Renaming Your Adopted Pet

There are few things in life as rewarding as giving a homeless animal a second chance at life. Some have never had a proper home, many have never had a good home and some have lost their home because of their owner’s life circumstances, often the death of the owner or the birth of a child who is dangerous allergic to pets.

One question that often arises is whether or not to give your new dog a new name. This may sound frivolous to some but it’s a serious question and a real consideration. Here’s my “rule of thumb” for renaming a dog.

If the dog has been in a loving home and has only positive associations with his name, I advise keeping the name. He has already lost so much in life, why subject him to losing the last familiar thing? It will help make the transition easier if he knows that you’re talking specifically to him. Acknowledge who he is and always use his name in a loving tone of voice.

On the other hand, there are certainly times when changing your dog’s name is advisable, when he needs a fresh start in every possible way, including a new name. In some cases, the dog may have been brought into a shelter off the street and has no name. In that case, the shelter volunteers have named him but his only real association with the name is a loud, cold, noisy shelter environment and what little affection the volunteers can spare when it has to be spread among so many animals. In other cases, the dog has a bad association with his name. These are often the dogs that have been relinquished to shelters. In Breed Rescue Groups, volunteers foster the dogs to help them make the transition to a new home so, for our purposes, we’ll be concentrating on shelter dogs or those off the street that have appeared in your life.