15th May 2003

HELPING NEW PUPPIES TO SETTLE IN

 

Leaving your mother, brothers and sisters to go and live in a strange new home can be an anxious time for a puppy.

 

So animal scientists at the University of Lincoln are investigating a new type of  therapy which uses natural odours to reassure puppies and help them to settle in. 

 

Breeders have often recommended that a puppy goes home with a piece of mum’s blanket, so that for the first few days the puppy is reminded of home and feels more secure.

 

A new study being conducted at Riseholme Park aims to use Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP), a synthetic chemical delivered into the puppy’s environment via a plug-in air freshener type device.

 

“This is a relatively new field of study known as pheromonatherapy - the use of chemicals naturally produced by animals to alter the behaviour of others for the better,” explained Daniel Mills, principal lecturer in Biological Sciences, who is leading the study.

 

“DAP is derived from a pheromone produced by the bitch when she is suckling her pups. It has already been shown to have a positive effect on adult dogs with a fear of fireworks and dogs suffering from signs of separation anxiety.

 

“Now we want to explore the potential positive effects on puppies settling into their new home.

 

“Since puppies are deprived of this pheromone when they leave their mother, continuing the supply in the new home may reduce the likelihood of crying at night and other signs of anxiety at this time.

 

“Increasing the puppy’s sense of comfort will also encourage it to explore and settle in even more quickly. It may therefore as a result reduce the likelihood of behaviour problems, such as hyper-attachment to the owner, occurring in the future.”

 

The University of Lincoln has been at the international forefront of this field of research. Similar products derived from natural chemicals have also been produced for domestic animals such as cats, horses and pigs.

 

The research team at Riseholme Park urgently needs more dog owners to help out with the study. If you are thinking of getting a puppy (six to ten weeks old) over the next few months and would like to help in the university’s month-long study, please contact Katy Taylor on Lincoln 895453, write to her c/o Animal Behaviour, Cognition and Welfare Group, University of Lincoln, Riseholme Park, Lincoln LN2 2LG or email ktaylor@lincoln.ac.uk 

 

Current ownership of a dog or previous experience of puppy raising does not affect an owner’s potential to help.

 

 

For more information contact: Jez Ashberry, Press and Media Relations Manager

University of Lincoln (tel: 01522 886042)            email: jashberry@lincoln.ac.uk