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Pet Adoption Tips: How to Name Your Pet

by recycler on July 8, 2010

Hello, My Name is _____?

How to Choose the Name

Pet adoption is a big deal. So is naming your pet! You might have the perfect name all ready to go before you even see the pet you are adopting, but if you don’t (and even if you do), we recommend you meet the animal, spend some time with it, and get to know its personality before naming it.

The best sobriquet for an adopted pet is short and catchy, but unique and relevant, although the ironic name can be endearing (e.g. the St. Bernard named Tiny). Some of the best names are silly sounding and original, often times with a long version and a shortened nickname ending in “y” or “ie” for that long “ee” sound.

You can name your adopted pet after a food dish, an inanimate object, or a physical characteristic of the animal; or the name can be an allusion to a favorite movie, book, character, band, song, or sports hero. Additionally, common human names are great choices for animals with more “human-like” characteristics, while quirky names are better for quirky pets. A loving, sweet, docile Labrador could be a great “Margaret”, while a hyper dachshund might be a good “Ernie”.

Teach Your Pet Early

Repetition is key. Once you decide on a name, it’s best to stick with it. If you are constantly choosing a different name for the animal it will take longer for it to associate the sound with itself.  So aim for consistency. The faster you can get your pet responding to its name, the quicker you can move on to teaching it other much-needed skills.

Renaming Rescue Pets

There is an ongoing debate centering on rescue pet adoption and renaming etiquette. Is it acceptable or a pet faux pas? Is it hurtful, confusing, or helpful?

Though everyone has his or her own opinion regarding this matter, the general idea seems to be that it is not only OK to rename a pet you’ve rescued, but also downright cathartic.

Many rescue pets—dogs, cats, etc—are adopted after a sordid past, in many cases involving maltreatment. A majority of animals are just dropped off at shelters or abandoned and found without anyone knowing the animal’s name (if it even ever had a name). These pets are given temporary names until a “forever home” is found. If the name is known, the animal might have associated that moniker with the poor treatment of its former owner. Renaming the dog can cleanse the pet of bad associations and memories.

Finally, when it comes down to it, “names” are just sounds that pets associate with attention (hopefully positive and affectionate attention), and as much as we like to project human qualities onto animals, they do not find pride and personal identity in a name. An animal can relearn a new name with just little time and a pocket full of bacon.

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