I’ve always felt that picking a dog name was an important part of the puppy training process. Much like naming your children, a dog name will follow your dog around her entire life. It needs to be perfect and fit the dog’s personality.
I don’t mind picking out a name before I’ve picked up a pup, but I reserve the right to change it within a week or two. I want to make sure it fits the dog. I also want to hear it out loud a good bit. Is this a name that I’m going to enjoy saying and hearing the next 10 to 12 years?
I had a pup that I intended to name “Skeeter” but it didn’t fit her. Two weeks in she became “Ruby.”
I once hunted with a friend of a friend who had a dog named “Snake.” I thought that was a cool name for a bird dog. Folks my age might remember the movie “Escape from New York” and Kurt Russell’s character “Snake Plissken.” I added it to my list. I was good with it until I heard the owner yelling “Snake!!” multiple times in the field the next day. That’s not something anyone wants to hear while hunting in rattlesnake country. It immediately came off the list.
We once purchased an adult lab named “Ned.” My initial reaction was to change it but after spending a little time around him, it fit him well. He preferred to hold the couch down and snuggle with mom vs picking up ducks in the cold.
I don’t “like” using “people” names for dogs but I’ll make exceptions from time to time. I currently have a male pointer named “Jack” after Mississippi State radio announcer – Jack Cristil. It’s a pain since I hunt with two different guys named Jack.
Kathy wanted me to name a litter mate to Jack “Cristil” but I couldn’t see me using it as a call name. I took the “til”and went with “Tilley.”
Your dog doesn’t care what you name her. She doesn’t understand the word or what it means or the power that it holds. It’s just a sound that she will recognize and associate with coming toward you once trained.
I prefer to keep my dog names one syllable if possible. The longer the name, the harder it can be on the dog.
If you use multiple syllables, I like a hard sound at the front or it needs to have a shorter name you can use in the field. “Em” was actually called “Emerald” when I got her. I only used “Emerald” on rare occasions and she never responded to it.
A name needs to sound good when you are happy or unhappy – it really doesn’t matter too much when you are happy, but you need to try it out when you are unhappy. It’s hard to discipline a dog using the name “Mr. Snuggluffagus” and sound like you actually mean it.
Nicknames are allowed and even encouraged but you don’t really want to use them in training since it can be confusing to the dog. Pick one call name for the field.
It’s important to have family agreement when you can. We have a cat that is currently called “O’Malley, “O.J.” and “Coon Dawg” because we could not agree as a family – his real name is actually “Coon Dawg” in case you are wondering. It doesn’t matter because he’s a cat and he doesn’t come when you call him anyway.
I try not to repeat or use names that the folks I hunt with have used. Once a name has been used in my group, I consider it off limits. It’s not like naming a boy “Junior” after his father. Once it’s been used it’s off my list.
I’ve gone on runs with certain kinds of names. I once had a group of dogs named after most of the band members of “Guns n Roses.” I’m still looking for a “Slash” and “Duff.”
I also had a few old school country and western names including “Merle” and “Cash.” One of my buddies had reserved “Willie.” I’m still looking for my “Waylon.”
Cooper’s first dog was named “Biskit” after the “best biscuit he had every had” on the morning we picked the puppy up. I always wanted to name the next house dog either “Sausage” or “Jelli” but Kathy vetoed that and we ended up with “Dakota.” Very disappointing. We missed a great opportunity. How cool is “Biskit and Jelli!”
I keep a list of names that I like for future reference. It’s good to have them ready since you never know when you might run across the perfect puppy buying opportunity!
Here are a few of mine. As you can see, I’m hoping to have a lot more dogs in the future.
- Ethel and Streek
- Co co