Incredible Videos Show a Dog Named Stella "Talking" Using a Soundboard

Speech pathologist Christina Hunger created a machine that helps her dog communicate.

dog learns to speak using soundboard
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If you're a dog owner, there's no doubt in your mind that your dog communicates with you. Other people may scoff, but you know which whine means "I need to go outside" and which one means "I want pets." Still, wouldn't it be amazing if there were a more high-tech way for your pup to tell you what they want and how they feel? Apparently, there is, courtesy of Christina Hunger, a 26-year-old speech-language pathologist who lives in San Diego, California. Believing that everyone—including dogs—deserves to have a voice, she set up a board with buttons over words for dog-related items like "bed," "park," and "beach," as well as moods such as "happy," "mad," and, of course, "love you." Now, her dog Stella can basically talk to her!

 

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Park night featuring Stella and her device 😃 It's time to get these words generalizing across contexts!

A post shared by Christina Hunger, MA, CCC-SLP (@hunger4words) on

Slowly but surely, Stella has been learning how to use the speech board to communicate with her humans, and the 18-month old puppy already knows a whopping 29 words.

"I did the same thing that I do to help children learn to communicate," Hunger told CNN. "Lots of time, lots of practice, and lots of repetition."

So, for example, if Hunger noticed that Stella seemed excited and happy, she continued to press the button for "happy" and vocalized the word so that she knew that's what it meant.

In this video, you see an agitated Stella telling her owner that there is someone "outside" and, when Hunger doesn't react, Stella presses the button for "look."

 

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Stella uses language differently when she's in a heightened state versus when she's calm! • Today when she heard some noises outside and wanted to go investigate, I told her we were staying inside. • Stella responded by saying, "Look" 9 TIMES IN A ROW, then "Come outside." She was clearly in a more frantic state, and her language use matched that. We all sound differently than normal when we're in distress, Stella included! • I'm impressed that Stella is communicating with language during her more heightened states, not just when she's calm and in a quiet space. This shows me that words are becoming more automatic for her to use. It's similar to when a toddler starts using language to express himself during times of frustration instead of only crying. That happens when it's easy for the toddler to say words, not when he's still learning and it takes a lot of focus to talk 🧠🗣 • • • • • #hunger4words #stellathetalkingdog #slpsofinstagram #speechtherapy #AAC #ashaigers #slp #corewords #SLPeeps #slp2be #earlyintervention #languagedevelopment #dogsofinstagram #dogmom #doglife #dogs #guarddog #animalpsychology #doglover #dogvideos #sandiegodog #catahoula #blueheeler #smartdog #dogcommunication #mydogtalks #animalcommunication #interspeciescommunication #loveanimals

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In another video, she taps out "happy," "ball," "want," "outside." Doesn't take a speech expert to figure out what that means!

 

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Last night, right before this video was taken, I accidentally said "ball" on Stella's device while I was actually reaching for a different word. But, Stella took this very seriously! She picked up her ball, dropped it on her device, and said "Good" (Translation: Good idea, Mom!) • I started recording right after she said "Good" and caught the rest of her thought: "Happy ball want outside!" • Like all AAC users, Stella thrives when we talk to her using her device and say words that she loves. She never needs to know it was on accident! 😉 • • • • • #hunger4words #stellathetalkingdog #slpsofinstagram #speechtherapy #AAC #ashaigers #slp #corewords #SLPeeps #slp2be #aacawarenessmonth #earlyintervention #languagedevelopment #dogsofinstagram #dogmom #doglife #dogs #animalpsychology #doglover #dogvideos #sandiegodog #catahoula #blueheeler #smartdog #dogcommunication #mydogtalks #animalcommunication #interspeciescommunication #loveanimals

A post shared by Christina Hunger, MA, CCC-SLP (@hunger4words) on

And in yet another mind-blowing video, you see Stella tapping the buttons for "come" and "play," and when Hunger tells her they'll go after she eats, she tries to talk them into it with "outside," "play," "love you." (Smooth, Stella.)

 

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Stella adapts her message when she isn't feeling understood, just like we all do! If someone doesn't understand us or we don't get the response we were expecting, we change the words we're using to explain ourselves better. • Watch this sequence of Stella telling us, three different ways in a row, that she wanted to go play! • First, Stella said "Come play." When we didn't come play, she added more details and said, "Outside play love you." Finally, she got as specific as she could and told us, "Park." Stella is truly a great communicator! • • • • • #hunger4words #stellathetalkingdog #slpsofinstagram #speechtherapy #AAC #ashaigers #slp #corewords #SLPeeps #slp2be #aacawarenessmonth #earlyintervention #languagedevelopment #dogsofinstagram #dogmom #doglife #dogs #animalpsychology #doglover #dogvideos #sandiegodog #catahoula #blueheeler #smartdog #dogcommunication #mydogtalks #animalcommunication #interspeciescommunication #loveanimals

A post shared by Christina Hunger, MA, CCC-SLP (@hunger4words) on

It's just one more example that there's no end to the incredible things that dogs can do—and proof that you're not crazy for thinking your dog uses those puppy eyes to get you to stop what you're doing and give those belly rubs.

And since most of us don't have our very own sound boards to help us decode our pups' wants and needs, check out 19 Things Your Dog Is Trying to Tell You in the meanwhile.

Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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