Giving Your Dogs Unexpected Names Might Just Help Them Get Adopted

If you’ve happened upon our blog, our Facebook page, or read any of our books, you know that we’re all about a dog’s individual personality. It’s adoption marketing 101 to focus on a dog’s personality in your social media posts and kennel cards. But, there’s also nothing wrong with giving that dog a little personality.

Persephone. Source: Unleashed Pet Rescue and Adoption/Facebook

No, we don’t mean embellishing on his actual personality. What we mean is drawing people to your dogs by naming them clever – and sometimes really weird – things.

At AFF, we’ve had dogs named after wines and recently a litter of puppies with fish aquatic names (think Dory from Finding Nemo).

Orbicularis Oculi. Source: Unleashed Pet Rescue and Adoption/Facebook

Think about a potential adopter. Let’s say that person has had a really hard day and they’re scrolling through Facebook and up pops a picture of a dog named “Chardonnay.” The potential adopter might think, “wow, a glass of Chardonnay sounds really good right now.” That doesn’t sound like it has much to do with the dog, but here’s the thing – that dog is going to stick with them. That dog’s name triggered something in them. They made a connection. If the dog was named “Fido,” well, they likely would have kept scrolling.

Lexington. Source: Unleashed Pet Rescue and Adoption

Unleashed Pet Rescue and Adoption in Mission, Kansas is one of the best at naming their dogs. The rescue works with open intake shelters in their area, particularly Kansas City Animal Control. Why do we say they’re excellent at naming their dogs?

Meet Volkswaggin’

Source: Unleashed Pet Rescue and Adoption

Anderson Cooper:

Source: Unleashed Pet Rescue and Adoption

And Hokey Pokey:

Source: Unleashed Pet Rescue and Adoption/Facebook

Those are just a few examples of the names Unleashed’s shelter workers and volunteers come up with. We chatted with Unleashed’s Danielle Reno, the organization’s director, as well as their Outreach Coordinator Bekah Scott, plus volunteer Rebecca Grace Taylor about how the shelter decides on crazy names for the dogs in their care and the effect that has on adoption rates.

Sweet Honey Iced Tea. Source: Unleashed Pet Rescue and Adoption/Facebook

To make things simple, Unleashed uses themes to name their dogs. They choose a different theme each week for the dogs from Kansas City Animal Shelter.

Danielle told us:

“[We choose] names that appeal to the senses and subconsciously appeal to adopters. So, Jelly Bean, Chocolate Chip Cookie, Cucumber Melon, Salted Caramel Blondie, Autumn Air, Cotton, etc… will help get an animal more attention and essentially adopted quicker. No topic or theme is off the table we get inspiration from music, pop culture, tv, etc…”

The day David Bowie died, three dogs were named in his honor – China Girl, Space Oddity, and Starman. They did something similar when  Natalie Cole (Pink Cadillac, Paper Moon, and Unforgettable, to name a few) and Merle Haggard (Workin’ Man Blues, Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Star, and Big City, among others) died.

They’ve also named dogs after soap operas.

Guiding Light. Source: Unleashed Pet Rescue and Adoption

Some of their other themes include Westerns:

  • Blazing Saddles
  • Gun Smoke
  • Dances with Wolves
  • High Noon
  • True Grit

And 90s toys:

  • Polly Pocket
  • Bop-It
  • My Size Barbie
  • Tamagotchi
Yahoo! Source: Unleashed Pet Rescue and Adoption

 We asked Unleashed what potential adopters thought about these unique names. Danielle said:

They definitely catch people’s attention. Adopters usually laugh when they find out their names but then they always remember them!!”

She also thinks these names have a huge impact on the lives of the dogs in Unleashed’s care:

“I believe it has increased our adoption rate, although I have no definitive way to prove it. But it catches people’s attention, so we know it’s working. We are known for our names!”

And, indeed, Unleashed is known for its names – very well-known, in fact. In 2015, their dog Miss Marshmallow’s story went viral, resulting in her adoption and increased attention on the rescue in general.

Miss Marshmallow. Source: Marshy’s Miracles

While we can’t guarantee silly names will make your rescue or shelter dogs go viral, it’s highly likely that you’ll garner extra attention from social media and potential adopters. After all, who can forget names like Pause Odorous, Slick Booty, Shaggy Booty, and Correction Tape?

Have a look at our Marketing Best Practices book for more adoption marketing ideas.

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