In Profile: Texas Tech scientist finds pig pheromone stops dogs from barking
In a sense, John McGlone was just like any other pet owner a few years ago. He simply wanted to keep his Cairn Terrier from barking incessantly. Then again, McGlone is not like most dog owners in that he is a professor at Texas Tech University who just happens to specialize in animal welfare and behavior. And, in that capacity, he just happened to have a product on hand at his house from a previous research study called Boar Mate, an odorous concoction which helps farmers with swine breeding.
So, he gave one little spritz to his dog, Toto, and immediately the dog stopped barking. Right on the spot. "It was completely serendipitous," said McGlone, who works in Tech's Department of Animal and Food Sciences. "One of the most difficult problems is that dogs bark a lot, and it's one of the top reasons they are given back to shelters or pounds."
Suddenly, an idea was born. After extensive testing and publishing of the results, and with funding help from Sergeant's pet care products, 'Stop That' was developed and hit store shelves under the Sentry pet products name about a year ago. It has been met with tremendous success by pet owners who were on their last legs in trying to curtail bad behavior in dogs.
"My dogs were instantly focused and silenced with one spritz," said one product reviewer on Amazon.com. "It's changed my life." Not only did the discovery of this product by McGlone come by accident, it came from a completely different species.
McGlone said Boar Mate contains a pig pheromone, defined as "substances secreted to the outside by an individual and received by a second individual of the same species in which they release a specific reaction." In this case, the pheromone produced is androstenone, which, when secreted by male pigs, is picked up by female pigs in heat and ready to breed. It is a foul-smelling odor for humans and also affects dogs through their olfactory system. Androstenone is produced by pigs in their saliva or fat, but Boar Mate androstenone is synthesized in a laboratory.
But, McGlone warns, it's not an end-all, beat-all to stopping dogs from barking, as the effects last just about a minute. "If you continue to spray the dog again it will stop," McGlone said. "If you (show the can) they will stop. It's best used as a training tool rather than a circus act to stop animals from doing what they're doing."
McGlone said he continues to experiment with other pheromones as well to see if any of those might have the same effect. It's not limited to pig pheromones, either, as he is testing those from dogs, cats, pigs and horses. For now, though, there are quite a few pet owners relieved to be able to stop their pets' bad behavior and not have to resort to giving them up, thanks to Stop That. "It's kind of an amazing product, actually," McGlone said.
Written by George Watson
CONTACT: Michael Orth, chairman, Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Texas Tech University at (806) 834-5653 or firstname.lastname@example.org
0828NM14 / Editor's Note: McGlone's story was recently featured (9/22/14) in the "One-Page" section of the "New York Times Magazine" at http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/09/21/magazine/21-one-page-magazine.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3As&_r=4 For full text of TTU story, go to http://today.ttu.edu/2014/08/bad-dog-professor-develops-smelly-tool-to-stop-that/
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