Serendipitous Finding: Try some pig pheromone to stop unruly dogs barking
If your dog is misbehaving, a Texas Tech University professor suggests that you might want to spray it with pig pheromones, reports the editors of New Scientist today (Mar. 28). Androstenone is found in boar saliva and helps induce sows to mate. Now it is the active ingredient in a spray marketed as being able to calm boisterous dogs.
John McGlone, a professor with Tech’s Department of Animal and Food Sciences who studies animal behavior, discovered androstenone’s effect by trying it on his own pet. “My dog was barking and I sprayed it and he stopped,” he said. “It’s quite a serendipitous finding.”
Intrigued, McGlone developed the pheromone as a training tool. He sprayed dogs using an aerosol containing androstenone, while simultaneously exposing them to a loud noise that would normally frighten and excite them. Compared to a spray of alcohol and noise alone, the androstenone was better at keeping dogs calm. The dogs’ heart rates did not increase when androstenone was used, indicating they were not scared.
McGlone has since worked with pet care company Sergeant’s to commercialize the androstenone spray. Androstenone is not the first pheromone marketed to calm an excitable pup. Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP) is sold in time-release collars, and supposedly mimics the smell a nursing mother gives off to her pups.
It is not clear how the pig pheromone affects dogs. “The dogs stopped barking, that was observed. But whether it has anything to do with androstenone being a pig pheromone, I think that’s open,” said neuroscientist Ron Yu of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City.
“I don’t really know how it works, that’s the honest answer,” McGlone said.
Reporting by Cat Ferguson
CONTACT: John McGlone, professor, Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Texas Tech University at (806) 834-8275 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, go to http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25318-try-some-pig-pheromone-to-stop-unruly-dogs-barking.html#.UzXZuPMo5aQ. Journal reference: The Professional Animal Scientist, Vol. 30, pg. 105.