Expert Tips to Picking The Perfect Name for a Puppy

How do you choose your puppy’s name?  Do you just hope that one will spring to mind when you look into their eyes?  Or is there a tried and tested approach to finding the right one?

John Woods · June 11, 2019

Expert Tips to Picking The Perfect Name for a Puppy

How do you choose your puppy’s name?  Do you just hope that one will spring to mind when you look into their eyes?  Or is there a tried and tested approach to finding the right one?

You’ll be thankful to know there is a slight science to choosing a puppy name.  It comes down to sound, structure and popularity.

First of all, we need to consider the purpose of a name.  According to My Pets Name, a dog’s name serves to identify them.  It’s how we check them in to the Veterinarians, the Groomers, Day-care and anywhere else we may need to take them.  For that reason, one of the most important things to consider is whether you are comfortable checking your dog in with your chosen name.  Equally, are you happy calling the name around your neighbourhood and dog park?  

Their name also serves as a cue or marker.  When you are training your dog, the purpose is to encourage him to make the best choice at that time.  To help him, he needs to pay attention to you.  You will use his name to get his attention, you will then ask him to make a choice, when he has performed the wanted behaviour, you reinforce it through reward (praise, toy, food etc).  For that reason, short names are most effective.  You can get his attention quickly, succinctly and move forward with your request.  

When we say a short name, we are limiting it to one or two syllables.  This also makes it easier to intonate.  By this we mean change the pitch for the purposes of the task.  This is particularly relevant in puppy training.  Puppies can spend a significant amount of their time alert and ready for action (when they’re not sleeping), precisely because they have a lot to learn about their new world.  When they are exposed to a high level of sensory stimulation, you need to find a way through that to get their attention.  In short, you need to be more stimulating.  

By having a short, snappy name, you can raise your pitch and help them make the right decision.  The perfect example is training recall.  Your puppy is much more likely to come to you if you sound happy, excited and have a hand full of treats!

Equally, if you are training low-arousal commands like sit, you can alter the pitch, but keep your approach calm.  Try it.    

https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/3/2/300/pdf

This does explain why there are endless lists of popular puppy names.  The most popular boy names listed in 2018 were Charlie, Max, Buddy, Oscar, Milo, Archie, Ollie, Toby, Jack and Teddy. For girls; Bella, Molly, Coco, Ruby, Lucy, Bailey, Daisy, Rosie, Lola and Frankie.   As you can see, they are all limited to one or two syllables and you can easily intonate to get your dog’s attention.  The issue is when you choose a popular name; you’re trying to get your Bella to leave the dog park when eight other Bellas appear next to you because they thought you were calling them too!

On the plus side, you’ll notice that the most popular names don’t sound in any way similar to the common commands you’ll be teaching your dog.  There’s no Ray getting confused when you’re asking him to “stay!” or Kit wondering if you want her attention or for her to “Sit!”

Choosing a name for your puppy isn’t as easy as first thought, but by giving some consideration to these points, you’ll make yours and your puppy’s life much easier.  You’re one step closer in setting him up to succeed.  

Raw Food Tip:

By feeding puppies a raw food diet, like the BARF Diet®, you tend to slow down growth spurts in your pet and instead allow the muscle and bone development to happen at a slower, more defined pace. This minimizes the risk of developmental issues in the dog.

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John Woods

John Woods

John Woods is the founder of All Things Dogs, member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, graduate in Animal Behavior & Welfare and recognized author by the Dog Writers Association of America.

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What is BARF?

"BARF®" is our acronym that means Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. It is a complete and carefully balanced blend of raw meat, fruits, vegetables and bone. Our formula mimics what nature has designed our pet's to thrive on in the wild. The result is a pet free of allergies, digestive problems, and full of life!

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