Most dogs get hyped at least once in a while, and some show off their hyper bursts of energy every time you walk in the door.
But sometimes, excitement and stress can get a little harder to handle than a quick case of the zoomies.
Dogs can suffer from separation anxiety when their owners go out.
They may also experience high levels of stress from changes in their environment, like moving homes.
Loud noises can also set off some dogs – making thunderstorms and fireworks a real struggle.
That’s where – for some families – calming collars come in.
What are dog calming collars?
Calming collars generally rely on the release of synthetic pheromones that help reduce stress and anxiety in your pet.
Calming collars carry a version of the ‘dog appeasing pheromone’ (or DAP), which mimicks the hormone released by a mother dog when nursing her pups.
The collar continuously releases its pheromone into the air so your dog can breathe it in, creating a calming effect.
Dog calming collars are meant to be worn in addition to the collar you would use for their ID tags and leash. You should never attach a leash to a calming collar. They can be worn at the same time as a normal collar, including on walks.
Do calming collars work?
For dogs dealing with stress and anxiety, veterinarians will often recommend a calming collar.
Researchers have even found that DAP pheromones can help to calm dogs that are displaying stress-related behaviors while hospitalized and separated from their family.
Additionally, because calming collars are not a drug, they can usually be used with dogs who are being treated for other issues. We recommend checking with your veterinarian to see if this is an option for your pet.
However, it’s worth noting that a calming collar will not correct serious behavioral issues.
Any pet parent dealing with severe fear-based behavior in their dogs should consult with their vet about their best options, which will likely include training and behavior modification.
A few of the best calming collars for dogs
Some of the most widely available calming dog collars are also the ones that experts, veterinarians and we(!) recommend include:
Our Pick for Best Overall Calming Collar:
The ThunderEase Calming Collar is our personal favorite that we use with one of our dog that has very strong anxiety with loud noises such as thunder, fireworks and even garbage trucks! In fact, our dog (a rescue) has such strong anxiety that we use a variety of their calming products in addition to the collar. The collar works great on its own though, as sometimes we’ve been away from the house and that’s all we’ve had.
Adaptil’s calming collar is highly regarded. Available in multiple sizes for a custom fit to your dog, each collar is designed to last for four weeks. The Dog Appeasing Pheromone strength of this collar is 5%, which is fairly strong.
Sentry also makes a popular calming collar. Made to fit a dog’s neck up to 23” around, this collar can be trimmed to fit as needed. Sentry’s collar also includes a lavender and chamomile scent that lasts up to 30 days.
An important note: as with many products, you will find many other options available when you shop. We encourage you to use a tool like Fakespot to verify reviews before purchasing. For instance, one product listed on Amazon has over 1200 reviews with an average rating of 4.7, but Fakespot provides a review rating of ‘F’ which indicates that many of the reviews are fake. We try to avoid these ‘fake’ reviews with our products.
Additional calming options for very anxious dogs
As we mentioned we use several calming products with one of our dogs that suffers from high anxiety when she hears loud noises. In addition to the ThunderEase Collar mentioned above, we also use the following ThunderEase products as well:
You plug this diffuser into the wall and it releases a constant pheromone that calms your dog (we find this to be completely odorless). Each cartridge lasts about a month.
We use the calming spray if we’re traveling and in conjunction with our dog’s ThunderShirt (described below).
If you haven’t already tried one, a Thundershirt is another option that gives some anxious dogs tremendous relief.
Thundershirts are wearable vests that act a lot like a weighted blanket. They help a dog feel secure and calm, almost like they’re wearing a hug!
Whether you use a vest or calming collar, when you find what works for your dog, they will almost certainly feel and act much calmer.