Choosing the right pet name is a big decision because you’re going to call them that name for as long as they live. That might be a decade or two for conventional pets, such as dogs and cats, but it could be multiple generations for birds or exotic animals. Finding the right name takes some work and creativity, but asking yourself the following seven questions can narrow down the process quickly.

1. Is the Name Too Close to Another Word?

Your pet’s name shouldn’t be too close to words or sounds they often hear. For instance, a Star Trek fan might want to name their dog Spock, but this could be too close to “walk.” If you buy a bird, you might be inspired to choose a name like Mrs. Tweety, but the first word could sound too close to “kisses.”

2. What Pop Culture or Media Do You Love?

One potential source of cute pet names could be movies, books, or cartoons that you love. Think about music artists and bands you like to listen to or review the list of video game titles you play regularly.

3. Is the Name Already Popular?

Avoiding popular names is challenging, but it’s also worth it. Other pets might have the same name in public, and using human names might cause confusion when you have guests over.

4. How Would You Describe Your Pet?

Write down a list of a dozen words that could describe your pet. Find synonyms for these words to generate potential pet names.

5. Is the Pet Name Embarrassing?

Coming up with a unique or different name is tempting, but do you want to call out this name in front of other people? Would you be embarrassed to speak this name loudly in front of others in a dog park or when calling out to your bird when you have guests in your home? If this could be an issue, skip the name you’re considering and pick something more family-friendly.

6. How Many Syllables Is Enough?

Sophisticated pet names might sound beautiful and even artistic, but too many syllables can be a problem. For starters, they’re harder for humans to say. Secondly, they’re more difficult for pets to comprehend when they hear them. One- or two-syllable pet names are ideal in most cases.

7. How Would Friends and Family React?

It’s often a good idea to have someone double-check your work, so it’s worth considering how friends and family might react to a pet name that you have chosen. Making everyone happy is impossible and not worth trying, but you’ll use your pet name frequently in front of those around you. While you want to pick the name right for you and your pet, who do you trust enough to ask for feedback on this decision?

Positive Reinforcement Pays Off

Whether you go the traditional route and get a cat or dog, or you choose to spice up your life with an exotic animal, positive reinforcement and training should get your pet to recognize when you call out the name you finally choose. You can test how a name sounds and feels a handful of times before a pet will tune in, but rewards and treats can lock in a name for them.