Echolocation Device – what would you want?

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Dani 1 month ago.

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  • #3794



    My name is Dani. I had a pug, Mugusley for 14 years. When he was about six years old, he was diagnosed with SARDS and within a two week period, went completely blind. I was devastated. But as many of the other posts mention, within about six weeks, Mugsley got around just fine, even navigating the porch steps to go outside. And within another few weeks, he was even playing fetch again with his favorite toy. He even played with his puzzles and could out beat my other dog who wasn’t blind. Unfortunately, about 2.5 years ago, Mugsley crossed the rainbow bridge.

    I was watching 60 Minutes the other year regarding a boy who was born blind and had learned to echolocate (what bats do with their pinging) by clicking his tongue. This boy was playing basketball! And I said to myself, even though Mugsley had adjusted to his surroundings, he still bumped into things. Wouldn’t it have been great if Mugsley could echolocate himself just like bats and this boy.

    I’m now working on a project to finish my Masters program in Systems Engineering, and sure enough, I”m going to design an echolocation device for blind dogs. The device will be small and attachable to a collar. The idea is that this device will create a pinging sound when the dog is moving and the pings will grow closer together as the dog nears walls and other obstacles. The pinging will be set at a frequency that is inaudible to human ears, but dogs can hear it. I’m also thinking that the dog will eventually, through self training basically, what the pining means — a long time between pings, keep walking; very frequent pinging, stop or turn.

    This is just a concept at this point, but I’m looking for feedback and comments. What would you want this device to do besides what I described? Would this even be something that you’d be interested having for your dog? What about a cat?

  • #3795


    I think it’s a great idea. Would it be pinging all of the time or just when they are moving.
    Also, I have other pets and wouldn’t want them to hear it all day and night when my boy wasn’t moving.
    Would that be possible? I wish you the best of luck. Great idea!

    • #3799


      Yes. I was going to add a motion sensor to it, so it’s only pinging when the dog is moving. Whether or not other dogs are bothered by it, I have no idea yet. But that’s a great point, and something I’ll explore through my project.

      Thanks for your support,

  • #3796


    Hi Dani, I applaud you on your project. I think you have a great idea and I would like to keep updated on your progress. Being an owner of a blind dog is so challenging, as you know. My Sophie is 12.5 years old and like your Mugsley, she suddenly went blind at 8 yrs old with SARDS. Actually we both adjusted fairly quickly to her blindness, and she came to navigate our home fairly well. However, after a teeth cleaning at 10 years old, she apparently suffered some neurological damage from the anesthetic. After the cleaning, she was very disoriented and never regained her navigation skills. So today, she runs into walls, furniture, etc. endlessly. I have been interested in trying some of the scent markers that I see advertised on the internet, but the manufacturer must be out of business. Their site has said for a long time, temporarily out of stock, and writing their customer service dept., only gives the response that they don’t know when they will be available again. I think your idea sounds much more interesting and may help our blind dogs. We clap our hands right in front of Sophie’s nose and walk backwards to get her to follow the sounds. This works fairly well, but how wonderful if something attached to her collar could assist her even when we are away. I like the idea of the fast and slow pinging to warn the dog of an imminent obstacle.
    If at any point you need a “guinea pug”, I would be happy to volunteer with Sophie to evaluate your invention and provide you feedback. I do hope that you will post updates to this site so we can all benefit from your research.
    Thank you for your hard work.

    • #3800


      Thanks for your support. Yes, I’ll keep this forum updated as my project progresses.

      We tried scents with Mugsley. Unfortunately, that didn’t seem to work really. However, what helped him was different textured surfaces. For example, one type of mat in front of the steps going down the porch so he knew the steps were there. Another different type of mat by the couch so he knew he was close to us. We actually built him a small set of stairs to get up on the couch. There were little railings on each side to guide him up (and to make sure he didn’t fall off). He could tell he would orient himself using the little railings before going up onto the couch.

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