A Vibrating Deaf Dog Caller Collar <5$




How do you call a Deaf Dog?

The joke say it doesn't matter he won't come anyway. But seriously, what if the dog (or whatever) is really deaf or the handler is mute? Then what? How can you get your pet's attention and alert them to stop or return to you?

About 3 years ago, my friend came to me with this dilemma when Jake, her very old Siberian Husky was loosing his hearing. She usually kept Jake in a large fenced property but when he decided to chase a rabbit, get loose, jump the fence, head onto the roadway, etc. He would be so focused or distracted that no amount of calling would get his attention.

I solved her dilema then with a Deaf Dog Caller Collar. The great thing about this idea is with a bit of training my friend found the dog would at least stop, change focus momentarily, look around for my friend and usually return, even if at his leisure for a treat.

For this Instructable, I built my second unit so it only took me less than 1 hour to locate everything I needed and less than 3 hours to finish the building.

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Step 1: Background to the Dog Caller Collar

This instructable is a medium difficulty Instructable, about 1 to 3 hours building time, to convert a Remote Control Toy (a car) into a vibrating dog caller collar. Distance range for this to project is limited by the quality of toy used.

Further information can be fond at this website DeafDogs.org. They sell manufactured vibrating dog collar units. Some of these units go up to a mile away but you may find this out of your budget. This site also suggests making your own unit much cheaper similar to what I did for this instructable. However they didn't write an instructable for it.

This simple remote control could be slightly modified to control many other applications.

If you build this with a light rather than a vibrating motor you can find your night wandering pet much easier, is just one example.

Note: 'Jake' has since passed and so 'Rusty' has volunteered to model the Deaf Dog Caller Collar. He says, "Please send cookies!"

Step 2: Lets Go Car Shopping

It's true, I cannot turn down a challenge. I needed a toy RC Car on the cheep. On my 5th local Thrift shop, I bought this one for $3.99 that looked good enough. Great bargain.

This particular RC car had larger parts than my original project, so it may appear a bit clunky, especially for a small pet. They now sell tiny RC Cars that would have very small parts and would make the whole project nicer, but you get the idea here.

When shopping for this project I was looking for a complete car pair with transmitter and receiver. The car must be the kind that does not run the motor unless or until you make the transmitter send a signal. I've seen some toy cars that run the motor all the time and the transmitter just reverses the motor, pivoting the wheels to make a turn. This kind can be made to work but why complicate things for yourself. (Meaning - I don't know exactly how I would yet.)

Here's a tip, most toys in Thrift Shops are still working, can usually be fixed and are missing some cosmetic parts (mine was only missing both battery covers, and had a tiny crack in the fender).

Put the toy together and test it to make sure you have the all the critical parts you need and that they work. Just to make sure, always shop with 4 AAA batteries, 4 AA and a 9V battery like I do. This way you can test the toys in store, prior to purchase.

Step 3: Gather These Tools and Stuffs

Drill with small bit (~1/8inch)
Empty pill bottle or plastic film canister
One small screw and nut
Strong Glue like epoxy
Solder, iron, etc
Electrical tape
And of course duct tape, naturally! (What is a project without it?)

Step 4: Getting Inside the Car

Lets see what is inside the car then.

Underside you should find some screws holding the bottom and top together. You can still do it if they are riveted, but you should have thought of that when you shopped.
Remove the screws, rivets, clips etc to release the two halves.

Inside you should find a circuit card (receiver) and a bunch of wires to connect to the motor, antenna and power switch.

Step 5: Dissection - Wiring

Make a simple drawing so you know what connects to where. Always.

Cut the wires going to the battery holder (although it may not be necessary on your model mine worked easier cut. Note when I cut wires I left a tiny amount of insulation color on the terminals. This makes it easier to know which color goes where later.

Remove the switch and circuit card.

Step 6: Dissection - Motor/Rear End

There is usually a shell of sorts covering the motor from dust/dirt. On my car there were 4 screws holding the shell together. Access to the screws was possible only after the wheels removed.

