How to Rename Your Dog After Adoption

How to Rename Your Dog After Adoption

Sometimes when you adopt a new dog, that dog may come with a name you don't particularly like. You may get your dog home and realize he doesn't fit the name he had or their name isn't something you like. Their name may have been given to them after an owner surrender and maybe your dog doesn't respond well to it. In most cases, you will decide to change your dog's name from the previous owner's name. And, although it may seem difficult to rename a dog, it's actually quite easy.

Can you change a dog's name?

It's true, you can change a dog's name, no matter how old they may be. Even if you adopt an older dog, they will eventually learn their new name. Dogs are adaptable and after a few days of being told their new name they will catch on. Most dogs may not even notice the change, particularly since humans have several nicknames for their dogs, and oftentimes dogs respond to all their names.

With the adoption of a new puppy from a breeder, the same is true. They were probably given a shelter name at birth but, unless you are buying a working dog, show dog, or service dog, they probably haven’t had a lot of experience responding to their name. Changing it to something new on day one shouldn’t cause any real issues. Dogs don't have the concept of identity like we do. In some cases, a name change can be good for pets, particularly if they came from an abusive home.

Do you need to pick a similar name?

New pet owners may think they need to change their dog's name to something similar, or something with the same sound but in fact, you can select any name you'd like. Consistent use of a new name during training sessions helps them adjust to a new and different life. Consistently using their new name and saying their new name in a happy tone will help your dog learn and adapt quickly. Acknowledge when your dog responds to their new name and reward them for doing so.

At what age is it too late to rename a dog?

There is no age that's too late to rename a dog. Even though it may seem easier to change a dog's name early in its life, you can change its name at any time. Honestly, dogs don't really care what you call them, as long as they are treated well and know they belong to you. Give her a nickname or completely change her name, your new pup will adapt just fine.

How to teach your new dog their new name

Your dog's new name should only mean good things to him. There are many ways to teach your pup his new name but the easiest is just to say your dog's new name repetitively and in happy tones and they'll eventually adapt.

Introducing Their New Name

Let's say you pick up a shelter dog or select your dog from pet adoption, and you get him home and want to change his name; once you decide on a new name for him, it's time to start introducing their name. For the first few days you’re using your dog’s new name, carry treats in your pocket. When you want her attention, call out her new name. Praise her for understanding her new name by giving positive reinforcement. Usually, within a few weeks, your pup will completely understand their new name and forget their old name even existed.

The Name Game

If your new companion still doesn't adapt or reply to its new name you can try the "name-change method".

  1. Say your dog’s original name and when they reply say "yes!" and reward them. Try this at least 5 times.
  2. Then begin introducing their new name by saying the new name and follow it with their old name, pausing briefly in between names. Reward your dog when they look at you. Repeat this step a few times.
  3. And then, say only your dog’s new name and reward them when they look at you. Repeat this over and over until they catch on.

Avoid Punishing With Their Name

Your pup should understand that their new name is linked to positivity, which is why it's important to focus on praise with their new name before ever using punishment. Avoid yelling at them with their new name. Some suggest giving your dog a nickname that's linked to negativity. If your good boy starts to develop bad behaviors that you need to correct, use an alternative nickname or give them a middle name. So they know which name is linked to their negative actions.

Reward with Treats

Just like potty training, use treats to help your pup learn their new name. Get family members on board with using their new name. When your pup responds, use treats over and over. After the first few days your new friend will catch on and you can stop using treats and move on to just praising them.

Tips to help your rescue dog learn their new name

If you don't like your dog’s previous name and you're working to change it, here are some tips that should help:

  1. Decide on a new name right away and stick with that name.
  2. Carry treats with you at all times.
  3. Immediately smile and praise him with treats when he replies to his new name.
  4. Don't scold your pup while using their new name.
  5. Be consistent. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

How long does it take for a dog to learn their new name?

Every doggy is different but to successfully teach your dog his name make the learning process pleasant and rewarding. With consistent training over a two-week period, your pup can start responding to his name within as little as two days. Regardless of the name you give your new pup, he will learn to respond to it and eventually will forget he ever had another name.

Amanda Guagliardo

Amanda is a Minnesota native who has a background in journalism and marketing. She enjoys playing softball, ice fishing, checking out local breweries, camping and cheering on the Vikings. Amanda resides at home with her husband, son and her spunky English Bulldog.

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