It is quite rare to see a dog that is not really afraid of loud noises such as those that are associated with thunder and fireworks. While pooches can be trained to never fear or become overly anxious every time there is overcast, this will usually take time. There are also anti-anxiety medications for dogs specifically designed for the purpose, but these are expensive and often come with side effects. Remarkably, there is a very simple yet astonishingly effective solution – ThunderShirt.
ThunderShirt is a very simple contraption that looks like any other doggie suit that our pooches wear. The design of the doggie ‘shirt’ is based partly on the work of noted animal behaviorist and autism spokesperson Mary Temple Grandin. It is worn over your dog’s body like any ordinary doggie vest. The ThunderShirt is design to apply constant yet gentle pressure onto the midsection of the dog which supposedly helps to alleviate canine anxiety associated with loud noises and other anxiety-provoking situations.
The contraption is designed like the swaddle of a baby. The circumference of the ThunderShirt can actually be adjusted accordingly, allowing you complete control of the amount of pressure applied onto your pooch’s midsection. It is constructed of machine washable fabric. It’s durable and sturdy yet breathable enough to allow optimum comfort for your pet. Additionally, the fabric of choice makes it exceptionally soft on the skin of your pooch and will not adhere to its coat. Overall, the design and fabrication of the ThunderShirt is more like the security blanket that we use for babies.
The ThunderShirt is exceptionally ‘heavy’ for a doggie shirt. The average canine outfit will usually weigh in at about 4 to 5 ounces. The ThunderShirt, on the other hand, is quite hefty at 8.5 ounces which is actually about twice as heavy as the ordinary doggie clothing. We can only guess that its supposed effect of calming pooches is related to the weight of the ThunderShirt bearing down on the back and midsection of the dog.
- Helps reduce canine anxiety
Four out of 5 dogs have been reported to show decreased severity or intensity of their anxiety symptoms. While this is a respectable figure, the fact that it won’t work in 1 out of 5 dogs simply means that there are still a lot of work that needs to be done on perhaps the design of the ThunderShirt.
According to the makers of ThunderShirt, the contraption works by calming dogs, alleviating their anxieties, fears, and even over-excitement. Exactly how it works is still a mystery since the realm of dog psychology is something that no man has ever truly understood. We actually found a plausible explanation on how ThunderShirt works. They say that it works like an infant swaddle, that piece of cloth that mommies use to wrap their babies in front of their bodies to mimic the uterine environment. This helps provide the baby with a sensation that is more relaxing, more secure, and more comfortable. The swaddle brings the baby back to the warm and relaxing sensations when he or she was still a fetus inside mommy’s womb.
The same principle has been observed to work in the ThunderShirt. The combination of the heavier weight than normal and the fully adjustable width of the contraption allow the dog owner to apply constant, steady, and gentle pressure as if the dog is being brought back to the time when it was still a developing puppy inside its mommy’s womb.
We don’t know if this is the most appropriate explanation for how it works. However, if it is able to exert its calming effect on 4 out of 5 dogs, then there must be some credence to this assumption.
Being able to reduce canine anxiety has a lot of implications in the care we provide for our pooches. It makes it a lot easier to train them as they won’t necessarily be startled and be very afraid of loud noises. This also makes it a lot safer for them.
- Very easy to use
The ThunderShirt is designed like any ordinary dog vest or doggie shirt. You just make sure you get the correct size and you should be okay. Putting it on is a breeze, too. And so is its cleanup as the fabric used in the ThunderShirt is fully machine-washable.
- No side effects
Compared to other canine anxiety solutions such as antianxiety drugs, ThunderShirt doesn’t come with any side effect. Perhaps the only side effect that you will experience is whether or not it will work on your dog. If it works, then you’d have to pat yourself on the back. If it doesn’t work, then you can count yourself on the 20 percent of dog owners whose experience with the ThunderShirt is directly opposite those who say it works.
Even if it doesn’t work for your pooch, you can still use the ThunderShirt like any other doggie clothing. You can even sew in a D-ring onto its back to serve as a harness for your pooch. Or, you can sell it to someone whose dog might actually be more receptive to the ThunderShirt. Overall, it’s a more cost-effective solution to managing anxiety in your pooch compared to buying canine antianxiety medications. These drugs have side effects that may require veterinary care which essentially means additional cost.
- Helps address other canine behavioral issues related to anxiety
While ThunderShirt is currently indicated in the management of acute canine anxiety such as phobias especially related to unusually loud noises and other similar situations where a dog can be startled, it is also indicated in the following situations.
- Over-excited dogs
- Travel-related stress
- Anxiety related to new or unfamiliar surroundings
- Overly anxious reactions towards other pets
- Excessive barking
- Unusual jumping
- Refusal to eat
- Separation anxiety
ThunderShirt is a very simple solution for a very complex, multi-factorial canine problem. Its design is inspired by the way babies have been soothed by their moms just swaddling. It boasts of an 80% success rate, acknowledging the fact that it is not a foolproof answer. Nevertheless, it offers hope for those who don’t want to spend money on expensive canine antianxiety drugs that come with a lot of side effects.