You probably wonder what your dog is thinking at least once a day. After all, dogs can sometimes be silly and unpredictable, so it can be difficult to understand what’s going on in their heads. But for Bunny the 15-month-old Sheepadoodle, communicating with her mom is simple.
After seeing the work of a speech-language pathologist named Christina Hunger, Alexis Devine became determined to teach Bunny to talk. It might seem like an outrageous idea, but Devine quickly saw positive results. Now, Bunny and Devine can clearly communicate with each other, and they’re even able to hold a conversation that Bunny fully understands!
How Does Bunny Talk?
After observing Hunger’s method for getting her dog to talk, Devine decided to take a similar approach with Bunny.
Bunny can speak using a group of 70 buttons and counting. Each button is for a different word, and when Bunny clicks on it, a recorded message says the word out loud. So, if Bunny needs to use the bathroom, she can press “outside.” If she’s thirsty, she can click on “water.”
Bunny started by learning one word, and Devine slowly added more words from there. Her first word was “outside,” so Devine pressed the button every time they went outside. Eventually, Bunny picked up on the pattern and started pressing it herself whenever she had to go out. For many dog parents, the training would probably stop there, but Devine knew Bunny was capable of so much more.
Bunny now has a keyboard that displays all her words. When she wants to tell her mom something, she simply walks up and presses the correct button.
“My theory is that she memorizes their place like a keyboard. Like, you know, pianists can play amazing music without having to look at keys — similar to that. It’s like muscle memory,” said Devine.
Bunny Learns Every Day
After a year of training, Bunny has learned to speak similarly to a toddler. She can make simple sentences and hold a conversation with her mom. She can answer Devine’s questions and even ask questions in return. Best of all, she seems to enjoy every second of these interactions. Her skills soon caused her to become famous on TikTok and Instagram.
Bunny is also part of a research study at the comparative cognition lab at the University of California, San Diego. The study takes a look at how dogs are able to learn language. They also look into the dog’s age, gender, and breed to see if those factors affect the dog’s learning ability. It’s an open study for anyone who’s trying to teach their dog to communicate more effectively.
Bunny is a very social dog, so she loves asking her mom to go for a walk, especially at the park or beach. Oftentimes, she even requests a walk immediately after getting home from the beach. Thankfully, she understands when her mom tells her no, and she often finishes her sentences with “love you, Mom.”