A name is as important to a dog as it is for the owner who names said dog. A dog’s name serves as a cue that it is being spoken to and should pay attention for a command. While naming a dog as a young puppy is often easier than naming it as an older dog, it’s entirely possible to rename a dog. There are many reasons why a person may want to rename a dog, but it is always important to teach the dog the name it will be called.
In most cases when a person renames a dog, it is the result of new ownership. A new owner may choose to rename a dog because its existing name is unfavorable or unsuitable. For example, if a dog’s existing name is the same or similar to another pet’s name or even another member of the household it would be confusing. In the case of shelter dogs, the dog’s previous name is not always known and the shelter workers assign one during intake. The assigned name could already be in use in the new owner’s household.
The reasons why someone may want to rename a dog are irrelevant if the person is willing to teach the dog its new name — a task that is easier accomplished if the dog is not familiar with its existing name. There are several ways to teach a dog its name, but like all dog training, they involve consistency and regular training time. A good dog owner knows the importance of teaching their dog its name in conjunction with teaching proper dog behavior and basic commands.
Though a new owner may want to rename a dog, if the dog is already trained and familiar with its name, it may be better to either keep the name or change it to something very similar to eliminate confusion. Young puppies and stray dogs are less likely to know their own names as they typically haven’t had the training necessary to learn it. This isn’t to say that it isn’t possible to teach a dog of any age or training to respond to a new name, but it will take persistence and patience.
For new dog owners who are not familiar with dog training methods or have no experience, enrolling in a training class is a worthwhile investment if the instructor has experience and insight to offer. Though a great deal of dog behavior is instinctual, proper training, exercise and affection are necessary to instill good dog behavior. A dog that doesn’t know its name can still be trained, but learning to associate the sound of its name as a cue to pay attention is very helpful to the owner and dog alike. Before deciding to rename a dog, make a commitment to work with the dog to help reinforce its new name through productive training sessions.