Dog communicating through a custom sound board.

Jones

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This is really cool.

A speech pathologist has taught her dog, Stella, to press buttons on a custom sound board to communicate. Stella knows 29 words and attempts to form sentences with them.

The article includes 2 video's of Stella in action.

 

Chu

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Amazing! :love:

As far as I can tell, in terms of teaching animals to speak, this is way better than what they've managed to do with chimpanzees, when trying to prove that we evolved from them. :headbash:The latter can't communicate emotions, only a list of words after A LOT of training.
 

Jones

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That's pretty amazing! Doggies are awesome!

Yeah, they are!

Amazing! :love:

As far as I can tell, in terms of teaching animals to speak, this is way better than what they've managed to do with chimpanzees, when trying to prove that we evolved from them. :headbash:The latter can't communicate emotions, only a list of words after A LOT of training.

Well, back in the 60's when experiments were being conducted on human behaviour and developmental psychology to figure out the nature vs nurture debate at Jackson Laboratories in Bar Harbour, Maine, they started off by doing experiments to figure out which species of animal would be the best subject for the experiments. The choice ultimately come down to either chimps or dogs. They, John P Scott and his team, tested chimps and found that they didn't learn in the same way as us. They were less likely to take cues from another species and would in the main focus their learning on the actions of the alpha chimp.

One of the experiments they conducted was they put a bunch of upturned bowls on the floor and only one bowl had food under it. They also had a human in the room pointing to the bowl that had the goodies. The chimps never learned to go straight to the bowl that the human was pointing to and they would just turn over every bowl in their path. The dogs, on the other hand, learned pretty quickly to go straight to the bowl that the human was pointing to.

I think that dogs learn in a similar way to humans because they have similar dietary requirements - efficient hunting means that you have to be able to learn to read other species regardless of rank. And maybe it's in that ability to read other species that the way was open for humans to domesticate dogs. While chimps are known to eat meat, it's not really the main focus of their diet - less than 5%.
 

Laura

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We are all the time aware that our puppies and kitties are "talking" to us and we want very much to know what they are saying! Up to a certain point, we can figure things out, but I think it must be very satisfying to the dog or cat to KNOW that they are getting their message across.
 

Jones

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That's really amazing! I wonder how you can teach a dog words like "good", "happy" and "want".

I think I'd start with objects and actions first. For example for 'outside' I'd put the button by the door initially, teach the dog targeting and have it target on the button to be let out. Then gradually move the button away from the door. I'd add the written label last because I'm guessing that the dog really only needs that to help distinguish between buttons - it may learn to recognise the written words as time goes on.

I'm not sure that you could separate the feeling/internal state from the object, action or event for the dog enough for them to differentiate the feeling/internal state or separate them enough so that the dog could learn the difference. A dog just is what it is in any moment and doesn't really differentiate itself from feelings/internal states even though they can learn impulse control. So I'm wondering if the trainer in the article has just grouped the buttons for feeling/internal states with buttons for objects, actions or events and taught the dog to target a number of buttons together under certain circumstances. Maybe it can be done, I'm not sure how at the moment though - it would take exquisite timing to mark the feeling/internal state and not have the dog confuse it with an action/object/event. Even so, I'm not sure separating them would make any sense to a dog.
 

Gawan

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Thank you for sharing and it is very fascinating. As some others have written it is also my experience that dogs can "talk" or are trying to as good as they can. At least they are very understanding in their own way.
 

Possibility of Being

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Amazing :love: though not really surprising. That's what one could expect of a smart dog and his devoted, skilled human being.
Christina describes the first steps in her blog post:

Excerpts:
Jake and I started small. We programmed one recordable answer buzzer to say “outside.” We thought this button would be a good size for Stella to activate with her paw. Every time we said “outside” to Stella, we modeled use of the button by pushing it with our foot. ...

I did not wait for Stella to perfect her use of “outside” before adding more words to her expressive vocabulary. We quickly programmed more buttons to say words we commonly say to Stella or words we thought she was trying to communicate to us. These included “eat, water, play, walk, no, come, help, bye, love you.” Every day I spent time using Stella’s buttons to talk with her and teach her words just as I would in speech therapy sessions with children. Instead of rewarding Stella with a treat for using a button, we responded to her communication by acknowledging her message and responding accordingly. ...

Instead of always requesting from us, she began commenting. This first happened when I was watering my plants. Stella said “water” while watching me, even though her water dish was full. She protested by saying “no” if we told her something she didn’t want to do, and directed us to “come” when Stella wanted us to come outside with her or come see what she was doing in another room.

The most exciting, unexpected milestone was when Stella began combining words to make two-word phrases. Stella would say “no eat” or “eat no” if we took too long to feed her, “walk no” if we didn’t take her for a walk, “eat play” to request her toy filled with food, “help come” when she needed help in another room. One afternoon shortly after the Daylight Savings time change, Stella said, “eat” repeatedly at about 3:00 PM. When Jake and I did not feed her dinner this early she said, “love you no” and walked into the other room.

:lol:

There are a few more posts and some videos too.
 

Jones

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Wow....I'm gonna have some fun with my next dawg!

I'm pretty sure my old girl (RIP) would have picked this up easily.

The resources link on the page has the amazon link to buy the recordable buzzers that she is using.

 

lainey

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This is so amazing! I followed them on Instagram so I could see more videos. I think our little furry babies have just as much personality as we perceive:
Jake and I were discussing taking Stella to Petco. She was certainly listening...!

Video 1: Stella said “Goodbye outside.” This is the third time in the past few weeks that Stella has combined “good” and “bye” to say “Goodbye” instead of just “bye”!

Video 2: Jake said he wanted to hang our spice racks first, started the project, and Stella told him, “Later Jake” 😂😂 (Translation: Do that later, I want to go!)

Video 3: Stella came full circle with her message and told us she was REALLY ready to leave by saying, “Bye bye bye good bye!” (Looks like we have ourselves a little @nsync fan 😜)
 

Jones

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This is all kind of like a doggie weggie borad (Ouija Board) :lol:

I had another thought. This could be set up so it doesn't have to rely on electronics if that's an issue. I'm envisaging a board with boxes on it and something that is placed in the box to indicate what the dog is trying to communicate. On each box is written the word or phrase and maybe a picture or image symbolising the word or phrase. So, to start off you could have a small box by the door with the word 'outside' and maybe a picture of an open door on it and you place a tennis ball or something in the box before going outside. The advantage of this is that if you were away from home and all of the communication gear, the dog could learn to place or manipulate the tennis ball to indicate what it is trying to communicate.

I still like the idea of the dog using the sounds of the words though and the efficiency of just being able to press some buttons to try to form sentences.
 

Jones

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There's some new footage of Stella in the following compilation. At 4:18 she accidentally bumps reset on the 'beach' button. Her owners are trying to fix the button and Stella communicates that she's mad. Then she tries to communicate the same idea of 'beach' using a sequence of other buttons - help, water, outside!

 
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