Can You Change A Dog’s Name?

Hello! My name is Minnie and I am a seven-year-old Border Terrier. I was rescued by my humans three years ago when my name was originally Peggy.

I think my name was changed by the little human who has a lot of posters of mice and princesses on her walls. 

If you’re wondering whether you can change a dog’s name, you’ve come to the right place! As a dog who has gone through a name change, I can say that you can absolutely change a dog’s name. 

A name to us is our way of communicating with humans. It doesn’t matter whether the name is pretty, as long as we can adjust and respond to it. 

If you decide to change your dog’s name, or if you have recently rescued a pup who has a name you dislike, here are my top tips on how to change their name and why it is okay to do so.

How can you change a dog’s name?

The first step is to choose a new name for your dog. I find that dogs (and other animals like cats) respond the fastest to names that end in “ie” or “ey” – for example, Minnie, Peggy, Dolly, Teddy.

Obviously, we dogs are incredibly intelligent and can adapt to any name, but you can expect the fastest results with two-syllable names with a sing-songy voice.

We will also be very responsive to new names that are similar to our original names. My humans renamed me Minnie which doesn’t sound too dissimilar from Peggy, but I knew it was enough for it to be a new name. 

We also respond best to names with harder consonants. My humans tried to call me Olive for a couple of days, but it wasn’t easy for me to respond to them.

Harder consonants like “D”, “K”, or “T” are easier for us to distinguish whether you are just talking or calling our names. 

Something humans often do is adopt nicknames for their dogs. This is lovely and we will respond, however only if we have become accustomed to our new names properly.

Too many variations of the same name can sound confusing to us. 

Tips to change a dog’s name: 

The best way to teach us our new name is like with any trick or command. I was taught to sit with constant demand and a treat for when I performed the trick properly, so now I can do it every time. The same goes for names! 

The tone of your voice is most important. It will take us time to adjust to our new names, so make sure to keep the tone happy and bubbly. This is so we can associate our new name with positivity from a happy voice, a treat, and praise. 

Eventually, you should stop giving us treats (much to our dismay). We will begin to expect praise from treats when we respond to our names, which can lead to greed and weight gain. 

My top tip is to not give up. It will take time for us to learn our new names, so if we aren’t responding immediately, it’s not a good idea to call us by our old names just to get our attention.

This will only confuse us and delay the successful name change. 

How long does it take for a dog to learn its new name?

It mostly depends on the dog! I’m a smart dog, so I managed to learn my new name within a week.

This was down to constant training and praise and association with positivity. I can’t talk for all dogs, but it can take anywhere between two days and two weeks for a dog to learn its new name. 

It all comes down to the training. It’s actually easier for rescue and adopted dogs to adjust to a new name as we adjust to a new environment, so we can associate it with a fresh start.

As long as you stick to calling us by our new name, and everyone in the household makes an active effort to train us, we will adapt surprisingly fast. 

Is it fair to change a dog’s name?

Speaking as a dog who has gone through a name change, I can say that is it completely fair to change a dog’s name.

We are very adaptable animals who can adjust to a new name quickly, and in some cases, it’s best to give us a new name. 

I was rescued by my humans from a shelter. My original home wasn’t a friendly or kind environment for a dog, so whenever my original owners called my old name, I would associate it with sadness and fear. This is because my name was usually called with a negative response. 

When I moved into a new environment with my new humans, I found it much easier to adapt to the name they wanted me to be called. It was a fresh start and a new environment – one in which I could associate my name with positivity instead of fear. 

If you have had your dog for many years and decide you no longer like their name, it may take longer for them to adjust to it.

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t change their name! I’m friends with a Mini Daschund who used to be called Sprinkles until her human grew up and decided to change it to Poppy.

It confused her for a while, but Poppy prefers her new name now. 

Final Words 

So, there you have it! Speaking from experience, you can definitely change a dog’s name.

It’s probably not best to change our names too frequently due to microchips and paperwork, but we are incredibly adaptable animals that won’t take long to adjust to a new name. 

If you have rescued a dog recently, I personally would recommend changing their name.

They will be in a new environment with new humans and voices, so it makes sense to give them a name they can respond to with positivity.