How TikTok’s well-known ‘speaking’ canine Bunny makes use of buttons to speak

TORONTO – A TikTok account with a smart one-year-old poodle mix named Bunny has amassed 5.7 million followers on the platform after its owner started posting short video clips of the dog with a “language board” to have people. like conversations.

Bunny can communicate with her owner by using her paw on various buttons that represent certain words, such as: B. “Play”, “Walk” and “Walk”. The dog can even form short sentences that are up to five words long.

The idea of ​​using an AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) board for dogs came from speech therapist Christiana Hunger, who was inspired to try out the technique with her own dog in October 2019.

On her blog, Hunger wrote, “When I brought my new puppy Stella home, I found that she was demonstrating many of the same prelinguistic communication skills as toddlers before they started talking. That’s when an idea hit me!” “

Bunny’s success on TikTok has since caught the attention of cognitive scientists who have started monitoring the dog’s progress.

The scientists’ observation of Bunny is part of the TheyCanTalk Study, a project led by scientists from CleverPet and the Comparative Cognition Lab at the University of California at San Diego.

Scientists hope to use their findings to improve an AAC prototype of the language board that is now being manufactured by FluentPet.

Research will try to determine how and to what extent animals can express themselves verbally.

In an interview with Business Insider, Alexis Devine, the owner of Bunny, noted a time when her dog was using the speech board to alert her owner to a piece of foxtail grass that was logged into her paw.

“Anytime she can tell me she’s in pain, especially when she’s in pain, I’m absolutely thrilled,” said Devine. “It’s incredible!”

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