Evaluation of the use of pheromone collars during transition from foster homes to the JBSA-Lackland training kennel to decrease stress in young military working dogs
The purpose of this double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study was to determine if the use of a pheromone collar was beneficial in reducing the stress of young Military Working Dogs (MWDs) transitioning from foster care into the training kennel at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. Although the MWD is bred and trained to be robust and resilient, stark changes in environment and lifestyle can be a shock and lead to deleterious physiological and psychological effects, especially in young developing dogs. To evaluate the effect of a pheromone collar on the transition, each MWD that returned from foster between October 2014 and February 2015 had a placebo or treatment collar placed for 4 weeks. Three behavioral assessments and one performance evaluation were conducted and the data was analyzed to determine if the placement of the pheromone collar had any effect on stress-related behavioral factors or performance. The results suggest that there was no reduction of behavioral signs of stress observed between the placebo and treatment groups. The author concluded that the amount of confounding environmental stressors present, and the abrupt transition between private foster homes and a training kennel prove to be too intense for successful alleviation of stress with application of a pheromone collar. Further research should focus on a multi-modal approach to mitigation of stressors.