Dogs (and cats) communicating with their owners through a series of buttons have been all over social media platforms lately. Thanks to these buttons that are each associated with a different word, these animals seem to be having actual conversations with their owners. Can these buttons enhance the human-animal bond? Would your pup benefit from dog communication buttons? Keep reading to learn more about this new phenomenon.
What Are Dog Communication Buttons?
Although these buttons are suddenly extremely popular on social media, they were once mostly found in speech therapy circles. These augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices let a user to find alternative ways to communicate besides talking. They are often used for people who have extreme speech difficulties.
Christina Hunger, who is herself a speech pathologist, decided to try the buttons with her dog Stella. After Hunger chronicled her experience on social media, Alexis Devine decided to try the buttons with her dog Bunny. Both women trained their dogs to express their thoughts using a series of buttons associated with different words like “outside” or “play.”
How Do Dogs Learn to Communicate?
Just like with any other kind of training, most dogs need a certain amount of repetition to get on board with what you want them to learn. Most owners who have successfully taught their dogs to use the buttons have started with just one–usually for “outside.” They make sure to press the button before going outside with the dog. Some dogs take to the buttons very quickly, while others have no interest in them. If your dog is easy to train, and you want to see if dog communication buttons can help you get a better idea of what they’re thinking, it might be a good time to start experimenting.
Dog Communication Buttons…with a Grain of Salt
If you spend time watching videos of dogs like Stella or Bunny using the buttons, you will probably be convinced that they are actively communicating with their owners. There are many scientists who remain skeptical about the true intention behind the button pushing. They believe that the dogs have just realized that pressing a certain button gets a certain (positive) reaction from their owners. Federico Rossano and Leo Trottier, both cognitive scientists, created TheyCanTalk.org, which enlists the help of citizens to further study the effectiveness of dog communication buttons and whether or not they really work the way we think they do.
Give It a Try
Whether or not dogs are using these buttons to communicate the way humans think they are, using them could still be a fun experience (and a new way to bond) with your pup. If you don’t mind devoting some time to training your dog to use the buttons, you might want to start out with a couple and see how they work. If your dog takes to them successfully, these buttons could give you a deeper view into your dog’s thoughts and personality. And who wouldn’t want even more reasons to love their dog?
At Union Lake Pet Services, we offer a wide-range of dog training services that make learning fun for your dog. We also have boarding, grooming, daycare, and behavior modification services to meet all your needs. Whether you need a break from training or you are going on vacation and need a safe place for your pup, we are here to help. Call (248) 363-6262 to learn more.