Does the Thundershirt really work?
Does the dog Thundershirt really work to help a dog feel calm? Find out how it did or didn’t help others with these dogs.
I surveyed a group of dog owners who have tried the Thundershirt to help their dogs that are scared of fireworks, thunder, loud noises, being left alone, other dogs or rides in the car.
Here’s how the Thundershirt worked, according to their personal experiences:
Does a Thundershirt help during thunderstorms and fireworks? Dog Thundershirt reviews:
Rodrigo the border collie/Australian cattle dog mix – fear of thunderstorms and fireworks:
“So far so good,” she said. “We had a small trial run when a thunderstorm hit us out of the blue and he was wearing it. Although he still came to sit with me, he seemed to be less stressed.”
Kimberly believes it’s important to get dogs used to their Thundershirts when they’re happy and non-stressed.
“Don’t allow the first introduction to be when the noise starts,” she said. “They’ll associate the shirt with the storm and hate it.”
She hopes that by the week of the Fourth, Rodrigo will be able to handle the fireworks a lot better. In addition to the Thundershirt, Kim provides all her dogs with plenty of exercise – at least a 3-mile walk per day, plenty of chew toys and rowdy play sessions in the yard.
Slugger the Australian shepherd – fear of thunderstorms:
Slugger the Aussie gets very anxious during Florida’s thunderstorms, according to his owner Tina Koenig.
“He pants, paces and even shakes at times,” she said.
Tina received the Thundershirt as a gift and was eager to try it out.
“In our case the product works well,” she said. “After a few minutes he calms and will settle down in a corner.”
Now she often suggests the product to other dog owners and even put the Thundershirt on Slugger during the NBA playoffs.
“The television volume is pumped up and my family shouts when things go or don’t go the way of the Miami Heat,” she said.
Raider the black Lab/border collie mix – fear of thunderstorms:
Elizabeth Putsche tried the Thundershirt with two of her dogs and saw little success.
Her dog Raider (who has passed away) was originally only scared of thunder. “He could hear a storm coming from miles away,” she said.
Raider was allowed to sleep on the bed, but he chose to sleep on the floor unless he heard a storm coming.
“I would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night to a vibrating bed,” she said. “He would only get in the bed if he was scared.”
When she tried the Thundershirt with Raider, Elizabeth said she didn’t see much of a difference.
“Raider still shook,” she said. And “he would pant heavily when it was storming.”
She eventually decided to give him tranquilizers during storms. “He would be in such distress it was hard to even get him to eat a spoon of peanut butter with his pill in it,” she said. “Normally he would have tried to eat the entire spoon!”
Elizabeth said she still recommends the Thundershirt to other dog owners.
“I simply say it’s not a guaranteed thing, but it’s worth a try,” she said. “When your pet is in distress, you’ll do anything to try and calm them down — there is no reason not to at least try the Thundershirt.”
Bandit the Canaan dog mix – fear of loud noises:
Kate Manchester’s dog Bandit is nervous around thunder, fireworks and loud noises. She said he also gets uncomfortable when lots of people visit.
Bandit previously lived at a dump with a pack of wild dogs, Kate said. She witnessed him getting hit by a car and decided to care for him and eventually keep him.
“He was fearful of men, loud voices, you name it,” she said. “He gets the prize for ‘most improved’ and ‘best watchdog.'”
She’s still trying to decide if the Thundershirt works for Bandit.
“I think it helps – but it may be that we take the extra care with him when we put it on, and go to extra measures to make sure he is calm,” she said. “He loves being handled and doesn’t seem to mind one bit when we put it on. He’ll wear it for hours and seems very comfortable.”
Kate said she would recommend the Thundershirt to other dogs owners, but she wants people to know she uses it in addition to Rescue Remedy, a product marketed as a natural stress reliever made from flower material and available for humans and pets.
Elsie the golden retriever – fear of thunderstorms and fireworks:
The Thundershirt did not calm Elsie the golden retriever or stop her nervous and destructive behaviors, according to her owner Nancy Stordahl. (Yes, Nancy is my mom!)
