Hey y'all! I'm a professional dog trainer in Salt Lake City, UT. I'd like to offer this thread to ask questions about training buttons! My 9mo aussie mix, Lil, currently uses 30 buttons and up to 5 word combinations. Her little brother, 7mo kelpie mix, Finn, came to us a little later in his life so he is playing some catch-up! He is starting to use buttons correctly and in response to a question ("Do you want a walk or bike ride?").

I will do my very best to answer as quickly as I can between my other dog life duties, and do what I can to help! I encourage everyone to contribute if you have something to add.

That is so nice of you thank you! I've been wondering if we need to move our buttons. Right now, they're on the right by her food bowl and toy bin. However, she often sits at the door, which is where she goes outside. She sits there when she wants anything-food, outside, or play. Getting her to walk over to her buttons takes a lot of prompting and sometimes a tantrum. She doesn't independently go to her board.Β 

I think of "distance and persistence" for AAC with kids-the stage where they have to travel to their talker or bring their talker to someone to communicate, and persist even with barriers, and I feel like Chloe can't move past when we had the individual buttons by each thing-outside, food, and play. Do you think we should move her talker, or keep at it where we are?Β 
How long has it been since you consolidated the buttons in this location? Has she used the buttons at all in the new location? If so, is she using just the Eat and Play (since they are close by) or will she also use things like Outside in this location?

As for where to put buttons in general, think long-term strategy! A central location that has enough room to have all those buttons!!
Libby Probably about a month, if I go over to the buttons she'll follow and press them, but she doesn't independently go to the board. Instead she sits by the door and barks, and that's how I know she wants something. I have to model all of the words. Although in the last few days if I press two for a choice ("outside or play?") she'll press the one she wants so thats progress!

I agree, we might have to get rid of our table to make room, we only use it to dump stuff on anyways lol!
Chloe & Chrissy Β Be patient. If she barks, offer the buttons once or twice, but otherwise completely ignore it. No eye contact, nothing. Wait her out, I think she is close!
What advice do you have for retraining dogs to use buttons that are really well trained to communicate in a different way already. My dog Remus has always been very vocal and gently woofs for everything he wants, and I've learned to read him really well over the last few years. He has a big vocabulary so when he woofs, I ask what he wants and he gets excited about it if I'm right. How can I transition him to the buttons? I've been modeling outside for a few months now with no luck. Thanks!Β 
Try a brand-new word. Get a super cool new toy, name it, and model the button.
I am not opposed to giving a treat when first introducing buttons, as long as you ignore Eat tantrums later. Try a tiny dot of peanut butter to encourage him to push it

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