How to name a new puppy or dog

It can be difficult to name a puppy. Because people have a strong attachment to their own names, there’s a desire to come up with a name that means something special. For dogs, however, things are a little different. Puppies don’t identify themselves with their names like humans do. They only recognize it as us asking for their attention. When they hear the sound of their name, they know it’s time to listen up because we want something. A good puppy name is a call to action.

With this in mind, here are a few guidelines to help you choose the perfect name for your new puppy:

Keep it simple

One or two syllable names are usually best, three syllables at the most. If the name is long or complicated, it’ll be hard to call out and your dog may not understand. Having to repeat a dog’s name to get his attention makes training difficult and can be dangerous in certain situations.

Avoid names that rhyme with or sound like obedience commands

The basic dog obedience commands include sit, stay, down, come, and heel. Of course, if you plan on teaching your dog to shake, you don’t want to name him Blake.

Short names with ending vowels are easier for a dog to learn

This is due to the nature of how people form words. A name that starts with a sharp consonant and ends with a trailing vowel sound is easy to pronounce and has a distinctive sound. Examples would be Donka, Hero, or Vera.

Consider not using traditional human names

A good puppy name should be just that, a puppy’s name. By naming your puppy or dog like a person, you might forget that he’s, in fact, a dog. This only increases the tendency to treat our pets like people while forgetting that they see the world very differently than we do.

Don’t use dog names that demean or poke fun at your dog

Dogs are very perceptive and they know when you’re being insincere. You want people to respect your dog as much as you do. A name that’s overly sweet or dopey makes that impossible.

Names for registered puppies

If your puppy is to be listed with one or more dog registries, including the American Kennel Club (AKC) or the United Kennel Club (UKC), he’ll need two names. One is his registered name, which is printed on his registration certificate. The other is his call name, or simply the name you call him by.

Depending on who you adopt your puppy from, the breeder usually chooses the registered name. It includes the name of the kennel and may follow a particular naming system the breeder has for his or her litters. The registered name is sometimes used by breeders to show the heritage of the dog.

Deciding on a good call name for your puppy is up to you. Your breeder may have suggestions or you may want it to relate to the registered name in some way. Otherwise anything is fair game.

If you take your time and you’re considerate of the role a dog can play in your life, you’ll know how to name your new puppy in a way that preserves the nobility and trustworthiness inherent in every dog.


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