How to Name Man’s Best Friend – Picking Dog Names

dog names

Choosing dog names for your new pal may be harder than you think! Becoming a dog owner is one of the most exciting and fulfilling experiences life has to offer. A new family member is coming home! It’s time to get to know each other and make memories.

You’re about to develop an unbelievably rewarding relationship!

But a very important decision still needs to be made. Your furry friend needs a name! What will you call your new buddy?

There are many important considerations when choosing dog names. Dog names influence the dynamic between you and your dog.

  • If you are bringing a puppy home, the name you choose will carry through during training, bonding time, and socialization.
  • On the other hand, if you’re adopting a rescue dog, you may be asking yourself if you should keep or change your dog’s name.

When choosing a name for your dog, ask yourself if the name will work during training.

  • Should you change your dog’s name?
  • Will you be able to teach your dog to respond to the name, or is it too long?
  • Is the name something you will love for years to come?

Read on to learn more. I’ve also included some popular examples of dog names from movies, TV, literature, celebrity names, and names for male and female dogs.

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Dog Names for Training Your Dog

dog names

One of the most important concerns when debating dog names is whether the name will work for you and your dog during training sessions. How well your dog responds to their new name will depend upon both the length and the sound of the name.

According to, names that are short and choppy sounding are more effective for getting your dog’s attention. Trainers and veterinarians recommend names that are one to two syllables in length. A two-syllable name gets your dog’s attention quickly.

Two of our dogs are named Frog and Jake, which are both fun names that are short and easy for our dogs to respond to quickly.

They also keep your dog’s attention on you while they wait for your next command. Not only does a longer name take more time to say, but you may lose your dog’s attention while you finish speaking before you can give the next command. also advises that choosing a name that sounds too similar to common training commands will confuse your dog and make training more difficult. For example, the name “Kit” sounds just like the command “sit,” and should be avoided. Choose dog names that are distinct, so your dog won’t confuse the name with commands like sit, stand, stay, here, come, etc.

Animal Behaviorist Patricia McConnell offers an additional tip: hard consonant sounds are easier for dogs to pick up on. See a list of examples here, like Hope or Kosmo, from PetHelpful.

If you have your heart set on a longer, complicated name, you can always use a nickname. Our third dog’s name is Finnegan, but we also call him Finn during training. Use your creativity to pick a name that you love. But make sure that the name will also work well for you and your dog during the training phase of your relationship.  

Once your new dog is at home with you, teach your new dog some dog games or tricks!  

To Change or Not to Change Your Dog’s Name?

dog names

Rescuing a dog is one of the greatest joys we can think of in life. It can be tempting to change your dog’s name but consider the pros and cons of such a decision. An older dog may be confused by a drastic name change. It may be better to keep the original name or choose a name that sounds similar.

For example, changing “Jeri” to “Jesi” is similar enough that it shouldn’t cause too much confusion. That’s what we did when we adopted our sweet German shepherd rescue “jeri Lee.”

There is an exception.

If you adopt a dog and they associate their original name with punishment or discipline, it’s a good idea to change their name. Dog names should be associated with positive experiences and positive reinforcement for your furry companion. Veterinary behaviorist Christopher Pachel, quoted on Pet WebMD, suggests changing a rescue’s name if you suspect that the old name triggers a fear response in your dog.  

When rescuing a dog, I recommend getting as much information about the dog as possible. It’s imperative to know as much as you can about your rescue dog’s background. Having this information will also help you as you make the decision of whether or not to keep the name the same. Read this brief article about why adopting older dogs can be a good thing.

Teaching Your Dog to Respond to a Name

dog names

Science has yet to crack the inner workings of dogs’ brains. Experts theorize that dogs don’t actually identify with their name in a literal manner. While a human may value their name as a part of their identity, a dog responds to their name because it’s a verbal cue.

A dog’s name is a cue that their owner wants their attention, is going to say a command, or is about to hand out some yummy treats. You’ll have to teach your dog their new name, so that they’ll be ready and willing to pay attention when you call them or say a command. 

When your dog hears their name and focuses on you, give them a reward like their favorite treat. Repeat this process until the dog responds to their name. Eventually, they should focus their full attention on you on cue, with or without a treat to entice them.

It’s essential to train your dog to give you their full attention, so they’ll be ready for your next command after they hear their name.

Do not use your dog’s name to discipline or to yell at them!

Use an upbeat tone of voice and be happy to say your dog’s name. Associating the name with positivity and warmth will set your dog up to respond quickly and often when you call them.

Avoid confusing names that sound like the word “no.” Otherwise, this process will become difficult and confusing.

In multi-pet families, avoid names that sound too similar to the names of your other pets. For example, Charlie sounds like Marley. So, if you already have a Charlie in your family, look for a name that sounds completely different. Otherwise, it may be difficult for your dogs to tell the difference between the sounds in their names.

