Scarlett Shows Her Personality With Buttons

Scarlett Shows Her Personality With Buttons

Catch Scarlett and Dianne in action on Instagram @ScarlettSaysMore and @NeuroDogTraining

Q. So Dianne, who is this learner of yours?

Scarlett is Miss Personality but I don’t think she means to be. I think she’s just very authentic in how she shows up. She is so intent on what she thinks should happen, so self assured in what she perceives and wants, and she wants humans to know about it - all of the time. I have created an environment where she is free to do that, there is no behavior suppression, and so it comes across as her being intense or having this huge personality. I think Scarlett is just very genuine and empowered.

Aside from that, she is extremely human focused and loves to snuggle and be pet constantly. She is not shy about jumping in the same chair and making a lot of direct eye contact to convey her point. She is athletic and loves having things to do such as swimming, digging, and playing in the backyard. She is always down for a car ride and frequently requests to go in the car with buttons. She enjoys the beach and paddle boarding on vacations. She is just a very funny, fun girl with tons of interest in being connected with people.

Q. What was your learner's first button?

FluentPet Guide Answer

Scarlett’s first button press was “Where’s” and she was asking for help finding her ball that had rolled under the couch. At the time, she had access to several buttons but that was her first independent ball press.

Q. How long did it take for them to press their first button?

Quite a few weeks! There was quite a bit of modeling that took place before she pressed one.

Q. What inspired you to do button teaching?

Around the time we got Scarlett, I saw others like Alexis and Bunny online doing it. I figured “why not?” What have we got to lose by trying? Let’s give it a shot. I had a young, energetic dog that needed more enrichment and was intensely interested in being understood by humans.

Q. What challenges have you faced with button teaching?

Scarlett can be, in no uncertain terms, INTENSE. Which is precisely why buttons are a wonderful outlet for her. Even in our regular dog training, she can become highly fixated on new props, so I introduce stimulus control sooner than I would with other dogs.

Q. What’s your funniest button moment?

Scarlett is a really funny dog. She will let you know if something you do is an “oops.” If you stop petting her, she will press “Mad Mad Mad” and “Want Pets.” She will remind you if you promised to do something later and didn’t follow through, like taking her in the swimming pool. These frequent moments always make me laugh.

Q. What’s your most surprising button moment?

There have been several, but it’s usually related to unique or unexpected uses of the buttons. Using “Water Outside” to talk about the rain or other combinations of buttons. Using “water” to talk about the ground being muddy. 

Her use of the buttons when one of our dogs, Ella, passed away several months ago was fascinating. After a couple weeks of her being gone, she pressed “Ella Stranger” and then “Love You Bye Stranger.” She just stopped talking about her after that, not even any accidental presses.

Her use of buttons recently when she gets to see her friend Smalls vs when she hasn’t gotten to see him for a little while has been really fascinating. Close to the point in time when she sees him, her use of the buttons goes down or she presses buttons like “Happy,” but when it’s been a while and she’s wanting to play, then she uses buttons like “Help,” or “Where’s” or “Now” or “Oops.”

Q. What’s your favorite button moment?

I love when she uses the Love You buttons in different ways. She initially would use it in conjunction with affection with me or Chase. But then she would use Love You in conjunction with other dogs or with people who frequently visit our house. 

Recently, Scarlett made a new dog friend named “Smalls,” who stayed at our house for a week. Several days into his stay, she let me know “Love you Smalls” and it was really sweet. 

There’s nothing better than having one more way, of the many ways, to share love with our dogs and to know they have loving social relationships with other animals and people.

Q. How have buttons changed your relationship with your learner?

It has certainly given me more perspective into what is bothering her or that certain things are on her mind. It’s not ‘out of sight, out of mind’ with dogs. It could be a random day and something reminds her of her dog friend, Smalls, and she will ask for him on the buttons. Without buttons, I might see frustration behaviors but not know why, or I might not notice anything at all. That specificity of her life experience would not be accessible to me.

Q. What advice would you give to others who are interested in teaching their learners to use buttons?

At first, modeling the buttons and saying the words as you do different actions can feel a bit contrived or goofy. This is normal. Example: I might say “Outside! You want outside.” Then I would press the Outside button, and then walk outside in the backyard saying, “We are going outside.” It’s normal that how we model buttons and narrate life in the beginning may not be how we would speak to another adult conversationally. Just give it a go and don’t be shy about talking to your dog and modeling.

Q. How did you go about teaching your learner to press their first button?

I did a small amount of target training for one day with buttons that did not have anything recorded. I then put them out with recorded words and just did a lot of modeling.