Adopting a pet from the local animal shelter is one of the best things you can do. Not only do you have the opportunity to give an animal a second chance at a happy home, but also it’s something to be proud of.
Adoption is a life-changing experience for that animal, whether they’ve been abandoned at the shelter or came there from an abusive home. They’ll be grateful to be welcomed into their new home.
You may not be able to change the past, but you can give them a brand new name to go along with their new life. If you’re thinking about renaming your pet after adoption, there are few things to consider first.
How Your Pet Got Their Name
If an animal comes to the shelter with a name in place, the shelter will often keep the name.
There are 2 exceptions to this rule, though, the first being what type of past the animal had. If they came from an abusive situation, often the shelter will give the animal a new name to go along with their fresh start.
Animals with names that have negative connotations, such as Killer, will usually be renamed too.
If an animal is abandoned or born at the shelter, the staff will rename them. Doing so not only helps the shelter workers keep track of the animals but also creates an identity for each animal there.
Giving them an identity also helps potential adopters form a bond with the animals and makes it easier to rehome them.
The Type of Animal
Some animals respond better than others to a name change. Dogs are usually easy to train in comparison to cats. With the right type of training, it can be easy to teach a dog to respond to a new name.
In comparison, cats can be more difficult to train, so it may take longer for them to respond to a change in name.
Other animals who respond well to new names? Rats and rabbits.
How Long Your Pet Has Had Their Name
How easy it is to change the name of your adopted pet will depend on how old they are and how long they’ve had the name. Younger animals are more responsive to a name change because they haven’t had it as long. So if you’ve adopted a puppy or kitten, you’ll have better luck changing their name.
While not impossible, renaming an older pet may require more time and work to accomplish. However, if they were given a new name in the shelter, it may be easier to change because they’re not quite used to it yet.
Mental Health of the Pet
An important element to consider when deciding whether to change a pet’s name is their mental health. Animals who come from stressful environments may need the stability of their old name to help them adapt to a new home.
Likewise, if an animal has an anxious personality, it may be wise to forgo changing their name until they settle in.
How to Rename a Pet After Adoption
Renaming a pet requires a lot of patience, understanding and work. Go into the process knowing it may take weeks to help your pet adjust to their new name. That being said, there are 2 tricks that can make renaming your pet a breeze.
1. Use Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is the number 1 tool someone can use when training their pet. Just like humans, animals respond well to praise.
So, one of the easiest ways to get them to respond to their new name is use their name every time you give them love, treats or toys. Praise your new pet every time they respond to their new name.
Before you know it, they will learn there are rewards associated with responding to their name.
2. Use Name Association
A simple way to use name association is to combine their old name with their new one.
If their name at the shelter was Fluffy but you want to change it to Thor, combine the 2 into FluffyThor. They’ll get used to the new ending of their name, and eventually you can drop Fluffy from the beginning.
This trick, combined with positive reinforcement, will make the name change easy.
Check out last year’s most popular dog names:
Renaming your pet after adoption isn’t impossible, and the reasons to do so may extend beyond not liking their adopted name.
The important thing to remember is all animals respond differently. The best thing you can do for them is be patient and understanding while going through the transition.
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This article was written by Katie Jenison. Katie is a freelance writer and coffee enthusiast residing in the Midwest. Growing up on a small farm in rural North Dakota, Katie developed a love for animals of all shapes and sizes. In her spare time, she can be found curled up with a book and her 2 cats, Boomer and Lou, blogging about her freelance experiences and spending time with her family.