Studies have shown that over 29% of dogs suffer from some kind of anxiety problem. There are many different stimuli that can trigger anxiety, the most common types being noise-related anxieties, separation anxiety, and other people or dogs. Canine anxiety is a very common problem, but until recently, there was not much research about it.
Some common symptoms of anxiety include trembling, cowering, hiding, barking, clinging to owners, and general restlessness. Some dog owners are willing to put in the effort and necessary funds to cure their dog, trying everything from behavior modification to drug therapy. Although these pet parents are in the minority, and over half the dogs suffering from anxiety-related problems are left untreated. According to a recent study, most dog owners do not believe that treating the problem is necessary, while others think that there is no solution for the issue.
Thus enters ThunderWorks founder Phil Blizzard with a much-needed solution to a very common problem. His dog Dosi suffered from terrible anxiety attacks during fireworks and thunderstorms. Like many pet parents searching for a solution, he consulted trainers and vets, but they could only offer “band-aids” to a much larger issue. One day a friend suggested trying a snug wrap, much like one would swaddle an anxious infant. To his surprise, the wrap worked! And thus the ThunderShirt was created.
The ThunderShirt’s design applies gentle and constant pressure on your dog’s torso, a practice that has been used to relieve anxiety in humans for many years. This product makes swaddling your pup safe and easy. It is basically a dog jacket for anxiety. It fits like a cape that you velcro shut around the neck and stomach of your dog. ThunderWorks cite their product as being effective for 80% of their customers and offer a full money back guarantee if you are not satisfied.
I tried out the ThunderShirt with my dog, Rusty, and had a very positive experience with it. We adopted our terrier pit mix from the local shelter when he was about a year old. We don’t know what sort of life he had before he was with us, but right away we noticed he had some separation anxiety issues. We could not walk out the door without him barking and howling. We were reluctant to resort to medication, so a friend recommended we try a ThunderShirt. After returning the first one (we got a size too big), we tried the shirt on Rusty and noticed a difference immediately. He was instantly calmer and we were able to go out and see a movie with little to no barking. It has worked just as well every time we’ve used it since. Overall, I was extremely satisfied!
- Easy to Put On. There are instructions included in the box, as well as many helpful YouTube videos, that explain how to put the dog jacket on. You simply place the shirt on your dog’s back, then fasten it tightly around their neck and stomach.
- Comfortable. The ThunderShirt is made out of a soft, breathable fabric, similar to one of your t-shirts, that makes it super comfortable for your dog to wear.
- Works Quickly. This may not be true for every single customer, but most of the people I talked to noticed a difference in their dog’s behavior right away.
- Requires No Additional Training. There is no need to consult an expensive trainer or behaviorist in order to be assured of the effectiveness of this product. Of course it’s not a bad idea to give your dog a few treats when they are getting used to the shirt to ensure they have a positive experience.
- Not Medicated. This was a big plus for me. If you, like me, only like to use medication as a last resort, this anxiety jacket is ideal. Or, it can be used in conjunction with calming medications or treats for extreme cases of anxiety.
- Doesn’t Work for Every Dog. No two dogs are the same, so what works for some may not work for others. The product claims to be 80% effective, so while it was a miraculous solution for some, it did nothing for others.
- Difficult to Size. I had difficulty determining what size ThunderShirt would be the best fit for my dog. The sizing is by weight, but not every dog that weighs, say, 30 pounds will have the same body shape, which can affect the way the product fits.
- Triggers Anxiety in Some Dogs. I have read some complaints about the use of velcro actually causing their dog more anxiety. There is also the difficulty of trying to get an already anxious dog to stay still long enough to fasten the ThunderShirt.
- Not Recommended for Long Periods of Time. If left on for too long, the velcro can cause chafing under the arms or by the neck. There are also dogs who chew when they are anxious or bored that, if left alone wearing the shirt for a long time, can be destructive.
RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSION
For anxious dogs, the ThunderShirt is definitely worth a try, just be sure to keep your receipt. It will not be effective for every dog, nor does it claim to be. The dog jacket for anxiety offers a safe and easy to use alternative to medication or training. Compared to the other methods of anxiety relief, it is more cost effective in the long term. When the ThunderShirt works, it works really well. When it doesn’t, it’s basically just a cute outfit for your dog.
In the end, you know your dog better than anyone else. You will be able to tell what methods work for you and your pup and which do not. If you are searching for an easy to use solution, the ThunderShirt is definitely worth a purchase.