Catch Mylo in action on Instagram at @ohmymylo
Q. So Maurice, who is this learner of yours?
My learner’s name is Mylo. He is 35 pounds of energy, brains, and sass. The order of importance for him is food, kisses/attention, then playing.
Q. What was your learner’s first button?
Q. How long did it take for Mylo to press their first button?
It took him about 3 weeks to hit it initially but some more weeks to press it consistently.
Q. What have the buttons revealed about Mylo that you wouldn’t have known without the buttons?
How sassy he is. He doesn't bark or whine or even cry much, so I don’t know how he would express that side without the buttons. Also, the way he is able to make connections like when his anal glands were impacted and he pressed the groomer button before he started scooting on the carpet. He told me before I noticed him scooting and confirmed he associates the groomers with him feeling better.
Q. What inspired you to do button teaching?
During the pandemic, I saw a bunch of videos of Bunny and Alexis. Then saw Lexi and Chelle and I thought if I ever get a dog, I have to teach them to talk since I knew know anything about them. I never had one growing up and my Dad actually told me I was allergic. Around 14/15 years old I started breaking out in full body hives everyday and needed to get an allergy test. They listed everything but did not tell me about cats and dogs. They said I wasn’t allergic to them. My Dad then confessed he lied to me because he was sick of me asking him for one so much growing up! By the time the pandemic came and I caught puppy fever I found Mylo online and had the buttons ready day one.
Q. What challenges have you faced with button teaching? How did you overcome them?
At first, it was just getting him to use the buttons. I was considering giving up on them. I’m a recovering perfectionist and it was so frustrating using them every day and not seeing much progress. It wasn’t until 6 weeks in he “made” a button for himself playing with an empty protein powder container I left on the floor. I called it jug and made a jug button and that was the button that made everything click. I realized the buttons need to be about what he wants and what interests him, not just what I want him to talk about. I focused more on narrating for weeks before adding new buttons and adding them for his favorite things along with things I deemed as essential.
Q. What’s your funniest button moment?
There are so many! I think it’s a recent one after he asked for a puzzle right after eating breakfast. I told him no since he just ate and he walked over and hit “BRUH” on the buttons and I literally fell on the floor. It was the first time he used that button and it fit the conversation so perfectly it was hard to believe.
Q. What’s your most surprising button moment?
One that stands out is when I was reading and he asked if it was a TOY. He noticed it occupying my attention and made the connection that it's a toy for humans. I found that fascinating.
Q. What’s your favorite button moment?
Again, there are so many. I love the videos with my family the most I think. A snapshot of us being entertained by this gift we have of him and his buttons. There are too many of those to just name one!
Q. How have buttons changed your relationship with your learner?
Q. What advice would you give to others who are interested in teaching their learners to use buttons?
Don’t give up! I almost did and wouldn’t have one of the best relationships of my life. Before you commit to the buttons, start by narrating all day. Focus on narrating in “button words”, words that will eventually become buttons (Mylo OUTSIDE NOW, Mylo POTTY NOW OUTSIDE, OUTSIDE ALL DONE). It is very robotic and will take time to get used to not including prepositions, conjunctions, etc. After narrating for a while, start small with a few buttons (3-4), but make sure one is a highly motivating one for your learner (not food related). It is very time consuming in the beginning but there's no secret or skillset. If I taught the first pet I’ve ever owned with no experience literally anyone can do it!
Q. How did you go about teaching your learner to press their first button?
I focused a lot on me using the buttons and immediately doing the activity or going to the place. Target training helped him to aim and I have revisited target training multiple times on our button journey as I’ve expanded the boards.
Q. How did you address challenges you faced?
Outside of him just pressing the buttons, the location of the buttons was a challenge. It couldn't be in a place he runs or plays in and out the way but not too out the way. I changed locations of the buttons 4 times. Ultimately, it really is just about repetition and knowing they are paying attention to you even though you can’t tell they are.