Deciding what to call a pet is always hard, but a few guidelines can make it easier:
Keep it simple. Stick with something that's two syllables max, so it's easy for even a small child to say.
Avoid any name that sounds like a common command, especially if your pet's a dog, says Grant Biniasz, a spokesperson for the Veterinary Pet Insurance Company, in Brea, CA. Dub your collie Joe, for instance, and he may think you're saying "no" every time you call him! (Also resist giving your pet a moniker that's similar to your child's, or they'll both end up confused.)
Give your kids some say. They probably have an opinion on whether your family's new BFF looks more like a Rover or a Kibbles. And if you let them pick a name, they'll have a sense of pride and ownership-which may inspire them to take on pet chores. Just make sure the name they select isn't something you'd be embarrassed to use in public (imagine screaming "Come back, SpongeBob SquarePants!" at a beagle who's slipped his leash).
Try to name your pet within the first two weeks so he'll come to learn it (dogs are more likely than cats to eventually respond to whatever you call them). If your pet came pre-named and you want to change it, try out your new name for two weeks; if your fuzzy friend can't adjust, go back to the original.