What is the Talking Dog Buttons?

The body language of dogs is very expressive. They communicate with facial expressions and vocal signs like growls and grunts. It would be great to have the English language added to this list.

Talking dog buttons are the answer. If you’ve seen Bunny on TikTok and Instagram, and heard her talk with buttons, then perhaps you wondered whether your dog can learn to speak using buttons. Here’s everything you wanted to know about this new way of canine communication–because who wouldn’t want to have a conversation with their dog?

What are Dog Talk Buttons

These buttons were developed based on AAC devices, which allow non-verbal individuals to communicate. Soundboards are circular buttons that have words pre-recorded. When pressed, the button will say the word.

Say your dog is asking to be let outside. Your dog would press “Outside” with his nose or paw and go outside in the backyard. Or, he could push “Walk” to request a stroll. It takes some training to teach a dog how to press the buttons.

The Science Behind Talking Dog Buttons

The names for over 1,000 toys were taught to his Border Collie by John W.Pilley. The Border Collie, Chaser, could understand sentences that contained a verb, prepositional subject, or direct object.

Now, there are talking dog buttons. Bunny’s button board is based on the FluentPet System. The buttons are arranged using hexagonal tiles according to Fitzgerald Key which groups the words by category. It is designed to help the student remember where each button is.

Subjects (human names, dog names)

Objects (toy, ball, food)

Places (bed, couch, walk, outside)

Actions (potty, play, come)

Descriptors (good, later, all done)

Social (love you, hi, want)

It is yet to be seen how accurate and detailed talking dog buttons will actually be. Leo Trottier is the founder of FluentPet and Dr. Federico Rossano is a University of California Professor and Director of the Comparative Cognition Lab in UC San Diego.

According to their website, TheyCanTalk.org, the aim of this research is to apply a scientific method to measure how far non-humans can communicate “in language like ways.”

The study is open to all dog owners and pups around the globe. The study is expected to have over 3,000 participants by 2022.

Some cats start using buttons to communicate with their parents. Billi, the “most talkative cat” of Instagram, is one example.

Why Should you use dog communicator buttons?

Pet parents can use the buttons to communicate with their dogs in a more meaningful way. It’s helpful to know if your pet needs to leave the house to relieve itself. This signal is often missed by many dogs who stand quietly at the door, waiting for someone else to notice. A dog pressing a button saying “Outside” would be a good auditory sign.

Alexis Devine is an artist from Tacoma in Washington who started teaching her Sheepadoodle Bunny using this button. She says that within a couple of weeks after coming home Bunny began using the Outside button to tell her when she was ready to leave. From that moment on, the game was on!

Devine got the idea to teach Bunny how to speak after watching Stella. Stella is a mixed-breed big-eared dog that Christina Hunger, who works as a speech-language pathologist, owns. Hunger taught Stella how to express her needs and wants by pressing buttons onto a board.

Devine believes that the key to success is patience, repetition and being able to listen carefully to your animal companion, even if they are saying things without words. This gives us ideas about the words they may want to use.

Is it possible for any dog to learn how to use the talking buttons?

Devine says that dogs can be taught to press the buttons. Devine says that using basic operant condition to teach a ‘Outside” button is easy. This is like teaching a dog how to use a bell in order to get outside.

A simple and easy button to use is “Play”, which can also be easily modeled. Devine explains that “one would push the Play button and then play with the dog, repeating the process” until the dog understands the link between the two.

Devine explains that Bunny has changed her favorite buttons over the years as she matures. Early favorites included “Outside,” Play,” and “Poop,” but she now says “Love You” more often. Bunny can also combine multiple buttons in order to give Devine even more information.

What is the best way to train your dog to use talking buttons?

Hunger says that talking to your puppy a lot is the best way to teach him this ability. According to Hunger, just as with children, dogs also learn by listening.

To help you, it is important to note the words that are most often used. You may want to use the “Food button” to show that it is mealtime. If, however, you tend to say “Eat”, then this would be a good way to start.

You can teach your dog to push the button by showing him how you do it. You can teach your dog to push the buttons by modeling. You could say “Food”, push the “Food button” at mealtime and give your dog food. You could also press “Outside”, and take your dog out.

Modeling (a person presses “Outside”, a reward is given to the dog for going outside), repetition, and functional rewards (getting out of the house) are all used to teach a puppy how to press the button.

Tips for Using Dog Talk Buttons

Devine says that not modeling enough when teaching your dog to use the talking button is a big mistake. Devine explains how you need to demonstrate pressing the button to your dog in order for them to do so.

More tips on using the talking dog button:

  • Slow down: Each dog is unique, so it could take weeks before a dog shows any interest in the buttons.
  • Group them: The button board should be placed in a central location, where the dog is most likely to spend time.
  • Be attentive: Do not ignore other ways of communicating with your dog, including body language and vocal signals. This is not a change in the way your dog communicates. You are simply adding an option to your dog’s repertoire, if he’s interested.
  • Do not force: You should never force your dog to press the button by picking their paw up and placing it on it.
  • Enjoy the process. It may be that your dog enjoys it or not. It’s okay if your dog doesn’t like it!

You can communicate with your dog even without using a board. At the very least exploring the world of button will enrich your dog’s mind, while the additional methods of communication may strengthen the human-animal relationship.