*Updated: December 30, 2022
A gift to a rescue dog can be allowing the dog to pick a new name. How’s that possible? Well, what’s in a name? We have all fretted over picking just the right name for a child, pet, or even a car. A name needs to feel like it “fits” the thing or person to which it’s given. Or at least that’s always been my thought. Have you ever thought of allowing your rescue dog, to have a say in their own name? Sounds a bit crazy? Seriously, a rescue dog names himself? Wait just a minute and let me explain. It’s not that difficult. I’ll walk you through the process and you can do it too.
Budget Tip: When looking for your dog, you can stock up supplies over time you know you'll need, such as poo bags, leash, wipes, brushes, shampoo, etc. By buying basic supplies over a few weeks or months you won't be hit by a huge bill when you finally find your pup.
If the dog’s name doesn’t fit, it must go!
When I adopted my dog his name was Timmy. He’d spent four months in foster care with the name Timmy. However, for some reason, he’d decided that was not a name he liked and would not answer to it for anything. Even if I offered him a cookie. He just didn’t like the sound of the name.
Moreover, he didn’t really look like a Timmy to me, so I wasn’t upset over his disdain for the name. Although, it could’ve been the history he experienced with the name. Our rescues do have their own stories.
How your rescue dog names himself
Since Timmy was a no-go for this little poodle mix, who I would soon learn was most likely a cockapoo, I started thinking of new names. My friend who was with me when I rescued my dog, started texting me different French names. Her thought was that he’s obviously French he might like a French name. She texted names like:
They all landed on deaf ears. I was beginning to wonder if my new rescue dog was deaf.
Then my friend sent one more suggestion:
Perhaps it was an auto-correct and was supposed to be Henri. I said to my new little furry friend sitting on the couch next to me “Henry”. His head whipped around as if I had a prime rib in my hand. I said it one more time, “Henry”.
Instantly, he twisted his head and seemed to accept the name. It was almost like Cinderella slipping on her glass slipper. But this was Henry being titled with his very own name of his choice.
With a chuckle, I said it one last time and he was still in agreement. I told him he would have a very regal name for such a little pup. That didn’t seem to bother my new little dog. However, Henry does “fit” him perfectly. No other name would’ve worked as well for this sociable and precocious dog. Yep, a rescue dog names himself.
Do dogs really know how to name themselves?
Although I’m not certain if Henry was really accepting “his” name or reacting to the name because it was associated with someone he liked from his past, he did make the choice. He responds “Henry” very positively even today.
On the other hand, “Timmy” would’ve taken a lot of work to get him comfortable with this name.
My thought is, my rescue dog has already been through trauma, he has nothing, if I can at least give him something so small as his choice over his own name, I’m willing to do it.
However, if he would’ve responded positively to some super offensive word, I would exercise my veto power. I told Henry at the beginning that he could choose his name, but I had veto power. I mean who wants to be at the dog park calling their four-letter dog’s name to come? Thankfully it worked out perfectly and he did well on his choice of names.
How to involve your dog in picking his own name?
If you or your pup don’t like your rescue dog’s name and want a new name, go for it! Let your rescue dog’s name be your first gift to your new pup. It’s not that difficult. It can take a little bit of time and patience. But it’s very rewarding. You can do it! Just like I did with Henry.
Specifically, make a list of names and say them out loud, slowly, near your dog, and see if your dog responds at all. It could be a look, a head turn, or even a walk away. A response in any form will tell you if your dog likes the sound of the name or not.
However, if your dog has no response, as Henry did for all the names, except Henry, just keep trying. You’ll find a name that your dog likes. But you may want to tell your dog upfront that you get veto power. You don’t want your dog responding positively to a name and it’s an ex’s name that gets dropped casually in conversation.
My dog picked his name, now what?
Here’s the super cool part when your dog picks his name or is involved in picking his name, you get to tell everyone that your dog named himself. That’s always a fun conversation.
You also get to have fun picking out personalized dog accessories like:
- Personalized ID tag
- Monogrammed dog bowls
- Dog bed with the name
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Summary of the “secret of how a rescue dog names himself”
If you have a new dog and would like to give him the power to be involved in his own dog name, then give it to him.
Write out a list of names and makes notes on what, if any dog names, are responded to either positively or negatively. If there’s a negative response such as a growl or leaving the room, cross it off the list and move on. However, if you have a positive response like a look, tail wag, or head twist, then pursue that name. It could be your dog’s name. Then you too can say a rescue dog names himself.