How to Choose a Pet Name. Guide, Ideas & Tips

Pets have become members of our families which means we need names for us to effectively address or communicate to them. Your pet deserves a good name that it shall easily relate to.

To choose a unique name for your pet, be it a dog, cat, hamster, chinchilla, owl, or any other animal, a lot of factors come into play. First, take a deeper look at your pet. Give it an acceptable and memorable name based its character, physical appearance, origin etc.

Source the name from themes such as fictional characters, places, famous people or simply name it after a lost family member to make it mean even more than just a mere name. The process is long and with numerous possibilities, but that’s the joy.

If you’re wondering how you can choose the best name for your pet amidst all the excitement of having a new member of the family, here’s a detailed piece that will guide you on how to make the right decision. Let’s get into it!

Naming Guidelines

People look at all sorts of things to name their pets. From famous characters like musicians, actors, singers, producers, to cartoon themes, food, other pets, sports, places, etc. The suggestions are endless. This is why these naming guidelines are crucial to you. In this section, you shall read about a step by step guide on choosing the right name.

Pet naming guide, tips and ideas
Dog and cat

Start Off with Acceptable Names

As a family, it’s important to jot down a list of acceptable names that you can select from. Allow all members of the family to have a say including the children. If your children are bound to go astray from your selection, you can point them in the right direction by offering a pre-written list.

Acceptable in terms of comfortability, ease of spelling, character definition, among other things. Here are a few things to note;

  • Don’t name your pet after a temporary change like tiny as it may grow, or blue eye since some dogs experience eye color change as they age.
  • Don’t select a name you would be afraid to use in public.
  • Don’t name the pet something contradictory like a bull when it’s a wee chihuahua.

Follow Up with the Process of Elimination

Scientists, psychologists, and other specialists have come up with a few rules for choosing a name. These guidelines are meant to aid with the process of selection in the best way. Unlike horse naming that’s strict and should be followed, these are just mere suggestions.

They include;

  • Use a short one- or two-syllable name. This way the name will be more effective for attention and even training.
  • Associate the dog’s name with positive names especially if you’re choosing a name based on famous movies, TV shows, books, Disney themes, and other ideas. A good example is “Cujo” – the killer dog from the movie – Cujo.
  • Avoid discriminatory names that may offset anyone culturally, ethnically, racially, or religiously. For example lucifer or ghost. You would want to annoy your neighbors, vet, or other family members.
  • Avoid names that can be confused with training cues or commands. For example, the name mo can be confused with  “no”, kit can be confused with sit.

Get Inspiration from Different Sources

You can choose a name that reminds you of your favorite songs, favorite Disney character, favorite tv shows. Favorite books like Harry Potter, celebrities like musicians, actors, sports stars, and many more. Here are several ideas for pet names by themes and other inspirational sources.

Harry Potter

  • Sirius
  • Dobbie
  • Hermione
  • Potter
  • Draco
  • Hagrid


  • Simba
  • Nala
  • PJ
  • Mickey
  • Scooby

Sports Stars

  • Tiger – for Tiger Woods
  • Messi – Lionel Messi
  • Rooney
  • Ty – Mike Tyson
  • Bolt – Usain Bolt

These are just examples of ideas you can get inspiration from.

Tips to Consider When Choosing a Name for Your Pet

While you already have the guidelines, you could also use these tips, just to make a tad bit easier.

  • Avoid tongue twisters – your peg may be unable to assimilate every call as the name is long and confusing.
  • Avoid human names – names have a persona; a form of character one is supposed to assimilate from the name. Giving your pet a human name is a term called anthropomorphizing which isn’t recommended as you will expect the dog, cat, or pet to simply have human characteristics, which creates an even bigger problem.
  • Avoid popular names – pets too have traffic jams for names. Pet names like Rover and Rex have been used soo repeatedly on dogs it has lost its uniqueness and pliability. Aim for something different for your pet.
  • Avoid trendy and overly witty names as well. As the name says trendy only means for a short while, hence, when the trend passes, you’re stuck with a name you don’t like anymore. Choose something you can stay with forever, not something for the splurge of the moment.
  • The best names come from unique traits the pet has. From speedy, sweetie, softie, biggy, shaggy, and more.
  • Don’t be afraid to test it out with the pet. Calling out different names to the pet is a good way to see if the pet agrees, resonates, or even likes the name. This way, you won’t be using too much time looking for a name and the pet ends up not liking it. Besides, it’s faster.

More Phonetic Guidelines to Help with Choosing a Name

Phonetics is the study of sound; how you say something versus how its heard or perceived. This plays a major role when choosing a name because as mentioned above pets can easily confuse names with cues and commands. Experts, dog trainers, and animal behaviorist advice that using phonetics can help narrow down your choices to the best among a batch.

Adding onto the tips above, here are more guidelines to follow;

  • For dog breeds with pricked or erect ears, the best names should have relatively sharp consonants rather than sibilant sounds. This is because they have higher sound frequencies than other dog breeds hence unable to respond quickly to softer sounds.
  • Pick a name that ends with a long video or a short a. This way the consonant is more audible. For example. Simba, Jojo, Orca, Coco, Bernie, Jovi, or tutu. The point here is to give a sounding vowel so the pet can hear you without confusing it with anything else.
  • For distinguish purposes, you can also choose something with a sibilant constant or a blend of it. This way the pet can distinguish it from ambient noises. Examples include (an “s,” “sh” or “zh”) or (a “k” or hard “c”).
  • Keep the name short. Calling out to your pet with a long name like abracadabra can be exhausting even for you. Especially during training when you’re calling out to the pet often, it can be tiring and frankly boring. Moreover, the pet will respond and relate with shorter names better.
  • The name should be easy to call out. This tip goes hand in hand with avoiding tongue twisters and choosing short names.


How do you decide and agree on a pet name?

To decide and agree on your pet name, choose naming themes that both of enjoy and relate to. For instance, you choose the name a fruit that both of you like. You can also opt for a neutral name that does not favor anyone. Avoid themes that you have that may result to conflict

Can you give a pet two names?

Yes of course but it does not work always. Two names like sugar-salt, hug-buddy will in most cases work fine. It may be confusing to the pet if it is a case where the names are separated like Jim Blue.

Some dog owners claim to use up to four names but in most cases the dogs hardly respond to most of the names.

One, short and clear name works best.

 Final Thoughts

Choosing the name of your pet should be as exciting as choosing the name of a newborn or an addition to the family. Seek inspiration from anywhere and everywhere you desire from the personality, favorite cartoon, movie, and more. Furthermore, if this isn’t something you look forward to then you can seek to use the pet’s heritage. All in all, you need patience to get to the right name choice for your pet.