The 3 Best Calming Collars For Dogs: Tested & Evaluated 2023
Dealing with a nervous dog is never easy. But some dogs can suffer so much anxiety and stress from everyday situations that we’d like to try everything to get them to relax a little bit. One type of product that promises such an effect is calming collars for dogs (very different from your standard dog collars).
But do they work? Today’s article will tell you everything you need to know. To learn everything we could, we formed an independent team of experts alongside veterinarians and canine behaviourists. We then spent months researching the most popular dog calming collars, having our beloved pooches try each one so we could see how effective each was.
What we learned surprised even us! Here's what you need to know about the best calming collars for dogs available in Australia.
Quick Picks - The Top 3
Our Number 1 Pick -
Adaptil Calm On-the-go Collar
- Based on dog appeasing pheromone
- Last 4 weeks
- Easy to use
Runner Up -
Sentry Calming Collar for Dogs
- Available as a 3-pack
- Good value for money
- Based on DAP
- Lasts up to a month
Third Choice -
Beaphar Calming Collar for Dogs
- Based on herbal ingredients
- Effective for 6 weeks
Australia's Best Calming Dog Collars Reviewed
Want to give pheromone collars a try? These are the most popular options available, as hand-picked by our team of independent experts.
What sets this product apart from the rest?
Adaptil was the first widely available range of pheromone products for dogs to appear on the market, and it is still the most popular brand. The name Adaptil is almost synonymous with calming collars, but they also make various other products like sprays and diffusers.
Everyone on our panel of independent experts appreciated that their collars come in two sizes (lengths) and they look just like flea and tick collars.
To use it, I simply put the collar around my dog’s neck and waited to see if there is an effect. Adaptil recommends keeping the collar on for a whole month, similar to our second choice ahead, so perhaps that's why I didn't notice any immediate results.
Sentry is the second relatively well-known brand name in the world of pheromone products. Just like Adaptil, they offer various pheromone-based products besides collars, like sprays and ointments.
The Sentry Calming Collar for Dogs being tested by our independent expert team.
The price point of these collars is considerably lower than our number one choice Adaptil, but the main ingredient seems to be the same. One collar will last up to a month.
Unlike our number one pick, this collar comes in a three pack, so you don't have to buy a new one after one month before figuring out if it works for your pupper.
The Calming Collar for Dogs from Beaphar is a bit different from most other options. It’s not based on pheromones, but on herbs.
The extract of valerian, to be precise. Valerian is known to have a sedative effect on dogs, and is considered safe in small doses (8).
The Beaphar Calming Collar for Dogs being tested by our independent expert team.
We are unsure of the process that Beaphar uses to infuse the collar with valerian, but the end product does have a noticeable smell to it. Just like all calming collars, this one got mixed reviews from our team of independent experts, with some positives and some negatives.
I liked how it contains a popular herbal extract, so I would recommend giving this one a go if you're dubious about our number one and two picks.
What Are Calming/Pheromone Collars for Dogs
So what exactly are calming collars and what’s their secret?
Almost every calming collar for dogs you can buy currently is based on the same principle: these collars use pheromones to try and imitate the smell of a dog. Not just how a dog smells in general, but the specific chemical signals animals release to communicate with each other (humans have pheromones too, by the way).
Calming collars contain a synthetic imitation of a pheromone called DAP, or the dog-appeasing pheromone. This is a pheromone that canine mothers release while breastfeeding, so it’s thought to have a relaxing effect on puppies.
These collars allegedly help calm dogs in all sorts of stressful situations. Causes of stress in dogs can vary: for some, it’s staying home alone, for others it’s loud noises that make them terribly anxious, for others it’s travelling or various unresolved issues… And calming collars are supposed to help with that by making the dog feel safe.
“In any situation creating anxiety, pheromones can help to reduce the stress felt by pets. These situations can include things like changes in the home, learning new things, or discomfort or conflict with other pets in the home.”- Dr. Valerie Tynes, Pet MD (2)
While it all might sound a bit bizarre, pheromone products for dogs and cats have become ubiquitous. They come in various forms, including diffusers, sprays, wet wipes, and collars.
Do Pheromone Treatments for Pets Work?
If you look around the internet or ask pet parents around you, you’ll most likely find at least one person that raves about how effective pheromone products for dogs are. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to confirm pheromone collars work, but also many reports that say they don’t do anything at all.
