Do dogs really understand they have a name? No, not really. Researchers have found that dogs hear their names as a cue or a command and just like any other command, their name only has meaning after you teach them to recognize it.
Two syllable names are best and dogs seem to respond best with names that have hard consonant sounds, like “k” or “c” as these are easily distinguishable from surrounding sounds. You will definitely want to avoid naming your dog something that sounds too close to a command. “Kay” could easily be confused with “stay” and “Mitt” is too much like “sit.”
And please, avoid giving your dog a potentially embarrasing name like “Poopbut” or with large breeds, a menacing name like “Killer” or “Satan.” Be assured your dog won’t know the difference, but do you really want to call out such a name in a dog park or among family or friends?
So how do you get a puppy to recogize his name? The key is to have your dog associate the sound of his name with something good. Sit close to your dog and wait until he looks at you. When he does, call his name and give him a treat. Repeat this and in short order he will learn that when he responds to his name, good things come his way.
Once you settle on a name, try it out for a few days. Sometimes people are surprised that the name they gave their dog just did’t seem to fit his emerging personality or he just never responded to it well. If this is the case, try something else.
Many people wonder if it’s a good idea to change a dog’s name after they adopt her, especially if she’s full grown and has had the name for a long time? If you really don’t lke your new dog’s name, there is no reason you can’t change it. You teach it to her, just like you do to a puppy, by only associating it with good things, like a treat or belly rub. She will learn her new name in no time.
Perhaps the most important thing to rememer in choosing a name for your dog, is to pick one your love. After all, you’ll be saying this name over the whole life of your canine companion, and you want something that makes you feel good when you say it. This will only strengthen the bond between you and your dog.