Jan. 28, 2022

Teaching Dogs How to Talk with Leo Trottier | The Long Leash #43

Teaching Dogs How to Talk with Leo Trottier | The Long Leash #43

Cognitive scientist Leo Trottier is confirming what dog lovers already suspect: other animals have complex inner lives and can directly communicate with humans.


Leo Trottier isn’t the first scientist to get interested in inter-species communication – he credits Charles Darwin as the first modern mind to recognize that animals are not “dumb beasts” but our intellectual cousins.

But this life-long animal lover has done more than most cognitive scientists and learning experts to confirm it, with his “talking buttons” that help pets communicate directly with their human partners.

It turns out that you’re not crazy to think that you and your dog are communicating nonverbally. It’s possible, in fact, for dogs to ask for their preferred treats (even when there is no button for it), make a plan for the future, talk about their dreams, and even express grief.

Today’s conversation is rich in fact and meaning and emotion, just like a dog’s mind is. In this fascinating discussion, an excellent science communicator explains how and why better inter-species conversations are important … not just for the personal lives of the animals involved, but for the broader collective good.

Our companion animals may lead lives of quiet frustration. By speaking with each other, could we alleviate the epidemic of human loneliness that medical professionals consider a huge risk factor? Reduce behavioural problems that result in huge levels of euthanasia for companion animals? Increase the empathy levels in humans for our own and other species?

Dog brains are not dramatically different than human brains … and yet, we feel surprise and delight when our dogs do something unexpected. Welcome to Leo Trottier’s world, where he and his teams give dogs (and other animals) the tools they need to connect with us.

Don’t be surprised if, in a year or two, you’re getting a text message from your dog.

See the video of the cat grieving their friend here: https://www.reddit.com/r/PetsWithButtons/comments/rr0fwq/pets_grieve_too_i_had_to_put_down_two_of_my_15/

FluentPet website: https://fluent.pet/

Tips, Tricks, Do’s and Don’ts from the community: https://www.theycantalk.org/

Forum where you can ask questions: https://how.theycantalk.org/c/home

The original talking buttons on CleverPet: https://clever.pet/

FluentPet on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fluentpet/

FluentPet on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/FluentPet

FluentPet on Twitter: https://twitter.com/fluentpet

About Leo Trottier

Leo Trottier is a unique blend of cognitive scientist, software engineer, product designer, and entrepreneur. He is founder and CEO of CleverPet, a startup that uses smart hardware to teach pets automatically through advanced cognitive and behavioral science techniques. Leo is an alumnus of San Diego’s EvoNexus and the Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator (powered by Techstars). He has a degree from the cognitive science and A.I. program at the University of Toronto, and started CleverPet while a PhD candidate at UC San Diego. Before CleverPet, Leo ran Scholarpedia, Wikipedia’s academic equivalent, where he worked with Nobel Laureates to “wikify scholarly canons.”

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