'Pig Perfume' Stops Dogs From Behaving Badly
A steroid and pheromone produced by male pigs has been shown to stop dogs from barking incessantly. Continue reading →
Spritzing dogs with a "pig perfume" helps prevent them from barking incessantly, jumping frantically on house guests and from engaging in other unwanted behaviors, according to new research.
The eau de oink, aka "Boar Mate" or "Stop That," was formulated by Texas Tech scientist John McGlone, who was looking for a way to curb his Cairn terrier Toto's non-stop barking. One spritz of the pig perfume seemed to do the trick in an instant without harming his dog.
"It was completely serendipitous," McGlone, who works in the university's Animal and Food Sciences department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, said in a press release. "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."
The key ingredient is androstenone, a steroid and pheromone produced by male pigs and released in their saliva and fat. When detected by female pigs in heat, they seem to find the male more attractive. (The females assume a mating stance.) One can imagine that dogs spritzed with the scent should not hang around amorous female pigs, but other than that, the product seems to work, according to McGlone.
Androstenone smells pungent and is not very appealing to humans, but it can have an effect on mammal behavior, he said.
He and his colleagues tested the product on four different groups of barking dogs in separate kennels. The researchers were looking at not only the possible effectiveness of the key ingredient, but also if the spritzing itself (sound and liquid around face) dumbfounded the dogs.
For the study, the first group of dogs simply had a person with another dog stand in front of the kennels. The second group of dogs was sprayed with a placebo that made a startling spritz noise. The third group of dogs was sprayed with the noise and a lower concentration of androstenone in isopropyl alcohol. The fourth group was sprayed with a higher concentration of androstenone in isopropyl alcohol that also made the spritz sound.
In the first group, 25 percent (3 out of 12 dogs) stopped barking. In the second group, 44 percent (4 of 9 dogs) stopped barking. In the third group, sprayed with the lower concentration of the pheromone, 78 percent (7 of 9 dogs) stopped barking. In the fourth group, sprayed with the higher concentration of androstenone, 100 percent (6 of 6 dogs) stopped barking.
"We sprayed it in their nose or toward their head while they were barking...barking and jumping, running back and forth," McGlone said. "This whole behavior stopped. You could almost see them thinking, ‘What was that?'"
The good news is that the product had no impact on the heart rate/cardio function of the dogs, which was the main side effect that they were worried about. Androstenone, in addition to being a pheromone in pigs, appears to also be an intermone, which refers to a product that is, McGlone explained, a "pheromone in one species and has a behavioral effect in another species, but we do not know if it is a pheromone (naturally produced) in the other species."
He indicated that the product stops cats in their tracks too.
McGlone, though, quickly added, "It's best used as a training tool rather than a circus act to stop animals from doing what they're doing."
He's now testing pheromones released by dogs, cats, pigs and horses to see if any might be useful in commercial products. Other researchers continue to look at human pheromones as well, hoping to create the perfect Love Potion #9 and other hopefully beneficial formulations.
Photo: A pig gives a dog some love. Credit: ThinkStock
this week, one story was of the amazing friendship formed between a
. Timur was supposed to be a meal for the big cat, but the friendly goat had other ideas. Now, so far, they are best buds. They're not the only unusual animal friendships, though. Let's look at a few more.
Here's another pair of cute, fast friends. Meet Kumbali and Kago -- a puppy and a cheetah cub (Kumbali's the cheetah and the lab mix is Kago). They live at Virginia's Metro Richmond Zoo. It's not clear how long they will remain together, but they seem to love each other's company. (Check out this
, if you can handle all the cuteness.) Next we'll take a look at some unforgettable pictures from
, which knows a thing or two about unlikely animal friendships, as you will see.
