Teaching a dog his name is the same as teaching him a new command. In fact, calling his name should be a command for him to look at you. Keep reading below to learn the best way to teach a rescue dog his new name.
Dogs are pretty adaptable, they don’t really care what you call him, just as long as you are consistent once you do choose his name.
Some of the names of our fosters have been pretty unique, aka silly, I would never keep for my personal dog. Fun fact: we have changed every single name of our own adopted dogs (except Symba since he didn’t have a name before we got him). Nala was Midnight, Abby was Angel, JJ was Jeremy, Ginger was Penelope, and Bear was the most unique… Vince Lombardi (a famous football player).
Updated December 2020
A good dog name will reflect the personality of your dog. You may want to take a few days to get to know your newly adopted dog, try out a few names you like and see which fits her best. I recommend staying away from people-like names, just imagine if you name your dog Sarah and then 2 years later you end up with a girlfriend named Sarah!
I have not divided the list below into best female or girl dog names and best male or boy dog names since many of these names are interchangeable. If you prefer to see the list of just girl, boy, or gender neutral names
Rescue Dogs 101's
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We’ve made it easy for you to find a name for your new best friend. By you can easily highlight the names you love the most. Then pass it around the family to vote for everyone’s favorite name!
Want more dog name ideas? We have a full library of fun dog names grouped by theme, check out the list and let us know what you decide!
Teaching your dog his or her new name is easy. Think of teaching your dog his new name like training him a command.
Your dogs name is basically a command to look at you for the next command. For example, Spot Sit. Spot is the command to look and pay attention to you, Sit is the command to sit down. Get it?
Start by using treats to call your dog over to you, using his old name and new name combined.
For example, when we adopted Nala, her old name was Midnight. We called her Nala-Midnight for a couple of days, transitioning to Nala as she started picking it up.
If you do not know the dogs old name, simply start with his new chosen name. A leash can help keep his attention on you for the first few days.
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Do you have a name you want me to add to the list? I’m always looking for new creative dog names, so feel free to comment below with your favorite dog name.
Debi McKee is a mom of three kids, two dogs and the creator of Rescue Dogs 101... where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She also volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society.