Can a Dog Learn a New Name?

Naming dogs is a very personal thing to do, especially when it’s a dog you’ve been wanting to adopt since forever. Oftentimes, adopting a dog means having a dog with a name that you do not really like. However, it’s actually easy for your recently adopted dog to learn a different name.

Hence, if you’re asking, “Can a dog learn a new name?” Then yes. a dog, within a few days, can learn a new name.

When is the Perfect Time to Change a Dog’s Name?

Professional dog trainers see no problem in changing your new dog’s name. The majority of dog shelters give dogs a new name once they enter, so if your dog just spent a couple of weeks there, it’s highly probable that they’d never come to learn the name they were given in the shelter.

The same is true with the adoption of a new pet from a breeder. They were usually given names at birth, and unless you purchase a companion dog, a show dog, or a rescue dog, they usually haven’t really had a great deal of experience responding to their names. Changing this to something new on the first day should not trigger any problems.

There may be a few instances, though, where retaining your dog’s original name is possibly sensible. If, after years of being in a safe and loving household, a family gave up their dog, you could perhaps try taking their original name or naming them phonetically close.

If you’re taking or purchasing a companion dog or service dog, they may have had a great deal of experience responding to their name in combination with a range of key cues. If that is so, keeping their original name will keep you moving along without disrupting your training.

The 4Cs of Making a Dog Learn a New Name

dogs can learn a new name

To teach a dog their name successfully, make this process enjoyable and rewarding. With consistent training throughout a two-week period, your dog could already start responding to its new name in approximately two days. Listed below are the 4Cs recommended steps in successfully naming your beloved dog.

Choose a Simpler Name!

You will have to repeat his name many times throughout your dog’s life. Give him a simple, kind name, rather than a complicated or awkward name that could spark questions and bizarre looks. A simple, sharp, two-syllable name, like Cookie, Wiley, or Boomer, is simpler for your dog to understand than a one-syllable name. Preferably, avoid names with more than three syllables.

Consider Their Age

The age where you begin to teach your dog their name can have a huge impact on the success of your training. If you have a puppy that is less than six weeks old, their vision and hearing are limited. Wait until they are twelve weeks old for best results because that’s when vision and hearing are matured. If you have an older dog from a shelter that used to have a different name, try teaching them their new name shortly after you take them home.

Consistent and Rewarding Teaching

To effectively teach your dog their name, take them to a quiet part of the house, free of interruptions. When they look at you, say his name and reward him with a treat. You can use a clicker before you start giving the treat. Do it for five to ten minutes each day. Within days, you’ll be able to call their name and catch their attention as they look at you in excitement for a treat. Keep going in using your dog’s name throughout the day, and always do it in a pleasant situation.

Check Your Progress

Once your dog constantly listens to its name, steadily extend the time before giving a treat. In the end, you want them to concentrate on you for approximately fifteen seconds. Then start moving the training to a busy place with more interruptions, and soon move the training outside. Also, you can gradually reduce the treats and only give them occasionally. Your aim should be to get your dog’s attention by calling its name, no matter what goes on around him.

Additional Tips for Successfully Renaming Your Dog

Renaming your dog

Although you can train your dog to respond to a new name, the process is not very easy as many factors are at play. As such, below are more tips to be successful in achieving your renaming goal.

Take as much time as you need.

You don’t need a new name ready as soon as you reach the threshold with your rescue dog. It’s all right to hang out for several days and get to know her, explore your dog’s character, uncover its unique features, study the identifying marks on its fur to see if a distinctive characteristic emerges—they may be affectionate, playful, agile—something which might influence what you’d like to call them.

Until then, a cordial “Here, girl!” will work nicely, accompanied by praise and treats; and that is how you begin to bond with them. They are just getting to know you, and they’re going to respond to your cheerful voice and body language for the time being.

Be generous in rewarding her response to her new name with treats and affection.

During the first few days of using your dog’s new name, place the goodies in your pocket. Whenever you want her attention, call out their new name. After which, instantly crack a smile, praise her generously, and give her treats; you should do this even when they’re not receptive. They will soon learn the new word means that goodies are coming and they will start to recognize this every time she hears it.

Combine the old and new dog names for familiarity. 

If her old name has been her name for a long time, combine it with their new name and call them both for some time. For example, if Sammie is to be Maddie, call them SammieMaddie until they notice it, and then drop her Sammie.

Make sure your dog’s name is associated with good things only.

You can do whatever you can to reinforce this. Give them treats every time you say their new name in the beginning. Avoid calling out their name and scolding them afterward, you will only give them a negative association with the name.

Avoid naming your dog with anything that sounds a lot like “No.”

Do not use names that sound like anything else you say to correct unwanted behavior. They may mistake this as scolding and discourage them from performing your command. Examples of these names include Mo, Bo, and JoJo.

When Is Renaming Your Dog Recommended?

renaming your dog recommended times

While there are others who want to rename dogs soon after, there are those that are fine with old names. However, there are instances when renaming is actually needed, even if the pet owner doesn’t strongly want it. Below are situations where renaming your dog is recommended:

If Your Dog Comes From a Shelter

If they come from a shelter, renaming your dog is advised. They were probably given a name in the shelter before coming to you. However, you should find out if they were given a name by the shelter to make her more appealing or to sell them faster to an adoptive family. In this situation, they are probably not used to their new name, if they even know it at all, and changing it will have little effect on them

If Your Dog Das Surrendered by Its Owner

In these cases, their name may be known to her, and retaining this can be a source of security and stability as they start to settle in. You can always change their name if you feel that perhaps the moment is right, even after a full year or so. Whether or not you should rename your adopted dog is entirely up to you. If you like to keep their name, keep it by all means.

If Your New Dog Was Rescued From an Abusive Home

Changing your rescue dog’s name is an act of kindness; they may keep associating their old name with mistreatment. Your dog needs a fresh start and providing her a new name can definitely help her make a good heads up.

When Your Dog Becomes Overly Familiar With Its Name and Starts to Ignore It

It’s about time for a new one. The primary reason for naming her in the first place is security: your dog’s name is the perfect tool you’ve got to get her attention, which also makes her more willing to perform the command. If over the years, you have relentlessly repeated their name when you want your dog to come, but they insistently continue doing whatever they want instead, it’s time for a different name, coupled with reward-based training.

Potential Problems in Renaming Your Dog

As noted, there are not too many drawbacks to changing the name of your dog as long as you’ve got a considerate, planned approach to the change. Apart from notifying family and friends, revamping your dog’s dog tags, or customized items like collars and crates, this should be a nice, easy process.

It’s never too late to rename your dog, however, the time taken for your dog to get used to it differs from a few training sessions to several weeks, based on the dog; the process will be quicker if you stop using the name idly or associate that with anything negative. However, dogs do not really process identity the same way as humans—your dog will learn its new name sooner or later. 

Frequent name changes could be confusing, many people regularly call their dogs by different pet names, and the dog kind of “gets” and reacts to each of them. Importantly, use your pet’s new name with love and consistency, and they will eventually accept it as her own.