Keeping Your Dog’s Name Classy and Stylish

dog names

While it may be fun to use unique dog names, remember that you are going to be saying your dog’s name all the time. You’ll be shouting it across dog parks and in front of your friends and family for years to come.

Pick something you’re comfortable with saying throughout the day and in front of other people.

  • Names like Killer and Trouble may sound cool, but the negative connotation attached to the names will outlast the novelty.
  • Naming your dog Whiskey or Guinness may sound like a great idea when you’ve just turned 21-years-old, but how will you feel about that name in five to ten years?

Choose a dog name that will stand the test of time.

It’s best to choose dog names that you are sure to love for years to come. Avoid the names originating with Internet fads and celebrity news that will go out of style or lose their appeal. Cool dog names may soon go out of style.  

Dogster recommends choosing classic dog names that are always fashionable. Popular dog names, for this reason, include those named after historical figures, famous writers, literary characters, sports figures, food, and flowers.

As you search around for the perfect dog names, the examples below may help you make this momentous decision.

30+ Dog Names from Movies & TV

  • Buffy (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
  • Mulder & Scully (The X-Files)
  • Juno
  • Cap (Captain America)
  • Drax & Groot (Guardians of the Galaxy)
  • Thor
  • Dolores (Westworld)
  • Tramp (Lady & the Tramp)
  • Bolt
  • Loki (Thor)
  • Xena (Xena: Warrior Princess)
  • Stark & Sansa (Game of Thrones)
  • Sirius, Harry, & Hermione (Harry Potter)
  • Stitch (Lilo & Stitch)
  • Marmaduke
  • Air Bud
  • Oliver (Oliver & Company)
  • Hooch (Turner & Hooch)
  • Skip (My Dog Skip)
  • Otis (The Adventures of Milo & Otis)
  • Toto (The Wizard of Oz)
  • Wishbone
  • Yoda (Star Wars)
  • Ferris (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)
  • Dude (The Big Lebowski)
  • Vito (The Godfather)Woody & Buzz (Toy Story)

Teach your new dog some dog games or tricks!

20+ Dog Names After Literary Characters

  • Gatsby (The Great Gatsby)
  • Artemis, Achilles, Aries, Zeus, & Hercules (myths)
  • Alice (Alice in Wonderland)
  • Darcy & Bingley (Pride & Prejudice)
  • Sherlock & Watson (Sherlock Holmes)
  • Annie (Little Orphan Annie)
  • Scarlett & Rhett (Gone with the Wind)
  • Blanche (A Streetcar Named Desire)
  • Romeo & Juliet (Romeo & Juliet)
  • Clifford (The Big Red Dog)
  • Mowgli (The Jungle Book)
  • Puck (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
  • Matilda (Matilda)
  • Holden (The Catcher in the Rye)
  • Merlin
  • Pippi (Pippi Longstocking)

26 fun dog games for your dog!

20+ Dog Names After Celebrities

  • Britney
  • Elvis
  • Shakira
  • Carrie
  • Oprah
  • Prince
  • Cardi
  • Gaga
  • Stormi
  • Ringo
  • Freddie Mercury
  • Hudson
  • Farrah
  • Starsky, Denzel
  • Harry & Meghan
  • Chris Pratt
  • Aubrey Hepburn
  • Marilyn Monroe

A-Z dog game boredom busters for your dog!

20+ Popular Dog Names Female

I combined some of the top names from websites like Rover, The Labrador Site, People, and NPR to create the list below.

  • Bella
  • Coco
  • Lucy
  • Maggie
  • Luna
  • Molly
  • Stella
  • Sadie
  • Lola
  • Bailey
  • Daisy
  • Lily
  • Roxy
  • Abby
  • Ginger
  • Sasha
  • Penelope
  • Gigi
  • Sydney
  • Peanut
  • Baby
  • Dakota
  • Maddie
  • Lizzie
  • Lady

25+ Popular Dog Names Male

I combined some of the top names from websites like Rover, The Labrador Site, People, and NPR to create the list below.

  • Max
  • Charlie
  • Jack
  • Bear
  • Oliver
  • Duke
  • Cooper
  • Rocky
  • Buddy
  • Tucker
  • Milo
  • Zeus
  • Finn
  • Chase
  • Chico
  • King
  • Luke
  • Hunter
  • Sammy
  • Gus
  • Louie
  • Moose
  • Rex
  • Coda
  • Simba
  • Frankie

Recently, it was popular for dog owners to choose dog names that are human names, like Max, Charlie, and Jack. While these names are cute and great choices, remember that naming a dog a human name may be confusing if you have friends or family members with the same name.

Picking the perfect dog names is no easy task. Take your time. Try out a few options for a couple days to see what sticks and what works. Practice saying the name with various training commands to use with your furry friend.

We wish you the best of luck, and to new dog owners out there, congratulations on one of the best decisions you’ll ever make!

Are you getting a puppy or rescue dog soon? If so, what do you think you will be naming him or her? If you have had a dog previously, how did you choose his or her name?

Sources Dog

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