Our dog’s name says a lot about our dog and a lot about us. There are many considerations to naming, and many ways to go about choosing a name.
In the episode you'll hear:
- Ideas for picking a name for your puppy or dog.
- What to consider that might not be immediately obvious.
- What to avoid when choosing a name.
- About the energy attached to your dog’s name.
- If you should change the name of a rescue dog.
- How I choose names for my dogs.
Susan, Recaller Alum here about to add a puppy to my household. Thank you for this resource to remind me “how to”! It has been 7 years since my last puppy and do not want to forget anything that needs to happen for an excellent start.
Also, I love the intangible “wooo” things you add….. life sometimes can not be linear, charted or planned out! Sometimes the universe must be trusted and embraced!!
I’ve told you this before… The training I received 60 years ago was sadly lacking. I have searched for a better way and your process has provided me with that “better way”. It was a feeling of “at last!” when we played Crate Games (my first game). Thank you for changing the way we live with our dogs and really each other. ❤️
I am with you on the Woo and changing shelter or 2nd hand dog’s names.
Naming my last dog I wasn’t sure what to name her, so I made a short list and while puttsing in the kitchen I would call out the different names on the list intermittently when the dog wasn’t looking at me. When I called the name that she turned and looked at me I knew that was the name for her.
I searched for 6 or 8 months for a rescue, and during that time, I wondered what I would name them. I had gotten a bonded pair of cats a few years earlier. One dog was named Ripley and definitely is a Ripley . But I changed the name of the other cat to Taj (he was previously named Simon). I gave a lot of thought to naming my future dog. When I went to the shelter they wanted me to look at another dog first before seeing the dog I went to see. I saw him but I still wanted to see this dog. He was previously owned for 2 years and turned him in. A second family took him for 2 weeks and returned him. This dog’s name is Tater!! Tater was exuberant when we met him and have never looked back (except for looking back to wonder what we saw in him that nobody else did. He is personality plus, loves everyone. I could not bring myself to change his name. He knows it so well. I think that the first owner loved him but had to turn him in. He is the happiest dog I have ever seen. And now that 6 months have passed, even the cats have started to warm up to him. We call him Tater, Tates, Tater Cakes, and Tater Baby. I agree with Susan’s idea of changing names, but I think Tater and his name is a keeper.
When we got our rescue dog, his name was Harley. Not only did Harley ignore his name, he also cringed a little bit when you called him. It was sad.
So, we decided to name him something sweet and give him the experience of being introduced in a way that everyone that met him would just love him.
We named him Smooch
My last puppy had a lot of fear issues when I got her and having lived with an incredibly fearful /reactive dog before I wasn’t sure if she was the right fit for me and all the things I wanted us to do together. For over a week she had no name because I wasn’t sure if I should keep her, when my friend, trainer, mentor told me to just believe in her and give her a name for goodness sake. She became “Believe” that day and while she still has some weird fears she LOVES agility and we have so much fun playing together.
I was so thrilled to stumble upon your podcast and binge-listened my way through all the episodes. Thank you for talking about cultural appropriation and naming- I love the way you explained it. Thank you for making me laugh and feel inspired with every episode!
I shortlisted names when I was on a breeder’s waiting list, before the puppies were conceived. Papillons have small litters so I didn’t know if there would be enough pups for me to have one even when the pregnancy was confirmed. I had a ton of names I liked but kept coming back to River even though my partner liked Pablo once we found out there was a boy puppy for us, he thought River sounded like a girl’s name while I think it’s gender neutral.
River’s litter’s theme was the letter H and his first name was Hunter. Thinking about it now, that sounds a bit too much like MUST CHASE SQUIRREL so I’m glad we didn’t go with that!
I didn’t get to pick him, the breeder wasn’t sure which of the two dog pups to keep for herself at first but eventually decided on brother Hugo while her friend took the bitch Hazel. But he was my River from the second his breeder made her choice, and I absolutely got the dog that was right for me in the end.
I am waiting for a Papillon pup from a breeder I trust. He hasn’t even been conceived yet, I may wait another year or more before he comes along. But I know his name, and, though my breeder knows well what I am looking for, I feel that knowing his name will help her select the right dog for me. His name will be Radar.
This was really helpful. I believe in the power of names for dogs as well. The constant reinforcement of the name, especially in the first two weeks will be helpful when our St. Poodle puppy comes in 3 wks. His name is Gustavo aka Gus.
My dog was called “Charlie”, when I got him with 1 yr. of age. It didn’t mean a thing to him . I called him “Tai” with a singing voice and he was listening to it immediately.
And YES Susan, I love all your episodes and I learn a lot by watching your blogs. Tai is now into dogdance and agility with great enthusiasm! Thank you!
