What's in a Name?
We recently had a boarder in the kennel with a two word name (Harry Potter) which made me wonder what kind of names are more effective for communication. Veterinary behaviourists have shown that a dog's name is more of a cue than a personal identifier. They respond to their name because something happens after they hear it. The theory is that unlike human's response to "I am my name", dogs respond simply because something good is going to happen when they hear their name.
That being said there have been studies into the types of sounds that elicit better responses. One study showed that four short notes were more effective at eliciting a come response and increasing motor activity levels than one longer continuous note. So that choosing a name that can be adapted to different tones can work well. Two syllable names work well for this. For instance, "Glorrr-yyy" may be more effective than single syllable "Spot" for recall.
On the other hand, other studies show that dogs respond quicker to short choppy sounds with a hard consonant.
There are lots of practical considerations, such as avoiding similar sounding names in multiple dog households. Avoid names that sound like commands you may want to use later. Our 13 year old grand-daughter learned this when she was trying to teach "over" to her Golden Retriever Clover.
Naming your dog with a person's name may get you some strange looks at the dog park when you call "Steve Come".
Leave a Reply.