Does your dog howl or hide when 4th of July fireworks go off? Does he cower when thunderstorms hit? Does he dread the car and even have accidents on car rides? Can he not stand when you leave his side and destroy things while you’re gone?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, the ThunderShirt might be for you.
If you’ve never heard of the ThunderShirt, it is often compared to swaddling a baby—it applies gentle, comforting pressure in key spots, thereby calming your dog’s nerves. It is a low-cost, drug-free option for pet owners with an anxious dog or cat.
The company says it works for more than 80% of pets—based on customer reviews—for issues ranging from separation anxiety to people shyness to problem barking. The company even offers a money-back guarantee if it does not work for you.
But did it work for us? We took a trial run to see if the ThunderShirt might work for you this 4th of July.
Our trial run
We adopted Yellow Dog at five months old and he was a skittish dog from the start. He pooped in the car within a minute of driving away from his foster home. He’s never been relaxed on car rides; he never lies down and sleeps like Sundown but instead sits and stares at us the entire drive, even on long road trips. He is also sensitive to loud noises—like fireworks or strong thunderstorms.
The ThunderShirt has been a remarkable help. Yellow was visibly calmer within seconds of wearing the shirt. He now lies down in the car and even nods off.
The ThunderShirt is easy to put on your dog, especially with the handy four-step instructions that come with the shirt.
We followed the suggested advice of offering food out of the ThunderShirt before putting it on Yellow Dog, which did get him interested in this “food-dispensing” outfit.
When the shirt is secure, make sure it is snug but not too tight.
“You should be able to slip your finger between the shirt and your pet,” ThunderShirt founder Phil Blizzard says.
New ThunderShirt users should keep a watchful eye on their pet.
“If it’s the pet’s first time wearing the shirt, just check on him or her about every hour to make sure everything is okay,” Blizzard says.
We regularly use the shirt on car rides and on 4th of July. The shirt can be left on for eight hours while you’re at work.
“Many of our customers use the ThunderShirt to treat separation anxiety; putting the shirt on the dog before they go to work and taking it off when they return home,” Blizzard says. “It’s perfectly fine but typically we say don’t leave the shirt on your pet beyond a 24-hour period.”
Where to find the ThunderShirt
ThunderShirt and related products are available via their website but are also carried by local retailers like Pet Food Express and Amazon. We talked to employees at Pet Food Express who say ThunderShirts work so well, they are rarely returned.
You can even customize your ThunderShirt; it comes in various colors and can be personalized for your dog with embroidery. There is even a raincoat attachment called the ThunderCoat.The basic shirt starts at $39.99 and the prices goes up based on the add-ons.
Other training tools
ThunderWorks also provides a list of the key issues ThunderShirt can help with on their website, along with training tips to use in conjunction with the shirt. These issues include new dog, people shyness, barking, travel anxiety, separation anxiety and touch sensitivity, among others. This is a great resource to make sure you are properly using your ThunderShirt.
Bay Area based trainer Beverly Ulbrich thinks utilizing these training tools with the ThunderShirt is a good idea.
“I would not rely on the ThunderShirt alone,” Ulbrich says. “Also do training to build confidence, conquer fears or overcome separation anxiety.”
ThunderShirt giving back
ThunderShirt estimates about a third of dogs across the U.S. suffer from anxiety issues. Inevitably, some of the dogs end up in shelters. ThunderWorks has charitably donated thousands of dollars and ThunderShirts to shelters across the country in an effort to combat the anxiety many shelter dogs suffer from and help these dogs get adopted.
The bottom line is we are very impressed with the results from ThunderShirt. But don’t just take our word for it; check out these videos of dogs who have been helped by ThunderShirt.
For a complete list of the company’s products, visit the ThunderShirt shop.
If you have a dog who freaks when fireworks go off, we recommend trying the ThunderShirt to cure their 4th of July anxiety.