Product: Thudershirt by Thunderworks
Available: at every pet store that I’ve ever been in and online
Length of ownership: 1+ year
I bought a Thundershirt for our lab, Luna, because her over-stimulated antics during social outings was making me choose to leave her at home more than I wanted to. Basically, I wanted to be able to take Luna into a pet store without her having a total meltdown (jumping, lunging and barking nonstop). I took a while to purchase the Thundershirt because it’s not advertised for this purpose – it’s marketed towards dogs with noise-induced anxiety. However, I realized that the Thundershirt may help Luna after I attended a talk by veterinary behaviorist Christopher Pachel at the 2014 Midwest Veterinary Conference. One of Dr. Pachel’s suggestions for low-stress handling in veterinary clinics was using a pressure wrap, like a Thundershirt or an ace bandage, to induce calm in veterinary patients. Maybe the Thundershirt could induce calm in Luna during pet store visits!
I am happy to say that I was not disappointed. I had been trying to counter-condition Luna’s overstimulation in pet stores by using treats and distracting her from things she fixated on (usually people). However, without the Thundershirt, I was only getting about 10-40% of her attention even with the highest value treats. With the Thundershirt on, Luna was calmer from the start and able to return her attention to me faster when she did get distracted by something (or rather, someone). I have since used it for veterinary visits and at home when Luna gets overstimulated or overly worked up, usually in conjunction with a frozen Kong. I was helpfully advised by an associate at the pet store where I bought the Thundershirt to put the Thundershirt on Luna during non-stressful events so that she didn’t begin to associate the Thundershirt with stress and thereby inducing stress just by seeing the Thundershirt, which i think was vital in the Thundershirt’s success for Luna.
In summary, Luna is not a noise-phobic dog in the least so I can’t attest to the Thundershirt’s ability to calm down dogs during thunderstorms or fireworks or etc. The Thundershirt was extremely effective for Luna in lowering her stress or overstimulation during pet store or vet visits as well as at home if she gets overly worked up about something. Because her stress/overstimulation level was decreased, I am able to work on desensitizing and counter-conditioning Luna to the things that stress her.
The Thundershirt did not “cure” Luna’s stress and overstimulation tendencies but enabled her to be under an emotional threshold where she could still pay attention and learn during stimulating events. Two thumbs up!