Picture this: you’re at the park, leash spilling out of your back pocket, and you’ve just thrown a ball clear across the field. You see your dog sprint after it, scoop it up in their mouth, and start heading back your way. For the 987th time in your life, you holler their name: “Good job, ____________!”
Did you opt for a traditional dog name? Did you land on something a bit more unique, or modern? Does the name have a connection for you – is it an homage to your favorite movie (we’re looking at you – owner of the adorable pair of pups named Luke and Leia)?
Naming our dogs has become quite an art – and people are putting lots of thought into naming their furbabies. It used to be that Fido, Rover, and Spot reigned as man’s best friend, but these days you’ll be more likely to meet a Tullulah, Bowie, Brooklyn, or Mr. Pickles. Hanging out with the YaDoggie #DogSquad? Cookie, Hobbs, Coco, Bella, Riley, Lily, Chewie, Fritz, and many others run in the pack of pooches and chow down on YaDoggie dog food. Pudge, for one, loves the duck recipe.
But what’s in a dog’s name, anyway? Jan Hoffman, of The New York Times, asked this question on her quest to name her family’s new puppy. After reading up on the most unique names ever, and asking a lot of dog enthusiasts, owners, and trainers for their input, Ms. Hoffman realized that the first rule of Dog Club is there are no rules. You can literally name your dog whatever you want. Yes, even Nacho… if you want to – we won’t judge. (Hey, we love dogs and nachos so it works for us.)
Still, there are a few tips that could help you select a well-matched moniker; if you’re bringing home a new best friend, check out these five best practices to perfectly name your pup.
#1 – Pick a Name You Really (and We Mean Really) Like
This one seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to pick a name you end up loathing. These days many dogs are named by any and all members of the family, and if you leave the decision up to a toddler, you might get some interesting results; we know a dog named Banana because of this very reason. While it may have been funny the first 100 times to yell “BANANA!” at the dog park, we’ve been told the novelty wore off. Maybe you want to name your dog after a character or celebrity – again, we’re not here to judge or stop you, but ask yourself if you’ll get tired of it. Bruce? Elvis? Madonna (or Madogna)? Think about this one, because you’ll be saying it all. The. Time. You gotta love it, or at least have a high tolerance to it.
#2 – Shorter Names FTW
Unless you enjoy a flair for the dramatic, a short name seems to be the most well-received among the canine crew, and their dog owners. Sure it’s fun to knight your pup Sir Reginald Pumpernickel III, but try saying it multiple times in a row. Yup. Maybe this is why so many dogs were called Spot? A short name is indeed easy to say repeatedly (and you will be repeating it), and it’s easy for the dog to recognize. If you really love a long and elaborate name, by all means, go for it! Have fun introducing Lady Lillie McGuinness to your friends – just consider adopting a nickname for more frequent use. Lady, Lillie, or Mac could work here.
#3 – Steer Clear of Family Rhymes
If you share your home with other animals, friends, and family, keep their names in mind when you are naming your dog. It’s wise not to pick a name that sounds like or rhymes with that of anyone else who shares your space. Sure, there’s slapstick gold awaiting with a tribe of hounds named Harry, Larry, Barry, and Carrie, but the similar sounding calls might cause confusion – and collisions – when they all gather at once. This goes for the people in your life, too; if your young daughter’s name is Jenny, you might not want to name your pup Benny… unless you want to holler for one and have both of them come running.
#4 – Say NO to Names That Sound Like Commands
We know dogs hear what we say, but they don’t listen for context or nuance. If you name your dog Wade, he might hear “wait.” Your pup, Kit, might sit. Your best bud, Neal, may heel. While having responsive pups isn’t a bad thing, you probably don’t want them to be constantly in command-mode, so consider choosing a name that’s just for them, and doesn’t sound like an order.
#5 – Keep An Open Mind
Your dog may have an opinion, too! We’ve heard stories where a pup responded to one name but not another. This can happen – sometimes you choose the name, and sometimes the name chooses the dog. We think it’s best to be flexible, here, and follow the dog’s lead – as having a dog that responds to you beats having the most epic dog name ever. At the end of the day, the name that works for both you and your dog, is the name that works.
Do you have a story behind your dog’s name? We’d love to know about it! Tell us how you picked the perfect name for your pup in the comments below.