“Mr Pig’s special power” by Celia Berrell

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inspired by:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25318-try-some-pig-pheromone-to-stop-unruly-dogs-barking.html#.U1DywpVZpD8

Try some pig pheromone to stop unruly dogs barking

If your dog is misbehaving, you might want to spray it with pig pheromones.

Androstenone is found in boar saliva and helps induce sows to mate. Now it is the active ingredient in a spray marketed as being able to calm boisterous dogs.

John McGlone of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, who studies animal behaviour, discovered androstenone’s effect by trying it on his own pet. “My dog was barking and I sprayed it and he stopped,” he says. “It’s quite a serendipitous finding.”

Intrigued, McGlone developed the pheromone as a training tool. He sprayed dogs using an aerosol containing androstenone, while simultaneously exposing them to a loud noise that would normally frighten and excite them. Compared to a spray of alcohol and noise alone, the androstenone was better at keeping dogs calm. The dogs’ heart rates did not increase when androstenone was used, indicating they were not scared.

McGlone has since worked with pet care company Sergeant’s to commercialise the androstenone spray.

Androstenone is not the first pheromone marketed to calm an excitable pup. Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP) is sold in time-release collars, and supposedly mimics the smell a nursing mother gives off to her pups.

It is not clear how the pig pheromone affects dogs. “The dogs stopped barking, that was observed. But whether it has anything to do with androstenone being a pig pheromone, I think that’s open,” says neuroscientist Ron Yu of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, Missouri.

“I don’t really know how it works, that’s the honest answer,” says McGlone.

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