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“Happy Ball Want Outside:” Dog Learns To Talk Using A Word Machine, Already Knows 29 Words
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Animals, Dogs3 years ago

“Happy Ball Want Outside:” Dog Learns To Talk Using A Word Machine, Already Knows 29 Words

Probably every pet owner has dreamed about having a conversation with their little friends. Well, proud dog mom, Christina Hunger has found a way. And no, she’s not a mind reader. The 26-year-old speech-language pathologist is communicating with her pup through a custom-made soundboard.

Hunger has an 18-month-old Catahoula/Blue Heeler mix, Stella. Whenever she wants to express her thoughts and feelings, she just steps on buttons corresponding with words Christina recorded and programmed into the device.

More info: Instagram

Image credits: hunger4words

Image credits: hunger4words

The soundboard has been working wonders. With it, Stella has been able to tell her owner when she’s tired and needs a nap, when she’s hungry and wants to grab a bite or when she wants to go for a walk – specifically to the park.

Stella is also a wonderful student. She not only knows 29 words but can put together phrases as well. One day, Stella was whining at the front door, unable to stay in place. Hunger thought that she needed to go outside. However, Stella walked to her device and said, “Want,” “Jake” “Come.” The pup then stood in front of the door and waited until Jake, Hunger’s fiancé, returned home. Stella then pressed “Happy” and rolled over, asking for a belly rub.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Christina Hunger, MA, CCC-SLP (@hunger4words) on

“Last night, right before this video was taken, I accidentally said “ball” on Stella’s device while I was actually reaching for a different word. But, Stella took this very seriously! She picked up her ball, dropped it on her device, and said “Good” (Translation: Good idea, Mom!)

I started recording right after she said “Good” and caught the rest of her thought: “Happy ball want outside!”

Like all AAC users, Stella thrives when we talk to her using her device and say words that she loves. She never needs to know it was on accident!”

Image credits: hunger4words

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Christina Hunger, MA, CCC-SLP (@hunger4words) on

“Stella adapts her message when she isn’t feeling understood, just like we all do! If someone doesn’t understand us or we don’t get the response we were expecting, we change the words we’re using to explain ourselves better.

Watch this sequence of Stella telling us, three different ways in a row, that she wanted to go play!

First, Stella said “Come play.” When we didn’t come play, she added more details and said, “Outside play love you.” Finally, she got as specific as she could and told us, “Park.” Stella is truly a great communicator!”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Christina Hunger, MA, CCC-SLP (@hunger4words) on

“Stella uses language differently when she’s in a heightened state versus when she’s calm!

Today when she heard some noises outside and wanted to go investigate, I told her we were staying inside.

Stella responded by saying, “Look” 9 TIMES IN A ROW, then “Come outside.” She was clearly in a more frantic state, and her language use matched that. We all sound differently than normal when we’re in distress, Stella included!

I’m impressed that Stella is communicating with language during her more heightened states, not just when she’s calm and in a quiet space. This shows me that words are becoming more automatic for her to use. It’s similar to when a toddler starts using language to express himself during times of frustration instead of only crying. That happens when it’s easy for the toddler to say words, not when he’s still learning and it takes a lot of focus to talk.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Christina Hunger, MA, CCC-SLP (@hunger4words) on

“Wait, wait, wait, then wait some more! Best practice in speech therapy with beginning communicators includes giving the learner increased wait time to process what’s happening and generate a response. Pausing before prompting or talking more gives the communicator a chance to respond!

Stella benefits from the same wait time. In this video she hit her “outside” button twice, but no sound came out. Instead of jumping up to fix it, I bit my tongue, stood still, and waited a full 13 seconds before Stella said “No. Help help!” Way to go Stella for telling me her button wasn’t working and asking for help!”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Christina Hunger, MA, CCC-SLP (@hunger4words) on

“Don’t you just hate it when your dog talks back to you?? After Stella finished her breakfast this morning, I said and modeled on her device “Stella all done eat.” She immediately responded “no,” and walked back to her dishes while licking her lips.

While this made me laugh, I also think it’s pretty amazing because Stella is really starting to appropriately respond to what we’re saying and participate in short conversations.”

Image credits: hunger4words

Image credits: hunger4words

People were blown away by Stella’s skills

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Sunzilla
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

It's always been thought that dogs have the intelligence of a 2 year old human, but I think Stella is way beyond that. Maybe all dogs actually are.

Hans
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Well, we might also need to challenge our understanding of how intelligent 2 year olds are. Many people believe small children are dumb. They are not. They know more than most admit, and they understand much more than they themselves can express.

