Do you love your new dog, but cringe whenever you hear his name? Maybe it’s a nickname given by the breeder, or perhaps your dog was named by his previous family. Whatever the case, know that it’s common to rename a dog. In fact, I did it with my little boy, Diego.
I’m not sure if I ever told you the story, but I actually got Diego from a family who could no longer take care of him. The family got Diego when he was less than eight weeks old (too young to be separated from his biological mother), and they only had him for a few weeks. During that time, they named him Charlie. Okay, so let me start by saying there is nothing wrong with the name Charlie. I just didn’t think it fit. When I looked at this sweet baby Chihuahua, I saw a fire in his eyes. He had spunk, attitude. He was DIEGO! As soon as I brought him home, I started the renaming process and within a day or two little Charlie was responding to the name Diego.
If you’re worried or afraid to rename your dog, don’t be. Dogs learn new names very quickly and, in some cases, renaming is actually recommended. If you’re bringing home a shelter dog that was abused, or you suspect was abused, it’s a good idea to change his name.
Here are some tips that can make the renaming process simple:
1) Choose a New Name
If you already have a new name in mind for your pooch, great. If not, don’t feel rushed. It won’t hurt to live with your new dog for a few days as you figure out what you want to call him/her. When selecting a new name, here are some tips:
- Don’t use interim nicknames. If you’re waiting a few days to choose a name, just continue to call your dog by his old name.
- Consider a name that sounds similar to your pup’s original name. This will make it a bit easier on your dog when he’s learning his new name.
- Try to keep your pup’s name one or two syllables.
- Avoid names that sound like commands (i.e. “no”).
- Avoid names that sound like other family members’
2) Tell Everyone In The House
Before you start calling your dog by his new name, make sure that everyone in your house knows what it is. When it comes to training your dog, consistency is key. If you call your dog one name, yet your husband refers to the dog by another name, your pooch is going to get very confused!
3) Start Training Sessions With Treats
When you teach a dog to sit, stay, or lay down, treats are a big help because they are rewarded for their actions (and dogs like to be rewarded)! Well, it’s the same with responding to a new name.
- Start by taking your dog to a quiet area of your home.
- Looking at your dog, say his new name in a positive tone.
- As you do this, reward him with a treat and praise.
- Repeat this process several times.
- Keep training sessions short – just a few minutes.
- Scatter training sessions throughout the day.
4) Use The New Name When Your Pooch Isn’t Focused On You
After a few name training sessions (as mentioned in #3), start calling your dog by his new name when he isn’t focused on you. Again, use an excited voice! If your pooch responds to the name, immediately give him a treat and praise.
If your pup does not pay attention when you call his new name, you can try this step with his leash on. Just wait until he is looking away, call his name, and if he doesn’t respond then lightly tug his leash. Once he responds, give him a treat and praise!
5) Use The New Name Like You Normally Would
In no time, your canine kid will understand his new name. Once he is consistently responding to his new name, slowly cut back on the treats!