Please help with some ideas for a blind dog

Hi,
My faithful old dog was steadily going blind, but the process has accelerated and now he has totally lost his sight.
The vet does not recommend surgery at his age.
It is heartbreaking seeing him get lost and confused around the home.
I was thinking about some sort of location alert for selected spots around the home, like a coded buzzer on his collar when he passed within 1 meter a spot.
I would really appreciate some ideas to get me started in the right direction.
Many thanks in advance . . .

Comments

  • 9 Comments sorted by Date Added Votes
  • An alternative could be working the other way ?
    ie to add sound signatures to common objects, like water bowl, food bowl, door, bed... assuming his hearing is still very good..
  • Scent trails?
  • I would second scent cues, as scent is a dogs greatest sense.
  • Perhaps a particular variation for each room, spotted along routes between doors, providing
    a scent map of routes around the house.
  • My wife and I thought about this a bit as we've built some electronic gadgets for our (admittedly non-blind) dog in the past, and unfortunately we don't have any particular ideas. It might be better to think more in terms of progressive enhancement, i.e. making the place as blind-friendly as you can for him, then go from there in terms of where electronics might be most useful. In general for blind dogs one of the best recommendations is not to move things around too much; the reasoning is that they probably already know where a lot of things where from when they were sighted, and minimizing change helps them to adapt a lot better. Another option to potentially avoid just running into things might be getting a "halo", which is basically this thing that goes around the dog's shoulders and loops around the head a few inches out, providing a nice cushion and tactile feedback before he walks into something. The value of those kinds of things isn't going to go away until we can build dogs something like an artificial eye or Geordi's visor from Star Trek.

    Beyond that, there are several things you could look at. One might be to do some surveys of papers and research departments in animal-computer interaction, but focus on things that aren't so targeted at visual stimulus (i.e. getting dogs to operate touchscreens isn't going to help, but perhaps there's something with audible, tactile, or sound cues that might be useful in your case). You could also see what commercial offerings there are out there, such as BlindSight (which near as I can tell operates on the notion that dogs are capable of echolocation even if they don't use it normally), and see what you can come up with to verify the hypotheses behind some of these systems. Another thought would be to look at some of the other projects being done in the hobbyist or maker space for helping blind dogs, such as this "audible dog ball" (https://hackaday.io/project/12189-remote-controlled-audible-dog-ball-for-blind-dog) or the "sonic collar" (https://www.instructables.com/id/Sonar-Collar-for-Blind-Dogs/). Use targeted searches to see what people have come up with in that space; for example, the two links I just posted were search results for variations on "arduino blind dog", and the ideas are equally applicable to whatever technology or platform you choose to implement them with.

    Lastly, if you do come up with anything, share it here on the forums or put it out elsewhere online for others to follow! Not only would some of us be interested in seeing what you come up with, but that information helps the next person trying to make life better for their dog too.
  • I would suggest a few ultrasonic locator beacons. One at his food dish of course, and a couple of others at points of interest so that he can triangulate the rest of the territory. Since the home is familiar, he'll quickly learn to do that if he has his wits about him. Give them slightly different properties so he can tell them apart, and don't make them too annoying; maybe a distinctive chirp every few seconds. And maybe turn them off at night if they cause trouble sleeping.
  • Remember the skinner box. Not to use the box as it was. The sound alerts work. Have different sound alerts and use the reward system to retrain the dog to respond to the alerts.
    Remember the treats reinforce the stimulus. I understand what you want to do. My masters degree track is is human factors and I can help you find some answers. pilot0315@gmail.com. Take very good care of that animal as he depends on you. My feelings and thoughts are with you and the dog.

    Martin
  • BTW if you use chips be careful about the audible range of the dog. Some frequencies can annoy the animal.
  • Just thought of it. Click sound may be better.
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