Finding the perfect name for your dog, or any pet, can be a challenge. It is a vitally important name: your dog will hear it many thousands of times throughout his lifetime, and in his head it will come to mean something akin to: “Pay attention, because I am about to tell you to do something.”
But did you know that there is actual science behind what makes a good name for a dog, how they hear it, and how and when you should use it?
According to psychologist and dog expert Stanley Coren, dogs hear the letter “S” much more vividly than we do, owing to their superior hearing. In his book, “The Intelligence of Dogs,” he has also stated that most dogs respond well to the inclusion of both hard consonants and two-syllable names.
This makes names with an “S” sound in them, such as “Sam” or “Maxie” great choices for a puppy or any dog just learning his name. However, in this case, “Maxie” is the winner. Because of the hard “X” and the two-syllables, this name is (in theory) more likely to be easily heard, recognized, and remembered by your dog. But “Sam” could, and often does, become “Sammy” and work just as well.
Names with three syllables or more can be confusing to a learning animal. They often contain a variety of sounds the dog may misconstrue, such as the name “Oliver,” which sounds vaguely similar to the command “Roll Over.” Longer names can also become a hassle, and the dog will usually end up with a nickname, in this case “Ollie”, which would work well.
For that matter, the name should not sound like any command or other word the dog will come to know well. The sound should be a relatively novel one, not something you use all day. You don’t want your dog to get so used to hearing the sound of his own name, without any follow-up command, that he begins to ignore it altogether.
It isn’t just the length or sound of the name, though: it’s how you use it. For instance, when you tell your dog to “Come” you should not say, “Come, Teddy.” Instead, you should say, “Teddy, come.” The reason? Because if you use the command first, the dog may not realize it is directed at him. By the time he hears his name, he may be standing there wondering and waiting for you to tell him what to do. In the second example, saying the dog’s name first gets his attention, and he will be waiting and ready to process the command. Even if your dog is smart enough to figure it out both ways, the second method is still preferred for its efficiency, especially when teaching a puppy his name or a new command!
We named our dog “Albion”, the ancient name for England. It breaks many of the guidelines outlined above. We call him “Albi”, though. Albi is easier for most to comprehend and write down and remember, for instance, at the groomer or vet. It is also better for the dog, as he has come to associate the word “On” with a longer command, like “Albi, ON the chair.” So “Albion” insinuates to Albi that I want him to get ON something! Hence, the name usually draws a curious stare.
Of course, you need to base your dog’s name on more than science and efficiency! When asked, many of the owners on our Facebook page shared touching or humorous stories of how they named their cockapoo. Here are a few of their messages.
Kerrie Symonies said, “My three girls (are) Penny: She was my first dog, and I thought about how finding a penny is lucky. I felt very lucky to find her! Bailey: Her fur reminded me of the color of a Baileys Irish coffee! Holly: We brought her home just a few days before Christmas.”
“My Fozzie looks like Fozzie Bear…before he got his puppy cut!” said Stephanie Rawcliffe Tangora.
Jenny Jelen named her cockapoo Felicity, but discovered that it was better to shorten the name. “Philly came from Felicity. Two reasons: felicity was getting to be a mouthful and she acts more like a “Philly”. I love her.”
Sometimes a name comes about in a curious, yet often clever, fashion. One example comes from Cockapoo Crazy fan page member Edward Pearce, who said: “Our cockapoo EDEN was the first (two) letters of my name and the last two letters of my wife’s name, Karen. So hence the name EDEN.”
That’s just a small sampling of the great naming stories that have been shared on our Facebook Page. Go and share yours, or post any thoughts and ideas here in the comments section.