If your dog is the living representation of fear, you may hope that a pheromone spray will magically dissipate all his problems in thin air. Don't get your hopes too high; while pheromones are effective, your pooch may still need a lesson in bravery to cope with his fears.
Pheromone sprays contain synthetic versions of naturally occurring pheromones known as dog appeasing pheromones. These pheromones, secreted by the sebaceous glands found within the intermammary sulcus of momma dogs, are meant to induce feelings of well-being and comfort to the nursing pups. Because there is strong belief that dogs tend to remember smells through adulthood, French veterinarian Patrick Pageat considered the use of pheromones helpful to ease anxiety and stress even in adult dogs.
Pheromone sprays can be used for a variety of anxiety-related problems ranging from fear of loud noises to fear of thunderstorms, fear of traveling and other situational fears such as fear of the vet, fear of being left in unfamiliar surroundings and fear of unfamiliar people. Other recommended uses include problem behaviors such as destructiveness, excessive barking, house soiling and separation anxiety.
While Scruffy obviously cannot schedule a session of doggie zen or fix himself a cup of chamomile tea, you may help him with a spritz of pheromone spray. Simply spray about 8 to 10 pumps directly on your dog's bedding, inside crates or in the car at least 15 minutes prior to exposure. Be careful not to spray anywhere near your dog's face. The effects are estimated to last anywhere between one-and-a-half to two hours.
With so many uses, you may be eager to learn how effective these sprays can be. Pheromones make useful palliative tools for diminishing behavioral indicators of stress in dogs, according to a study published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science. However, not all dogs respond to pheromone spray in the same way. In some dogs pheromones may have a visible calming effects, while in others you may hardly notice a difference. Combining pheromones sprays along with behavior modification conducted under the guidance of a behavior professional may turn out being the winning strategy in some cases.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.