Getting a pet is a very exciting time and there’s lots to think about before you bring home your new family member – but the one thing that causes the greatest debate is the name! Many pet owners let their children choose the pet’s name, which inevitably leads to a vast number of animals named after Disney or Harry Potter characters, but there are a few things to bear in mind when choosing a new name.
Avoid Common Soundalikes
While we want our pet to come to his name, we know that he doesn’t actually understand the word and is just responding to the sound. So it is really important to avoid a name that has as similar sound to a command that you will also use, otherwise the poor dog will get confused.
- If you call your dog Kit, don’t be surprised if he comes to you when you ask him to “Sit”. A dog named Joe or Bo is unlikely to stop doing something for a “No” command, while a pup called Jay, Kay or Fay might struggle to master “Stay”.
- In the same way that your dog won’t differentiate between a name that sounds like a command, she will also likely muddle up her name with other similar sounding words used regularly, such as Mabel and Table, which could cause problems when you call the kids downstairs for dinner, or Fred / Ted and Bed.
Keep It Short
In a bid to give your pet the best chance to learn her name, keep it short and easy to recognise. One or two syllables will be more memorable than a longer name such as Catherine, Alexander or Benjamin.
And while we understand that Ben or Benjy are short nicknames for Benjamin, your dog won’t, so start off with the derivative and keep it simple. We are all guilty of giving our pet one name and then using a multitude of variations to call them, but for the best communication you need to stick to one name and say it in a consistent way.
It is much easier to enunciate a hard consonant, such as K, D or T, to quickly grab your dog’s attention. Darcey, Bella, or Buddy will be more instantly recognisable than names with soft consonants such as Sam, Archie or Fifi. It is also helpful to have a name that repeats itself such as Kiki, Didi or Lulu as it reinforces the call.
Renaming A Rescue
If you are adopting an older rescue animal, you may find that he already responds to the name his first owner gave him, which of course may not be to your taste. If you want to change the name, it’s advisable to keep the overall sound similar, such as Dora and Nora, or Millie and Lily.
Ways dogs cope with stress
If a dog is uncomfortable in a situation, as well as displaying some or all of the relevant body language, they may also either fidget or completely freeze. Finally, when the threat moves away, they often shake their body to release the stress.
Trigger stacking is when a dog is subject to too many stimuli in a short period of time and the dog can’t unwind from each source of excitement, whether that’s good or bad. This high state of arousal is stressful for the dog, and his body will respond accordingly – he will be unable to control himself and can lead to inappropriate signals and bad decision-making. Check our blog on overcoming over-excitment here.
So next time you see a dog wagging its tail, either at you or your dog, it’s important to look at the other signs to see if it is happy and relaxed, or stressed and tense.
Written by: Lucy Ellis
Photos: Robin Hall, Lucy Ellis