Did A Thundershirt Calm My Dog?

Sydney’s blaring, high-pitched greeting barks travel far. His Punk Rocker impressions frequently shock our friends and neighbors. In a test of which breed barks the most, a Cocker Spaniel recorded at 90 barks per minute. Sydney is half cocker spaniel.

This post is the part 2 of Can A Thundershirt Calm My Anxious Dog?

Our rescue dog is half cocker spaniel and half poodle. Most likely Sydney’s first two families gave up teaching him the meaning of the word, “quiet.” We’ve been Sydney’s family now since adopting him at Petaluma Animal Control seven years ago.

Sid SmilingSydney tends to be nicely balanced between confident and careful. He can be an anxious dog depending on what is happening. We keep reminding Sydney with tons of positive attention when he is quiet. And we praise and give treats when he does what we ask him to. Sydney gets walks and goes out to see other dogs. He visits his friends and turns heads with his curly locks.

Only one problem. Sydney’s high-pitched greeting barks hurt everyone’s ears. He doesn’t bark super high volume. Luckily, he does quiet when asked after alerting us, “Someone’s here. Come see.”

But he goes sheer nuts, seeing a beloved person. Any of his favorites get full blast Punk Rock.

After reading about the Thundershirt designed to calm anxious dogs, I went hunting for one. I knew it had to fit well so I called local pet shops. The first did not have Sydney’s size. Then in Santa Rosa I found extra small at Western Farm and eagerly read the instructions. Western Farm Center (in Santa Rosa, CA) carries top quality dog and pet food, horse and farm supplies plus egg laying chickens.

Following instructions I placed the shirt near Sydney’s favorite napping spot. He came off the pillow on the guest bed and sniffed then chewed up the dog treat I left on the shirt. I did this a few times then gently rubbed the shirt on him. “Good boy. Good.”

Repeated this the next day. Soon Sydney sniffed the gray fabric, expecting good things. Within a few days, I fitted the wonderfully stretchy Thundershirt on him. He looked great.[photo in shirt] But fashion was not the point. And surprisingly at first try, Sydney acted just like the dog in the Thundershirt web site video. He went over and lay down. I took the shirt off after about ten minutes. I chose a low activity home office day. Nothing special on my calendar. No repair people came to the home office. No friends came over.

Thundershirt smile

So far so good.

Over the next few days, we worked up to longer periods of time in his shirt with repair people coming here and one friend. At times, Sydney surprised a friend and me by only giving one greeting bark. Sydney’s ear punishing volume went missing.
The second week, results varied. Sydney reverted to yelling. Then he would be placid and unusually quiet. His deafening greetings flared up. Mail carriers got rude receptions.

I tweeted the Thundershirt inventor. “Such a thing as operator error?” He replied, “Sometimes. Make sure you’re fitting it right.”

So did a Thundershirt calm my anxious dog?

Sometimes.

Sadly, after a month of mixed results, I took the company up on their money back offer.
My dog either falls into the small percentage of dogs not helped or the shirt is not long enough to cover Sydney’s extra-long cocker spaniel back.

Would I try another Thundershirt if it could help my dog? You bet.

Have you tried a Thundershirt?

7 thoughts on “Did A Thundershirt Calm My Dog?

  1. Okay, I’ll weigh in too. I’d never heard of this training aid until I took Tessa – our most recent rescue – to obedience class and my friend, who just happens to be the instructor for this class, suggested we get one. Went online and found the company that bills itself as the original creator of The Anxiety Wrap – we got the smallest size for Tessa – and – much to my surprise – it has a definite calming affect on her. We also combined the wrap with calming aromatherapy oils. I did quite the long series of posts about this on my http://www.MrsBizWhizConnects.com blog. If you click on the link and then check out the “Tessa the Wonder Dog” category, those posts – with links to where you can purchase the Anxiety Wrap – are still there. (If you just do a search using “the original anxiety wrap” – whatever site comes up will show you the pix of what we bought. I know ’cause I just did it!)
    We do still use it periodically. And, after two years, will probably order another one as this one is a bit worse for wear.

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  2. Hi Deborah,

    I bought a Thundershit for my dog Webster who has a horrible fear of thunder and fireworks. Needless to say, summers are a really trying time for us. He really freaks out – he trembles and paces, and he pants until he has a puddle of water under his head. It’s so difficult to see him so stressed out and I was worried about what these episodes were doing to him physically. I tried the Thundershirt and got similar results – sometimes it helps a little, sometimes it doesn’t help at all. I finally had to give in and he now takes meds for his fear – luckily he only has to take it in the summer months as necessary. I found that combining the Thundershirt with medication has pretty good results for Webster. Even though it wasn’t the ideal solution for Webster, I would recommend the Thundershirt to anyone who has an anxious dog – it’s worth a try, especially with their money-back guarantee.
    -Laurie

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    1. Great comment Laurie. I’m sure readers of this blog will be happy to hear Webster’s story. I didn’t think of combining the Thundershirt. That’s because the two medications my vet had me try for calming Sydney for his annual exams…well, they both made Sydney weirder. And he’s already an expert at that.

      I’m having a lovely time sharing your gorgeous blog. I highly recommend it to dog lovers, and lovers of pure photographic beauty.

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      1. Deborah – I’m happy to share any of my experiences with my dogs if it will help others. It’s such a helpless feeling when your beloved dog is in distress. And thank you so much for your kind words about my blog and my photography – I sincerely appreciate your support!

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