Our dogs experience anxiety for many different reasons. Luckily, through a regimen of assertive training and helpful calming products, we can help them acclimate to stressful situations. If you are bringing home a new puppy or shelter dog, moving to a new location, or altering your dog’s schedule, purchasing a pheromone based product may help your dog to adapt more quickly.
Appeasing pheromone products for dogs come in spray, diffuser and collar form. Several popular brands include Adaptil (formerly known as D.A.P.), Comfort Zone, and Sentry. The science behind these products is simple. During nursing, mother dogs release a soothing pheromone to help calm pups as they feed. Applying a pheromone collar to your pet allows them to experience this pheromone in slow, steady doses throughout the day, improving their overall sense of well being. This is extremely helpful in insecure dogs that experience generalized anxiety in various different situations.
For dogs with specific anxieties, fears and behavioral issues, a spray or diffuser may work better. Some dogs get extremely anxious in the car. Spraying the seat 20 minutes before your car trip can help ease panting, restlessness, crying and car sickness due to fear. Dogs who are anxious at home in situations such as visitors coming to the door, respond well to pheromone diffusers placed close to the problem area. In this example, the diffuser should be plugged in close to the front door. The downside to sprays and diffusers is that they are only effective in the immediate area where they are being utilized. The calming effect does not move with the pet, as in the case of the collar.
The herbal product, Rescue Remedy does not contain pheromones; rather it is made up of five flower extracts for owners who prefer a holistic approach. Reviews of such products are mixed. It seems that for dogs whose issues are relatively minor, a natural product such as Rescue Remedy may provide some relief. The effects are probably similar to a human drinking a cup of herbal tea to unwind after a tough day. If your dog suffers from severe stress, fear or obsessive behavior, choosing a pheromone product will likely garner better results. Pheromone collars, sprays and diffusers can be used together to maximize the calming effects.
Dogs develop anxiety and unwanted behaviors when they are insecure. While pheromone products and herbal supplements may provide some relief, there is no substitute for professional training. A good trainer will teach you, the owner, how to recognize the symptoms of anxiety and how to be proactive in helping your dog to overcome them. Dogs need consistency and leadership to feel secure when there is a major change in their life. As a species, dogs crave leadership and routine. When they do not know what to expect out of a given situation, it is quite normal for them to react with fear, anxiety and unwanted behaviors. This is a leading cause for dogs being relinquished or returned to shelters. The good news is, with consistency, confidence, anxiety relief products and a competent trainer; your dog can acclimate to just about any situation.