Does your dog start to become anxious when he sees you getting ready to leave the house? Does he shake, pant, and try to hide when there’s a thunderstorm? Maybe he barks, howls, and paces when he’s left alone in the house or destroys something due to his anxiety.
Some dogs respond well to increased exercise, dog daycare, and behavior modification so they become desensitized to the things that make them anxious. But while you’re working on decreasing the panic and fear, there’s a product that can help your dog stay a bit calmer called the Thundershirt.
The thundershirt looks like a dog vest that you put on your dog and it applies some pressure on the torso. This pressure can have a calming effect on the nervous system. It is like being hugged. This concept of applying pressure has been studied in depth and was first introduced by Dr. Temple Grandin and her studies with cattle.
There’s no training or coaxing needed to use the thundershirt, you just put it on your dog and after a few times, you may notice a difference in the level of panic and anxiety that your dog displays. You should consult a trainer if you are going to also start implementing a behavior modification training program as well to make sure that everything works together. The thundershirt is made of breathable material so your dog doesn’t overheat but you should always monitor him for signs of overheating such as heavy panting, drooling, and the tongue hanging out of the mouth. If there are signs of overheating, remove the thundershirt and get your dog to a cooler place.
Aside from anxiety, having pressure applied to the torso can also help a dog not be as hyper and excited. It helps your dog be more aware of their body, feel as if they are being held lightly, and helps them focus on the environment around them and not get overwhelmed by their own emotions. For some dogs, the thundershirt has helped with training, leash pulling, hyperactivity, and anxious barking.
If you don’t have a thundershirt, a snuggly t-shirt may also work but t-shirts can bunch up and your dog may also tear it off. I’ve tried the thundershirt with dogs I’ve worked with and it definitely helped with many of the dogs that have anxiety. Some of the dogs also needed some extra TLC and training. It’s definitely worth a shot if your dog barks excessively when you leave the house, paces, cries, howls, or just freaks out in general when anxious and cannot be consoled.
Photo courtesy of Thundershirt