If your dog is scared of fireworks or thunder, you’ve probably tried the Thundershirt or had someone recommend it.
You’ve probably also heard someone claim the Thundershirt solved all her dog’s problems like it’s some sort of miracle.
“I put the Thundershirt on her, and she calmed down immediately,” people say.
That’s great it works so well for certain dogs.
Others … not so much!
The Thundershirt seemingly does nothing for some dogs, leaving the owners feeling like they’ve wasted $40 and that the Thundershirt doesn’t really work.
You can read some Thundershirt reviews here (positive and negative).
What I think about the Thundershirt
The Thundershirt is not a quick fix. There’s rarely such a thing in the dog-training world.
I have never seen a dog totally transformed by wearing one. However, the Thundershirt can be a great tool in addition to other training tools and methods such as desensitization, positive reinforcement, plenty of exercise, etc.
[quote_center]… the Thundershirt can be a great tool in addition to other training tools and methods …[/quote_center]
If you’ve tried the Thundershirt with your dog, please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments. I’m going to go over some tips that can hopefully help dog owners make the most out of a Thundershirt.
Also see my post, Does the Thundershirt really work?
Tips on how to use a Thundershirt for dogs:
1. Slowly get your dog used to wearing clothing.
My black Labrador mix Ace hates wearing clothes.
If I put a dog coat on him, he gets tense and even trembles. Ridiculous, I know. But remember, wearing a coat is not natural for a dog, and having something placed over them makes some dogs feel vulnerable or submissive. This is the case with my dog.
Thankfully, Ace is not really scared of much in life, so we have no need for a Thundershirt.
If you’re thinking of using one for your dog, you’ll want to slowly introduce the Thundershirt in a positive way, especially if she’s not used to wearing a coat or vest.
- Set the Thundershirt on the ground for at least a half-hour so your dog can get used to it. Give her treats or play around it.
- Gently place the Thundershirt over your dog and give her more treats.
- Put the Thundershirt on her randomly for the things she loves like mealtimes or walks. Take it off when those activities end.
- Don’t put the Thundershirt on tightly at first. It’s meant to be worn snug, but no need to tighten it at first.
So, you’re not even using the Thundershirt during storms or fireworks for now. If you only bring it out during those “scary” times, you might cause a bad association.
2. Use other training techniques along with the Thundershirt.
When you begin using the Thundershirt during storms or fireworks, you should first come up with some sort of training plan for helping your dog overcome her fears.
- Begin a desensitization plan. I know this is easier said than done, but one option is to play thunderstorm videos at a low level while giving your dog treats and gradually increase the volume over time.
- Lots of exercise every single day. This is no easy solution, but in general the less pent-up energy an anxious dog has, the better.
- Provide a safe, quiet place for your dog to “hide” during storms or fireworks with plenty of “white noise” to block out the sounds.
See my posts:
3. Combine the Thundershirt with other tools
The Thundershirt is just one tool, and it can work much better when combined with other products.
- Providing your dog with a Kong toy or other treat-dispensing toy filled with jerky or peanut butter
- Natural calming products such as Canine Calm or Bach’s Rescue Remedy
- Dog-appeasing pheromone diffusers
- Benadryl, which can help calm some dogs
- In extreme cases, prescription medications
So, it’s unlikely you can just slap a Thundershirt on your dog and assume it will solve all your problems. This does seem to work for a small percentage of dogs, but not many.
I’m curious what your experience has been with the Thundershirt and what other tools or training techniques you used with it.
Let me know in the comments.
Did the Thundershirt help your dog?
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