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Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Bark on DAP

I took this picture while sitting in my car in
a parking lot. No dogs were with me at the time.

 The Bark on DAP

Dog Appeasing Pheromone  '

 There’s been a lot of bark over the Dog Appeasing Pheromone  (DAP) collar, DAP spray, and DAP diffuser. It is seemingly being touted to handle all sorts of behavior problems from the crying puppy, to the aggressive dog, to the puking dog inside a car.
For those of you who have not heard of the DAP collar, it is basically a device that emits a scent which reproduces the pheromone of a mother dog when nursing which supposedly  is to help pups/dogs stay calm.

   To me it seems this product is over praised by  professionals that are looking to give  a quick fix to a problem which may actually need a combination of multiple aides such as counter conditioning, medication, and long time training in conjunction with DAP.

 Don’t get me wrong, there have been studies where it has helped dogs, particularly puppies, but I wonder if that is because the replicated mother’s scent is still fresh in their minds.

 I also wonder about the clinical settings in which the testing’s were done. Settings such as kennels and Vet offices are quite different from the average home. If the studies took a multiple number of homes where dogs were suffering from specific problems then to me it would be a little more realistic.

While some have had success with DAP  whose dogs  suffer from noise phobia or separation anxiety, just as many people that I talked too  had no success. 

Because my dogs could care less if I am with them or not and are not the anxious type that they turn to shaking, vomiting, trembling, or hiding,  I personally did not want to purchase a DAP collar since I felt I could not judge it fairly. So I did the next best thing, I had someone else purchase it for their dog! (Thanks Gina!)  Of course I also talked with many who had used the product and I looked over some clinical studies in large group settings.    

Some of the dog owners I talked to said it helped, others said they tossed it in the trash because they noticed no difference, and some said it made their dog more “flighty” becoming more nervous than they were before. All of these that I heard from were dogs in a home situation not a kennel situation.

The owners I spoke to that thought the product worked had dogs that suffered canine cognitive dysfunction, separation anxiety, or noise anxiety,  and the majority said it was the DAP diffuser plug in that helped most, not the collar or the spray.
However none that I talked to said it helped with their aggressive dogs. Even the clinical studies that have been done admit they saw no change in aggressive behavior and this is why this product being touted as the cure all for every situation is scary for me as someone who works as a trainer in behavior modification.

I think it is great to give anything a try as each dog is different and they don’t all respond to one particular product or training. As well, much depends on the owner themselves if they are following through with ‘all’ that you are telling them to do, or if are they trying to take the easy way out through medication or products like the DAP collar.

Just like in life, nothing good comes easy. If you are inclined to believe when your Vet or other advisor tells you this is the wonder product of this century please ask that more information specific to your problem be given to you just in case this miracle  product is not the end all~ be all to your dog’s situation. 

To my contributing research partner and fellow trainer/behaviorist Jane a big thank you for passing these studies on to me.

The links and conclusions/ summations of the studies done are below. They are not my writings but are pasted here for easier viewing. All credit of the below conclusions go to their authors and testers. The links are provided for you to take a look if you wish to.

Fearful of vet office setting ~ ( but not effective on aggressive dog behavior)


The behaviour and emotional state of 15 dogs, known to be fearful of the veterinary clinic was evaluated during a standardised 5 min waiting room procedure and standardised 2 min consultation room procedure prior to a sham clinical examination, in the presence of Dog Appeasing Pheromone and placebo. Subjects acted as their own controls and were semi-randomly allocated into treatment groups to control for order effects. A triple blinding procedure was used in order to remove bias from the assessment of video recordings of the dogs, with two naïve independent raters used to analyse the video recordings of the behaviour of dogs during the test procedures. The raters showed good, and similar, agreement in their evaluation of both the specific behaviour of the dogs and their putative emotional state (relaxed, aroused and anxious). The results suggested that the use of DAP in the clinic was associated with greater relaxation of the dogs but there was no effect on aggressive behaviour during the clinical examination.

·                                 Dog; Fear; Fireworks; Homeopathy; Placebo
Seventy-five dogs that showed a fear response to fireworks participated in a double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial to assess the efficacy of a homeopathic remedy for the alleviation of their behavioural signs. Dogs were randomly assigned to one of two treatments; the homeopathic treatment or the placebo treatment. At the baseline assessments the owners identified the behavioural signs of fear that their dogs normally displayed in response to fireworks, rated their frequency and intensity, and assessed the global severity of their dog’s responses. These measures were repeated at the final assessment and owners also completed weekly diaries for the length of the trial. There were significant improvements in the owners’ rating of 14/15 behavioural signs of fear in the placebo treatment group and all 15 behavioural signs in the homeopathic treatment group. Both treatment groups also showed significant improvement in the owners’ rating of the global severity of their dog’s responses. However, there was no significant difference in the response seen between the two treatment groups.

