Debunking the Viral Talking Dog of Tik Tok

The Rewired Soul
7 min readSep 20, 2020

As a pet owner, there’s nothing more that I would love if my cats could talk to us. When our cats Maya and Wyatt are acting irrationally, I often tell my beautiful girlfriend, Tristin, that I wish they could talk. I also wonder what they would say if they could talk. Our cat Maya seems to have the most random mood swings where she’s purring and cuddling you one minute, and the next minute she’s scratching you. Meanwhile, Wyatt just seems like a grumpy old man, and I think, “If this cat could talk for a day, what would he say? Would he have a conversation with us or just demand for us to give him more food?”

Well, if you’re like me and dream of a day where animals can talk to me, you may be inclined to believe the videos of this viral Tik Tok dog are real. Alexis Devine is the owner Bunny, a dog who uses buttons to communicate with Alexis. Although I wish this were real, today, we’re going to debunk Bunny.

Now, don’t get me wrong, dogs are extremely smart creatures. In fact, many animals are. As a big fan of the psychologist BF Skinner, I know that behaviorism is extremely effective. With the right incentives, we can train animals to just about anything, but unfortunately, talking isn’t one of them.

While there are some skeptics who think Alexis simply showcases the best takes of Bunny using these buttons, based on the research, I think there’s more of a psychological explanation. We’re going to discuss the ideomotor effect and how it can make animals appear to be smarter than they are, but first, we need to understand the human tendency of anamorphism.

In their book The Mind Club: Who Thinks, What Feels, and Why It Matters, Daniel Wegner and Kurt Gray dedicate an entire chapter to why we attribute minds to certain animals but not to others. This is a fascinating chapter, but for the purpose of this video, we’re going to focus on anamorphism. Anamorphism is a distorted projection or perspective; especially an image distorted in such a way that it becomes visible only when viewed in a special manner.

Anamorphism is the reason why people like Alexis can easily make us believe that Bunny can talk with these buttons, and Alexis probably believes it as well. When we understand the history of talking animals, we can get a little closer to the truth, and…

The Rewired Soul

Psychology/mental health/philosophy. Stay up to date by following me here & on Twitter/Instagram @TheRewiredSoul. Books available at www.TheRewiredSoul.com/shop