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The Name Game

The Name Game


Naming your Dog


A name for your dog gives you the ability to attract your dog’s attention to yourself. So a name which is liked by you and is easy on the tongue is good to have. It should also be a name that will fit your dog as he/she grows. Remember it’s a name you will be using for the rest of your life so best to take some time over it.


A short name is best because its simple and it comes to mind quickly. Try to pick a name that comes easily to your lips. A name that is normal sounding…you can keep the funny ones as a nickname…..since you will be using it in public and you don’t want to necessarily be telling everyone the story behind the name because people look at you weirdly every time you use it. 


Dogs can have more than one name and they are bright enough to respond to them all. One of my dogs is known by at least twenty different names, some affectionate, some signal play to him, and some reprimanding and trust me he knows them all. Names impart a message to your dog depending on how and when they are used. Dogs learn and know the difference very well.


Choose a name that suits your dog. One of my dogs has a very happy temperament so I called him Sukhi (content). If you can identify a particular trait in your dog that appeals to you then go ahead and name him that. Choosing a name can be lots of fun.


Don’t select a name though that can be confused with a training command. Try not to name your dog Go for example because it can easily be confused with No. Try also to be original with your dogs name. I know endless dogs called Simba. Now imagine if they were in a park together how much confusion would that create! However having said that Dogs are clever animals and they not only respond to the name but can also discern you by the sound of your voice and your accent.


Some people think that if they rescue an older dog they can’t change his/her name. That’s not true. If you know how to do it (usually done by calling him his old name and new name together for a while) he will learn to respond pretty quickly.  


We all know its not all in the name! But what you name your dog creates his identity. A name that makes you feel connected to your dog is ultimately the best name of them all.



Using Your Dogs Name Right


So what does your dogs name mean to him? Well it should mean, ‘pay attention’, ‘come’ definitely and can also of course mean a host of other things like ‘I love You’, depending on the tone in which you are saying it.


Your dogs name should always be associated with good things. If you are using his name for example to call him to you, but once he comes you instead of giving him a treat punish him then your dog is not going to want to come to you and the bad association with his name will in fact probably begin to make him run in the opposite direction. If you use his name to call him and give him a treat and then at some other time call him and punish him then all you will do is create confusion in his mind. He’s not going to be sure what you mean by his name at all. So it wont be a surprise if the next time you call him he doesn’t come at all.  


Since we largely use a name to bring our dog’s attention to us. Here’s a tip on how to do that. Call your dogs name and wait till he looks at you. The minute he does, say Good Boy/Girl and reward with a treat. With regular practice your dog will learn to look at you when you call her/his name. Its really a very simple thing to teach.


When training your dog to listen to commands like sit, stay etc. its advisable to only use that command and not to add his name to it. For e.g. Sit Rani, Stay Rani. The more words you use the harder it is for Rani to learn. If you do want to use the name alongside the command then break it up. Say Rani first to get her attention. Pause a second and then say “Sit”. Works like a charm.


If you want to use your dogs name to mean “Come” then you must use it with a very pleasant tone, a happy tone and even if need be an excited tone. Dogs are energy sensitive and if you’re calling them in a happy tone then they know that there’s something good waiting for them at the other end, a treat or maybe a pat. If they associate their name with happiness and treats and praise/love you can be sure that doggies name will always make him gravitate to you.


The critical thing though is not to use your dogs name harshly ever. It’s a little difficult because when our dog makes a mistake the first word that comes to mind is her name. When we use her name harshly and it means punishment then we’re in trouble. No one -man or animal -wants to come to someone who is speaking to them roughly because no one wants to be punished. Use some other sounds or words for showing your disapproval but never the name. Associate your dogs name with good things, good commands and even better experiences and you will be amazed at how rewarding this single practice will be for your relationship.  


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