The right name sparks that first emotional connection with your ideal dog-training client.

But choosing a unique name in the crowded pet industry isn’t always easy. Originality isn’t the only qualification for a successful name. In fact, a little too much creativity can hold a business back. So, what exactly should you consider when choosing a good name for a dog training business – and why?

A good name is one people can spell and pronounce

This sounds like a simple rule, but sometimes the drive to be unique can hold you back.

The pet space is full of businesses that have taken creative license with spelling, like using a “Z” in “Pawz” or swapping “Positive” with “Pawsitive.” This does help a business name stand out visually and imparts a sense of fun, but keep in mind that that it can also be harder to find online. People who hear about a trainer in conversation won’t know to search for “Kanine Training” instead of “Canine Training” when they look for the business website.

Did you know that Amazon was originally incorporated as “Cadabra” (pulled from “Abracadabra), until a lawyer misheard the name as “cadaver?” Needless to say, “Cadabra” didn’t last long. Make sure your business name is easy to spell and pronounce, and doesn’t sound similar to words with negative associations. 

As you craft your own new business name, shareability is the magic you should be looking for.

A good name doesn’t get smothered under shared acronyms

Some new businesses attempt to be memorable by choosing a business name that can be abbreviated to a pet-related acronym like “PAWS,” “RUFF,” or “SPOT.” If you pick this tactic, your business name will find itself in the same Google search with scores of organizations who have been using those abbreviations for years. Even if your “PAWS” stands for something entirely new, it’s the acronym that people will search for. The strong SEO-optimized websites of long-established “PAWS” groups will boost them to the top of the search, while your brand-new site could languish down below.

Leave these pet-centric acronyms to the groups who first began using them years ago. If you want to stand out, your dog training business needs to find something totally new to say!

A good name doesn’t limit the growth of your business

Will your chosen business name still be relevant if your business goals change or expand in the future?

Avoid names that restrict your business to a specific location or limit you to a single dog training niche. Specializing in a niche can definitely help you stand out from your competitors, but you may regret your niche-centric business name if your interests change.

If you insist on a name that reflects your hometown or your current training specialty, build in a little flexibility for reinvention. For example:

    • Make sure your business name doesn’t live and die pinned to one city. “Metro City Mutts” will almost certainly have to be abandoned if you leave Metro City. With it you’ll lose all the recognition and trust you’ve built over time. But a name like “Metro’s Mutts with Manners” could be shortened to “Mutts with Manners” after a move, retaining recognition and reputation.
    • Take care that the emotions your business name evokes don’t limit your options. If you launch your business in a puppy training niche with a name that reflects cuteness, joy and fun, your business name could suffer growing pains if you expand beyond puppies. If you start pitching future services to worried pet parents caring for dogs with anxiety and behavioral issues, all that cuteness could seem a little tone deaf. By choosing an original name that reflects trust, friendship, or even fun, without cementing itself in cuteness, today’s puppy business still leaves the door open for tomorrow’s new dog training challenges.

A good name authentically reflects your brand and services

So how do you start brainstorming a list of unique names that fit the dog training brand you have in mind? First, think about what type of dog business you are or hope to become, and how you want your clients to feel about it. 

    • Do you see your dog training business as one that creates a fun and stress-free bond between dogs and their guardians?
    • Are you a dog-science geek who loves to share the inner workings of the canine mind with your clients?
    • Do you live to help dog parents steer the all-out energy and joy of their high-energy dogs into agility, dock-diving, or other dog sports?

Grab a piece of paper and let your stream of consciousness flow. Write down descriptive keywords and phrases that come to mind. Specifically concentrate on the different types of words — nouns, action verbs, and descriptive adjectives — that you would like clients to associate with your business. 

What words might you choose if you were to name your business after something you love or admire? A favorite dog? A mountainside or lakeshore? A constellation in the night sky? If you were to use your own name in your business name, would you use your full name to be more formal, or just your first or last? 

Use a thesaurus to find alternatives for familiar words and start looking for connections where you can put words together into business title options.

Hang onto your word experiment. While only a few words will ultimately make it into your business name, the rest can act as inspiration for web page content, newsletters, blog posts – anything that will authentically describe your business.

A good name has been thoroughly researched online

Once you have a handful of names to consider, check to see if any are already in use. You’ve probably already been Googling during the process, but you’ll want to pay special attention to businesses in your service area. With tens of thousands of pet groups on the internet, it’s almost impossible to avoid some overlap of terms, but you certainly need a brand identity that stands out from the crowd.

    • Search online for “dog trainers near me” to see what terms are already being used.
    • Run a web search on the possible names you’ve chosen. Check for alternate spellings, too.
    • Visit ICANN Lookup to see if URLs for your choices are available. Make sure your URLS don’t look too confusing or spell other words when the terms of your name are strung together.
    • Plug your proposed names into the search box on the social media channels you plan to use to promote your business, to see if your names are also available there.

As you research other business names online, keep your eye out for new keywords to add to your list. While you can’t copy the name of another business, you might see that one perfect term that completes your own idea.

A good name hasn’t been trademarked by another business

While you aren’t required to trademark your business name, obtaining a trademark provides extra legal protection. In the United States, trademarked names are registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and are protected nationally. If a business name is already trademarked, you are prohibited from using it even if the company operates in a different state to yours.

We’ve provided links to a few government search engines, below. If you are in a different country, search online for “Choose a business name in…” or “trademarked business names in…” and your country. Be sure to search using a government web page. 

A good name is friend-approved

Before you start buying up domain names and staking your claim on Facebook or Pinterest, run your short list of name choices past family, friends, coworkers and other trusted pet professionals to look at and say aloud. Instead of asking “do you like it?” ask them what they feel or think of when they read or hear the names. If they are confused or are feeling muddled, you’ve got time to work things out. If their replies match how you want your clients to see your business — you nailed it!

Boost your business dream to the next level

While you are in a business mindset, don’t forget the importance of leveling up your dog training expertise, as well. The Victoria Stilwell Academy Dog Trainer Course is available to begin at any time, at your own pace. Add it to your developing business plan.