The thing I have realized about nicknames is that once animals learn them, they always respond the them positively. As much as I have heard trainers say never to use your dog's name when you are scolding them, it is pretty much impossible to do. Your first instinct when your dog or cat is doing something wrong, is to yell out their name to try and get their attention. Though unless I was to start saying ilovekaya, Chubbie Wub Wubs and Squeaker in an angry tone, all they know is that life kicks ass when they hear it. It's definitely been helpful in positive training exercises.
When Shaka was around I was working with her a lot on her fears, nerves and doggy depression. At first, I instinctively used her nickname, Honeybee, whenever she was super excited and happy so she made a really positive connection to it. Later on, I realized it was helpful to use it when she would tense up and it would make her feel more at ease with the situation. I loved getting her all riled up and happy using her nickname because she was usually so mellow, it was such a great feeling to watch a withdrawn dog get super psyched about something!
Sometimes nicknames come in handy for Kaya and Norman too. If they are losing interest in a training exercise or distracted when we're out and about, I can throw out a nickname and they look at me like, "Who me? Oh! Hi! Awesome, yes, yes yes!"
And once in a while I like to say, "Squeaker! How dare you?" to Gina when she's up to no good...only to make myself laugh because let's face it, she doesn't give a damn when she's in trouble.
Have you found nicknames to be useful in training or do you keep them just for silly times?
I Got Yer Attention, Didn't I?