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Fido or Falula? Ten tips to help you choose the perfect pet name


adoptable pit bull photo

Nepal – Charlie is waiting for her forever family to find her at Leftover Pets, Inc. in Braselton, GA.

Guest blogger Maria founded the Web site to help people find the perfect names for their pets. Together with her husband and two naughty felines, she spends her days scouring print, web and other sources for the best pet names on the planet. Today she shares some helpful pet-naming tips with us.

When I was 6 years old, my parents gave me the honor of naming our new calico kitten. Since I had already helped name several of our other pets, they were clearly under the impression that I understood the basics of selecting an appropriate moniker. Sadly, they were very wrong.

In my defense, I did complete most of my due diligence: I studied the
kitten’s appearance; I assessed her personality; I took special note of
her quirks. Then, my little brain summed it all up and arrived at the
“perfect” name — Chocolate Fart Bum.

To my dismay, Chocolate Fart Bum’s name was not well received. My mother
quickly changed it to Chocky on the kitten’s first visit to the vet,
which is why “don’t choose a name you’ll be embarrassed to call out in
public” is included in the following pet-naming tips:

  1. Make sure you know your pet’s gender. This may
    sound like a very obvious tip, but I’ve known many pet parents who, a
    few weeks, months or even years down the line, have suddenly realized
    that their Jack is actually a Jill!
  2. Keep it simple. One- or two-syllable names are
    easiest to call out and for your pet to understand. Also, names with
    hard consonants and vowels like Max, Spot and Kiki have sharp sounds
    that can help get a pet’s attention.
  3. Avoid names that sound like
    For example, the name Fletch sounds very much like Fetch,
    which may confuse your pet (of course, this tip is only relevant to pets
    who will actually obey you, such as dogs).
  4. Don’t choose a name you will be embarrassed to call out in
    ‘Nuff said.
  5. Let your imagination run wild. Pet names can be
    witty, famous, regal, related to your hobbies … whatever it is that
    appeals to you. A friend of mine is a golf fanatic so his wife named
    their cats Putter and Birdie.
  6. Let your pet’s appearance inspire you. When
    you first get a new pet, it may take you a while to get to know his
    true personality, and as he grows, his behavior may change. Your pet’s
    appearance, on the other hand, is much more likely to stay constant.
    Examples of naming pets according to their appearance include Noodle for
    a Dachshund and Oreo for a black-and-white cat.
  7. Use your pet’s breed for inspiration. For example,
    choose a French name for your Bichon Frise or a Thai name for your
    Siamese cat.
  8. Consult pet-naming books and websites for ideas.
    These resources will provide you with hundreds if not thousands of
    options ranging from the most popular pet names to the more exotic.
  9. Let your pet guide you. Create a shortlist of
    names that you like and then try calling them out to your pet. His
    response just might help you pick the perfect one!
  10. Be respectful – don’t pick names that insult or
    demean your pet.

If you use these tips to help you choose the perfect pet name, chances
are you won’t go wrong. (They’ve certainly helped keep me from any
further pitfalls!) As for Chocky, I’m happy to report that she lived a
very long and happy life, unaffected by the misfortune of her original

Special Note: Many new pet parents who have adopted an adult pet wonder
if it’s okay to change their new pet’s name. Rest assured, it is. Since
your new pet has a new parent and is in a new environment, it shouldn’t
be too hard for him to learn a new name. If your pet does seem confused
at first, you might want to try combining the old name with the new one
for a while and then drop the old name once the new one is familiar.

Tell us: how did you pick your pet’s name? Next week we’ll choose our favorite to receive a free Petfinder button!

You might also like:

Article: Changing the Name of Your New Dog

Blog: 2009’s most popular (and most unusual) pet names!

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