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Thundershirt - Does it really calm a dog's anxiety?

Updated on October 11, 2014

Review: Great if it works for your dog's anxiety, but ...

So, I recently discovered the Thundershirt. It's a wrap for your dog that kind of hugs them and somehow ... magically, admittedly in some fuzzy science kind of way ... makes them all calm.

Excessive barking, separation anxiety, noise anxiety, thunderstorms, stranger danger - no matter what it is that sets your dog off, the Thundershirt is supposed to be the answer.

Now, there isn't a solid scientific reason given for why exactly this works, but I have found that wrapping my arms around Paisley when she's panicking does seem to help a little bit. But I'm not sitting on the floor with her every time someone she doesn't know comes to the house. I'm ready to try something that might help.

It's been shipped (hooray!) and I will be updating with a more complete review once I have my own experience to share.

Update: I'm kind of mixed on this. Paisley is definitely calmer in general, rather mellow in fact, while wearing the Thundershirt. But it doesn't seem to be helping much in her high stress situations. At least the ones that involve thunder or guests. Could be I'm not putting it on early enough, could be that it just doesn't work for her. I know it works for other dogs - I have several friends who have had good success - , but everyone's mileage varies. Planning to try it the next time I have to take her to the vet to see if it can make her calmer with that.

Did the Thundershirt work for your dog?

Did the Thundershirt work for your dog?

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All About The Thundershirt

Why I Decided to Try the Thundershirt

Dog anxiety isn't a pretty thing

Poor Paisley. She finds strangers that arrive at our house quite distressing and usually ends up under my husband's desk. When family comes and stays for a little while, she'll rotate between the desk and parking under the dining room table. But where she never is, is out with the rest of us being social.

Add to that the fact that every time we take her outside the house or fence, she acts like there's a someone going to jump out at her from every bush. Pulling on the leash, walking all over me in an effort to stay close - it's annoying.

Two things tipped me over to actually ordering a Thundershirt for Paisley. First, I watched the videos. And I've put them down below for you to see as well because they're pretty compelling. Secondly, at $36, it's not that expensive, especially when you consider the potential upside here. It was a price I was willing to pay for something that could help make us all really happy.

Paisley getting mellow in her Thundershirt
Paisley getting mellow in her Thundershirt

Thundershirt Reviews

The Thundershirt also comes in a blue or pink "polo" style.

The Thundershirt also comes in a blue or pink "polo" style.
The Thundershirt also comes in a blue or pink "polo" style.

What About the Anxiety Wrap?

Someone brought up that the Thundershirt wasn't the original of these comfort wraps, and they're right. The Anxiety Wrap came out several years before and has quite a few fans.

From what I've read, though, it's kind of six of one, half dozen of the other. You have people who've tried one and it didn't work for them, but the other did. So a little hard to say which is better for any individual dog.

One common thing that did come up was that the Anxiety Wrap is a lot tighter. Plus is that it gives you more of that comforting squeezing. Downside is that it can be really tough to get on your dog. You velcro the Thundershirt around your do each time you put it on, so it doesn't get quite as tight, but it's a danged sight easier to put on them.

Now available for cats as well!

Do You Have a Thundershirt? Share your thoughts and reviews here!

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    • profile image

      marie 2 years ago

      my dog has a calcified disc and i have been told to keep him calm would this be of any benefit to him (he is a 3 year old yorkie)

    • LoriBeninger profile image

      LoriBeninger 3 years ago

      Sack is petrified of firecrackers, so 4th of July and Other holidays are a trial. We've used the Thundershirt on him for the last two years and have found that it drastically reduces his anxiety - as long as we get it on him soon enough - it's hard to justify added layers when the temperature in July is approaching 100...

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      Just bought a thundershirt for our dog and tried it during a huge thunderstorm last night. It really made a difference our dog (7pound yorkiepoo) would hide in the couch cushions or try to climb up on us. Last nights storm did not stress her out to that degree, she definitely was calmer and did not cower or hide. For our dog it really does work!

