I did it with Thalie. Most of the time they only get that name by the rescuers and are not "attach" to it. I change the name of my doodle because, first I didn't like the name giving to her and she never answer to it anyway.
On another way, if it is a rehome dog or that you know his/her background and he/she have that name for a longer time and respond to it I wouldn't change it.
I had tried to rescue not too long ago (another story). I had struggled with the idea of changing his/her name. I remember thinking: a young puppy I would have no issue changing the name because he/she is still young enough to adjust. An older puppy or dog, (say 6 months plus) I would keep the name but if it was something that I really, really disliked, then find a name that sounds very similar. With my girls, they started responded to their names within weeks (by three months old), so even a puppy could be confused. But, like Jeannine said, if the dogs name has been temporarily given by a rescue, and no information on the previous name, then I would change it if I didn't like the name.
I changed all my rescue dogs names and most of my fosters, too. But mostly to names similar to the original name. I don't remember what the rescue had Ginger's name as, I think it was Doodle Girl or something like that, but after picking her up and while driving home, my son said let's call her Ginger Snap or Ginger Ale, (You know kids!) and she has been Ginger or Gingie ever since.
Jack was called Jackson by the rescue. I have a neighbor, two houses down whose dog is also named Jackson, so we tried Hudson, Maxson, and several other -son derivatives but he ignored them all and we settled on Jack.
My mini, Jazzy came to me as a checked out, scared and shell shocked foster. The shelter or someone named him Jasper. He had run away from 2 homes, was found wandering the streets, then taken as a foster to another person who couldn't handle him and thought he needed meds because he was crazy and then he came to me. I still remember him sitting on a chair in my yard with a look on his face like he didn't have a clue about where he was, now. Over the course of a day or 2 he started coming out of his shell. I discovered that he was deathly afraid of a cage (who can blame him), so I never put him in one. He also acted as though he had never been touched or held without being hurt. We were calling him Jasper but he never took to it. Jass was the shorter form. Jazz developed from there and Jazzy was the final form of his name and he IS a Jazzy. It fits his personality so well now. The checked out boy is now a lovable, bossy leader of the pack. BTW, he loves to snuggle and give kisses, now.
My newest boy, Ripley was called Chip by his former family. When he came here as a foster Chip or Chippy was all he would answer to. I tried several different names but Rip, Rippy or Rippers would at least turn his head. He is here to stay now as he had a resource guarding issue and fear of children and threatened to be put down. He is learning his manners and now I can take anything out of his mouth (see Rehabilitating a Biter, in Discussing Behavioral Issues Group).
Interesting point about what does the dog respond to? I wonder if we as humans should consider trying names (sounds) the dog responds to? I think as humans we just consider what sounds nice to us but not what sounds good to our furry friend. Maybe puppies can be named by us, but for older (even older puppy) rescue dogs, who may have had more than one name, maybe the trick is "what does he/she respond to" not what do we (humans) like? Just typing "out loud".
I always go by that with my fosters. While they are sitting looking away from me I say names until they turn and look. I might do it 5 or 6 times but once you hit on the right name...they, and I, know it. LOL
Thalie was named Geneva by the rescue. I don't think she ever had a name before, coming from a puppy mill and rescued at 6 months old. Of course she never, never respond to that name on either any other names as matter of fact.
We name her after our sister-in-law who complain one day that never she will have a nephew or niece name after her. Her name is Nathalie so she got lucky that day and now she have a "niece" named after her!!
It took Thalie several weeks before she respond to her name. If we called our Golden, who's name is Gamine, she would come in the same time than her "sister. come to us. I guess she was confuse between her name and Gamine's name.
One day I was playing with her and I kept calling her name looking at her, like good Thalie, good girl Thalie, silly Thalie ect... She started there to realize that Thalie was her and since that day, she always respond to it.
Am I crazy about her name... not really (I like it but not Love in it) but it fit her personality like a glove fit your hand (a very french expression) she is a silly funny clown exactly like her "godmother"!! I cannot imagine her with another name now. Thalie she is and Thalie she will stay for the rest of her life.
Our rescue was originally named Mateo. He had lived with a hispanic family since being bought as a puppy. We tried to come up with something that sounded similar that he would answer to. Marlow was what we ended up with! A new name for a new beginning!
OK, I am going to swing right in the opposite direction for discussion purposes. Are dogs just trained to respond to sounds or body movement, regardless of previous names or age? I mean, if I relentlessly call you Joe, look happy about it, and give you treats or praise for responding, would you just one day say "hey, Joe it is."?
You're probably more dead on, Sue. If I called you fork, the same thing would happen I suppose. I always have a feeling that the dog knows his name and will tell us in his own way. Usually I have to look them in the eye to see it. Weird maybe. Maybe it's just wishful thinking, too. But we have to believe in something. LOL
We went through this with our human children. When we got them as 6wk old premie twins with god awful names.. we instantly researched what we should do because they were foster after all.. and legally we couldnt change their name or call them something entirely different. So we started calling them nicknames.. like JakeySnake.. because we were going to name him Jake but we would still sometimes include his old name ex. jeffyjakey or jakeyjeffy (not the real names) that way both names came together but eventually we just dropped the other name and I have always called him sweetpea! lol It was about 18mo that I finally said.. we are not doing this anymore they are learning to talk and call each other by a name.. so we dropped all other names and strictly called them the names we wanted with permission from the state.
I think with a dog or human yes we learn from repitition but we like the sound of something better than another. We did the same thing with the boys by saying the name and waiting for a response.. which from an infant is pretty subtle. We did find that the one boy needed a name similiar to the one he had and that worked out fine. He is his name and will always be. It is a variation of the one given by the bio's. but very similiar. He is a child that does not like change.
So... long story shortened.. I would say if your fostering, instead of giving the dog a name just call him by nicknames buddy, sweetie, handsome etc so that he knows love but his forever family can pick his final name.