Maybe you're one of those people who always dreamed of having a certain type of dog and giving it a specific name: "Someday I'm gonna get a St. Bernard and name him Beethoven, like that movie." In that case, these tips don't really apply to you. But if you're like most people and find the task of naming your dog a daunting one, then you'll be happy to know that there are some tried-and-true methods that will help you choose the best name for your dog, according to science.
As it turns out, there's a lot more the process than you might think. It's not about being as cute or clever as possible; it's about finding a name that works for both you and and your pup. How do you know when a name is "the" name? Experts look to the science of dog behavior for clues. One example: Dogs are more likely to respond to certain sounds, according to Rover.com, and it's important to know which sounds because "training is a top concern" when you name your dog.
"Veterinary behaviorists agree that dogs recognize their names because something happens after they hear them," the article explained. "In other words, it’s a more of a 'cue' word than a personal identifier."
At the same time, it's still important to "choose a name that you truly like," as The Spruce pointed out. "You will be using it all the time, so you should enjoy the sound of it."
Your dog is sure to pick up on those feel-good vibes when you say his name, which will help him to associate his name with positive feelings.
There is one caveat, alas. Even if there's a name you adore, if it's a super popular pup name at the moment... you might want to let it go.
"You will run into other dogs with your dog’s name and it could lead to some confusion at the dog park or vet’s office," The Spruce continued.
Bella, Bailey, Max, Molly, Buddy, and Lucy are among those currently in the too-popular category.
Of course, at the end of the day, the most important thing is that you and your dog like the name. And with the help of these tips, chances are you'll both be happy.
1. Choose a name with 'short and choppy' sounds
Getting back to those sounds that are more likely to make your dog take notice, veterinary behaviorist Christopher Pachel recommended “short” and “choppy” sounds over "long, slow, soothing tones" on Rover. For example, “Huck” would get a quicker response than “Huckleberry Finn." (Of course, your dog won't mind if Huckleberry Finn is his official moniker.)
2. Names with hard consonants help your dog to hear them
To help her name to stand out from all the other ambient human chatter, choose a name with a hard consonant sound such as “c” or “k."
As New Jersey-based dog trainer and animal behaviorist Laura Waddell explained in The New York Times, dogs "can distinguish frequency ranges that we cannot, particularly dogs with pricked ears, which work almost like parabolic microphones. The hard consonant is a relatively sharp sound that the dog can respond to quickly."
3. Consonant combos can get their attention, too
If you can't find a hard consonant name that works for you, another option is a name with "a sibilant consonant or blend," according to the NYT; which would be an “s,” “sh” or “zh.”
4. Avoid names that rhyme with commands
You might not consider the potential pitfalls of a name that rhymes with a command when you're looking at a fur ball the size of a tangerine, but as Rover pointed out, "It would be confusing to teach 'Fletch' to fetch or to train the stay command to 'Shae.'"
5. Try a name that ends in a long vowel or a short "a"
Martin Deeley, a Florida trainer and executive director of the International Association of Canine Professionals, told the NYT that nicknames ending in a long “e,” like Benny or Dolly, have "a loving touch... Sweet becomes Sweetie.”
6. Stick with one to two syllables
Short and sweet is the way to go. Not only will longer names be "difficult for your dog to understand," according to The Spruce, they'll also be "a hassle for you to say over and over."
Unless, of course, your dog is in big trouble, in which case it always feels appropriate to use the longest version possible of any given name. (Sometimes science forgets about things like that.)