After two enchanting years with your beloved pooch, you realize that his name doesn’t really suit him and it’s time to change it. You can certainly give him a different name after an extended period of time, it’ll just take a little work to teach him his new name.
You’ve called your companion “Bruno” for a couple years now, so he’s quite familiar with it. But he’s more like a big teddy bear and you really just want him to go by “Bear.” In the beginning you’ll need to link the two names. Call him “Bruno-Bear” for a while -- maybe a week or two or possibly longer until he starts to connect with the long name. It’ll be a headache and it’s definitely a mouthful to say, however, he’ll start to associate the new name with the old name. Make sure everyone in your family and any guests who come over call him by the combined name.
Dropping the Old Name
As long as Bruno doesn’t seem to mind the addition of "Bear" to his name, start dropping his old name and just call him by the new name. The transition may happen rather quickly in less than a week or it might take up to a month. It just depends on how often you use his name throughout the day and how quickly he learns. Associate his new name with only positive experiences. Let him up on the couch with you, pet him and repeat his new name over and over -- “Good Bear. That’s a good Bear.” The next time you get up, call him over to you. When he comes scurrying over, get excited and give him a treat. He should know that his name is unique to him and when you call him, he’ll get rewarded for coming, even if the reward is just praise.
Don’t associate his name with negative experiences. For example, if you call him by his new name, he comes running and you scold him for knocking over the flower vase, he’s going to learn rather quickly that his new name gets him in trouble and makes you angry. He won’t want to come when you call him and may even run under the bed and hide.
If you’ve ever changed your first or last name, you know all of the paperwork you have to go through to notify everyone. Don’t forget to make those same notifications for your pooch. Call your vet and update his records and ask your vet how to update Bear’s name on his microchip, if he has one. He'll also need a new name tag for his collar. Your four-legged buddy is part of your family, so let your human family know about the name change as well. That way they can include him when they send out holiday cards, or more importantly, his birthday presents.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.