Rusty_JenL

Rusty's & Miles' "Mom"
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I'm an acoustic engineer living with a dog and a cat. I am also a musician and I am super interested in neuroscience and auditory perception.

Cat Talking for dog?

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As I was getting Rusty (dog) ready for his morning walk, I heard "outside." I looked down and saw Miles (cat). My initial response was "no, you're not going outside" but I realized he might have been narrating our morning routine as not that soon after, I pressed the outside button and grabbed the leash.Β 

Also, Rusty hasn't been using the buttons since I recently added a couple and moved the board. So it's especially interesting that Miles did this.
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First multi-button press

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It's 4 am and I can't sleep and neither can Rusty, lol. He went to his buttons and hit "play" but his body language was telling me "outside". I started to put my shoes on, but I realized what he said and gave him a toy. He sniffed it for a minute and then went back to his buttons and said "outside play" so we went out to the dog park. When we came back in, he hit "play" and is now playing with his favorite toy.
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Using "Outside" to ask for food

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Miles doesn't go outside, but he's started to use this button to ask for food. It is by the front door but also next to the closet his food is in. I'm waiting for new buttons to come in, so I hope we'll be able to make "food" mean "food" once we have a button for it.

I think it's interesting he decided this on his own and he's consistent with how and when he uses it even though "outside" doesn't really mean anything to him.

Having Choices

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I decided to move our two buttons together on a whim and I have realized that I have not been a great dog listener. Having choices seems to yield better responses than if I just ask about one thing and I just keep getting an excited dog back. I've learned:
  • Rusty understands what the buttons do. They are in a high traffic area and he hasn't been randomly setting them off.
  • I asked if he wants outside or play and he will put his paw near the button he wants even if he doesn't always trigger it and it is usually "play" and I've been taking him outside this whole time.
  • When he didn't give me an answer, I asked again and he walked to the toilet. He was asking for water!!!
So with one very little change, we've gone from being excited about any question leaving me confused or taking Rusty out a million times to picking between choices and clear body language and communication even without the buttons.
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Oblivious to the buttons

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I've had my first two buttons for always a week and Rusty seems completely oblivious. First, he sat on the play button. This morning, I woke up to "outside, outside, outside" but he was just scratching while leaning on the button.

I've been modeling outside with a button push every time we go out. My cat has been more interested in the buttons, honestly.

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I'm wondering if this is "normal" in the beginning or if he just isn't going to take to the buttons at all.