore their name when they’re called. After all, this is a means for you to keep them safe and grab their attention when needed.

  • Your Dog Comes from an Abusive Home

Another instance where you might be interested in changing your dog’s name is when they come from an abusive home. At times, dogs that come from these homes can have internalized trauma due to their situation and they may associate their previous name with their time at that place.

In this case, changing their name to something new altogether may just provide them with a new lease on life. This may give them something to look forward to, especially when their new name is no longer associated with their negative experiences in the past.

  • You’re Just Not Keen on Their Given Name

If you’re just not too happy with their current or given name, you can also choose one that you’re perfectly fine with and one that you feel matches their personality better.

How to Make the Switch Easier

There’s a lot of fuss about having to rename your dog in the first place, particularly as it involves time and patience. Fortunately, changing their name is possible but there are, however, some considerations you may have to undertake to make it easier for your fur baby.

  • Think of a Name That Suits Your Dog and Stick to It

Before you call your pet different names and lead them to a world of confusion, deciding on what to call them is your first order of business. You can go through a selection process and shortlist some of the monikers you think is best before picking out “the one.”

By deciding on a name, this prevents further confusion on their part and will lessen the risk of having you change their name again down the road if you no longer want your chosen option.

While you’re in the process of choosing names, you may want to consider using a name that’s not too far off from their original name. This will make it easier on your pup since they will associate the sound with their previous name.  For example, if your dog is currently named ‘Bella,’ you may want to switch to ‘Stella’ or something similar.

Take inspiration from baby books, your favorite characters, your favorite city or location, and the like. In the meantime, make sure to refrain from calling them other nicknames and keep it generic with praises or calling their attention by saying “Here, girl!” or “Here, boy!” instead.

  • Start by Calling Them with Both Their Names

Once you have decided on a name, you can start by saying both of their names together, with the old name they are accustomed to at the start. For example, if you want to call your dog Stormy and her name is Stacy, say “StacyStormy” for quite some time.

After they respond to this, say for about a week or so, start dropping their old name and just call them by the new one. This approach is a gradual method that would help them establish some sort of connection between their two names and make transitioning faster and easier for both of you.

  • Use Their Name as Often as Possible

Since you have chosen a new name for your pooch, it’s high time to keep using this as often as possible for the first few weeks or months. This way, they can get acquainted and familiar with their new name fairly quickly.

During this time, it’s best to let other members of the house with you, or those who come to visit you often, about the name change so that they, too, can be consistent in calling your dog with their new name. In this game, consistency is definitely key to steering clear of confusion.

Once you have committed to a name, this is the time to avoid any nicknames at the moment to avoid confusion. This means no calling them good boy or good girl, as well as sweetie or other terms of endearment, at least during the time you’re training them with their new name.

  • Give Them Treats as a Reward for Responding to the Name

One way to motivate and condition your pooch to respond to their new name is with the help of treats. You can give them a reward every time they respond to you when they hear their name.

Call their name when their attention isn’t on you to gauge whether or not they’ll come. If they do, immediately praise them, smile, and even feel free to pet them while saying their new name, such as “Good girl, Sasha.” This will begin to reinforce the acknowledgement of their new name every time they hear it.

By associating their name with treats, alongside positive reinforcement, your dog will know that responding to you will help them garner more rewards for their actions.

Remember to always look in their general direction when saying their name and giving them a command. Likewise, make sure to constantly repeat their name when giving them praise so that they could associate their name with positive affirmations only.

  • Steer Clear of Negative Connotations

Dogs don’t exactly like being scolded or reprimanded, much more when they are told “no.” Given this, it’s best to avoid names that have negative connotations, such as those that rhyme with or sound like the word “no.” This includes names such as Jojo, Bo, and the like.

In addition to this, it’s worth noting that you should always try to use their name in a positive tone rather than when you’re reprimanding or scolding them. By learning to associate their name with happy experiences and positive reinforcement, they can be more responsive to their name change over time.

Some Considerations with Renaming Your Dog

Now that you know how to change their name and get them accustomed to their new name, you may want to factor in these other aspects during the time it takes to train your dog in getting to their new name.

  1. Changing Personalized Items

There are little to no downsides to renaming your dog, especially if you have thought long and hard about it. Apart from telling your family members, as well as other friends and relatives who come to your house about the name change, you may also want to consider switching personalized items.

From collars, dog beds, dog bowls, and other items in the house, these should all reflect your dog’s name change to facilitate a smoother transition process, but these should be relatively easy.

  1. Sound of Their Name

Dogs are said to distinguish the sound of their names at a much higher frequency compared to that humans. Because of this, some people say that names that end with vowels are much better for dogs, especially when it can easily catch their attention.

Speaking of catching their attention, you may want to opt for names that have two syllables. Not only is it easier for them to remember as it alters with your pitch as the owner, but also these are also short and snappy.

Having a short name means that you can call their attention right away, especially when there’s danger just around the corner. This comes in handy when there’s a busy road or they’re running towards another person head-on, as opposed to saying a lot of syllables when you’re already in a pinch.

  1. Take Your Time

The process of changing their name might be easy, but getting your dog used to their new moniker can take some time. As such, being patient with them and giving them the time to adjust is what you both need, especially as this may come as a shock to them at first.

The Bottom Line

Choosing a good name and renaming your dog can be beneficial to them. With these tips and considerations, you can not only choose the name that suits your dog, but also help them transition to responding to this name in time.

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