Whether you adopted a new puppy – or an older dog – yes, you CAN change their name. But you’ll need a lot of treats, repetition and patience.

To get your dog to respond to a name, they need to associate it with good things. So sit next to her and when she looks at you, call her by her name and give her a treat. Repeat that, and eventually, she’ll learn that responding to her name is rewarding.

So what name should you choose? Veterinary behaviorist Christopher Pachel says dogs prefer some sounds over others. First, short, choppy sounds get them to respond quickly – whereas long, slow sounds don’t. So instead of naming your dog “Huckleberry Finn,” you may be better off with plain old “Huck.” In fact, canine behavior experts say names with a hard consonant sound, like “c” or “k,” helps dogs pick out their name from other surrounding sounds that can distract them.

One more dog-naming tip: Avoid names that sound too much like commands. For instance, “Ray” sounds like “stay,” “Kit” could be confused with “sit,” and “Beau” sounds like “no.”

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