Is if fair to change a dog’s name?
My personal feeling is the exact opposite of what everyone else seems to say. The prevailing belief is that it’s okay to change your dog’s name.
But our family decided we couldn’t. We just couldn’t do it.
We adopted our first family dog from a no-kill shelter. He was a 3 1/2-year-old Cocker Spaniel.
He answered to “Buddy.”
This I believe was the name given by his previous owners. (Oftentimes shelters name dogs they find on the streets.)
Unlike a lot of dogs in shelters, Buddy had a history. He had a previous owner.
We were told they could no longer afford to keep him. I’m grateful they brought him to a no-kill shelter.
No one in our house was thrilled with the name “Buddy.” So we decided upon another one. I forget what it was though.
We started using it. Or trying to. Our dog didn’t answer to it.
However, calling him “Buddy” got his attention.
I’m sure we could have trained him to respond to a new name. But, at that point, why?
Is It Fair To Change a Dog’s Name?
Buddy had been our dog’s name for his entire life. Now, it was the only constant in his life. Everything else had changed.
So why not just keep the name?
After being in a shelter, our dog had to get used to a new home. A new family. New rules. New expectations.
No, he can’t jump on the table. He needs to stay off the counters. He better not growl at his new master.
With so many adjustments, making him respond to a new name seemed unnecessary.
Our newly adopted dog was stressed enough. Having a new family was a good thing. He just didn’t realize it yet.
Can You Rename A Dog?
Yes, you can rename a dog. Eventually he or she will respond to the new name.
But should you?
In our case we decided not to, for a myriad of reasons.
And, in retrospect, I’m glad we didn’t. Moving into a new home was very stressful. I think this is one of the reasons he acted out so much, jumping on high surfaces and growling if we tried to move him off the bed.
The stress of being adopted was on top of the stress of remaining in a shelter for several months. He was caged and surrounded by a lot of big, loud dogs. I think this is why he never liked being around other dogs.
So, in the end, we decided our dog didn’t need a new name. We’d continue to call him Buddy.
Changing A Dog’s Name After Six Months
Maybe, in the long run, it wouldn’t have made a difference if we changed our dog’s name well after he was an adult.
But keeping the name meant one less adjustment.
Even though I’m not an animal healthcare expert, I’ve been devoted to natural dog care. Our dog is now pushing 17, and he’s in pretty good health, considering his age.
We do know that stress is bad for the body. This is true for dogs, as well as for humans.
I don’t need an advanced veterinary degree to know that it’s a good idea to avoid unnecessary stress.
Realistically, it probably wouldn’t have hurt our dog’s health to change his name. On the other hand, why pile stress upon stress?
In the end, we’re glad we didn’t take Buddy’s name away. It’s who he is. It’s who he was.
Even if eventually he would have responded to whatever name we gave him.
In our case, it probably would have taken Buddy longer to respond to a new name, compared to the average dog.
As a younger dog, he was difficult to train. (Now that he is nearly 17 and has dementia, he’s impossible to train.)
Whether this was due to stubbornness or lack of intelligence we don’t know. But it probably wouldn’t have been easy to introduce a new name.
So keeping Buddy’s original name probably meant less stress on everyone.
How To Teach A Dog Its New Name
However, sometimes you just can’t live with a dog’s name.
Or, if you adopted your dog from a shelter, someone else may have named him, and the name may inappropriate or offensive.
So you do want to change it. (If it’s offensive you’ll need to change it.)
From what I’ve read it’s definitely possible to change a dog’s name and your pet will adjust.
Here’s what to do, according to the animal site petfinder.com:
- After you choose the new name for your dog, try pairing it with a treat. Give him a treat for a few days even if he doesn’t respond to the name. Soon he will respond to the name because he associates it with something good.