Can You Teach an Old Dog a New Name, and Is It OK to Rename a Dog After Adoption?

When you adopt a dog from another person or a shelter, they are likely to have a name. The name could be one that was given to the dog by a previous owner. If not, one given to him a few days ago by the shelter from where you adopted him. If the dog’s name is not one you like or think it doesn’t suit the dog, then it is OK to rename him.

Should I Change My Rescue Dog’s Name?

If you have adopted a dog from a shelter, the shelter has likely given him his current name. The dog’s current name would be if the dog were abandoned or dropped off by someone who didn’t know the dog.

The staff gives a name to the animals in the shelter, as it helps potential new families form a bond with the animal. If that name does not suit you or you do not like it, then you should give your adopted dog a new one if that’s what you choose.

If your adopted dog was named by a previous owner who mistreated him, he might associate this name with being abused. In this case, changing your adopted dog’s name will help to alleviate any anxiety the old name may cause.

Depending on the circumstances, keeping the dog’s name may be a good idea. If the shelter staff know the dog’s history, including his name, maintaining that name may help him settle into his new home.  

Is It Cruel To Rename a Dog after Adoption?

It’s not too hard to figure out why changing a dog’s name would confuse the canine. Imagine if you moved into a new home, and everyone started calling you something other than your actual name. If you did not understand that the original name referred to you, you would probably wonder what was going on.

The situation you describe is a common one, especially with pets adopted from shelters or other owners. “Lovey” or “Precious” might sound great to one person, but to another, the dog looks more like a “Fido” or a “George.” Names often reflect our taste and how we perceive our pets. If you want to change it, you can do so over a relatively short period.

What Are Some Unique Names For Dogs?

If you and your family have decided to rename your adopted dog, then choosing a name together creates an opportunity for you to do this as a family. You can wait until you get to know your adopted dog and select a name that suits his personality. Alternatively, you can choose a name that you like. When choosing a name, remember to keep it short – one or two syllables. A short name will make it more straightforward when you need to get your dog’s attention in a hurry.

There is a vast range of names you could call your dog. Some of the most common include; ‘Charlie,’ ‘Bella,’ or ‘Max.’ The trouble with using one of the most common dog names is that half of the dogs will likely come to you when you call it out in the dog park. So if you want to attract the attention of only your dog, you could choose something more unique, names such as; Beau, Parker, or Finn for a boy or Luna, Mocha, or India for a girl.

How Do You Teach a Dog a New Name?

From puppies to seniors, dogs of any age can learn a new name in just a few days with proper training. suggests following these four steps:

  1. Choose a new name for your pet. Shorter, easier-to-say names are best. Even dogs with long pedigreed names usually have short nicknames too.
  2. Make a point of carrying some of your dog’s favorite treats with you. These can be doggy biscuits broken into pieces.
  3. When time allows and when you want to grab your dog’s attention, call out the new name. When your dog looks back at you, immediately provide verbal praise and pet your dog. As you do so, offer a small food treat.

Offer the above praise even if your dog does not respond to the new name. says that soon your dog “will know that hearing that word means great things are coming, and he will respond as if that word is his own!”

How Long Does It Take a Dog To Learn a New Name?

Providing your new dog’s learning process is pleasant and rewarding; he should learn his new name in just a few days. He should love the sound of his new name and associate it 

with positive things. Do not use negative verbal corrections to achieve this, for example, not yelling “Fox, no!”, Fox, quiet!” at your dog, but instead rewarding when Fox does something right.

Your dog’s name is more important to you than it is for your dog. His name will have meaning and will be something you feel comfortable with and suits your dog. It is merely a command word for your dog to give you his attention or for him to come back to you. Provided there are no negative associations attached to his name, and you are providing a loving new home for him, he will love hearing his new name and love that you are the one saying it.

Article written by Author: The Dog Daily Expert

Should I Change My Rescue Dog's Name

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