It's not every day you see a baby skunk and a kitten getting to know each other on your couch. But it was a typical day for Janice Wolf, her menagerie of dogs, sheep, donkeys, horses, emus, and countless cats, ducks, rabbits, turtles -- and whatever animal may need a home that day. Wolf runs
in Gassville, Ark. The refuge is her personal labor of love for abandoned, abused and injured animals of every shape, size, species and ailment. Wolf's rescues generally enter the refuge with horrific tales of neglect and abuse. But through Wolf's perseverance many of the animals go on to live long, happy lives -- filled with some of the most amazing interspecies friendships. "The only rule we have here is 'we gotta get along,'" said Wolf. "And they do." Above, we see an abandoned kitten (part of a litter left for dead when the kittens were just a day old) that engaged Josh, the resident skunk. Josh was raised by humans and then abandoned and didn't have the necessary skills to survive in the wild.
Shown is one of Rocky Ridge's great success stories, Tristan, a three-legged dog (top left), who came from a horribly abusive home and went on to make frequent visits to nursing homes, as a therapy dog. His friendship with Fiesta, an orphaned deer, was also legendary. "He just assigned himself the protector," recalls Wolf. "He came from such a terrible place but he was so loving and forgiving. That’s the great thing about animals -- they pay it forward." Meanwhile, Duncan, the dog at right, also came to Rocky Ridge Refuge "from a bad situation." But he never seemed to hold it against any person or animal. Here, he uses Nabisco the fawn as a pillow.
You'd never know it from Parfait's belly-up smile and her gentle demeanor with Mark, the emu chick, that she was once so abused her collar had become embedded in her neck. Parfait came to Rocky Ridge Refuge after living on the streets of St. Louis. Rescuers found her with a litter of puppies that had frozen to death. Parfait, too, was close to death, according to Wolf, who spent time nursing the pitbull back to health. Parfait broke the boundaries of pit bull prejudice, enjoying all things cute and fluffy, from chicks to bunnies.
Here Rocky Ridge's capybara Cheesecake befriends dogs. Cornbread, a deaf bull terrier (bottom right) and Cheesecake were instant friends, according to Wolf.
Ivan, the Catahoula mix, started going blind at about a year old, but it never stopped him from "nannying" Rocky Ridge's orphans, like Raoul the raccoon.
Blade, the Irish wolfhound, came to Rocky Ridge Refuge as a puppy and then spent the next year of his life recovering from paralysis of all four limbs. With lots of physical therapy and love, Wolf was able to help Blade learn to walk on his own. Before he could walk, however, he was a favorite of the other baby refugees, who often kept him company inside while the other dogs were able to roam outside. Look closely and you can see that Blade is cuddling with a duckling.
This photo may be the true image of brotherly love. The orphaned lamb was adopted by the mother of the puppy he's sleeping atop. The mother dog gave birth to 10 puppies on Wolf's bed just a week after being brought to Rocky Ridge Refuge. She "insisted," on caring for the lamb as though it were one of her puppies, according to Wolf. The lamb nursed (and cuddled) along with the rest of the pups. The final (and largest) piece of this snuggle puzzle is Krispin, a St. Bernard puppy who came to the refuge with a broken leg.
Lurch may have been Rocky Ridge Refuge's most famous resident of all time. The African Watusi steer holds the record for the largest circumference of horns -- ever. He was even recognized by Guinness World Records. Lurch was also the leader of Rocky Ridge's motley pack until his death in 2010, according to Wolf. His size never prevented him from befriending other refugees, including Isaiah the cat. Here, a young Lurch (with his horns yet to reach their 8-foot span) grazes while little Isaiah enjoys the ride.
Finally, meet Janice Wolf herself. Here she is posing in 2012 for a photo with two of Rocky Ridge's refugees. The animal rescue organization was a life-long dream of hers. "I was born to do it," says Wolf, recalling that her first "rescue" was a pelican when she was just a toddler growing up in Florida. For more than 20 years she's used her experience as a veterinary technician and holistic medicine practitioner to help animals. You can follow the stories of her animals on the