It’s not too hard to figure out why changing a dog’s name would be confusing to the canine. Imagine if you moved into a new home and everyone started calling you something other than your actual name. If you did not understand that the new name referred to you, you would probably wonder what was going on.
The situation you describe is a common one, especially with pets that are adopted from shelters or from other owners. “Lovey” or “Precious” might sound great to one person, but to another, the dog looks more like a “Fido” or a “George.” Names often reflect our own taste and how we perceive our pets. Sometimes, new owners just keep the dog’s older name, but since you want to change it, you can do so over a relatively short period of time.
Dogs of any age, from puppies to seniors, can learn a new name in just a few days with proper training. Petfinder.com suggests following these four steps:
1. Choose a new name for your pet. Shorter, easier-to-say names are best. Even dogs with long pedigreed names usually have short nicknames too.
2. Make a point of carrying some of your dog’s favorite treats with you. These can be doggy biscuits broken into pieces.
3. When time allows and when you want to grab your dog’s attention, call out the new name. When your dog looks back at you, immediately provide verbal praise and pet your dog. As you do so, offer a small food treat.
4. Offer the above praise even if your dog does not respond to the new name. Petfinder.com says that soon your dog “will know that hearing that word means great things are coming, and he will respond as if that word is his own!”