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.