What’s in a Name?

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Picking the Perfect Name for Your Pet

By Tricia Roberts

You’ve decided to bring home a new pet. How do you choose a name that will fit your new family member? Do you select something that is meaningful and symbolic, or do you wait until your new fur friend comes home and pick a name that sums up his or her personality? There are many options, and who knows, maybe you’ll even change your mind a time or two before landing on that perfect moniker.

When we got our puppy this past October, we had his name picked out before he came home. We wanted something patriotic and distinguished. We scrolled through the names of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. After a lot of discussion and narrowing down (which took days), we agreed our little guy would be named Oliver. Now that we’ve had Oliver with us a few months, his name is an excellent fit. 

When picking a name for a pet, it’s wise to stick with something easy to say and no more than two syllables (a rule we broke with Oliver, but his name rolls off the tongue easily). Most likely, you’ll be saying your pet’s name over and over (and over again), so choose something you don’t mind repeating. 

If you have other pets, consider something for your new addition that sounds different from their names. Let’s say you have Fido at home. Naming your new puppy Milo might be confusing to both dogs as the vowel sounds are identical. Speaking of vowel sounds, names that end in a vowel are always a win for dogs as those names get their attention easily. Our 13 year-old dog, Brodie, can clearly distinguish his name when called. 

Adopting from a shelter means your pet will already have a name that most likely you’ll want to change. When our kitten was at the shelter, her name was Rhonda. That simply didn’t fit the furry little 3-pound kitty, so changing her name to Sprinkle was a no-brainer. When renaming a shelter pet, try to pick something you won’t want to change again and again. A new name usually requires positive reinforcement, and there’s already a lot for your new pet to learn, so the fewer name changes, the better. 

Steer clear of names that sound similar to commands, especially with dogs. Betty and Yeti are cute, but they sound a lot like ‘Ready.’ Bo might have a hard time telling the difference in his name and the word ‘No.’

Need inspiration? Spend some time with your new pooch or kitten to see what their personality is like. A dog that seems enamored by your shoes might like to be called Lacey while a kitten who is super sweet could be named Sugar. A pup that thinks he’s royalty sounds like a Henry to me. 

Whatever method you choose, make sure you pick something you have a connection with that you won’t dislike later…because you’ll be saying it a lot.