Our Experience Changing Our Dog's Name

in , , by Kristen Woolsey, 6:00 AM

Last June, we adopted Bailey and got the surprise of our lives when we found out she was pregnant! The puppies kind of took over our attention after that. I don't think I've shared just how much we've enjoyed having Bailey herself as part of our pug family. She would have been a great addition, with or without the puppies that we love so much. 

Her health was an immediate concern, and we are so happy to say 9 months later that she is lightyears healthier than when we adopted her. She is about 4 pounds heavier now, and that's compared to her weight at almost full term pregnant. She is so laid back and sweet! 

One thing I don't think that I ever mentioned here was that we changed her name when we adopted her! Bailey's original name was Boo. A teenage girl owned her previously, and when she told me that this dog she needed a new home for was named Boo, I was kind of...reluctant? I don't know if that's the right word. 

I could not imagine my husband calling out "Boo!!" into the yard, or even myself saying it without cringing. If that's your dog's name, I'm sorry, but I wasn't a fan. 

I think there was about 2 days in between chatting with her previous owners and actually going to pick her up. We needed to buy a few extra dog supplies and more food, but I spent most of that time researching how to change a dog's name.

I don't know why but I felt so guilty about it! This dog is going to have a complete life changing event by coming into a new home, with all new people, and then you're not even going to keep their name? But, I did my research and found out it could be done. 

Here are my tips:

- First, don't feel bad! Dog's don't have the same sense of identity that we do. In fact they don't even speak English. (A point that I never thought about until I heard my Spanish neighbor saying "ven aca!" to her dog.) In fact, it may be the best thing to change their name if they were in an abusive home. It will be a fresh start for them all the way around.

- On that same note, they learn their name like a command, just like Sit, or Stay. So using treats and positive reinforcement can help them catch on really quickly.

- Pick a new name that begins with the same letter as their old name. That's why we chose Bailey. It started with a B just like Boo. It's even better if you can choose a name that begins with the same first sound. Or, choose a name that rhymes with their old name. 

- Don't use the old name ever again. This was a bit challenging because we often called our other dog Delly Boo-Boo. We had to stop that to avoid confusion. For the first week or so, you could use their old name in conjunction with their new name, and then drop the old name. We did not do that, however. 

Blake and I both said 'Bailey' as much as we could in that first week, and it definitely took a few days for her to start responding to it. She's Bailey now though! She adjusted so well to living with us, and I can't help but feel that she is grateful and satisfied. I don't know how long a dog's memory is, but she must feel the difference in our home where she is fed multiple times a day, gets to lounge around on leather sofas and sleep on a tempurpedic mattress compared to whatever place she came from where she was underweight, living outside with ear and eye infections...and having puppies at an older age. 

I will say it also took me some time to feel like she was my dog. I knew Delly from 8 weeks, and Winston from his first day...so to adopt a dog at the age of 7 was a very different experience! She made noises I wasn't familiar with, she had marks on her body I didn't know what from, and she didn't know any tricks, unlike Delly and Winston who we trained right away. 

Here we are 9 months later, and I feel like adopting her was one of the best things we could have done. I'm not sure if she'd be alive right now if we hadn't. We already loved pugs, and had one, but adopting one that needed us was a really fulfilling experience. So, if you are considering rescuing a pet and want to know if you can change their name, the answer is yes! We did it, and are really happy we did!

Leave a comment below if you adopted or rescued a pet! I'd love to hear about your experience and if you changed their name!

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