How to Change a Dog's Name

Not all dogs come to their homes and families as blank slates. Many times a dog who has been in human hands or in a system comes to its new family with a name of some sort. This is certainly true for shelter dogs. It can also be the case for a dog that comes from a breeder and has a registered pedigree and even for dogs that come from other families. Anytime an animal has interacted with human beings for a prolonged period, it is likely to pick up a name.

So your dog came to you with a name, and you want to change the name because it is not the name that you like. Or maybe the name is already in use in your family group, or you already have a dog with the same or a similar name when you bring little Max home. Can you change your dog name? The answer is an unqualified yes. All it takes is a little patience and some training. Before you know it, they'll be responding to the new name as if they'd never known another one.

Changing a dog's name doesn't have to be a big deal. In most cases, you will find that the process is more meaningful to you than to the dog. This is because, to the dog, the actual name is more of a cue than an identity. Since dogs are so attuned to the cues their human pack leaders give them anyways, they'll be looking for the ones that you are going to put out. The dog will focus more on the subtle cues of tone and posture, than on name anyway. All you will really be doing when you attempt to train your dog to its new name is learning to communicate effectively with each other.

In the first few days with your new dog, name training will be important. It will help you to set the tone of your communication. Call your dog by her new name regularly, sometimes when you specifically want her attention and sometimes just because. When she alerts to it or responds then reward her with praise and treats as appropriate. Be aware that some dogs take to this process easily and others find it confusing and will take more time to respond properly. If you keep at it over time, you will be able to build up a reliable recognition and response to the new name.

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