In the Media: Can Dogs Use Language?

Aug. 22, 2023

Dr. Emily Bray of the College of Veterinary Medicine was interviewed for this article.

Beagle looking at camera.


This excerpt was taken from Scientific American

The “button dogs” of TikTok seem to be learning human words. What’s really going on?

Dogs are constant sidekicks for humans, and they’re usually pretty good at letting us know what they want: a tail-wagging dance by the front door means it’s time for a walk, and a heavy head on your lap suggests that someone needs scratches.

Some owners are going further to communicate with their pets. For anywhere from $20 to more than $200, dog-loving humans can purchase paw-friendly buttons, each representing a word such as “walk” or “play,” to give their pet a voice. On TikTok, some of these “button dogs” seem to be doing surprisingly intelligent things, such as combining two words to create a unique meaning—“squeaker” and “car,” to refer to an ambulance, for example. 

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