This vest helps you train your dog without having to voice any commands

The tech could be useful for disabled pet owners as well as search-and-rescue units who are out of earshot of the dog.

We all know how impeccable a dog's sense of smell is. But, surprisingly, its sense of touch is also quite keen, and it's that sense that researchers are trying to tap into – hopefully unlocking a new world of dog-training technology.

A team at Ben-Gurion University in Israel developed a canine vest that vibrates to deliver commands via remote control. They're doing this, they say, because training dogs via visual and voice commands has its limits – especially in search-and-rescue missions and service dog applications.

And, as it turns out, dogs respond to these vibrating, or haptic, cues "as well or even better than vocal commands,” said Professor Amir Shapiro, director of the Robotics Laboratory in BGU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.

The mesh canine vest, which is already commercially available, contains four small vibrating motors positioned over a dog’s back and sides that can be used to train or direct dogs to respond to different vibrations. The handler can elicit different commands by controlling the site and duration of vibrations.

In the demonstration video above, Tai, a 6-year-old Labrador retriever/German shepherd mix, responds to several commands, such as “spin,” “down,” “to me” or “backpedal," using the vest.

A Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researcher trains Tai, a 6-year-old Lab mix, using a fabric modified with vibration motors. A Ben-Gurion University researcher trains Tai, a 6-year-old Lab mix, using a fabric modified with vibration motors. (Photo: BGU)

The vest has widespread potential as an aid to dog owners with disabilities, who may not be able to perform some of the physical or vocal tasks associated with traditional dog training.

In the near future, researchers plan to test the vest technology on dogs of different breeds, ages and training experience, and will integrate more advanced devices into search and rescue, military work dog and service dog programs.

The vest is one of several useful dog-centered technologies to come out of Israel in recent years. Israeli entrepreneur Ron Levi created Dog TV, a television network to keep your dog engaged while you're away from home. Meanwhile, scientists in a Tel Aviv laboratory have developed a facial recognition tool for dogs. And, an Israeli-Belgian tech consultant developed a Tinder for dogs, of sorts: an app that matches you up with other dog owners in your location, simply with the swipe of your finger, to find you the best doggie playdate.

Playdate's Gary Feurstein compares his invention to popular dating apps. Playdate's Gary Feurstein compares his invention to popular dating apps. (Photo: PlayDate)

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This vest helps you train your dog without having to voice any commands
The tech could be useful for disabled pet owners as well as search-and-rescue units who are out of earshot of the dog.