In 2021, Dogs Can Talk
Recordable communication buttons already empower thousands of dogs around the world to...
- Communicate their needs and wants
- String together five words or more to form complete thoughts
- Help us catch possible ailments early by letting us know when they're in pain
- Show their love and affection in new ways
...and so much more! Will this be the day you give them a voice?
Use coupon code MYVOICE for 20% OFF at checkout
Can I really teach my dog to talk?
The short answer? Yes.
Dogs around the world are challenging long-held conceptions of what is truly unique to humans, forcing us to reexamine our understanding of animal sentience.
In 2019, speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger and her talking dog Stella went viral on Instagram after sharing the results of an experiment she did to see just how much Stella could learn. Stella now knows several dozen words, and can string together five words or more to communicate complex ideas.
Since Stella found her fame, she's inspired pet parents everywhere to replicate Hunger's experiment at home, and people are seeing remarkable results. For example, one clever dog in Canada combined the words "water" and "treat" to refer to a popsicle! Others have been shown to understand concepts of time, like "morning," "afternoon," "evening," "yesterday," and "tomorrow." The best way to prime your dog for this level of competence is to introduce a "later" button.
A study is currently being conducted by the UCSD Comparative Cognition Lab to see just how far we can take this wonderful discovery. They're looking to see where the limit is, and findings keep pushing that limit further than we could ever have imagined.
Dedicate buttons to your dog's favorite places, so they can tell you if they're in the mood to go to the beach, to the park, to grandma's house, or to take a walk through the woods.
And if it's not a good time, use the opportunity to reinforce the "later" button. If you just got back from the beach and they're asking to go again, you'll want to press the button for "beach" and then "all done."
How can I teach my dog to use their communication buttons?
The most major hurdle is getting your dog to understand that the buttons mean something; they also need to be taught early that they each mean something different.
For this reason, we highly discourage starting with a "treat" button unless nothing else has worked. It can be very difficult for them to unlearn the association between pressing the button and getting a treat, and might be confused when you introduce a second button.
Instead, we recommend to start with the word "outside," with the button placed by the door. Every time you go outside, press the button with your foot. After a couple weeks of this, see what happens when you press the "outside" button when your dog is within earshot. If they come running to the door excited, you'll know they've successfully learned the association! Next, try waiting to open the door until they press the button. It may take some encouragement, but never grab their paw and press the button with it. You can add an "all done" button to press when you go inside: "All done outside!"
Once they've mastered "outside" and "all done," move your dog's communication buttons to a dedicated space where you'll build and expand their word board. We next recommend you add a "play" button, which you'll press when possible every time you play. When you need to get back to what you were doing, press "all done play".
Your dog wants to make you happy—it's in their nature. What they don't realize when starting out is that it's just as much for them as it is for you, and when this clicks, they'll become all the more eager to expand their vocabulary.