Have you ever wished you could teach your dog to talk? We know our dogs understand a tremendous amount of language, but what if they could talk to us directly? Can you teach your dog to talk? In short, the answer is yes.
San Diego-based speech therapist Christina Hunger MA, CCC-SLP, has discovered a way to train her dog to talk to her using adaptive voice technologies – pre-programmed voice buttons with words her dog Stella can choose between communicating desires. , needs and thoughts. Christina Hunger has a viral Instagram where she documents her dog’s learning called “Hunger4Words” and a website with additional resources.
In short video clips, Stella uses her vast vocabulary of words programmed into recordable buttons to express not only things she wants to do like going to the beach, but also more abstract concepts like feelings and emotions as well as feelings and emotions. word associations.
In a recent video, Stella used her soundboard (a collection of pre-programmed buttons) to tell her landlord by quickly pressing several buttons that something was going on outside their house and that she wanted to go check it out. This new training opens up the possibility for dogs to communicate more clearly with us and allows us to better understand how our dogs see the world.
Teach your dog to talk with buttons
If you’ve always wondered what your dog had to say, now is your chance to find out. You don’t have to be a speech therapist or dog trainer to start building a new level of understanding of what your dog wants. Now you can actually Learn how to teach your dog to talk with buttons. Using recordable dog training buttons is a fun way to increase the communication you already have with your dog. It’s also something that with a little practice every dog can use to communicate at least basic things like wanting to walk or play.
Recordable dog training buttons are available for purchase from many retailers – Stella even has her own set! There are high-end buttons that can be purchased from medical and therapy supply companies, but you can purchase cheaper options as well. I found this four button pack on Amazon that I bought for training my own dogs. Each button can be registered in 30 seconds (much longer than necessary for a single word). Some owners also choose to purchase foam floor tiles and Velcro to attach the buzzers, to keep their dog from slipping.
The buttons have a non-slip pad at the bottom that prevents them from moving when your dog presses the button to communicate. The Hunger website lists these other slightly more expensive buttons also available on Amazon under their Resources. Price: $ 20
Step by step
The idea of teaching your dog to “talk” through talk buttons may seem daunting, but at least at an initial, basic level, it’s something that many dogs should be able to master. The key is patience and consistency. If you rush the process, your dog would likely press buttons, but not necessarily really understand the meaning of the button he is pressing. Dogs who are in a hurry in the training process are also less likely to independently use buttons to actively communicate.
- Once you have your buttons, you’ll want to start teaching your dog how to use them. The easiest way will be to associate buttons with items of great value in your dog’s life. For example, playing, taking a walk, going to the yard, etc. Essentially, you want to start by selecting words that your dog already has an association with and which are things your dog enjoys. Struggling to find which words already mean something to your dog? Hunger understands this PDF vocabulary sheet on his website that you can use to think about. For my own dog, I chose “potty” as the first word which, in my case, means to go out in our garden. I recorded ‘pot’ on one of the buttons and placed it in a central location in my house that we had to pass through to access the backyard.
- Once you have a button ready, it’s time to start using it. At this point, you press the button whenever you and your dog are about to do whatever is associated with the button. So, for example, every time I take my dogs out, I would press the button to make them say “potty” and then my dog and I walked out. The point is not to force your dog to press the button or even directly teach your dog to press the button the same way you would a button tour. Using communication buttons you want your dog to reflect back to you, by watching you press the button before doing a specific activity, over time he will learn to press the button himself to signal you that he would like to do the activity. Again, the key is consistency and patience.
- Over time, after seeing you press the button, your dog will make the connection between the button and the desired activity. At this point, your dog will mirror you and press the button on his own. When your dog uses the button, praise him and immediately give your dog what has been asked. So for this example, when my dog presses the button that says “potty”, we have a little party and I immediately take him outside to the yard.
- As your dog has mastered the use of a single button, you can start adding more buttons for different aspects of your dog’s day. You can also introduce toys and games to your dog’s day in the same way, rewarding them when they press the button.
Think about how many words your dog already knows, clues to tricks and behaviors trained to people, objects and experiences such as toy names, park, beach, etc. With this approach to training, any words your dog already knows (along with other objects and experiences) can all be named for your dog. And over time, your dog might, in theory, be able to use their registered buttons to request these items and “have a conversation” with you. Many people put a doorbell on their door and teach them how to ring when they need to go out. I like to think of the recordable button dog training method that Christina Hunger pioneered as a promising and significantly more advanced and technologically accurate version of this training.