Button Press Glossary

When learners begin communicating with buttons, they start by using single words to make a request or express a single need. As they progress, many begin to combine multiple buttons to express new concepts. They can also take a word meant for one meaning and begin to use it in a different context to mean something entirely new. 

The resourcefulness we’ve seen in learners creatively using and combining their words to express brand new concepts is extraordinary. But what they are intending to communicate is often a puzzle their teachers set out to solve. This glossary is a collection of our learners’ creative use of words or word combos and the resulting translations provided by their teachers based on the context within which they are used.

agua + Chew chew = ice cream

all done + later = later is done now

all done my dish is empty, the treats are gone, you (human) are all done making noise/working/singing/talking/etc., you are done with whatever and need to come now.

B

ball + comidita = treat ball

ball + tug = a particular toy with a ball at one end

ball+water = ice

bed+porch = spend time on the porch with family

belly + go = eat

belly + noise = growling tummy

Belly or tummy + ouch = hungry

belly+smell+squeaker=fart

benebone+hungry+floormuffins = homemade puzzle with benebones in muffin tin

big + sibby = older human sibling

big+water = ocean (high tide)

bird+food = chicken

bird + stick = guitar

bird + treat = a specific treat toy

boat+hike = doggy beach

busy + bug = scorpion

butt + rain = poop

C

cagar el palo+car = loud ATV/scooter/etc.

car+walk = car ride

cardboard+play = holey ball stuffed with cardboard to make a puzzle

cardboard+sprinkles = dentastick (cardboard = want to bite, sprinkles = something delish)

catnip+cookies = cat kibble

catnip+water = coffee

chase+poop = zoomies

coco (own name)+dad+play = tug which is something done only with dad

come+bye = forgot a word

cuddle+food = something extra delicious

cuddles+play = wrestle

D

dinner+dad = nightly chew given by dad

dirty+bug = cockroach

doctor+love = go to vet

downstairs+water = something (treat/toy) under the water dish

downstairs = anything that is under something else

E

eat+water = ice

eat+work = cooking

F

family+bed = mom and dad's bed

fart+friend = smelly dog

food+bone = stuffed bone or kong

food+box = container treats are stored in

food+chew = bully stick

food+play = training

food+play = treat ball (dessert!)

food+potty = poop

food+sweater = snufflemat

fridge+car = ice cream truck

fridge+treat = frozen treat

fridge+treat (2) = jerky kept in the fridge

frisbee+chew = a particular toy that is actually NOT chewable

G

good+ouch = wrestling

H

happy+hungry = puzzle/treat dispensing toy

happy+rain+scratcher = shower/shampoo

help+any button = urgency

help+go+pee = urgent need to pee

help+water = turn on the faucet or hose

help+wrestle = move furniture to get access to toy etc. that rolled under

hi+later = bye/I  will be back

hi+rain = rain just starting

home+stranger = house sitter

hot+fridge+treat = cooked meat

hot+treats = popcorn

human+machine = laptop (zoom class)

human+puppy = human child

human+rain = coffee

human+sound = word buttons

hungry+ball = egg

hungry+chew = treat toy

hungry+play = training with treats

hungry+toy or hungry+water = toy stuffed with frozen oatmeal

hungry+water = add water to the kibble

hungry+water (2) = ice

I

ice cream+friend = please (or give me ice cream and be my friend)

ice+food = food from the fridge

ice+sweater = wipe down with wet towel to cool off

inside+potty+home = bathroom

inside+sunshine = lamp

inside+wind = air conditioner

J

jen (human name)+food+later = human should have eaten by now

K

kibble+training = chips

kid = puppy or kitten

L

later+is = it is later now

later+mouth = not hungry/eat later

later+now = do whatever you promised to do “later” NOW

later+yes = it is later now

let's go+carrot+friend = go for a walk and take a carrot please

listen+family+belly+now = feed us now

look+ouch = bright light

loud+light+nighttime = storm with lightning

love you = please, thank you, pets, attention, physical affection

M

mad+scratches = itchy and need scratching

meat+treat+fridge+treat = jerky that is kept in the fridge

milo (other dog's name)+bedtime = get out of my way (to other dog)

mom+water+treat = coffee

momma+happy+help me = I missed you all day mom

more+home+now = come home now

more+hungry = snack

MYSTERIES

play+calm+calm+more = ??? Norma the Cow

stranger+zoomies = ???  Puppy Parker Posey

N

night+talk = dream

noise+all done = turn off tv, stop singing/working/snoring/etc. Also wanting outside noise to stop.