    • blestman lm profile image

      blestman lm 3 years ago

      I have heard about them but have not tried one on my dog yet. I will be interested in your experience. My dog is inconsolable if there is thunder or fireworks. The whole bed shakes like jello when he get on the bed during a storm. Putting him on the floor with my hand on him the whole time is the only way my wife can get rest (I stay up with him)

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      @anonymous: See their website, Thunderworks takes them back if they don't work for your animal. If you bought them elsewhere you can return them there and if they don't take the return you can contact the company about it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      This is interesting - years and years ago a friend of a friend brought her half-grown Irish Setter (i.e., canine hurricane) to my house. It leaned up against me, and I wrapped my arms around it. It did that little struggle and then relax against you thing dogs do when hugged, and she was getting all bent out of shape - "Don't restrain him! Don't restrain him!"

      It wasn't my dog, so I let him go, but I thought then, and more so now, that was some serious projection. The dogs best behavior was that minute or two when he was hugged up against me, happy as a clam. I always wondered what had happened in that woman's childhood that made her panicked by restraint to the degree she projected it on the dog like that, even in the face of his only calm moment while he was there (and that with a total stranger and not her).

      I fear that the dog probably grew up to be a neurotic mess, but I never saw either one of them again, so I don't know for sure.

    • BowWowBear profile image

      BowWowBear 3 years ago

      Where I live I have seen a lot of thundershirts on dogs and their owners seem to swear by them. So much o having these things worse is the pre-conditioning you do with them. sounds like you were doing it right, making sure the shirt was on well before the high-stress event occurred. Don't wait or the last minute to put these on, or the dog will connect them to the event and have a bad association. Thanks for putting up a review.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thundershirt did nothing to calm my dog...hope store will take it back

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      It has worked great on two dogs that I've owned. My neighbor tried it with good results also.

    • profile image

      Christina-Love 4 years ago

      ~I am just curious...is the 'polo' style heavier than the regular thundershirt? What is the main difference between the two? I have a malti-poo...and she loves car rides but her anxiety is beyond the worst...she will be 6 years old in July...just wondering if this truly works for these lil babies! Thanks so much!~

    • Lewister profile image
      Author

      Susan 4 years ago from Texas

      @Christina-Love: As far as I know, it's exactly the same, just a two-color design. Looking closely, the fabric looks like what I have. I think your little girl would be adorable in one. :-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      For sale two xs sized thundershirts. Two toy poodles didn't make a scrap of difference with visitors, with separation anxiety or with thunder. Waste of $80

    • blujeanmomma profile image

      blujeanmomma 4 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Temple Grandin would love it! As a leader in animal behavior and how constraining an animal actually calms them down, she would more-then-likely give a thumbs up to the Thundershirt. While we have not needed it for our dogs the concept does make sense. If you have not seen the movie about Temple Grandin's life, you should. Then you would understand why this should work.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Funny how Catmomx5 and Deedee both have dogs named willow, both are going through hurricane Isaac and put their reviews in just 8 minutes apart. Seems like company reviews to me. Womp womp womp, Fail...

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hi we bought the thundershirt 2 days ago, we had a short thunderstorm that same day so we put the shirt on our 8 yr old parsons russell terrier who is usually freaked out and nothing will calm her! Well the thundershirt did, omg what a transformation!!! she instantly relaxed and fell asleep. She seems very docile and wobbly on her legs hen she is wearing it but have contacted the company and they say this is normal so i am not too worried. there was fireworks last night and again i put the shirt on, she climbed onto my husbands lap and fell asleep, i absolutely love this product and wish i had bought it years ago!!! Today it rained really heavily and Molly (my dog) went over to where the shirt is kept, she loves it. Highly Highly recommended

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      i have a lovely jackrussel a year old called daisy who pulled to one side when i walked her.i bought the thundershirt on recomondation of my local petmania store.it cost 40euro which i thought very expensive.i am pleasantly surprised how it has calmed daisy and i can now look forward to taking her for her walk

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Sitting here during Hurricane Issac watching the storm. My dog Wiilow is calm as can be. This is a first. Wish I had purchased Thundershirt earlier. Love it!,,,,,,

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      HURRICANE ISSAC is at my backdoor. Lightning and thunder and thunder.always present in south Florida. As the rain and thunder rage outside, my dog Willow, is calm and relaxed. This the first time she has ever been this quiet during a storm. She even fell asleep! I wish I had bought a Thundershirt earlier! Best invention ever!,,,,,,,,

