People own more than 471 million dogs worldwide, meaning many households have pups they need to communicate with and understand. Dog talking buttons have become a popular way to communicate with your dog.
Dogs don’t inherently know how to use these buttons. You must teach your dog to press the buttons through daily training and instruction.
If you can commit to this time with your dog, you may see your pup try to communicate with you, too.
What are dog talking buttons?
Your dog may show some signs of recognizing human words already. Maybe they know “walk,” “ride,” or the dreaded “vet.” They’ve come to associate certain things with these words, and that’s what the dog talking buttons do. They help your dog understand the human language and how to communicate with you.
Maybe you adopted your dog from a local shelter and have not known them well. These buttons can be a great way to get your newly-adopted dog to open up to you and tell you more about what they want.
It can also be great for new puppies. You might start them out with something simple, then encourage them to communicate more with you by adding more complex buttons as they master the easy ones and become proficient in communication.
Having a dog trained to use these buttons can help you recognize what they want, especially when you incorporate small training treats that will help your dog understand they did right by alerting you to one of their needs. Once they learn that you want them to communicate with you via the buttons, your dog might appear more talkative.
How do you train a dog to talk with buttons?
Dogs learn best with positive reinforcement, like all things you can train them to do. Teach them how to use the buttons by giving them ample rewards when they show a sign of doing something right.
More importantly, you must know precisely how to train your dog to use these buttons, especially knowing which one.
1. Choose simple buttons
Start with one to three recordable dog buttons, no more than that. You don’t want to confuse your dog, especially if the buttons look the same.
Likewise, choose to record words that your dog already knows. Words like “outside” or “treat” might be a great starting point.
When your dog presses them, you can immediately show them what the word means by letting them outside or offering them a training treat.
2. Create a positive association
You want your dog to associate positively with the buttons and words rather than fear them. Many dogs are skittish about new things in their environments, but once you show them that the buttons aren’t something to fear, they’ll be more curious about them.
Reward them for going near the buttons and attempting to tap them. Make sure to reward your pup when they touch a button — or when you press a button to show them what it does.
You don’t want to give out too many treats, or your dog might start associating the treats with words unrelated to snacks.
Try to keep the rewards for pressing the buttons and creating the association somewhat relevant. If you have a backyard, consider placing the buttons close to the door and demonstrating “outside” by opening the door when you push the button. Your dog will learn what it means.
3. Target the buttons
Ideally, you will have a mat with designated locations for the buttons. Don’t change the positions. “High-Five” is an entertaining trick that is easy for your dog to learn and can pay off when teaching them how to hit the buttons. Teach your dog how to “High-Five” or “Shake,” and you’ll see that it’s much easier for them to understand the motion required to hit the button.
You can guide their paw to the button and reward them with whatever it says once they hit it. Over time, with some exposure, they should learn how to hit the button themselves and expect a reward.
Remember to motivate them, even when you don’t feel like training or giving a reward. Whenever your dog hits the button of its own volition, you should reward them with whatever they seek. It means they’re learning, and in no time, they’ll likely be communicating with you whenever they can.
Are the dog talking buttons worth it?
If you want to communicate with your dog and understand more of their needs, these buttons are worth it. Remember that training to use these buttons doesn’t happen overnight — you must be diligent and stick with it.
You may have seen videos of people teaching their dogs to talk with several buttons at their disposal, and you may get there, too. All you need is patience and love for your dog, and any investment in these buttons will pay off.
Talking to your dog — for real
These buttons might be the closest you get to talking with your dog this lifetime. While it’s no substitute for a real conversation with your canine, these buttons can tell you more about what your dog needs and values.
For example, some dogs may be prone to abuse the “toy” button, while others might spam an “I love you” message to their owners.
While you may not be able to hold an in-depth conversation with your dog, no one can deny that they’re a great listener and will love you unconditionally — whether they speak your language or not.
Jane Marsh is an environmental writer passionate about pet care and health. To read more of her work, follow her site Environment.co.