Are you sure you’ve tried everything to stop your mischievous dog from barking and misbehaving? What about some good ol’ pig smell?
A new study performed at Texas Tech University found that spraying your dog with a “pig perfume” will help prevent them from jumping on strangers, barking like mad, and otherwise behaving as if they were animals.
John McGlone, a scientist in the university’s Animal and Food Sciences department, was looking for a way to stop his own dog from uncontrollable barking when he stumbled upon the new discovery. He was very interested in testing it and trying to create a new commercial dog product with it to help other pet owners suffering from incessant dog barking issues.
“It was completely serendipitous,” said McGlone. “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.”
Study method, and how do pig pheromones work
The key ingredient in the spray is androstenone which is a steroid and a pheromone that is produced by male pigs. It is released through their saliva and fat. Androstenone has an extremely pungent odor, but seems to have a significant effect on the behavior of mammals.
In order to test his theory, McGlone worked with a team of researchers and four different groups of dogs. Each dog was put in a separate kennel and most of them were sprayed around the face with different mixtures as soon as they started barking.
Researchers were checking to see if the androstenone steroid itself had any effect, as well as the physical act of spraying around the dog’s face.
The first group of dogs was not sprayed at all. The second group was sprayed with a placebo. The third group was sprayed with a small amount of androstenone mixed with isopropyl alcohol. And the fourth group was sprayed with a higher concentration of the pheromone mixed with isopropyl alcohol.
The solution was sprayed directly in their nose or toward their heads while they were barking to make sure they would breathe in the pheromone.
“We sprayed it in their nose or toward their head while they were barking and jumping, running back and forth. This whole behavior stopped. You could almost see them thinking, ‘What was that?’” Maglone said.
Results of the study
The results of this research were certainly interesting:
In the first group, the one that didn’t get sprayed at all, 25% of the dogs stopped barking on their own.
In the second group, the placebo group, 44% stopped barking after being sprayed.
When the third group was sprayed with the lower concentration solution of androstenone, 78% of the dogs stopped barking.
And when the fourth group got sprayed with the highest concentration, 100% of participating dogs have completely stopped barking.
Because the researchers were worried about the physical effect that the spray may have on canines, they monitored their heart rates during the experiment, and they found that there was absolutely no impact on the heart rate or cardiovascular functions.
Pheromones that are released by one type of mammalian species and have some sort of effect on the other species (receivers) are known as kairomones, and it seems that androstenone surely fits within that category.
Although McGlone thoroughly believes in his product, he warns that it should mainly be used as a training tool and not a disciplinary tactic for long periods of time. Obviously, more long-term research with larger dog groups would also be necessary before this can be taken as a potentially safe product to sell.
Now the scientist is also looking into testing pheromones that are released by cats, dogs, horses, and pigs to see if they would be used in any other commercial products. A new business might be on the rise. Let’s just hope that more testing will be performed and necessary regulations are in place.