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 4 years ago

      I don't have one for my dog, but I want to put in my two cents about why I think it works. You know how babies become calmer when they are all wrapped up, swaddled in a blanket? Same thing. There are weighted vests used to calm children too. This just makes sense.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      My 5 year old staffy used to jump the fence at least 3 times a night and wake us up (or we would get woken by someone calling us early in the morning). We bought the thunder shirt to put on her at night hoping that it would stop her and she has worn it every night for the past 3 weeks and has not jumped once. Of course its not going to help everyone but this has really helped us.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      My beagle Rosie is scared of storms and loud noises. I thought I would try the thundershirt out, since it is guartenteed. It is the best thing I could have ever bought for Rosie. When a storm comes I put the shirt on her, she lays down next to me and goes to sleep. No more panting,crying or pacing. Last night with the fireworks, the same thing. She slept right through them. I highly recommend the Thundershirt.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Last 4th of July, I had to drive my dog around for 3 hours because a moving car was the only place the fireworks couldn't be heard. This year he's wearing a Thundershirt and he's just fine!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      does it work on puppies. I just purchased a 12wk old bulldog and she's having issues when I go to work.

    • profile image

      Clickertrainer 5 years ago

      The Thundershirt is a knockoff. I have had clients purchase this product by mistake and we saw absolutely no effect. The original, patented Anxiety Wrap however is a highly effective product, supported by clinical research.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Bah IMC you didn't put it on well and that's just a silly statement. Ive been using the thundershirt for years with my border collie and he actually "asks" for it by going to the closet where I keep it. This shirt cannot choke a dog!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thundershirt made absolutely no difference to my dogs anxity and fear of thunder

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have not purchased one but if it would help my poor shih tzu Olivia deal with her separation anxiety, it would be worth it to me.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Just bought two for my little dogs. Dudley settled right down (cairn), Poor Dexter, on the other his teeth started to chatter when I tried to put it on (mini schnauzer).

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have a 9 year old Hungarian Vizsla who is terrified of thunderstorms. Our vet had been prescribing Diazepam for her for over 2 years. I bought a Thundershirt for her about 6 months ago and it provided immediate relief! Somehow the Thundershirt seems to inhibit her ability to shiver, which reduces her anxiety. I haven't had to give her Diazepam once since buying the Thundershirt.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Go with the Original. www.anxietywrap.com. Thundershirt is a knock-off!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Best money I ever spent, hands down! My dog was so terrified of storms sometimes I worried about a heart attack. First time I put it on him, he was asleep in 10 minutes. You only want to buy the original, knock-offs are a waste of money.

    • Lewister profile image
      Author

      Susan 5 years ago from Texas

      @anonymous: Did you buy this directly from Thundershirt or from someone else? (Saying the company is kind of vague so it would be nice to have more specifics than that.) I've never had any problems in dealing directly with Thundershirt, but could see where someone else selling their product might have a different policy.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Dangerous - can choke dog - Seller did not honor guarantee!

      Bought this for my pup who is terrified of thunderstorms and she nearly strangled herself in it. Tried to return the item for the money back guarantee and the company refused to honor their return policy even with the original receipt and packaging.

      I do not recommend or the product or the seller!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Didn't you guys notice that the boston terrier who is scared of thunder is two separate dogs? watch the video starting at 1:05 and you will notice that they are not the same dog. the calm one has different making on his paws (the small white spot is on the wrong foot) and also has different markings on the right side of his neck. Scammy marketing if you ask me....Probably signs of a shoddy product.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 5 years ago from Land of Aloha

