How to Change Your New Dog’s Name

Dog sitting on couch-with tongue out

What’s in a name? For a new dog parent like yourself, it can be a symbol of your dog’s new identity and new life with you. Although most dogs already have names given to them by adoption organizations or previous owners, many adopters choose to re-name their new dogs as a way of making them part of the family. Can you change a dog's name? If you decide to re-name them, here are a few tips on how to change a dog's name and make that process as smooth as possible.

  • Choose a name quickly. Your dog may be confused if you call them by their old name, and then one day start calling them something different once you’ve decided on a new name. If you have trouble choosing a name, try searching for dog names online, in baby books, or think about places or people that are important to you – your favorite sports player or literary character, the name of the street where you grew up, and so on.
  • Commit to a name. Once you give them a new name, stick with it. Changing a dog name multiple times because you changed your mind can cause confusion and hinder their training.
  • For the first few days, carry a pocketful of treats.  Every once in a while, and also specifically when you do want your dog’s attention, call out their new name and then immediately smile, praise heartily, and feed a treat.
  • Use their name often, so they grow accustomed to it. If your dog was used to its original name, you can say both names together to create an association. For example, Frankie becomes Frankie Teddy becomes Teddy. Always say their name and look in their direction when giving them a command. Repeat their name when giving praise and affection. This helps them make positive associations with hearing their name.

Dogs typically get used to their new names very quickly. But don’t worry if it takes your dog a little longer. All dogs are different, and yours will catch on before you know it!