noise+play = treat ball

O

ocean+sound = waves or sound of surf

ouch+car+ride = desperate longing for car ride

ouch+music+sounds = ”hurtin' for some tunes”

outside+all done = inside

outside+help = must go NOW

outside+home = spaces beyond the doggy gate

outside+kitty = squirrel

outside+play+water = swim or pool

outside+snack = stick

outside+treat = dine alfresco

outside+treat (2) = mom play guitar and sing while we play outside

outside+water = rain

outside+water+chew+help = take the ice chunks out from between my toes

ouch = hurt feelings, hungry, urgent need to potty

outside = open any door/other side of the door

P

paw+belly = treat ball

perch+ride = sit in back of car to ride

play+cucumber = tricks

play+eat = puzzle

play+food = treat toy of any kind

play+outside = hunt bugs, etc.

play+outside (2) = outside training to earn treats

play+snack = puzzle

play+stuck = sniff and dig vole tunnels

play+treat = puzzle or snufflemat

play+water = pool or swim

play+water+walk = water gurgling in outside drain

poop+chase = zoomies

poopoo+chew toy = rawhide

poop+play = fart

poop+tug = constipated or urgent need to poop (one had hair in eye!)

potty+ball = poop

puzzle+ball = food puzzle

puzzle+toy = snufflemat

petpets = human family

pets = general attention

poop = general cuss word

puppy or kitten  = human baby or child

Q

quiet+but = spider

R

rain+ice = snow

ride+home = play chase

rain = water or water = rain

S

scratchy+scratchy = brush

scoop+pets = cuddle

scoop+ride = carry to something or carry something to her

scritches+play = wrestle

settle+smell+clean = snufflemat

show+eyes = look at what I am looking at

sleep+noise = snoring

smell+no+bye = dog accident in house

sniffsniff+ride = ride with windows down

sniffsniff+walk (or bird+walk or bug+walk) = go outside to hunt

snow+machine = AC

soon+is = soon is NOW

sound+ball = noisy treat ball

sound+walk = talk with buttons

squeaker+car = ambulance

stranger+animal = rats

street+jason (dad) = ”spare human” take for a walk

sweater+treat = snufflemat

sweater+walk = put on sweater before going for walk

stranger = anything or anyone unexpected or in a place where it should not be

soon = immediately before or after any event

sibling = human child living in same home

T

talk+sleep = dream

tired+sad = bored

toy+walk = fetch

train+outside = agility or other training where treats are earned

treat+play = treat ball

tug+poop = remove something nasty from eye/paw/etc.

tummy+paw = belly rubs

training = wants higher value treats

U

upstairs+bird = plane

upstairs+fetch = toys kept on table

upstairs+food = food that is not at floor level (on counter, table, top of fridge, cabinet, etc.)

upstairs+water = rain

upstairs = anything that is “up”

W

walk+home = play fetch in the house

want+bye = i don't want to play with you right now

want+bye+all done = stay at home, human!

want+hungry+play = puzzle

water+ball = ice

water+ball+treat = watermelon

water+eye = wipe runny eyes

water+food = wet food

water+hippo = seal

water+outside = rain

water+outside (2)  = beach

water+outside (3) = pee

water+play = swim

water+scritches = wiped with wet washcloth

water+treat = churu

water+treat = wet food (2)

water+walk = go pee

water+walk (2) = foggy outside

wet food+training = meal topper

work+cleanup = garbage truck

worm+water = ice

wrestle+treat = treat toy

water = anything in a glass, cup or bowl

Y

yard+vegetables = eat leaves in the yard

yay+name = favorite friend

Glossary Data Collection

We'd like to thank Barb Moore (@mycatscantalk) for creating this glossary and the teachers listed below who continue to contribute to this collection (credits are listed by Instagram or Facebook handles). 

Alexandra Anderson

Amy Karlin

bastianandbrews

beaglemom56

billispeaks

bustertoks

buttonpigs

carolynschwed

Cathy Chenoweth

Cathy Crosby

catinthedark

chatwithchamp

Cherie Vriesema

Christine Meng-Brown

cocothetalkingdog

elissawearscapes

Erin Janosri

flintcantalk

freyacantalk

Heather Dice

heathered_knits

isa_9723

Jennifer Gaskill

jordanade

juniperpoodlepants

kai_an_american_bully

Kandy Pople-Gill

Karen Brown

Kelly McGonigle

kristinecircenis

ladyliadhain

Laurel Westbrook

Lisa Laufer

Lisa Turner

lo_rosana

Lori-Ann Spears

Mallory McCourt

mango_the_black_cat

mariequaranto

megumitalks

mycatscantalk

Natasha Amaral

normathecow

pawsitivebehaviors

pharaby_fable

pick1ecart

pretendyelling

puppyparkerposey

reginausesherhead

rhiaannaaa

roxnchuck

Sabrina Barnabe

Samantha Smith

scouts.journey.home

Sheila Petersen

smblake1484

steviecantalk

talkingmytilda

Tanya Cummins Diekmann

Taran Daestingr

twiggyandhercatfriends

whataboutbunny

zodiak_can_learn