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Things you should consider when naming a dog

Our North Shore veterinary hospital has seen all kinds of puppy and dog moments in our decades of operation.

That first puppy smell is tickling the nose of a new owner bringing forward the beginning of a loving bond. Big plans for puppy school and training to support a new life full of adventure together. Appointments with our North Shore veterinary hospital to plan and maintain a healthy start to life. Excited pups and pup parents choosing from all manner of pet toys for education, enrichment and play. As well as the vital food that puppy loves so much.

As proud pet owners and as people that see other pets at our North Shore veterinary hospital all the time, we know the fun and the fudging that can come with naming a dog, too. That’s why we’re here to help.

Here’s some of the considerations when naming a dog courtesy of the staff at our North Shore veterinary hospital, Fox Valley Wahroonga 

Saying it out loud

Photo of a new puppy for a north shore veterinary hospital blog on new puppy naming

Photo by Berkay Gumustekin via Unsplash

You may have fallen in love with a beautiful dog name from your favourite book. However, the printed word and how Fido’s new name may translate can be two different things.

We often find that naming a dog from mythology, after sci-fi and folk lore characters or across cultures may lead to mispronunciation. For a puppy, a consistent, easy to recognise name needs to carry them throughout their life. It can impact their training, hinder the ability to recall your dog and simply end up with confusion.

Attempting to match how the dog’s name is meant to be said and spelling it phonetically can help. That way, when your dog is at the vets, in boarding, being training, with relatives, there is no room for error with your dog’s name. And no confusion on the dog’s part!

Getting the name out quickly

Cinnamon may sound like a lovely name for a horse. How it works with a dog is another thing entirely. Puppies are rascals for the first 2 years. Some puppies can be rascals all their lives. Calling your dog and getting them to come back to you effectively and quickly is of great importance.

A dog can become easily overwhelmed or excitable out and about. Or with new faces. Or around other dogs. Being able to get your puppy’s attention and call them back may save them from running across the road, being injured or following other dogs when you don’t want it to.

Having a recall signal that is effective accompanied with a name works. Hand signals are often better for dog training as dogs are body language readers from way back. However, if your dog is distracted or has it’s back turned to you, they won’t be looking at you. Calling out a name that is distinct with a brisk “come” attached can save your dog from being lost, injured or stolen.

Keep it short and sweet so the recall is stronger.

Nicknames invariably occur

You may choose an amazing name for your puppy. That won’t stop their cuteness factor overwhelming everyone. Australians love nicknames and we see them in action at our North Shore veterinary clinic all the time. Saying goodbye to the lil’ Pudding at de-sexing time doesn’t mean we have a dog called Pudding on our hands.

Dogs will respond more to the sound of the joy and fun in your voice than their nickname. Too many names can also confuse a dog.

Naming your dog with nicknames in mind can help. Australians use them anyway so you may as well be prepared. A George to a Georgie or a Jaw-Jaw still gives a George the indication they are wanted. Calling him Dr Smooth after his coat or his antics at the dog park is not.

Sounding like someone else in the family

This is the fun one- when naming your dog accidentally confuses a pet and a human in the same house. Dora and Flora living in the same house might sound cute at the beginning, but when people are calling out names, it gets pretty confusing.

Think about how the name sounds when it’s being called out at home through walls and over the dishwasher to ensure you don’t create problems.

The longevity of pop culture references

Our North Shore veterinary hospital has met a lot of Frank the Pug after Men in Black. We’ve also met a lot of Marley the Labrador Retriever when Marley and Me was a hit. A few Hooches used to sneak through in the bigger, boxer style breeds from the Tom Hanks classic.

We fall in love with the characters of film and TV and they lead us to pay homage.

Not only in the dog character world, either.

But it’s about remembering that names can sometimes mean different pop culture things to different people. For example, naming a dog Gibson as a guitar enthusiast will get other musicians asking, “do you play?” Less musical people may ask why on earth you’d name a dog after Mel Gibson or it may trigger Thunderdome references that take a while to cotton onto.

Remember that signalling to other fans with a pet’s name is perfectly fine. As long as you are OK to explain some of the choices for people who do not share the same interests.

Renaming a rescue dog

A final point with naming a dog is that of renaming a rescue dog. Part of the process will be training them that their new name means them. Even if the dog is older, it may mean going back to basics and starting with name recall training.

A fresh name can offer a fresh start. It can be about moving away from bad associations and giving your dog on a new lease of life.

However, some rescue dogs like their name and the recall is fairly embedded. You may need to pick and choose your battles when it comes to training. Especially as it can have a direct influence on the confidence of the rescue dog at hand.

Naming a dog is fun

Want help naming a dog or puppy? At our North Shore veterinary hospital, we often believe the name will be shown by how your puppy interacts with it. Their emotional state, how they play, what they like and how they behave may be clues. The way they look or move may also influence your decision.

It’s OK to work with your puppy to uncover the name they will take into their future. It helps to start training early but you shouldn’t be scared to take the time to get to know your new four-legged friend.

If all else fails, Fox Valley Animal Hospital can help with the getting to know you process. We offer puppy classes as well as all the medical, feeding, grooming and play time equipment your puppy needs.

Come say hi and let us help you and your pup get acquainted. We’re here to help!

About the Author
Owner and Vet Alex Brittan, Vet Katie Syms and the team of Fox Valley Animal Hospital pride themselves on quality service. Fox Valley Animal Hospital is the one you choose for your family pet when the care your animal receives really matters.