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Often, when playing with my puppy, I interchangeably use his name with labels, such as "good boy" and other various lovable labels - I just can't resist my dog's adorableness. ;)

I call my puppy "good boy" so often that it led me to think of this question:

Can a dog think it has/respond to two names?

I don't think my dog thinks that a label such as "good boy" is his name, but I was just curious if he hypothetically could respond to a second name.

Please note:
My question is not about the specific example if my puppy could think his name was his actual name and "good boy", it is more like: could a dog respond to two different names, consistently.

For example, could a dog be trained (purposely or not) to respond with two names such as Rex and Monty interchangeably?

Related:

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  • Hey I just found out that, by committing edit to one question, I unknowingly made your pending suggestion rejected by the background process: pets.stackexchange.com/review/suggested-edits/24956 so I am sorry about that!
    – lila
    Mar 27 at 20:20
  • 1
    @lila No worries! It's totally fine.
    – Nai45
    Mar 28 at 0:47
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I cannot provide any objective, scientific studies, but our dog learned to respond to different people using different words for his name or commands.

One member of my family likes to call him by a pet name that sounds close to his actual name and he reacts to both. One family member uses a specific whistle sound (that no-one else can reproduce) to call him back, while others use a spoken command like "come here". There are more examples of smaller or bigger differences in communication between people, but the dog reacts to most of them the same way.

He even changed his name once. When we adopted him he had the same name as one family member. To avoid confusion we had to rename him. That was many years ago, so he forgot his original name now, but there was a time when he reacted to both names.

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Yes, it is realistically possible, not only hypothetically.

Research was done (I do not have ready any link) and it was proved that dogs can learn more than a few hundred words - and their meaning too.


In our family, my dog (unusually big Pekinese) surely understands the meaning of the words for the following categories:

  • names of the people in our family (including his own);
  • the names of different foods (normal food, rewards, food where medicine is hidden...);
  • the proposals for activities (e.g. going out for walks, eating, going down from the bed...).

He answers not only to hearing his name, but also to different ways of communication - even when a specific name is not used.

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