How to Teach Your Dog to Talk


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Tips from Christina Hunger of A Hunger for Words

At night, Christina wondered, “If dogs can understand words we say to them, shouldn’t they be able to say words to us? Can dogs use AAC to communicate with humans?” She was determined to find out. Stella’s training started with a few basic words like “play,” “outside,” and “water,” and she eventually grew her vocabulary, honing her language skills to an unexpected level. For help starting a button journey for you and your dog, visit the Hunger for Words website at There you’ll find tons of resources—the inspiration for button communication, an explanation of AAC, discussions about teaching puppies and older dogs, and much more. Here’s a sneak peek:


Three strategies for training your dog to use the buttons include: 

1: Aided Language Input: Puppy See, Puppy Do: A key strategy for teaching communication is aided language input. Aided language input is simply modeling a word by pressing your pet’s button as you say that word. You teach your pet to say words by pairing the words you say with the use of your pet’s buttons.

2: Focused Language Stimulation: Repetition, Repetition, Repetition: When teaching a pet to communicate, it can be helpful to choose one word to teach during a specific interaction. This is the foundation of focused language stimulation, targeting one word during an interaction by providing frequent models of the word in a short amount of time.

3: Increased Wait Time: Hurry up and Wait! This strategy is deceptively simple but can be a real challenge to practice. Increasing wait time means allowing a longer time for your pet to respond during interactions.

All three of these strategies and more are explained in depth at under the Resources tab. Need more help? Click on to book a coaching session with Christina. 


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