I also took apart the rear gearbox, as we needed a gear for later.

Step 7: What to Keep and What Can Go

At this point you should have a circuit card with a motor and switch attached, plus the antenna and a plastic gear.

From the chassis cut excess plastic away from the battery holder.

The rest of the car can go to the toy auto wreckers. Screws belong where you keep screws.

Step 8: Build Receiver Unit

On the back of the battery holder glue or hold on with elastic, the circuit card.

Reconnect the battery wires as per your wiring diagram from step.

You cannot solder the antenna, as spring wire will not take solder so use the small screw and nut to reconnect.

I was lucky to have a card cover in my car to keep out the dust, so I used it as well.

Tape up the battery holder/circuit card unit securely to protect it from weather.

Step 9: Motor Section

Everyone wants a smooth running quiet motor. Everyone but us, here. Remember the gear we kept from the gearbox? Clip, cut or grind most of one half away, remember to keep the whole hole.

My motor had this cool black ring to plug 2 holes in the end of the motor and support it centered within the shell. I noticed during testing that the ring kicked and bounced the motor to jump and bang about more.

Glue the modified gear onto the shaft with strong glue like epoxy.

After making sure the motor will fit loosely into a motor housing. Drill a hole in the bottom of the housing for the wires. Having switched to digital camera long ago, I used a snap-lid canister empty of a diabetic's blood test strips. Many photography stores have the plastic film cans for free.

I used heat shrink on the wires but it is not really necessary in hindsight.

Step 10: Transmitter Unit

I did not need to do anything to the transmitter except tape the 9Vdc battery into the holder, as there was no cover.

The second picture is to show what is inside a transmitter. Not much more than a circuit card and a switch in there.

Step 11: Assembly of the Collar

Mount the receiver part on the outside of a dog collar so the weight of the batteries will ride to the lowest point.

Mount the vibrating motor inside the collar, or along the collar edge like I did. The vibrator motor needs to be in contact with the pets neck. Make sure you can still get some fingers between the collar and the pet so it will not be too tight. There is no need for this collar to be tight.

Mount or tape the assembly and antenna to follow the collar.

Step 12: Finished - Test Drive the Dog Caller Collar

With the collar on the pet, let it alone to get used to the feel of the new collar for a good while maybe even a day. When it has totally forgotten about the new collar, transmit him a signal and when he is looking around for "What the heck was that?" do your best to call and signal him by offering it's most favorite treat. Through pattern and reward training you should be able to teach him to return at the touch of a button. He needs to associate vibration 'return' to you = treat.

Step 13: There You Have It - a Deaf Dog Caller Collar

Call over everyone you know, and even some you do not.

Plan your bragging plan while you await their arrival. Because unless they build one, they will never get one.


Egon Pavlis
www . Biomedtronix . ca

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    60 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Damn good idea! My dog has gone deaf. He likes to wander off to do his "business" in the woods. We have lots of woods. He's old too so I think he ends up wandering more than he used to. Sometimes we can't find him and he has to spend the night outside and the next day if he doesn't show up before we leave for work. Last week he was gone for a day and a half during a big storm and after he showed back up he was acting "shell shocked" for 2 days. I figure he had another seizure which he is prone to; especially during storms. The deafness has helped with his fear of loud noises though, but I think it's depressing him too.

    So, vibrating collar cool. How hard to make a collar flash a bright LED and whistle? Just wondering in case the vibrating collar scares him instead of making him come out of those dense woods. We never can find him it's so think in the summer.

