The dogs are talking!

The dogs are talking!


You might have seen them on your social media…talking dogs! Actually, these are very smart dogs trained to communicate with their owners using a series of ‘talk buttons’ and one of the earliest examples is Bunny the Sheepadoodle (you can learn more about her here). These talk buttons, also known as communication buttons or AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) buttons, are a tool used to facilitate communication between dogs and their owners. The concept involves teaching dogs to press specific buttons associated with different words or phrases, allowing them to express their wants, needs, or thoughts. It is quite remarkable to witness, and offers further proof of just how intelligent our furry friends can be (when it suits them of course!).


Here’s how talk buttons typically work:

  • Button System: The system consists of a set of buttons, each programmed with a specific word or phrase. These buttons are usually large and durable, designed to withstand the pressure of a dog’s paw.
  • Words or Phrases: The buttons can be programmed with various words or phrases that are relevant to the dog’s life and interactions with its owner. Common words or phrases might include “outside,” “play,” “food,” “water,” “walk,” “love,” “pet,” etc.
  • Training Process: Training a dog to use talk buttons involves associating each button with its corresponding word or phrase. Owners typically start by teaching the dog to press one or two buttons consistently. They then gradually introduce more buttons as the dog becomes comfortable with the concept.
  • Reinforcement: Positive reinforcement is key to the training process. When the dog presses the correct button, they are rewarded with a treat, praise, or other forms of positive reinforcement. Over time, the dog learns that pressing certain buttons results in desirable outcomes.
  • Communication Development: As the dog becomes more proficient with the buttons, owners may notice patterns or associations in the dog’s button presses. Some dogs may string together multiple buttons to form rudimentary sentences or convey more complex messages.
  • Adaptation and Customization: The system can be adapted and customized based on the individual dog’s needs and preferences. Owners can add or remove buttons, change the programmed words or phrases, and adjust the layout of the buttons to better suit their dog’s communication style.


Talk buttons for dogs have gained popularity in recent years, particularly through social media platforms where videos of dogs using these devices have garnered attention. Even Casey (Warrandyte Dogdayz Manager) has been working with her own Kelpie to use the buttons – it may not be a great surprise that the button used most by her dog is ‘treats’. While some dogs have demonstrated remarkable proficiency with talk buttons, it’s important to note that not all dogs will grasp the concept to the same extent! Additionally, ongoing training, patience, and consistency are essential for success with this communication tool.