The first thing Charlie did once we got the Thundershirt wrapped around him? He yawned. We both agreed he was noticeably calmer.

I have to say when we first heard about Thundershirt, Matt and I hesitated.

The concept seemed too good to be true. Eliminate a dog’s separation anxiety by wrapping a tight shirt around him? Sure. I guess I’ve heard of weirder things.

But then we got a solid recommendation from our friend Lenny Z. And we watched a favorable news report. This was followed by testimonials from a few more friends.

Charlie fit in the low end of a size medium, so he will be able to grow into his Thundershirt.

We went to the website and poked around. After seeing that Thundershirt offered a full refund if it didn’t calm our pup, Matt and I were ready to commit.

Honestly, it felt good to have a solution. Even if it wasn’t a guaranteed solution, we finally had something to try out. The last few weeks with Charlie have slowly been eating at us, like a swift river tearing away at a river bank. His destructive nature has startlingly increased, and in recent days he has taken to barking at absolutely nothing at all. Sure, he is a border collie mix, but really?!? Our nerves were raw, and we needed something β€” anything β€” that would provide a bit of encouragement.

We bought the Thundershirt at a local PetSmart, where an associate told us we were making a good purchase. Since the store started carrying them last fall, the store has only had one return. Matt and I locked eyes. Was that hope we were feeling?

As soon as we got home, I ignored the 90-degree weather and tore open the box. Charlie would at least try it on. I pulled out the shirt, and marveled at all the flaps and velcro. Part swaddling/part straightjacket, it was surprisingly easy to get on. Thank goodness Charlie did not fight me. As soon as I fastened the last Β flap of shirt, Charlie looked up at me and yawned. His eyes seemed a little heavier than usual. He snuggled into me.

This felt promising.

Resting with Daddy.

We kept him in the shirt for about a half-hour. It was long enough to see a change in Charlie, and to know that we would wrap him up in his Thundershirt when we went out for dinner.

As luck would have it, a loud, boisterous thunderstorm rolled through while we were dining at a Korean restaurant about 20 minutes away. Knowing Charlie was wearing his Thundershirt, we crossed our fingers and finished dinner.

Charlie greeted us at the door. We slowly walked in, scanning the couch for wood shavings from the window sill. The room was spotless. The window was still firmly affixed to the wall. Charlie was happy to see us, but not in the desperate way we has grown accustomed to. After our first day, we’re cautiously considering this thunderous therapy a success.

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16 thoughts on “Thunderstruck

  1. I think we may try one of these for Linus. I’ve been hesitant because of his space issues and the heat. There is such a great book about border collies called “The Dog Years” by Jon Katz. His dog showed all the signs Charlie shows…

    • We are only using the Thundershirt when we leave for short periods of time. He doesn’t wear it all the time, so he doesn’t seem to be overheating. He did wear it for several hours today, and had obviously gone out the dog door, as evidenced by the dried grass on his shirt. Haha. No damage at home, and he seems very happy. And thanks for the recommendation on the book. We picked it up this morning and look forward to reading it!!

    • Thanks for sharing. I’m sorry to hear this doesn’t work for your mom’s dog. I’m very relieved that it seems to work for Charlie. I know it doesn’t solve all of our problems, but it’s a step in the right direction.

  2. Our Mummy knows a rescue doggy who was almost permanantly anxious with serious issues and severe anxiety. Nothing worked until the vet recommended Bach Rescue Remedy for Pets. You tailor a herbal mixture to suit the specific needs of your pet. After a few weeks of this the dog became calmer, within a month she didn’t need the rescue remedy unless something was changing or stressful. Now she doesn’t need it at all and is pretty happy. Whee would recommend looking into this or speaking to your vet, or local pet behaviour specialist.

    Nibbles, Nutty, Bingo & Buddy

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  5. Just remember that you have to give these things time to work. I know the jacket has been demolished since this post but if you decide to try it again, use it for a short while every day. Change takes time. This might sound really odd but you can achieve a similar effect with bandages.

  6. Pressure wraps can help with all sorts of anxiety, but they are not a panacea. As a professional dog trainer I almost always include a recommendation for the original pressure wrap, the Anxiety Wrap (invented in 2001, eight years prior to the introduction of the Thundershirt) for my clients with fearful or anxious dogs. I also recommend a visit to the veterinarian if there hasn’t been one lately because physical problems can often manifest themselves as behavioral problems. In my behavior modification plans, which I formulate following an in-depth in-home assessment of my client’s dog, I include the Anxiety Wrap (NOT the Thundershirt, as it is a knockoff and not as effective) along with a comprehensive set of recommendations which include what we call behavior modification – exercises to change a dog’s emotional response to the fearful situation. To read more about the Anxiety Wrap, see the company website, and this article:

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