We tested in a co-operation project of the universities Helsinki and Oulu whether individually customized vests, have an effect on behaviour of severely noise phobic dogs in a double-blinded experiment, where dogs are exposed to loud noises. We also investigated the possible effect of pressure by using two types of vests ; a deep pressure vest and a light pressure vest. The vests were custom made by Lymed (Tampere, Finland). In addition to behaviour, we studied if the pressure vest has an effect on urine oxytocin level and on saliva cortisol levels.
28 dogs were recruited via an ongoing study on the genetic background of noise sensitivity by the Finnish Canine Genetic Research Group. Each dog was tested three times either without vest or with or vests in a semi-randomized order. The dogś behaviour was video recorded for 6 minutes, including three 2 minutes intervals: pre-noise, noise (70–73 dB firework sound) and recovery. Saliva samples were collected twice before and twice after the noise test. Urine samples for oxytocin analyses were collected when the deep pressure vest was first fitted.
We did not find a clear therapeutic effect of using pressure vests in noise phobic dogs. The pressure vest changed the behaviour of dogs during a noise interval in a double-blinded, controlled experiment, but only to a limited extent. The vest facilitated dogs to seek comfort from their owners and reduced the time dogs spent freezing.
The effect of a pressure vest on the behaviour, salivary cortisol and urine oxytocin of noise phobic dogs in a controlled test , Anne-Maria Pekkin, Laura Hänninen, Katriina Tiira, Aija Koskela, Merja Pöytäkangas, Hannes Lohi, Anna Valros, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, in Press
doctoral student Anne-Marie Pekkin, University of Oulu
researcher Katriina Tiira, FT, Smartdog KY/ University of Helsinki
project head, professor Anna Valros, Faculty of veterinary medicine, University of Finland