When a dog is named the first time, it tends to stick with it. Changing it back to something else is a process that needs to be considered carefully. You must first figure out why you feel changing the dog’s name is essential.

If it is done merely because you like a different name suddenly, then maybe it is not worth the trouble to confuse the dog after such a long time. Especially if your dog is an adult already, it is all the tougher to go through the process.

Still, if you feel you must change the dog’s name, it is also very much possible if you carefully follow the tips below.

How to Change Your Dog’s Name?

Changing your dog’s name is a delicate process, so before you do make sure it’s your final decision and you have a good reason for doing it. To make the process as easy as possible for your pet, choose a name that is not similar to the name of your other pets but similar to the previous name.

Here is a more detailed list of how to change your dog’s name:

1. Be Sure of the New Name:

Changing the dog’s name once itself is a tricky process, and you should not be doing it again and again; hence pick a name permanently that you feel fits the dog and stick with it. Do careful research to find the right name for the dog. You can take the help of online sites like sassy girl dog names, where you find multiple dog name options to choose from.

Once you have finalized a name, sleep over it for a few nights to ensure the name matches your dog’s personality before you proceed further. If you want to change the dog’s name just because some other name sounds cuter and you have changed your mind suddenly then it is not the right reason.

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You will find some new names a few months later which you may prefer more. It is an endless process hence once you like a word and it suits your dog’s personality, try to stick with it.

Here Are Some Basic Guidelines:

  • If you know the dog’s previous name, choose something similar to the original name that makes it easy for the dog to learn the name. Something that rhymes with its old name is preferable.
  • Make use of a shorter name that is easier for the dog to learn.
  • Ensure the name ends with a vowel, making it easier for the dog to hear and distinguish it.
  • Avoid names that sound similar to the names of other family members or pets, as it can get confusing.
  • Avoid names that sound similar to commands commonly used for dogs, as they can get confused.
  • Avoid using nicknames till you finalize a name, as it can confuse the dog further.
  • Avoid using short forms of your dog’s name until it learns its name correctly.

2. Be Reassured that It Is Ok to Change the Dogs Name for the Right Reasons

Your dog will probably be confused at the beginning which is natural as it is used to being addressed by a name for some time. Still, experts say that changing your dog’s name is ok especially if you suspect they have been raised in a hostile environment where it was abused previously.

The trauma related to that name will also vanish with the name over time. A new name that associates with a positive experience will be the right change for the dog too, as it will happily respond to this name and help it recover from the previous trauma.

3. Make Use of Treats to Associate Positivity with the Name

Teaching your dog its name is like teaching them a command. Your dog needs to associate the name with good things, like treats and appreciation. Everyone in the household needs to feed the dog a treat if it responds to its name.

You have to make a common rule in the house that all the house members follow. If you call the dog using its new name and someone else in the family still uses the old name then it will confuse the animal. Hence, ensure to inform everyone what name they should use to call the dog. Use a positive tone to call your dog always and avoid an upset voice until it learns its name correctly. 

4. Pair the New Name with Recall Exercises

Make use of the new name to do recall exercises like playing fetch. Throw the ball and call the dog by its new name when it fetches the ball. If your dog loves the game, it will quickly learn to associate itself with the new name.

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Let your dog go to another room and call it by its new name to practice recall exercises with a new name, as it is essential for the dog’s safety.

happy dog change name

5. Make it a Gradual Transition

You cannot change your pet’s name overnight and expect it to understand that. It will take some time for the dog to understand that you are changing its name. If changing the dog’s name from Bella to Lilly, call the dog BellaLilly for a week, maybe. Then drop the old name and just use Lilly. This way, the dog will gradually understand the name change.

However, if your dog has a negative association with its old name because of past abuse, then using this technique is not the right way to go about it, as it will only associate negativity with its old name. Instead, wipe the slate clean, start calling the dog its new name, and be patient. It will respond and understand that it should react to the name.

6. Stick with the Name

Once you change the pet’s name, commit to it. Changing it once is acceptable, but doing it repeatedly will confuse the dog thoroughly. It is not the best idea to again change the name of the dog that is already comfortable with its new name. Hence, ensure you agree to a new name before starting the name switch process.

7. Be Persistent

Your dog may not seem the brightest and takes its own sweet time to learn the new name. It is ok and natural. Especially adult dogs may find it hard to associate with a new name initially. Do not be tempted to use its old name in the process, as it will confuse the dog further. Ask all your family members to follow the same rules.

Associate happy tones and treats with the new name increase the dog’s chances of responding. A few dogs may learn it quickly, and others may take some time, but you must be persistent until the change happens completely.

8. Choose a Name Not Similar to Other Pets

If you have more than one pet at home, the name you choose for the pet should be absolutely different from the other pet. Do not choose names like Miley and Riley as they sound so similar. Your dog will get confused that you are calling your other pet and not understand that it is its new name.

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9. Use a Name Similar to the Old One

If the older name has no negative feelings attached to it then you can make this process a lot simpler by choosing a name that sounds similar to the old one or starts from the same letter. This will make it easy for the dog to understand the transition rather than opting for a name that sounds completely different.

10. Do Not Delay the Process

If you have decided you will change your dog’s name then do not wait to do it even for a day. The longer you use the old name, the more difficult it becomes to teach your dog a new name. You should make this decision quickly and start the training process faster. Younger dogs find it easier to understand that their name has been changed than older ones.

11. Let the Dog Choose the Name

Sometimes, it just makes sense to test a few names before finalizing on one. If you have a list of new names, why not try calling your dog a few? See what they respond quickest too. It could be because it sounds familiar.

This will also make the transition easier as the dog is already responding to the new name. It actually makes sense to have a few options if your dog is not responding to the newly changed name for some time. 

12. Stop Giving Your Dog Treats Gradually

Once the dog starts responding to its new name, do not stop giving it treats suddenly. You have to make the process gradual by slowly reducing the number of treats until they no longer need them. Do not punish the dog if it does not respond to the name, as you do not wish to attach any negative feelings to the name.

The Bottom Line:

Changing the dog’s name is a process you need to be patient about. It can happen in a week or take a few months also. It depends on the dog’s intelligence and temperament. Be patient with every dog when you change its name, and you will see the results soon. 

Also, remember, it doesn’t really matter what you name your dog just like Shakespeare said- What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

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Hi! I'm Anna and I´m a certified cynologist (KAU, ACW). Expert, blue cross volunteer, owner of Chinese crested kennel "Salvador Dali" and breedless friend called Fenya. "I can't imagine my life without dogs and I totally support the idea #AdoptDontShop".