“She has acute anxiety attacks and they seem to worsen a little every year,” Nancy said. “Summer is definitely not her favorite season.”
While the Thundershirt has not helped Elsie, Nancy said she will probably keep trying it and would recommend it to others. “It’s worth a try,” she said. “Why not?”
In addition to the Thundershirt, Nancy said she has tried talking to Elsie in a comforting voice and petting her. She has tried ignoring her dog, playing music, running a fan on high, closing all windows, offering treats, exercising her more, kenneling her and medications.
“The only thing that works for her is to kennel her in an escape-proof, sturdy kennel,” Nancy said. “I now kennel her whenever it storms for her own safety and to protect my carpets, furniture, etc., as she also gets very destructive when she has a nervous episode.”
Norman the mutt – fear of thunder and fireworks:
Karen Port said her dog Norman is “petrified of thunder and fireworks” and nothing the vet prescribed would calm him. The medications took 45 minutes to kick in, and he would still be shaking.
She recommends the Thundershirt because it’s the only thing that works to calm Norman. She keeps it in her nightstand and puts it on Norman ahead of time if storms are predicted.
“We have spent too many nights being jarred awake by our frantic dog and running through the house trying to find the shirt,” she said.
Modi the pitbull/Rottie/boxer mix – fear of thunderstorms:
“Unfortunately, we did not notice a huge change with the Thundershirt,” said Sherry Morse, whose dog is scared of thunder. “We call him the dog barometer because if there’s a storm within 20 miles of the house he will start panting and trying to hide in as small a space as possible.”
She said her dog seems a little less anxious with the combination of the Thundershirt, Prozac and Tellington Touch.
Sherry also tried the Thundershirt with Modi to help him with his anxiety issues related to seeing other dogs on the street.
“We’ve had more success in that regard,” she said, adding that this could be because Modi is very food motivated as long as there are no storms.
“When there’s a storm, he’s totally oblivious to anything, including dogs on the street,” she said.
Jed the Labrador – fear of thunderstorms:
Phyllis Shelton’s dog Jed is significantly calmer during thunderstorms if he wears his Thundershirt.
“He is terrified of thunderstorms and lets us know they are coming before we hear them,” she said.
Without the Thundershirt, Jed tries to hide during storms, Phyllis said. But if he has the shirt on, he doesn’t hide.
The first time Jed wore the Thudershirt during a storm, Phyllis said he smiled like he was so proud he wore it.
“It was the funniest expression I’ve ever seen on his face,” she said. “We have used it several times since, and he really likes it.”
Wesley the American bulldog – fear of thunderstorms and other loud noises:
Wesley the bulldog is scared of thunder, door knocking, doorbells and other loud noises, said his owner Jacqueline Fisch. He also tends to lunge and bark at other dogs while leashed.
He instantly becomes goofier and less anxious with the Thundershirt on, she said. “He liked to rub himself on the furniture when wearing it.”
In addition to the Thundershirt, Jacqueline said she feeds her dog a raw diet, gives him herbal remedies and provides tons of socialization to help with his anxiety. She recommends other dog owners give the Thundershirt a try.
Rosie the Rottweiler/great Swiss mountain dog mix – separation anxiety:
Rosie the Rottie mix would scratch at doors, bark or whine when left alone, according to her owner Danielle Wolfe. This occurred even when Danielle was in the next room.
The Thundershirt didn’t have any effect on Rosie’s anxiety, Danielle said. “I think her anxiety problems were too severe.”
Crate training didn’t help either, and Danielle decided to give Rosie anti-anxiety drugs from the vet. These did help, and now Rosie is “pretty much off of the medication.”
Poppy the Bichon/Westie mix – separation anxiety:
The Thundershirt helped Poppy the Bichon mix feel more relaxed and settled when left home alone, according to her owner Justin Flitter.