My first dog was Shadow, because she followed me like a little shadow, and then later while on walks, she would go from shadow to shadow (we lived in the desert). My next dog took a while to find his name. I was wavering between Taz and Houdini (because he kept escaping the yard, finding a new way each time). He ended up with Deuces Wild because he was my second dog and a very active Australian Cattle Dog. Thus, our name plan started. My next dog came with the foster name of Mika, which I kept as her call name, but her full name became Mischief’s Queen. People started asking if I had a gambling problem. I would reply that our “kennel name” was Gamblin’ On Love. The cat is Top Ace, my next dogs over the years are Diamond Dancer, then Lady Luck. I’m not sure what I’m going to call my next dog but it won’t be Trip or Trey for third because I want to do agility, and the other sounds too much like stay–see, I was listening!I did rename all my dogs except Mika because that was the name she came with from the happy foster, and I thought she might have been used to it from her previous life, which I gathered was not unhappy. 2 were pups, and I was DD’s 3rd owner, so I figured she needed a new start…
Hi Susan-This is a bit Johnnie-come-lately, but I have a question about Decaf–not about his wonderful name. You mentioned that it took you several years to develop Drive in him (as opposed to the buzzy Buzz). If you see this, would you explain more about that? Sometimes I wonder if I will ever see the enthusiastic drive in my dog, or if it just might take more time to develop it. I do back flips sometimes to kindle more fire in her; she is fine with learning and training, but she seems to lack some emotion in terms of drive. She is, however, a tugging fiend fortunately.
Thank you. An insightful podcast, this naming one was, and worth keeping in mind the next time there is a changing of the guard in our house. At times, we kid about “Naughty Maudie,” but I wish I could change her name now (4+ yrs) to something similar but less glum sounding and more like smiling, like Johnnie or Juannie. (Gender be damned, really.)
As a rule, I object to one-syllable names for my dogs for practical purposes. Most of your suggestions were interesting,
Your comments on “chief” appear to be virtue signaling. Chief has more than the one meaning that concerned you. We have fire chiefs, police chiefs, chief stewards, chief of staff, chief of the Air Force. One of my sons is a chief master sergeant in the Navy. I know you meant well, but consider skipping the pc.
I prenamed my last puppy “Pearl” because I learn so much from training puppies…. I had a mentor once who, as an elder Southern gentleman, when he was going to teach me something really great, he would say “Lemme give you this little pearl.” She has lived up to her name, being my first Recallers dog! Thank you Susan!
I have Puck. I was going to name the dog I had before him Puck, but his breeder said no–what would the neighbours think when I was calling him? So the name got saved for the current dog. It was a good name both for the naughty sprite in Midsummer Night’s Dream and for hockey. Well the name did have meaning. Puck is quite naughty. Won’t do that again.
Next dog is Percy. In Shakespeare’s Henry !V, the king asks ne’er -do-well Hal, why can’t you be like Percy? And the King lists a whole bunch of good characteristics that Harry Percy has. And Percy the dog is a very good boy.
Interesting podcast! I have my next puppy name picked too❤️.
Great podcast! I always have loved your dogs’ names AND their nicknames. When you are selecting your dog’s name, do you also select their nickname at the same time? Do you use their name at certain times and their nickname in other circumstances, or do you use the name & nickname interchangeably? Is having an abundance of nicknames more difficult in a multi-dog household, since you have so many names to remember? Thanks for the great podcasts!
I am so glad you make mention that the naming a dog seems to have self.fulfilling prophesies . A friend was describing her neighbour’s dog has being a mean spirited , evil dog. The dog’s name is Ninja. My comment was that, first, he should be renamed. The point being that the owner cannot handle the dog, but the dog-sitter can. Seems to me that maybe the dog-sitter should become the owner.
Thank you Susan,
I’m so glad I listened to this episode, I almost didn’t because I already have a name picked out. I love the idea of letting the puppy reveal herself to you. Also thank you for talking about cultural appropriation, such an important reminder.
Long ago my yoga teacher put the idea in my head that we have connotations towards words. I might not remember the examples she used (One that did stick was something about the word “left” having negative associations like being left behind). I am a big fan and always wondered about your release word, Break. I find it to have a negative connotation. I don’t want my dog to break! Silliness, I know, but it seemed appropriate to share it with you after listening to this episode of your podcast. FYI, my release word is Free!
Loved the podcast – especially the part about changing a rescue dog’s name. When I adopted my girl, Pip, I kept the name that she was given by the shelter because I liked it. She had been found abandoned so her previous name was unknown. I guess we lucked out. Thanks again for the great podcast
I do the same and thank you for allowing me to feel better about that. I have a name, before the pup arrives, that embodies who I want him/her to grow up to be like. Then see which pup is the one. Last pup was Picket, hero of children’s series ‘The Green Ember’.
