The ThunderShirt! - Does it really work?
The Truth about the Thundershirt!
About a month ago, I bought my 11month puppy a Thundershirt. I was just like all the trainers and dog owners who were interested to see if this Thundershirt really works for separation anxiety and the riddence of bad behaviors. These Thundershirts sizes run a little bit big for the dog so just make sure you go with the smaller size. How the Thundershirt works is the piece of clothing wrap that will "hug" your dog at where it's "comfy" pressure points are so it will calm its' nervous system. So you definitely need something small and tight to wrap your dog around like a burrito.
When I first tried it, I was so confused but yet amazed because it made my dog very sleepy. Sleepy to the point where he wouldn't play with me and he just laid there. I tried training him when he was in his Thundershirt but all I would get from him was a "down" for the entire time. I was a little bit scared because it worked in that instance. I checked the Thundershirt for drugs that would absorb into the skin but I couldn't find any drugs.
It worked so well that I kept it on for a full day to see if it would work for the separation anxiety problem. My dog slept pretty well with it and did not climb up to the window and howl in the morning. I did my morning routine and chores before leaving the house and then I put my puppy in the crate with the Thundershirt on. He didn't cry at all when I was still in the room with him. When I closed the door, he suddenly started crying and barking while being in the Thundershirt. I knew it was too good to be true!!
Then a realization dawned on me while having dinner with one of my friends. Humans have a phenomenon where if they have something on them for a long time, they will start to not feel it and it will become "part of their system" until that something changes. For example, we don't feel ourselves wearing underwear because our skin adapts to these changes and they feel "normal" after getting used to it. But when we change our underwear to something completely different, our bodies will feel it until it gets used to it again. Same thing for the Thundershirt. Our dogs will feel the Thundershirt when you first put it on them and they will not get used to it until they have worn it for a while. Once they get used to it, it won't stimulate pressure at their pressure points, therefore, the technique of a "comfy hug" will not work.
I tested this theory out and it's true. The Thundershirt works in short periods of times. So here are some do's and don'ts for the Thundershirt so that you can make it work for you and your dog!
- Let him wear it for no longer than 8 hours at a time.
- When is he wearing it, he will be calm so when you need to be calm (such as at night when you are sleeping), let him wear the Thundershirt so he can calmly sleep with you.
- Find the correct size that will fit him tightly around his torso area.
- Do not wear it all day and expect a miracle to happen
- Do not let your dog get "used" to the Thundershirt
-by Esther A.