Here Rover. Come Kitty. Fetch Fido.
Are you thinking of getting a new dog or cat? Do you want a puppy or a full grown dog that is being re-homed? One of the joys of being a Pet Parent is the joy of choosing a name for your pet. Animal behaviorists have long known that the name given to a pet is more important to the human than the animal. I named my little dog Focus, thinking that she would remind me to focus on the task at hand.
We kept the name of Rosie for our Icelandic Sheep Dog, because that was the name she came with when she was re-homed with us.
A friend who sold high-end pet equipment said that when he asked the Pet Parent to tell him the name of their pet and how it came to be, he had an interested customer. Then, if the customer celebrated the pet birthday and sleep in the same room or bed, it was a solid sale. Every time.
Yes, we animal lovers think our pets are part of our fur-family and should be treated with love and respect. And they are.
What Does The Animal Actually Hear?
Any animals that can hear human speech can be trained to respond to a specific sound. It doesn’t matter one bit whether that sound is the name you assigned it or two bells ringing. It’s been done with cats, seals, parrots, horses, dolphins, bears, lions, chimpanzees and opossums.
None of this is in any way indicative that these animals recognize their names. The animals, including your dog, have all been conditioned that when they hear that sound, they will be either punished or rewarded, and so they respond to the sound. There is not a shred of evidence that they recognize the sound of their name, or even that they have any concept that such a thing as a name exists.
The interesting thing is that your pet may react when their name is mentioned. But in fact they do not, they only react to a very specific sound said in a very specific way. That is why they don’t react when you casually mention their name in conversation with another person. They react to the word said with emphasis and usually a rising inflection. If it isn’t said in that way they ignore it.
Some animals will almost certainly be better than others at detecting sound differences within human speech so, for example many animals won’t be able to distinguish “tiger” and “diver,” but they will respond to either said in the same way precisely because they are responding to the sound.
How to Name Your Pets
Animals respond best to names with one or two syllables best. So, a dog is less likely to respond to “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” than “super.” It is also a good idea to name the animal something that is easy to call out. Also, you should name the animal something that isn’t embarrassing to yell. For example, if you feel foolish yelling out the name “Anthracite” for a black dog, don’t name them that.
Some people like to give their dogs really long, but creative, names. While those names are cute and creative, they frequently lead to a nickname that the dog will learn rather than the long name. The nickname might ruin the effect of the long name so it might not be a good idea to give the dog a huge name. the naming of a pet can be as surprising as some of the names Hollywood tars give their children. Really, do you want your child or dog to be confused when someone is talking about the weather and yells, “rain?”
The country of origin for the animal or animal’s breed can be helpful for naming a pet. If your pet happens to have been native to Ireland, giving the dog an Irish name can be a good idea. The same goes for animals from Germany, France and Scotland. The same principle can be applied to an animal from anywhere.
When naming a new dog, be sure not to give the dog a name that sounds like standard commands. This means that naming a dog “Joe” is not a good idea if you ever anticipate having to tell the dog “no.”
Naming a goofy dog “Clown” isn’t a good idea if the dog might ever be told “down.” The same goes for a dog named “Zit” and the command “sit.” If the name you choose happens to rhyme with a common command, choosing alternative commands might be a good idea. A lot of what we are sharing is simply common sense, but common sense is not so common anymore.
Personality can be a huge key for a pet’s name. For this reason, waiting a few days to name the pet is never a good idea. Also, animals grow. Naming a kitten “Kitten” is cute and makes sense until the kitten grows up. Whoops!
Thank You For Being Animal Advocates
Judy Helm Wright is a life educator, grief coach, and keynote speaker who has written more than 20 books, hundreds of articles and speaks internationally on relationship issues including those with our beloved pets.
Artichoke Press is not Judy’s only self-starter project. Animal Human Connection LLC is a veteran owned business and family foundation. She is very active in the BlogPaws.com and Women In The Pet Industry Network WIPIN
The symbol of the artichoke has great meaning for Judy in her teaching and writing. Working with families, she sees that frequently only the outer edges are exposed, which can be prickly and sometimes bitter to the taste. But, as you expose the artichoke and people to warmth, caring, and time, gradually the leaves begin to open and expose the real treasure–the heart.
You will enjoy Judy’s approachable manner, wonderful storytelling and common-sense solutions gleaned from working with hundreds of families and organizations just like yours. Your encounter with Judy will leave you feeling inspired, entertained, and especially motivated.
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