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A little D.A.P.’ll do ‘ya.

It comes up frequently during my behavioral consultations and I’ve mentioned it before here on the blog, but I can’t say enough good things about D.A.P. (Dog Appeasing Pheromone).

I won’t say that it’s the Holy Grail of resolving commonplace behavior problems but it’s no sippy cup, either.

Natural appeasing pheromones are produced by lactating females shortly after birthing a litter and give the young puppies a feeling of well-being and security when they’re near mom.

D.A.P. works by mimicking those natural pheromones and helps to give adult dogs a similar sense of calm and relaxation to what they would have felt as nursing puppies.

Many clinical trials of D.A.P. both in home and shelter situations have shown that it can help as a relaxing treatment when used in conjunction with positive reinforcement desensitizing and counter-conditioning (DS/CC).  My own anecdotal experience in the field has shown the same.

It really can help and – best of all – doesn’t have any of the negative side effects seen in many anti-anxiety pharmaceuticals such as deinhibition and others.

Additionally, D.A.P. can be used in concert with many psycho-pharmaceuticals (but please double-check with your veterinary behaviorist first.)

Keep in mind that D.A.P.’s effects are not dramatic and most folks know it’s working when the collar expires and the anxious behaviors return or the diffuser runs out and they wonder why the dog is pacing again – then they check the diffuser and experience a “D’oh!” moment.  It is designed to simply take the edge off gently and inconspicuously.  This allows us to better do our DS/CC work with your dog.

We can simply stop without the step-downs necessary with many anti-anxiety medications.

If your dog is a re-homed dog new to your home this can help them settle in faster.  If your dog is not fully comfortable with everyone in their home this can help them be a bit more at ease.  And, if it doesn’t work for your dog we can simply stop without the step-downs necessary with many anti-anxiety medications.

For our part, at home we plug in the D.A.P. diffuser.  Porthos is a pretty anxious dog and when he’s stressed it affects his diabetes so it is just a precaution to keep him on an even keel.

D.A.P.’s not meant to address out-of-control anxiety issues and like psycho-pharmaceuticals it needs to be used in conjunction with behavior modification.  So, if you’ve got a dog that exhibits low-level, occasional fears and anxiety related issues you might want to give a D.A.P. diffuser or D.A.P. collar more than just a look while you are contacting a behavioral professional.

2 Responses to A little D.A.P.’ll do ‘ya.

  1. Vicky March 13, 2010 at 12:00 PM #

    Does D.A.P. have an effect on other dogs in the house when they are near the dog wearing the collar? Other than the fact the that dog wearing the collar is being calmed by the collar. Would it change the way other dogs react to the dog wearing the D.A.P collar? What about other types of animals – like cats? If a dog started to wear a D.A.P. collar, would the cat smell the pheromone and say “uh oh…” or “yummy, smells like mom!” ???
    I don’t think we’ve got that level of stress going on, but your post got me wondering about the implications of adding something like that to the mix of a family of animals living together.

    • Lisa March 14, 2010 at 9:05 PM #

      Hi Vicky,

      Interesting questions. As to the cats – it seems DAP does not have an effect on them. Lawrence thinks it’s just because the cats don’t acknowledge the DAP, but the research has folks using a different product for cats – Feliway helps cats with issues of these sorts. Most DAP folks will tell you to not use the diffuser with birds in the house – but the collars are fine with birds.
      As to your question about other dogs – it is interesting and probably really comes down to asking how closely the dogs in the house are interacting and if the stress of the dog who is wearing the collar has an effect on the other dog(s) in the house. Currently there is no good research indicating that one dog wearing the collar will share his/her collar pheromones with another household dog thereby reducing the second dog’s stress. However, just calming one dog down may settle the whole house down. For multiple dogs in one household who all need to relax, the best approach would be the DAP diffuser.

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