So what gives? Well, there have been a couple of studies done on the effectiveness of synthetic DAP on stressed dogs, and the results seem inconclusive. For example, one placebo-controlled study found that DAP works to reduce whining in newly adopted puppies, but only in gun dog breeds. (3)
While some studies reported promising results (4, 5), two critical reviews of the studies on the topic report that the evidence is not conclusive (6,7).
It is also not proven that DAP should have a calming effect on adult dogs, although we know that it does have this effect on puppies:
“The pheromone serves to calm the suckling litter, and it is thought only to be present from three to four days after parturition to two to five days after weaning [...]. It is not clear why weaned dogs would retain the capacity to respond to – or even detect – that pheromone.” - Caroline Hewson (x)
In short, pheromone collars seem to work for some dogs, but they don’t always work, and there is no good scientific explanation for this. This is something our team of independent experts discovered for ourselves, with some collars seeming to have an effect on my own dog, and others, not so much. One explanation could be that some dogs are more reactive to the pheromone.
Others think that it’s more of a question of whether the pheromones are the right strategy for controlling the issue at hand:
“Pheromones don’t ‘fail to work,’ but they may simply be insufficient alone to completely resolve a problem, An appropriate behaviour modification program including positive reinforcement for appropriate behaviour and desensitization along with counter-conditioning to help the pet get over its fears or anxiety regarding certain situations will also be necessary,” - Dr. Tynes.
The good news is that DAP isn’t known to cause any adverse side effects, so if you decide to try it, the worst-case scenario is that it doesn’t work.
My Final Thoughts
Best calming collar for your dog. Well, that would be one that works. All pheromone calming collars should work just the same since they are based on the same active ingredient, but based on some reports, it looks like they don’t.
The safest bet according to our team of independent experts is probably Adaptil. If those are not working, a herbal collar like the one made by Beaphar might help.
In the end, don’t be disappointed if the collar does not work for your dog. If it does, great, but we still recommend looking into other options to find the root cause of your dog’s issues and try to solve them permanently.
There is no conclusive evidence that these collars work, but many pet parents who buy them report positive results. Since these collars imitate the smell of a puppy’s mother, it’s reasonable to assume that they could work. However, there is no guarantee, especially if the collar is first introduced when the dog is already an adult.
Most manufacturers recommend that the collars should be worn continuously. Most collars will last about a month. This is usually recommended because the active ingredients get released slowly from the collar.
Pheromones are thought to be the most basic level of canine communication (and they exist in many other species, including bugs, where they play a very important role, and even humans). Using pheromones that are secreted from various glands dogs can communicate with each other. Their tremendously precise sense of smell helps with that.
While dogs are said to be able to smell human pheromones, dog pheromones are not known to have any effect on humans. Pheromone pet products, like collars, in particular, should not have any effect on you.
- Stinchcombe, C. March 07, 2022. “Dog Calming Collars: Do They Really Work? Your Complete Guide”. Rover. Retrieved February 25, 2023. https://www.rover.com/blog/dog-calming-collars/
- Bocco, D. May 25, 2018. “How Do Calming Dog and Cat Pheromones Work?”. PetMD. Retrieved February 25, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/behavior/how-do-calming-dog-and-cat-pheromones-work
- Taylor, K. and Mills, D.S., 2007. A placebo-controlled study to investigate the effect of dog appeasing pheromone and other environmental and management factors on the reports of disturbance and house soiling during the night in recently adopted puppies (Canis familiaris). Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 105(4), pp.358-368.
- Gaultier, E., Bonnafous, L., Bougrat, L., Lafont, C. and Pageat, P., 2005. Comparison of the efficacy of a synthetic dog‐appeasing pheromone with clomipramine for the treatment of separation‐related disorders in dogs. Veterinary record, 156(17), pp.533-538.
- Siracusa, C., Manteca, X., Cuenca, R., del Mar Alcalá, M., Alba, A., Lavín, S. and Pastor, J., 2010. Effect of a synthetic appeasing pheromone on behavioral, neuroendocrine, immune, and acute-phase perioperative stress responses in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 237(6), pp.673-681.
- Hewson, C., 2014. Evidence-based approaches to reducing in-patient stress–Part 2: synthetic pheromone preparations. Veterinary Nursing Journal, 29(6), pp.204-206.
- Frank, D., Beauchamp, G. and Palestrini, C., 2010. Systematic review of the use of pheromones for treatment of undesirable behavior in cats and dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 236(12), pp.1308-1316.
- Fitzsimmons, P. August 16, 2017. “Valerian Root for Dogs: Does It Work?”. PetMD. Retrieved November 8, 2022. https://www.petmd.com/dog/wellness/valerian-root-dogs-does-it-work