With almost 450 thousand followers and over 6 million likes on TikTok, it is safe to say user Michelle Pierce and her adorable 7 year old husky Lexi are well loved on the app. The TikTok user @chelleandlexihusky highlights teaching your dog how to talk using viral FluentPet’s HexTiles, which you might have seen on the app as they have become increasingly popular.
Pierce adopted Lexi when she was only 13 months old. After being diagnosed with a chronic illness, Pierce wanted to use her frequent time inside doing something to lift her mood.
This is when she bought the tiles, which contain a recorded message that plays back when it is pressed and are often used to communicate. Words like “water” or “outside” or “good girl” are words that dogs recognize and react to and can be used by the dogs to communicate wants or needs. Sounds fun, right?
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Pierce says that Lexi has over 42 words that can be used, with an average of 25 words being used daily. Right now, Pierce is using the word “ouch” to train Lexi so that Lexi can accurately communicate when something is hurting or upsetting her. This is helpful for pet owners to be able to understand their pet better and get them adequate care, should they need it, and other pet owners expressed their own wishes to train their pets this way as well.
Lexi is not the only pet to go viral on TikTok, and certainly not the only viral pet to use the tiles for communication. Deemed the original talking dog, Stella and her owner have over 800 thousand followers on Instagram. Stella’s owner, Christina Hunger, is a speech pathologist who published a book How Stella Learned to Talk. This book captures the journey Hunger had when teaching Stella what words on a board meant. It’s not just dogs learning how to talk, either! Sarah Baker and her cat humorously named Justin Bieber have almost 300 thousand followers on TikTok as users watch Justin communicate using the buttons as well.
All in all, viral or not, many pet owners enjoy using the buttons for not only entertainment reasons but also have noticed that their animals seem more calm or less mischievous, as they’re able to communicate. There also many studies being conducted on this topic as well to further understand communication with dogs or other pets. Though the viral videos began just for fun, the behavior is promoting real research regarding animal’s behavior and communication, which is interesting. Many pet owners have signed up for a study that Fluent Pet is conducting, which is the company that manufactures Hex Tiles. Though they did not spend money for ad’s from Google or Facebook, Leo Trottier, CEO, notes that they’ve had 5 million in sales throughout the last 12 months. According to Trottier, his study will contain a multitude of phases in order to collect data points surrounding the talking dog phenomenon. Though there are doubts from some that a human can communicate regularly with a dog, the viral TikToks have inspired research regarding communication with different animals.