      I just found out that PetFinder.com's shelter members can participate in the ThundershirtGrant program which provides these Thundershirts to animal shelters for their rescued dogs! Such a great deal. Here is the link if you want to add any of this to your lens. http://www.petfinderfoundation.com/thundershirt-gr... Blessings for a well done page with valuable info! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      My dog was adopted from our local shelter. She had been on a shock collar with her previous owner and had really bad anxiety issues. I found the Thundershirt and gave it a try. The way that I knew it worked was twofold. First, she calmed down immediately and stopped her scratching - the sure sign that she is stressed or unsure of what to do. Second, my cats, who would not go near her, were suddenly more comfortable to be in close proximity to her. For the first three months after adopting her, I kept her in the shirt for the better part of day (mostly while we were at work). I even bought a second shirt so I could ensure that they didn't get too dirty. I gradually increased her time out of the shirt and now she doesn't need to rely on it, but I would HIGHLY recommend it. It did wonders to get her to feel safe in a new environment and with new people. She is now well socialized and the behavior that I used to see that indicated that she felt stressed is pretty much gone.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      The science behind the thundershirt is far from "fuzzy" - it's designed to comfortably constrict the dog's nervous system, which has a calming effect on most mammals.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Being calm yourself only works to an extent in certain situations. Sometimes the dogs become so aggitated it doesn't matter how you act.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: then would you be willing to buy it at 3-5x the price? There's a good reason why it was manufactured in China instead of US - Price.

    • renstar lm profile image

      renstar lm 5 years ago

      Interesting lens I might give it a try on Kingston, He hates fireworks and all loud bangs.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have a Thundershirt and have just bought another. It works quite well on my shelter dog that has separation anxiety issues. I would love this shirt even more if it were

      manufactured in the USA rather than China. I don't trust any materials coming from China especially for animals. Also I'd prefer you keep the jobs here in the US.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      You can achieve a calmer dog simply by being calmer yourself. In those high stress situations, your dog looks to you for leadership. If you handle it calmly then the dog knows there's nothing to fear. Remove the dog from the situation calmly before it escalates out of control.

    • profile image

      katesmart 5 years ago

      Informative lens. Jury is still out on if it works for Bandit. He is 29 months old with severe separation anxiety. He has even put himself into seizures. He is on meds and behavior mods. I am still trying it out but received it in the middle of a very hot summer. Thank you for this lens.

    • Lewister profile image
      Author

      Susan 5 years ago from Texas

      @TopMovieSoundtr: Yes! And the Thundershirt is exactly the same concept. Which is probably why it works for most dogs but not all. (Remember her research putting her fellow students into her machine?)

    • TopMovieSoundtr profile image

      TopMovieSoundtr 5 years ago

      Have you seen the DVD about Temple Grandin?

    • ChrissLJ profile image

      ChrissLJ 5 years ago

      I have one for my youngest dog to use in stressful situations. She has seizures. The Thundershirt helps keep her calm to 1) reduce the stress of seizures and 2) reduce the effects of stressful situations (which can then trigger seizures). Like all treatments (both medical and non-medical), no one thing will work on all dogs. For my dog, it works. There is a marked difference in her behavior and stress levels while wearing it as compared when she's not wearing it when stressed.

      As for those still wary of them, it works much the same way as swaddling works for newborns, pressure chutes work for cattle, weighted blankets work for those with autism, a heavy blanket works for stressed out humans who can't sleep....

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I just did my first review of the Thundershirt -- my furry sister Nala, goes into panic mode during thunderstorms, and when fireworks go off. I need more time to see if it really does work for her, but I did notice a slight change. You can read the review here: http://www.baileybegood.com/home/2011/07/02/thunde...

      Woofs & hugs,

      ~Bailey (Yep, I'm a girl!)

    • Vikk Simmons profile image

      'Vikk Simmons 6 years ago from Houston

      I use it on 4 dogs and it's worked. It took using it a few times and finding the right pressure. I did an article called Dogs and Thunder about our experience.

    • Lewister profile image
      Author

      Susan 6 years ago from Texas

      @anonymous: I'm still trying to give it the benefit of the doubt. I'm not sure if I'm not getting it on early enough or what. But my reviews are definitely mixed on this one.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      This product did absolutely nothing for my dog. My dog suffers from separation anxiety and my dog shredded it within 30 minutes of our leaving the house to test it after following all of the instructions on how to introduce the garment to our pet slowly and positively.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Thundershirt's gentle, constant pressure can bring calm and focus back to your dog. A terrific solution for many types of anxiety including thunder, fireworks, separation, travel, and crate anxieties.

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 6 years ago from Iowa

      Okay I'm am intrigued. You'll definitely have to let us know if it works.Thanks for sharing the information on this. I have no dogs with anxiety issues but I know several people who do.

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