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Our Experience Changing Our Dog's Name

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

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 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!


  1. All my best dogs have been rescues. They really seem to know what you give them is so much better. They know what it is like to do without so they really seem to appreciate all that they get. Bailey has come such a long way. I will always think of her in conjunction to D and I getting married. :-)

  2. I also rescued a fawn pug and changed her name to Bailee. Her name was Peppermint Candy. I couldn't imagine ever calling her that. She was seven months old and her elderly owner took ill and had to give her up. Maybe because she was still so young, she adjusted well to the completely different name and lifestyle.She happens to be the best dog we've ever had. We couldn't love her any more than we do.

    1. Aw, thanks for sharing! Peppermint Candy...what a name! Obviously I prefer the name you chose! Thanks for reading Marylee!

  3. I adopted a hound dog named buddy, and even though I wanted something more personal (since it's such a generic name) it ended up fitting him so perfectly I couldn't bear to change it!

    1. I actually like Buddy! It sounds like the perfect name for a hound dog. Thanks for reading!

  4. My cousin about 6 months ago adopted staffordshire bull terrier his name was Remy but they changed it to Mr. Darcy...Darcy for short...her other staff had to be put down about 10 months ago (Dagger) and her little lucy was so lonely so they decided to adopt...they recently,within the last 2 weeks, adopted dacry's sister Maxie. My cousin hates this name but the breeder that they got her from they have to deal with quite a bit and since it was her pet she doesn't fell right changing her name so they call her max...I'm not fond of Maxie either but max is better. Now she has twins brother and sister staffs and Lucy is happy...of course she is older...but still the queen she puts these 2year Olds in their to love our fur babies

  5. My cat Max was originally Tommy when I adopted him. For some reason, Tommy did not seem a good fit for him. He needed a more regal, sophisticated name. Maxwell fit him so much better, so Maxwell he became.
    I totally understand what you mean by adopting an adult pet and taking a while for them to feel like YOUR pet. I got my cat Izzy 2 years ago when she was 7 or 8 from a family who couldn't keep her. I had to get used to her personality quirks, which were totally different from my other cat (who I got as a kitten). But now I love my Izzy and wouldn't give her up for the world!

  6. Our dog's name was originally Bella. I wanted to call her Belle. Then, it turned into BabyBelle. She caught right on! And you are right, if they are being rescued, I think it is better to change the name. Gives them a whole new life!

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  8. Bodhi is a very fortunate dog to have a loving and caring family! I agree with most you say about a dogs diet in your article. A vegan diet is not suitable for a dog, they don’t have the digestion system for it, and their metabolism is evolved for meat diet with few if any vegetable additions. Even though they can tolerate grains, they don’t need it and don’t benefit from it. Dog



Hi friends! I'm Kristen, and this is the Life and Style of an early 30's Floridian living the Best Life Ever, with her husband and three pugs. Runner | Avid Reader | Small Shop Owner

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