Renaming Your Dog

Bo, the newest member of the First Family, began his young life with the name of Amigo’s New Hope then later was known as Charlie by his original owners. Renamed Bo by the Obama family, the young Portuguese Water Dog is adjusting to his new moniker.

But just how do you best rename a dog and teach him his new name? The situation can arise, as with the Obamas, when a dog has had a previous family. Or you may name a dog then realize his name is just not a good fit. Or you might have a shelter or rescue dog that had been at the shelter long enough to learn a new name–or was surrendered by previous owners so his first name is known. (In cases of abuse, many behaviorists recommend a name change since the dog may associate the name with bad times or a call to punishment.)

Whatever the reason, there are several ways to teach your dog his new name:

  • You might try a double name for a while, starting with his old name, followed by the new name. The Obamas could call “Charlie Bo” then eventually just drop it to “Bo.”
  • You might make the new name one that rhymes with the old name. If “Charlie” became “Marley,” the switch would take place fairly quickly. Again, you could first call “Charlie Marley” then just “Marley.”
  • Just as with a brand new name, you can just launch in with the rename, calling “Bo” with lots of praise, happiness, and treats. Always associating his name with good things and happy times will help a dog learn his name and his new position as a friend and family member for the rest of his life.

Photo courtesy White House/Pete Souza

FUREVER YOURS Bracelet - 3 finishes

Wear this reminder on your wrist of the commitment you have made to your dogs, and they have made to you. Whether they live at your side or in your heart, your pets will be FUREVER YOURS. Use coupon code PAWS and save 15%. Free US shipping!

About Paris Permenter

Paris Permenter is the founder and co-publisher of LT Media Group LLC. Along with her husband, John Bigley, she edits,, and has authored over 30 books on pets and travel.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for all your tips. That's a good article! Have you read this article about zootoo & the shelter makeover?

  • Lani D

    I would avoid naming a dog something that rhymes with or sounds like “no”. Unless it is already trained, it could be confusing. My friend’s puppy was called Noah and they had to use the word “bad” instead of “no” or the poor puppy would think they were calling it everytime he did something wrong.

  • TTory33

    I have a question about naming my yorkie. I had a yorkie about 3 years ago and he was stolen from my home. Time has passed and I now have another yorkie but I having trouble naming him. I thought about naming the name of the first yorkie probably because I still think about my first dog. His name was Noah. I’m I wrong for name my second dog the name of the stolen dog? Some people have been telling me not to do it. What should I do.

    Thanks for the help

    • I think if it’s a name you’re comfortable with and your new Yorkie is answering to it, then Noah is a good name!! I think it’s a nice way to honor your first Yorkie as you begin your new life with the new Noah! Paris