House soiling and night disturbance

A placebo-controlled study to investigate the effect of Dog Appeasing Pheromone and other environmental and management factors on the reports of disturbance and house soiling during the night in recently adopted puppies.

Abstract (my question would be could the pup simply over time gotten used to the new surrondings?) 

Disturbance and house soiling during the night are common problems faced by the new puppy dog owner. They may result as consequence of a mismatch between the developmental status of the puppy and its new environment and/or separation distress in a typically social animal. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP, Ceva Santé Animale) as well as a range of other management and environmental factors that might affect this process. It has been suggested that DAP may help the puppy settle into the new home by continuing the provision of the maternal appeasing pheromone. In order to test this, a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of DAP was conducted with 60 pedigree puppies, aged between 6 and 10 weeks, as they entered their new home. A few days prior to the puppy's arrival, volunteer owners were supplied with either a verum or placebo plug-in diffuser designed for the slow release of the pheromone analogue over 4 weeks. Owners reported daily on disturbance and house soiling during the previous night over the following 8 weeks from the puppy's first night in the new home. The effect of the treatment together with the gender of the puppy, its maternal environment, the use of a puppy crate, sleeping with other dogs at night and the experience of the owner were included in a general linear model to explain the total number of nights spent disturbing and house soiling. Sleeping with another dog reduced the puppies’ tendency to disturb at night to almost zero. Over 70% of puppies sleeping alone disturbed during the first night. The mean total number of nights of disturbance over the 2 months was between five and six nights, mostly in the first week in the home. A significant effect of DAP treatment was found in the case of the gundog breeds only (p = 0.003), gundogs receiving placebo cried for a median of nine nights, those receiving verum cried for a median of three nights. No effect of DAP treatment was observed on the total number of nights that the puppy soiled the house (p > 0.05). However, puppies that were placed in crates during the night (p = 0.004) or had come from domestic maternal environments (p = 0.006) had significantly fewer reports of house soiling over the first 2 months in the new home.
Car travel related studies

Signs of travel-related problems in dogs and their response to treatment with dog appeasing pheromone


(My questions would be could the behavior have just ended because they got used to the car?)

Sixty-two dogs with problems when travelling in the car took part in a non-blinded study aimed at differentiating groups of dogs on the basis of the pattern of signs shown by individual dogs and their response to treatment with a collar impregnated with dog-appeasing pheromone (DAP) for six weeks and general behavioural advice. The dogs were taken out in the owner's car at least twice weekly for nine weeks, and their behaviour was assessed every three weeks to determine the frequency of 21 behavioural signs. On the basis of these signs and by using principal components analysis, the dogs were grouped into five well defined groups, defined as ‘excitable’, ‘nausea’, ‘tense’, ‘attention-seeking’ and ‘elimination’. For the purpose of statistical analysis, the attention-seeking and elimination groups were combined when assessing the effect of the treatment. All the groups showed some statistically significant improvements after treatment, but their responses were not uniform. The greatest perceived improvement was among the nausea group and the least was among the excitable group. In the groups for which there were sufficient data for analysis, there was little evidence of a relapse in most of the signs in the three to five months after the collar had been removed.

Puppy Training

This one is put out by the AVMA  ~ it’s an easy read so I did not post it as I did the others as all testing/conclusions seem to be on the one page.
(~ puppy class~ my question~ puppies did better - but is it possible they just became more socialized over a  six week period and it had nothing to do with DAP?)


  My  conclusion on this product would be the same on every other product when it comes to needing behavior modification, try everything to see if it works as long as it won’t harm the dog because all dogs  will react differently to any specific product or training. But I would ask that you not look for miracles in one product alone and that you have a back up plan to put in place.  Dogs that are fearful, have such anxieties such as separation anxiety, noise phobias or aggressive issues did not get like that overnight and it will take longer than overnight to help them reach the ‘best capacity that they are able to handle’. 

As always I welcome feedback from all who have had success or failure with this product in the comments section below.

Because of such a wide reaction to this product I have to give it a ½ &  ½ rating. Two paws up and two paws down. 

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