Your pet's name isn't just about fun and creativity. It's also key to training, which affects your pet's safety and health.
Taught properly, pets’ names get their attention and alert them to act upon whatever comes next. Dog and cat names also lay the foundation for the human-animal bond, often with numerous, humorous nicknames sprouting up. Nelly-belly or Anna-banana, anyone?
When Jennifer Paterno of Belleville, N.J., learned that her 8-month-old Labrador retriever mix had let herself out of their new home and slipped a neighbor's grip on a frigid day last January, she did what experts advise panicked pet owners to do: She got busy, fast.
Paterno quickly made and distributed flyers with Jersey's photo and identifying information to area businesses, local police departments, and shelters. She posted notices on her Facebook page and on various online lost-and-found pets...
“I almost always pick people names,” says Cathy Lester of Centennial, Colo. “I think it’s more dignified and adds a lot of personality. I like offbeat names, something I haven’t heard before.”
Lester trains her dog to compete in obedience, agility, tracking, and herding events and prefers shorter, distinct names - usually two syllables. She named her new border collie puppy Victor because of the movie Young Frankenstein, in which Victor pronounced “Wictor” cracked her up.
Beyond humor, check out the science behind choosing dog and cat names.
Dog and Cat Vocabularies
"Absolutely, dogs and cats can learn their names," says Christopher Pachel, DVM, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist in Portland, Ore.
Names, after all, are words. And a growing body of research is attempting to track the mental abilities of pets, and dogs in particular.
Chaser, a border collie trained by researchers at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., is the newest star of canine intelligence. She understands the names of 1,022 objects.
It's not yet clear if pets understand the abstract concept of a personal identifier -- that they hear their name and know that you mean them -- or if they simply hear it as word that means certain things may happen next, Pachel says.