I'm always interested to hear how people come up with names for their dogs. Some go with the popular names while others use the opportunity to be more creative. When I hear an unusual name, I am always curious to hear how the name was chosen.

A quick search for the most popular dog names online shows some of the favorites to be: Max, Buddy, Bailey, Maggie, Molly, Daisy – and many others. The popularity of some names probably vary by breed and geographical location. Looking back at my client roster from the past few years, without a doubt the most popular name among my clients' dogs have been Gracie, Lilly/Lily, Lucy & Sadie. Other popular names have been: Bella, Abby, Bailey, Casey, Cooper, & Daisy.

My goal has always been to have unusual names for my dogs. It's due in part to the fact that I see so many dogs and want my dogs' names to be different from all of the other dogs. It's due in part to the fact that I see dogs' and cats' names as a chance to really have some fun with names. If you're naming a human child, you have to think about how it's going to fit them as a child and an adult, if they're going to be teased by the name, etc. But for dogs, there's more freedom and less worry about what others might say.

I spend a LOT of time working on names when I am about to bring home a new dog – probably way too much time. But it's fun – I have a blast coming up with ideas and considering the possibilities! My first rule is to ensure the name does not sound too much like something else I might say a lot. For example, I will not name a dog anything that sounds too much like “No” or “Come” or other things that people say to dogs often. Those who know my training philosophy know that I don't use “no” with my dogs, but I do use “Go” as a release, and lots of other people do use “No”. (I won't incriminate any guilty parties by specifying names, but they know who they are.) I don't want my dogs' names being mistaken for other things.

When our current Greyhound came to live with us, her name was Jane. While the “J” went well with our Collie, Joxer, at the time, Jane was just not the right name for her. I needed something with a bit more flair! I was determined to stick with a “J” name, but finding one that my husband and I could agree on proved to be very difficult. After sorting through countless names, I finally happened upon “Jahzara”. Of African origin, the name means “blessed princess”. We finally had a name! Anyone who knows her knows that she really is a princess. While no one can seem to pronounce her name correctly, I love it, and it works for us.

When we decided to bring home a Vizsla puppy, we were originally supposed to get a girl and had a name all picked out. That took quite a while, but we had plenty of time to plan. However, as it turned out, we ended up with a boy instead. The girl name will get saved for a future girl. We had not agreed upon a boy's name by the time we brought him home. It was on his second full day with us that I finally found a name we could agree upon. As much as I wanted to stick with a “J” name, we weren't able to find one that worked for us – except for one we both really liked that was too close to “Jahzara” to work right now. That name will get saved for a future dog as well.

So how did we decide on Romeo? At first, I had bypassed the name as being too well-known, even though I hadn't known any dogs with that name. But knowing that Romeo was planned to be my demo/assistant/training dog who will eventually be going with me most places, I needed a name that people could pronounce. I also wanted something that fit him.

Vizlsas are known for being family dogs who love love love being with their family. There's a Hungarian saying that loosely translates as “If you own a Vizsla, it will live on your head.” By that, they mean, they don't just want to be nearby – they really want to be right there with you and involved. Very true for Romeo – on my lap is his favorite napping spot, even at 47 pounds.

In his litter, his nickname was “Traveler” since he was the first one out of the whelping pen and roaming around. Romeo is a little lover-boy, very affectionate (overly so sometimes), and loves loves loves to meet and play with other dogs and meet new people. Romeo is Italian, meaning “Pilgrim to Rome”. All of these factors seemed to converge into a fitting name of Romeo. So there you have it. I think it's very fitting for him.

I'd love to hear how you came up with the names for your dogs!