    1 reply

    I'd still keep the 'buzzer' connected so dog feels something that may send him home, you can likely connect a bell rather than a buzzer so the vibration is for him and the bell is for you. For him/her it doesn't require much of a feel just enough to get through the fur. or use a bright LED (uses less power than light bulb) with a 360 degrees shine you can see him from quite far in the open. Comfort of knowing you are close (with treats) and all should comfort him. If the dog is a fair size then you may want to increase the battery load. Just duplicate what your toy needed and connect it in parallel across the original batteries. You won't get more voltage but will same have same power twice as long.
    As for scaring him, the buz is not intended to be harmful or bothersome as you'll keep it short, nothing more than a 'tap' to him, if you teach him the buzzer while relaxing and petting, by a short buzz followed by his favorite treat or toy appear, or just some loving reward from you. It shouldn't be enough to rattle him as he won't quite realize where it comes from, just a quick touch that he will learn to associate from you. We are hoping that the buz will eventually snap his brain to the treat, or you. You may need to use it routinely so he doesn't forget.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! One of my dogs needs this for manual check ins on hikes and I was hoping to not have to support shock collar companies just to be able to have a vibrating collar. I'm not able to buy shock collars anyways because of a pledge I took as an animal behavior professional. Now I don't have to break my pledge. :)


    6 years ago on Step 12

    Would it be easy enough to incorporate a camera flash for a non-deaf dog and have 2 functions. 1 for vibration to warn him and 2 for zapping him when he didn't mind... Please don't think of this as animal cruelty. I don't know if a camera flash would be too strong or if maybe you could adjust the intensity.


    9 years ago on Step 13

     Cute Doggie, my doggies tounge sticks out like that to!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    The joke is "How do you call a deaf cat?" "It doesn't matter. He won't come anyway." 


    10 years ago on Step 12

    problem with dog collar devices is their size. I have small dogs and would love something like this to distract them when they are off lead. how about the thing that makes a cell phone vibrate?

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Step 12

    Size can matter after all. But r/c toys now come in toy cars about 1-2" (won't likely find them in a junk store). If you are into electronics at all there are lots of motors, vibrators etc that can be wired. The only reason I used pre-built toys is the cost and that the modules are compatible.


    10 years ago on Step 1

    Aww, as a fellow dog lover I'm sorry that your dog has passed. I think my dog might be on the verge of pushing up daisies, actually.

    1 reply

    10 years ago on Introduction

    "The car must be the kind that does not run the motor unless or until you make the transmitter send a signal." This is not true at all... I actually just made a similar device using the above mentioned type. All it requires is a diode. Just some info. Cheers

    2 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    While I agree this is possible, I thought it would be too technically detailed than the project required. Where would you suggest the diode be placed in the circuit and what type?


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Well first you have to find out which way the current flows when the switch is not pressed by using the diode at one of the motor terminals. The diode will be placed the correct way when the motor does not run until you press the remote button. soldier and you're done.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Cool concept. I like it. I've been thinking the same for our cat.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    And what happens when your dog goes swimming?

    You need to take a serious look at how you're waterproofing this thing.

    In commercial collars, the electronics is embedded in epoxy, the case is filled with silicone, and the openings are sealed with O-rings. Even then, a lot of users will wrap the entire thing in electricians tape.

    Taping a collar

    4 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    You're right. If your dog is a swimmer a better waterproofing/taping job the better. If it's a dry land animal then waterproof for rain. Judge according to your specific environment. With Jake it was farmers fields in summer and snow in winter.

    yeah but i dont really think anything smaller than a car battery is enough to put your pet in danger at all, even then a "regular" car battery may not even do anything in relation to the size of the dog. The worst that can happen is the electronics can get fried. Just simply epoxy the damn thing shut and be done with it!


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    There have been dogs who have been very seriously burned by shorting electronic collars. There's a lot of energy in those little batteries. Don't believe me? Take a pair of NiCad 9 volts and plug them into each other, and see how long you can hold on to them. Make sure, though, that you do it where they're not going to land on something flammable when you drop them.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Keep in mind that there are collars made to actually shock dogs remotely to train them. They would likely have more 'electric juice' in them. The pair of 9v batteries demo is a bit off as well. My motor actually worked with 2 AA batteries but the holder held 4. In this case I would think the circuit would likely just short out and die. Nobody around here wants to wear this one in the bathtub, especially me. A will agree about some of the power of a 9Vdc battery though as I've put one in my pocket that also had a few coins. It does give off enough heat to burn skin.