A recently performed study shows that dog appeasing pheromone (DAP) collars reduce measured scores of fear and anxiety in dogs. The researchers also found that these collars increased dogs’ use of “hide boxes” in response to recordings of thunder. These findings support the use of DAP collars in the prevention and management of noise-related fear and anxiety.
Pheromones are chemical substances produced and released into the environment by animals that affect the behavior and physiology of other animals. DAP, in particular, is an artificially developed pheromone created to mimic the pheromone mother dogs secrete when lactating that creates a sense of well being in puppies.
It can be purchased in the form of a spray or a wearable collar. Most owners prefer to use the collars, as they are much more convenient and last longer than the spray variety.
How Pheromone Collars Reduce Fear and Anxiety in Dogs
What does the research show?
Anxiety in dogs is one of the most common issues pet owners have to deal with. Science has been hard at work to find the best ways to treat dogs with anxiety, and testing different methods from anxiety vests and calming aids to most popular – anxiety collars.
So far, pheromones have proven to be the most effective method to deal with anxiety in dogs. DAP has been shown to be effective in tons of different stressful situations, like:
- visits to the vet
- car travel
- human separation
- introduction of new puppies into the home
- firework exposure
In the past, many different behavioral interventions, such as desensitization and counter conditioning, combined with drugs and/or natural products (like pheromones) or non-pharmacological treatments (such as the Thunder Shirt anxiety vest) have been explored in the scientific literature. However, their effectiveness is still unclear as many of these calming aid studies lacked the use of a placebo control.
Why that matters?
Placebo control experiments are considered the gold standard for testing the effectiveness of a new drug or therapeutic method in dogs. In a placebo-controlled study, one group receives the treatment to be evaluated (in this case, the DAP collar) and the other group receives a placebo (regular collar).
Different dogs have different personalities. Those enrolled in clinical studies for pheromone appeasing collars come from a variety of different backgrounds. They can have varied previous exposure to weather events and have different reactions to weather based owner and environmental differences between households.
Randomly choosing which dogs will test the DAP collar and which will get the placebo collar is a way of evening the playing field between animal differences. You can conclude that the reduced fear and anxiety is a result of the DAP collar and not something else.
Take Home Message
After evaluating most of the research on anxiety treatments for dogs, it's clear that canine appeasing pheromone dog collars for anxiety have a bright future, and may become the first solution for dog owners with anxious pets.
Other anxiety treatments and methods, like anxiety vests and calming aids, are still in their infancy and research is unclear on their effectiveness.