Binaural Acoustic Responses in Canines (BARC)

Project Description

Assistance dogs carry out a variety of tasks that enable people to lead independent lives. When training for and executing these roles, the dogs rely heavily on spoken word cues from their handlers and learn to react to important sounds in their environment. However, very little is known about how their spatial hearing affects how they carry out these jobs. How well can a guide dog localise sounds associated with danger, such as the sound of oncoming traffic? How difficult is it for a hearing dog to localise the sound of a phone ringing? Further complicating our understanding of dog spatial hearing is the variety of ear shapes and sizes in and between breeds. Recent advances in the study of human spatial hearing use scanned 3D models of human ears to model sound localisation. We will explore these models and investigate dog spatial hearing by: 1) Creating models of dog’s ears using 3D scanners 2) using these 3D scans to generate Head Related Transfer Functions, and 3) determining the accuracy of the models by comparing them to Head Related Transfer Functions collected using traditional methods. We hope to use these models to inform assistance animal training methods.