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Loki’s Lil Butter Knife
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

If I were to make one of these ingenious boards for my cat it would feature words like: worship; queen; overlord; puny human; slave; servant; fancy feast; knock stuff off table; 2 am hairball; random 2 am freakout; destroy; and a bunch of obscenities.

Martha Meyer
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

You'd probably be surprised how much your cat does not think like that.

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Bill
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

She had better buy a few more buttons to replace "Eat"and "Outside" should wear out pretty quickly

Nathalie Langevin
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Wow! What a great advance for animal care. This could change the way humans look at animals completely.... Imagine teaching all animals to use this technique and having cows telling a livestock farmer that they are scared or having any other animal where they hurt? I just love this!

DrGirlfriend
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I immediately thought same thing, like THIS IS AMAZING.isnt this a big breakthrough to communicate with our fur family. I am absolutely fascinated by this ... Feel it's not getting the attention it deserves... My dog is pretty smart but this is .... I NEED THIS SO BAD haha

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glowworm2
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Wow, this is amazing. The comment about cats needing a bunch of curse words for their soundboards made me laugh.

kurisutofu
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

If it's true and there is no trick, that should be studied on a proper scientific research!

DrGirlfriend
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I agree 💯 . This is an amazing connection, it should be studied at every level

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M O'Connell
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

That may be true, but vocal communication is the type humans understand best. We lack the physical abilities necessary for more subtle means of communication. Dogs already key strongly off of people, so it makes sense that they could learn our method of communication, especially when it takes minimal input-effort on their part. The same has been demonstrated with gorillas, dolphins and even crows.

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Michelle Muirhead
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Absolutely amazing! She obviously does understand as her choices were not random.

MsM
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Well doggone it, anything is pawsible!

Marcellus the Third
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Most of the available words go together however (ball or play, + any person + any place, etc) and we add meaning ourselves because that's how our brain works... but it seems deliberate. Unless these videos are heavily selected out of dozens of nonsense combinations.

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Katinka Min
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

As amazing as this is, 'talking' would be the LAST thing I'd teach my dog. She's demanding enough as it is! :-D

DrGirlfriend
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Mine has become a huge spoiled, loud and demanding smarty-pants, the barking to demand me get him something from fridge has become too much on my migraines hahah

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Hanni
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

It amazing! With less smart dogs watch and learn their body language and you'll understand each other just fine.

Nordlys
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

My dog just throws the ball at me when he wants to play ball, he lays in front of the door when he wants to go out, and I have tape on the fridge because he helps himself to food if I don't. If he wants to go to the park he runs to the car, if he wants to play in the garden he stays in the garden, and if he wants to walk, he gets his leash. No need for a soundboard. He's completely clear in all his wants and wishes. Right now he's napping, that means he's tired.

Beverly
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I tend to agree with you. It's more important that humans learn "dog" than that dogs learn "human."

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WilvanderHeijden
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Could she make a special version for tangerine toddler. Perhaps he'll learn to build complete sentences by he time he's 78.

KaPOW
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Am I being stupid but how? How can she train Stella to do this? I feel like Ive missed a part of the article!

Loki’s Lil Butter Knife
Community Member
3 years ago (edited) Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

You are not being stupid at all- it’s an honest question. I have a background in sociolinguistics and am personally really interested in how animals communicate and learn commands. I also wanted to discover more about how Stella learned to use her AAC board. I visited Christina’s (Stella’s owner) website (hungerforwords.com) and she has blogs and videos explaining her techniques for teaching. It looks really fascinating.

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Mimi
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I want that board and I wish I knew how to teach my dog to use it. This is AMAZING!

Meeow
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Stella want to play ball outside, so damn smart!!!

L Jennings
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

If you think dogs are smart, wait til you hear what pigs have to say.

Laurie Lonnevik
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Animals communicate with nonverbal actions. Bonding with an animal, not impossible to "read" their mind. Simple and basic. Sweet.

Haddayr Copley-Woods
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I'm sorry to be the skeptic here, but how would a dog learn the button for 'want' and understand what it meant? Like, nouns and simple verbs I get; Frodo even learned how to understand it when we spelled WALK, but 'want?' This seems like a hoax to me. "I love you?" No.

Mary Jane Love
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

“You want food? Want ball? Want a walk? Want a treat?” With enough repetition it would be easy enough for her to associate “want” with its meaning.

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Tahani
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

This is amazing!! Love this!