Thank you! Great idea to write it down with all your cues. Learned that the hard way with our dog Ty,. He would always struggle with the tire. In watching video, I realized that he was turning to look at me when I said tire – WAY to close to Ty. I changed the cue for the tire to ring and the problem was solved. Will put lots of thought into the next one 🤔
so very true my boy Dash lives up to his name every day, i am thinking of a name for our next boy , i will keep thinking thank you again
i was going to get a red tri dog, and name it copper, but circumstances left me with a black bi-color puppy. so with much consideration, i decided to go to the next step, and name him cooper, for several reasons. it was close to the original copper name. my grandmother’s maiden name was cooper, so it’s a family name. we raise and race racing pigeons, so have coops in our back yard. and pigeons coo. just fell into place.
FROLIC. Chose her name before I ever picked the breed. (Portuguese Podengo Pequeno ) After losing my last dog to cancer, (Entle) and vowing no more purebred dogs I wanted a fun happy name. Frolic fits beautifully. She has fun, works so happily and attentively to me. She may not be the fastest, but she brings Smiles to our relationship
Though shalt not use your dogs name in vane (vain). I have Puck and Fancy, Names from Shakespeare ‘s Midsomers night dream. Foot loose and Fancy Free. I had waited a long time for my Fancy but Puck came along first. Puck is the Greek God of Folly and I have gotten some weird looks when I shout out Puck. Just change the first letter.
Susan I love your pod casts.
When I got my cockapoo he was by the breeder the colour was Red, as I was Ginger I look for names with that in mind. As I found a Irish name Flynn which meant a son of a Red head, my pup was a boy so that’s how he got his name.
I’ve just come across your podcast and can’t stop listening! Ive listened to 3 so far tonight and can’t wait to gobble up more!
I have a rescue Balgium Malinois whose name was Kay. Such a short explosive name and I couldn’t wait to change it because I wanted her calmer and thoughtful. She definitely didnt listen to her old name, but after listening to the above podcast Im thinking of changing her present name of Vanya to something else…I think I poisoned the name myself through incorrect training and always saying it when I was frustrated or angry. I’m working with a behaviourist who is teaching me to get her thinking and asking permission and I can’t tell you the difference in our relationship! In the past I was literally in crisis management mode and now we actually have the beginning of a bond. I definitely think a name change is in order, a new name for a new season in both of our lives 💗
Thank you, Susan, for another wonderful episode! So many great suggestions – facts that all dog namers should already be aware of, but i hadn’t thought of them. For example, in a rescue dog, the former name will bring on cues, which can be very negative or very positive, depending on the dogs history. Or, another example. I am getting an 8 week young puppy in a couple of weeks. I plan to train her for Agility competition. The suggestion to have a list of cues, to make sure her name does not resemble anything I might say during training or competition was helpful. (And although I don’t plan to use “No” in her shaping, I don’t have any plans to name her “Nome”)
(Since she is an ACD, I’m going to name her “Amy”, short for Alpha Mimosa, after the two brightest star on the Aussie flag.)
Names are so fun. Especially when other people pronounce them. My last Basenji was Ramses. I should have spelled it Ramzeez, because the vet clinic staff all called him Ramsiss. My Brigitta gets called Brijeta or Brijitta, so I wonder if I should change the spelling to Brigeetah.
With Veejer, I got very intentional, although he’s named after the satellite/Star Trek character “Vyger” (for Voyager). Still, I’ve had people call him Vayher.
At least no one messes up Jayne’s name. They just think he’s a girl.
I agree with everything you said and am always surprised at people’s choices for names that do not reflect positive energy for the future. My dogs all have Hebrew names: Gil = Joy, Ori = Light( common word in prays, a positive up lifting feeling) Kasoom =Magic, they do bring me joy, light up my world and bring joyous magic into my home.
That was very informative wouldn’t have thought about the difference a name can make. All my dogs have people names Skye, Dexter, Tommy who is definitely a Tommy bit naughty. Roxie and Minnie because she was the smallest out of the litter
Loved this but then I am a Susan Garrett fan. It caught my eye as I have been waiting for my next dog’s name to come to me for some time, several years in fact. I lost my wonderful red Doberman Anje to DCM in 2016. After several months I acquired my first every shelter dog and changed his name from Max to Neville. He’s my version of Tater Salad!
But I look forward to the day when I hope I will have another Doberman girl. Anje’s name came very easily. I did visit the litter and wait to see who was Anje. Such a blessing she was. For me the name always proceeds the puppy except in Neville’s case (and I am sure his previous name was poisoned). I can’t think how many names I have thought of and dismissed for my next girl but recently one has stuck – the Celtic name Kirrahe (Kira). So some day I hope to meet you Kirrahe!