A white dog with text "Renaming a Shelter Dog"

Adopting a new dog is one of the greatest acts of kindness anyone can perform. Shelter dogs always come with a name picked by the prior owners or the staff at the shelter. You love your new dog and welcome it into the family, but do you cringe whenever you hear his name? According to dog trainer, Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT,KA and training editor of Whole Dog Journal, if you are worried about renaming the new fur baby, don’t be. Dogs learn new names very quickly and in some cases renaming is actually recommended. If the dog came from an unpleasant background or abusive situation, he might associate the name with negative experiences.

Here are some tips to make the renaming process simple:
• Consider a new name that sounds similar to the original name. This will make it a bit easier on Fido when he is learning his new name.

• Tell everyone in the house to call the dog by one name. If a family member refers to the dog by another name, it can be confusing to your new pooch.

• Start training sessions with treats.

• Use the new name when your pooch isn’t focused on you. If he responds to his new name, praise him and provide a tasty treat.

• Use the new name like you normally would. Once he is consistently responding to his new name, cut back on the treats!

Adopting a dog from a shelter is extremely rewarding! Remember to use positive reinforcement, and your dog will start answering his new name before you know it.


Miller, P. CBCC-Ka, CPDT-KA (2010, December, 17). The Importance of a Dog’s Name with Regards to Training. Whole Dog Journal. Retrieved from https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/training/the-importance-of-a-dogs-name-with-regards-to-training/

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