TheExtremeSmell
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I once knew a guy that trained a horse to do math. And there was also that documentary about that talking horse. Horses are the soldiers of pets

Tammy Ralph
Community Member
3 years ago (edited) Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I can see my dog with this, ball, outside , hungry, ball, outside, hungry, ball, outside, hungry.

Sobia Jawed
Community Member
2 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I would prescribe my profile is vital to me, I welcome you to examine this subject... walmart one asda

Kamila Anna
Community Member
2 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

This should be showed in schools all over the world so no one ever again would say how animals are "just" stupid instincts and no creative thinking.

Gigi
Community Member
2 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Yea, he can do all that but I bet if you unplugged him he would be barking at plastic bags in no time.

Elaine Dodge
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Anyone that works as a dog behaviorist better start looking for other work. Not need for a human to tell us what the dog is thinking when the dog can do it herself!

Carol Nason
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Incredible! Stella , you speak for all the doggos!

Christina Uhlir
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

As amazing as it is, all they need and yearn for is your love.

Vincent Jay
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Very interesting. I've heard of chimps and gorillas doing this, but I never heard of a dog doing it. I've learned something new today. .

Sam Leigh
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

It’s a hell of an idea that roves dogs have great memories Cos she has had to memorise what each button stands for Cos she ain’t reading. And building them machine is ingenious. But I like a quiet dog - human world. Dogs are supposed to prefer silent communication and she is doing this to work in with you but she doesn’t look happy doing it. Sorry.

Yurius Odesus
Community Member
3 years ago (edited) Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

To prove that dog understands what she's doing, make all buttons the same color and change the position of the labels.

Jo Choto
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

What a brilliant experiment. My suggestions would be to change the layout of the buttons into some kind of an arc so she doesn't have to worry about where all her legs are when she is looking for a button. Also, I feel like an icon on top of each button, rather than just the word, would also be helpful and increase learning speed and recollection. I just love, love, love this idea!

Mishte Tine
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Hey I have this! Cool! Mine is a bit more limited. My dog knows several words and phrases: “Potties” (which also means “outside”, to which he will agree or not) “Wait for mommy!” “Come” (it’s immediately obvious whether he agrees or not) “breakfast” “dinner/dinner time” “what time is it?” “Lambie-time!” “Too soon/early” “Beddie-byes” “No” (from me) and “No” from him to me (non verbal, looks away,), “Yes” (looks at/goes to back door, food bowls) “Uppies” (he asks to get on our bed by saying, ‘who -who’ owl sounds) or agrees if I ask by laying down or facing away from me because it’s easier for me to pick him up that way. I’d be fascinated to see the pup’s reaction to the soundboard if all the words were replaced with different ones. I think it’s humorous that the buttons are labeled with the text of each word . My dog (and I assume most dogs), talk and communicate very well, letting us know their needs, moods - using ears, tail, posture, eyes, licking, etc.

Kristian Nixon
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

This is totally newsworthy, but I'm finding it very interesting that I'm consistently seeing things on Bored-panda about 5 to 7 days before they break on the evening news or articles like in Huffpost. So am I totally switched-on, is Bored-panda that bleeding edge, or is the news media just ripping of BP's work?

GrumpyCat7
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Absolutely stunning! Well done! 💕🐶🐾

GrumpyCat7
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Absolutely stunning! Well done! 💕🐶🐾

Oscar Guerrero
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

This is literally the best thing I've ever seen.

Lindy Mac
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

What a fabulous Floof and Floof-Mom. I can't wait till Stella tells Christina to go fetch some more treats from the store.

rd
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Google Dog Assistant is coming soon

rd
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I have to talk to my dog, I can't find my socks

Id row
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

That is truly amazing and fantastic. I teared up a bit at how incredible this is. I could watch so much more of this. I've always wished I could communicate with my pets this way.

Holly Allen
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I'm gobsmacked! This is incredible! She needs to put together a kit and training video!!! She'd make a killing!!!

Val Naim
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Can someone please explain to me how owner knows Stella is understanding the buttons meanings? Also, if anyone on here is good with dogs- how did she teach stella to do this?

Tara
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Dogs are amazing and smart. I have a lot of phrases that my dog has gotten used to and it’s always impressive when she fully understands.

Tiffiny Seemann
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I’m almost more impressed that she remembers what button is where. It’s like she’s learned to type.

Nat Monzo
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Patent this! Patent this NOW!!!!! This woman is a genius (as is the pup, tbh). She can develop a method to teach any willing dog owner and pupper to communicate!

