Soldiers are often exposed to huge noise conditions. Therefore, soldiers need to wear personal hearing protection devices with built-in communication devices to protect their hearing. Not only humans but military dogs can also get affected by the extreme noise. Existing hearing protection designed for dogs is generally difficult in putting on the dogs, as well as has bulky sizes.
In order to solve these problems and ensure the mobility of military dogs, the U.S. military developed the Canine Auditory Protection System (CAPS). The project was funded by the U.S. Army and was created by the Maryland startup Zeteo Tech and Pete “Skip” Scheifele. Dr. Scheifele is a retired Navy Lieutenant Commander and the executive director of FETCHLAB USA, an internationally renowned animal hearing and bioacoustics laboratory at the University of Cincinnati.
“Even a short helicopter flight can affect a dog’s hearing, resulting in impaired performance and inability to hear the handler’s commands, which can hinder the mission,” said Dr. Stephen Lee, senior scientist at Army Research Office. “This new technology protects the canine while on missions and can extend the dog’s working life.“
The CAPS is basically a snood-style headgear, resembling a close-fitting hood and utilizes lightweight, high-quality acoustic absorption materials to block unwanted sounds. And as it is made of flexible materials, it can be easily fit to the unique shape of the dog’s head.
“Its strap-free padded design uniformly distributes the pressure required to hold the hearing protection in place, while avoiding challenges associated with straps,” the Army said. “At a little more than an inch thick, the CAPS’ low profile will not be a hindrance for dogs working in tight spaces. It is also compatible with other gear used by working dogs, such as goggles.”
According to the creators, it is the first and only hearing clinic for animals in the United States capable of running full audiological diagnostic testing and analyses.
This equipment has been tested for usability in military dogs and law enforcement dogs. The test also found that it can significantly reduce the short-term hearing loss of dogs after the flight.