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Can I Rename a Rescue Dog from a Shelter?


A new dog in the home can be a significant change for you and for the dog himself. This change will be ten times more real if it's a rescue dog. Adopting a rescue dog is like giving him a second chance and a better one.

Nevertheless, it would help if you keep in mind that these animals might be going through trauma. From which, some might be related to their old name.

Now the question arises, can you rename a rescue dog? It is possible to change the dog's name from the shelter, but it is a must to give a check on its past and the age. If the dog was abused according to its history, nothing could be better than changing its name.

It essential to change the name of a dog who wasn't treated right by his previous owner. It can be a changing event for the dog and will help him move on from the past and give a better start.

If the dog is two years or younger in age, the name changing process will be much easier and quicker because the younger rescue dog will respond much better.


I want to rename a rescue or shelter dog.

This section will help you if you are unsure about giving a new name to your four-legged friend in a particular situation.

Looking into the history of the dog

The first and foremost thing you should do before getting a rescue animal is to investigate its history. If the dog was abandoned in the shelter, there are chances that the people there know his past life.

They might have the answer to your questions like: why was he abandoned here in the shelter, and was he abused back in his life. It might also be possible that they are well aware of his last name.

But there can be an instance that the shelter home is not knowing the dog's name if he was just dropped there anonymously or simply was found in the streets. Make sure that you definitely ask this question before adopting a rescue dog.

If the dog came to the foster home without a name, they must have kept a temporary name, and it is acceptable to change it. They never knew the real name, and even the dog must not have gotten used to it enough to create confusion.

Whereas, if the foster home is well aware of your upcoming four-legged friend's history, and he was treated well in the past, you can consider keeping his real name. He remembers it, and changing his name for no good reason will do nothing but cause extra confusion; also, it will be easier to train when he knows what to respond to.


After going through his history, you get to know that he was not treated nicely; changing his name will be a good option because every time he hears it, he might have to go through all of it which he endured in the past. Changing his name will not only give him a fresh start but will improve his mental health.

You will probably be able to unite him with his new name successfully by creating beautiful memories and care and slowly building trust and bonding with the foster. Also, to make the transition more comfortable, you can add the new name with the old one for some time.

By doing this, you will be able to help him get used to the new name. For instance, if the rescued dog's old name was 'Charlie' and you have decided his new name to be 'James'. For the first week, you can call him by the name of 'Charlie James'. Transitioning to James will become easier for him later.

What is the age of the dog?

Changing the name of the dog, highly depends on how old he is. A younger dog (two years or younger) will be much more flexible to the change than the old one. One of the reason being, he is not too used to his name.

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The transition will be more manageable, and he will get habitual to your command.

It is not impossible in the case of dogs much older than two years. All you need is a little bit more patience. As soon as you bring the old one to your home, the best advice is calling him with the new name. It can take anywhere up to a few weeks for him to acknowledge the new name.

As a practice when naming a dog, it should only be spoken in good relations. For instance, you should call "James, you good boy." And then petting him or giving him treats. You indirectly indicate that when his name is called, it is something to be happy about.

At all costs, don't say, "James, you bad dog." This way, you might confuse him whether to be sad or excited when he is called. Of course, this is for all kinds of dogs, no matter their age.


What should your rescue dog be called?

Now that you and your family have decided to rename the rescue dog. The next difficulty is what name will be the best. Of course, the name should not at all sound like the one earlier. It will be very tough for him, and the change will be slim to none. It is okay to switch a dog's title once or twice in his lifespan but doing it frequently can lead to chaos. You should take a reasonable amount of time when finalising his new name as it will stay with him forever.

Before finalising, involve your friends and family. You can spare a day or two and speak the name aloud to them. Ask yourself if you can take this name forever with love.

When looking for a name, one more thing to consider is never to choose words that sound like they are commands. Supposedly, the rescue dog's new name is 'Kit.' You also taught him the command "Sit." It will be challenging for him to distinguish whether you are calling him or commanding him to sit. The last advice will be to not chose any complex names. Stick with one or two words. The simpler, the better.

Many vets advise going for names with two words so that it is easier to identify—more than that; it will be difficult to call in the long run.

What to do if your dog does not respond to the new name?

After a few weeks and many failed attempts, it can seem tiresome and impossible to achieve. But do not lose hope because it is a difficult time for the dog. He is not only going through a transition of his name but also his life. There are several ways that you both can work together on.

Don't forget to be already stocked up with the treats to teach him new things and commands. The best time to go productive with him is when there is the least amount of distractions.

When he is near or around but is engaged in something, call him by his new name. When he comes towards you, offer him a treat. Doing this will make it much easier to link him with the new name.

Do this every day for 15 minutes for a week and check if he responds better after that. If you see progressions, try this when there are people around.The last stage will be to do this same practice but in a public space or a park.


My girlfriend got a chance to own a rescue dog from a shelter. Even a few of my friends have acquired a shelter dog. Every one of them decided to change the name irrespective of the past. It was a challenge for them and the dogs, but it couldn't be merrier. Seeing those happy rescued dogs in their fun-filled life with a fresh start couldn't be more satisfying.

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