Joan Turner
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Don't want to know what my "teen-age" hound is saying. He'd probably be in time-out for a year or so.

Tacitus86
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

This is amazing and adorable!

Hallie
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Repeat after me. 'Dogs are not humans. Dogs are NOT humans' say it again and again till it sticks. This is nothing more than (very good) conditioning, and anthropomorphism at its finest.

Alia G.
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

just because they're not humans doesn't mean they don't have some of personality

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Haddayr Copley-Woods
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Also, the language doesn't match the dog's body language. I just don't buy it.

Falcon
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Now add the button "Ghost" and watch the family lose their minds :P Its also amazing to see that a dog is able to produce a sentence.

Iapetos
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Animals are extremely underrated.

ravina nimje
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Those ears... She such a cutie!

Lu
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Can someone help me understand how she learns the buttons / sound association? Is it by trial and error? Since all the buttons look the same and the labels are obviously for the humans. I'd love to try this with my cat !

Tammy Ralph
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I wondered do they have different sounds.

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Linda Matheny
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

You both are wonderfully amazing!!!

just-your-average-unicorn
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

this is literally the best thing ever i'm crying help

Laci
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

what's the point if she's not going outside when the dog says outside?

Kjorn
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

so like the gorilla in the movie Congo :-)

Demi Zwaan
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Meanwhile my 18 month old pup can't even grasp commands other then sit and fetch, or walk without a leash.

Pretty Pangolin
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Maybe he grasps it but just doesn't want to obey :-D

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Mishte Tine
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

This is entertaining, but I’m not sure why it’s better than simply communication with your dog and learning what he/she says to you - using ears, voice, tail, posture, looking/walking away (no), looking/walking to the door, food bowls, etc. (yes). My dog (like most dogs), recognizes “words” - just unique sounds to him - if I changed “dinner” to “bubblegum” he’d look at me like I’m nuts at first but he’d catch on. We don’t need added redundancies like buttons or digital voices. I just use my voice, he uses all his communication tools and we understand each other clearly. This might be useful for special situations (?). It’s very cool, her pup is very smart and adorable. I’d be interested to know what the pup would do if Mom rearranged the recordings. I’d think the dog might rely on the old pattern/location and depending on how well that works (or not) would learn the new pattern after a while. Dogs are great communicators - humans need to learn. Makes training easier!

Mark CM
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Dogs see in black and white. Why the different coloured buttons?

志文 楊
Community Member
3 years ago

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志文 楊
Community Member
3 years ago

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Dosier Louis
Community Member
3 years ago

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Sunzilla
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

It's always been thought that dogs have the intelligence of a 2 year old human, but I think Stella is way beyond that. Maybe all dogs actually are.

Hans
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Well, we might also need to challenge our understanding of how intelligent 2 year olds are. Many people believe small children are dumb. They are not. They know more than most admit, and they understand much more than they themselves can express.

Load More Replies...
Loki’s Lil Butter Knife
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

If I were to make one of these ingenious boards for my cat it would feature words like: worship; queen; overlord; puny human; slave; servant; fancy feast; knock stuff off table; 2 am hairball; random 2 am freakout; destroy; and a bunch of obscenities.

Martha Meyer
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

You'd probably be surprised how much your cat does not think like that.

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Bill
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

She had better buy a few more buttons to replace "Eat"and "Outside" should wear out pretty quickly

Nathalie Langevin
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Wow! What a great advance for animal care. This could change the way humans look at animals completely.... Imagine teaching all animals to use this technique and having cows telling a livestock farmer that they are scared or having any other animal where they hurt? I just love this!

DrGirlfriend
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I immediately thought same thing, like THIS IS AMAZING.isnt this a big breakthrough to communicate with our fur family. I am absolutely fascinated by this ... Feel it's not getting the attention it deserves... My dog is pretty smart but this is .... I NEED THIS SO BAD haha

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glowworm2
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Wow, this is amazing. The comment about cats needing a bunch of curse words for their soundboards made me laugh.

kurisutofu
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

If it's true and there is no trick, that should be studied on a proper scientific research!

DrGirlfriend
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I agree 💯 . This is an amazing connection, it should be studied at every level

Load More Replies...
M O'Connell
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

That may be true, but vocal communication is the type humans understand best. We lack the physical abilities necessary for more subtle means of communication. Dogs already key strongly off of people, so it makes sense that they could learn our method of communication, especially when it takes minimal input-effort on their part. The same has been demonstrated with gorillas, dolphins and even crows.

Load More Replies...