“She stopped barking at weird noises immediately,” he said. “And when we left the building she was less stressed, less anxious.”
In addition to the Thundershirt, Justin said he ignores his dog when she’s overly excited upon his return. He also walks her religiously to maintain a routine.
“For the cost of the Thundershirt, Poppy has become happier, less anxious and we’re more comfortable leaving her at home without worrying about her disturbing neighbors with her barking or whining when she was feeling lonely,” he said.
Sierra the Australian shepherd – separation anxiety:
Candy Keane’s dog Sierra was always afraid of loud noises such as thunder, but she developed a chewing habit after Candy’s husband was deployed.
Sierra had such bad separation anxiety that she chewed through two kennels and part of a door, Candy said. “It was really, really bad! We were desperate to try anything and everything.”
To help her dog with separation anxiety and a fear of storms, Candy used a combination of the Thundershirt, behavior modification and a calming medication.
“I was really surprised when she didn’t chew the Thundershirt right off the first time she wore it,” Candy said. “It seems to sooth her down a bit when we put her in it.”
While Sierra still shakes when it thunders and the training is ongoing, Candy says her dog “just wears her Thundershirt when it thunders or she seems extra anxious. She is back to normal and doesn’t even need to be kenneled.”
Does a Thundershirt help for anxiety during car rides?
Nami the pitbull – anxiety on car rides:
The Thundershirt helped Nami the pitbull stop shaking on a very long car trip across the country, said her owner Apryl DeLancey. The shirt made her feel more secure.
“When we would get it out she was so happy to get it on,” Apryl said. “She loves her shirt!”
Actually, she said Nami loves clothes in general.
Apryl said she would definitely recommend the Thundershirt to others because of the 100 percent, money-back guarantee the company offers.
Stackhouse the English black lab – fear of car rides:
Stackhouse is also one of Elizabeth Putsche’s dogs, but he doesn’t have any trouble with storms – he hates the car!
“He pants and drools uncontrollably,” Elizabeth said. “He won’t lie down in the car – stays in a hunched position, trying to brace himself.”
She said her dog has intermittent tremors in the car and is clearly in distress so she tried the Thundershirt with him as well.
“I saw no effect,” she said.
She said she has slowly and patiently tried to make Stackhouse more comfortable in the car by driving slower and accelerating and braking slower, but he remains stressed out.
Still, she didn’t let the Thundershirt go to waste. She’s tried using it for her dogs on snowy, windy walks.
Might as well use it for something, she said.
Does the Thundershirt help for anxiety around other dogs?
Allie the bloodhound – excitement outside:
Allie the bloodhound “absolutely goes nuts outside with certain smells,” said her owner Apryl DeLancey. “We thought this would calm her down.”
However, the Thundershirt had no effect whatsoever, Apryl said. In fact, nothing has worked for Allie. Not treats, hugs, sweet talk, positive reinforcement or a shock collar with a remote.
“At home, Allie is the sweetest and most loving and mellow dog,” Apryl said. “In public she’s crazy! Bloodhound puppies are nuts. Get over it.”
Apryl said bloodhounds are just too independent for Thundershirts. “As puppies they will be very, very aloof and silly,” she said. “Period.”
Lulu the beagle – anxiety around other dogs:
Lulu the beagle wants to meet every dog she sees and ends up barking with excitement, according to her owner Christie Zizo.
“She also barks at golf carts, big trucks, people on bikes, kids on scooters and skateboards,” Christie said.
As for the Thundershirt? It definitely calms Lulu. “But I have to be careful. I don’t use the shirt all the time because dogs get used to its effects.”
Christie said it’s easier to calm Lulu down and redirect her focus if she’s wearing the Thundershirt. The barking has also decreased, and Lulu recently passed her AKC Canine Good Citizen test.
“I think the Thundershirt helped make that possible,” Christie said, and recommends the product to others. “I know people who get minimal effects from the Thundershirt. And then I know people who swear by it.”
What do the rest of you think? Did the Thundershirt work for your dogs?
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