Changing Your New Dog’s Name
Changing Your New Dog’s Name
Yay! Today is the day you bring home your newly adopted dog. So exciting. You simply can’t wait to get Puck home! She’s going to LOVE her forever home, and-- Wait…Puck? That’s the name the shelter has given your beautiful dog, but you envisioned having a Chloe. Or Sasha. Or Roxie. So, what to do? Why, rename Puck, of course. But is it that easy? It’ll take a little work, and consistency, but yes, you can—and should—rename your dog when you bring him/her home from the shelter or breeder. There are several good reasons to change your dog’s name; for instance, according to the PEDIGREE Foundation, a dog that’s been abused might associate its old name with the abuse and a new name could give him/her a new…well, leash on life, so to speak. Or, perhaps the previous owners of your adopted shelter dog often yelled at Rufus: “Rufus, no!” if he got into the garbage or got over-excited when visitors dropped by. Poor Rufus might associate his old name with negativity or trouble. So yes, it’s a good idea to give your new furry friend a new name and identity, but how is it done? Let’s find out.
Meet Buster, Formerly Known as Duke
One recommended way to get your pup to respond to his/her new name is to use the new name, then give lots of praise and even a small treat. Do this several times a day. Soon, Rex will understand that the sound of that new name will result in something he likes, like a biscuit or a tummy rub. You could also use the new name when it’s feeding time or time to go for a walk. Again, the dog will soon associate the name with good things. You might also go this route: simply say the dog’s new name, followed immediately by the current name. So, if you want Sasha instead of Puck (and who wouldn’t?), say, “Sasha Puck”. Try this for a week or two, then drop the old name. By this time, the new name should have stuck. You could also use treats with this method, though it might work without them. But what if dogs like their old names, you might wonder? Actually, we tend to anthropomorphize our pets; to be honest, dogs really don’t care either way. Trainer Casey Lomonaco of Rewarding Behaviors says, “Dogs don’t really see their names as defining their identities. Mokie is over six years old now, and if I wanted to change her name tomorrow, I could and she wouldn’t care. A new name, to Mokie, would be just as good as her current name if I taught her that responding to ‘Dolly’ (or whatever) could earn her reinforcement.” Patience. Repetition. Treats. Use this three-headed approach, and in no time at all, Buster-who-used-to-be-Duke will settle in to his forever home and be a great companion for the rest of his days.
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Written by Harrison Howe