What’s in a name? For a dog, actually quite a lot. Dogs recognise after a while the distinctive sound and tone of voice that goes with their name, and will understand that you are trying to get their attention.
Many people try and choose a name that suits the breed of dog they have, or that they won’t be embarrassed to shout out at a public park. However, few people try and name their dogs in a way that is most beneficial to the dog itself.
Dogs do recognise their names. It is for this reason that it is usually a good idea to rename rescue dogs, as they may well associate their previous name with any potentially traumatic areas of their life.
If you want to make the most out of naming your dog, think about how the name sounds when you call it out. Saying your dog’s name is essentially like saying ‘pay attention to me’, whether that is in order to give your dog a command or tell them that a nice bowl of premium dog food is ready for them.
As such, the name needs to be instantly recognisable by the dog in question. Aim for a distinctive-sounding name that is unlike the usual sounds your dog will hear from you. Starting with a hard consonant sound, such as D, P, T or B, will also help your dog recognise its name.
You also want to be able to convey a certain amount of emotion with your dog’s name, so they know when they have done wrong and when you are pleased with them. Choosing a two-syllable name is best for this, as the rise or fall of your tone of voice on the second beat can tell your dog a lot about what you are trying to tell them.
Examples of good dog names, therefore, include Buddy, Pongo, Dixie or Tessa. These all begin with hard consonants, are two syllables long and are not common human names, or even common sounds. They should be distinctive enough for your dog to easily understand.
Written by: Hannah Dyball