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How to Rename a Rescue Dog


Adopting -- not shopping for -- a dog is truly one of the greatest acts of kindness anyone can perform – you’ve literally saved a life. So first off, congratulations are in order, as is a big thank you. Rescue dogs rule.


Shelter pups almost always come with some kind of a name either picked by the prior owners or by the staff at the humane society or rescue. Now you may think that you and your new pooch are stuck with that name – especially if the dog is older and perhaps used to being called by a certain moniker. But that’s not necessarily true …


  • Dogs respond to the tone of your voice and to your body language, especially when they’re just making your acquaintance. Start out with a smile and friendly greeting like “Here, girl” or “Come, boy.” When they respond, praise them like crazy. If they’re stubborn or seem confused, offer them a treat. See? You’re bonding! That lucky dog doesn’t care what you call them – as long as you’re giving them love, attention and affection, they’re all yours. 


        But they do need a name, for training and safety’s sake. You’ve got to be able to call your dog and have him alert to you to keep him out of trouble.


  • So when you’re coming up with a new name for a rescue, you might want to think of an alternate that begins with the same letter and/or contains the same vowel sounds. If the dog came to you with the shelter name Buddy, then Barney or Buster might work, and might be more appealing to you. Roxy can become Rosie, Riley, Ruff or even Foxy.


  • But here’s a cool trick to use if you want to give your new pal a completely different sounding name: Link it to the one they already know. So say he came to you with the name Buddy. Every single time you call him, say “Buddy Gizmo.” The first few times he responds, offer praise or a treat. After a few tries, drop the Buddy and just call him Gizmo. Soon, he’ll be like, “Buddy? Who the heck’s that? I’m Gizmo, dude.”



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