Militaries throughout history have used dogs as an indispensable part of their armies, but modern warfare presents a special challenge for dogs' super-sensitive hearing. The US Army hopes that a new technology called CAPS will enable their canine comrades to keep their hearing through their years of service.
US Army has developed a new hearing-protection system specifically for its dogs
The US Army's military working dogs (MWDs) have been in the spotlight lately with the US special forces canine Conan being so much in the news after an operation in Syria, but dogs have always been a part of warfighting. Since the advent of modern warfare — where close-quarters, sometimes house-to-house, fighting is becoming more typical — heavy gunfire and explosions can easily rupture the hearing of combatants, making MWDs especially vulnerable to hearing loss.
While human hearing-protection equipment has been used on MWD in the past, they've never had their own hearing protection specifically designed for them — until now. According to Stars And Stripes, the Canine Auditory Protection System (CAPS) is a newly-developed headgear specifically designed to fit a dog's ear and offer better protection than modified human equipment.
In its 2017 request for proposals from industry about a hearing-protection system for canines, the Army wrote: “Military working dogs are subjected to the same combat exposures as their military handlers … (and) are estimated to experience similar levels of noise-exposed hearing loss.”
Developed by the Army Research Lab and Maryland-based biotechnology company Zeteo Tech, the new head equipment fits over a dog's ears like a hoodie and creates a seal, offering excellent protection against unsafe sound levels like helicopters and explosions.
“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,” Stephen Lee, an Army Research Office scientist, said in a statement.