What can help a dog fearful of thunder storms?

In our last two installments, we have been discussing thunder and lightening during storms. This phenomenon clearly upset a large percentage of dogs, but the question is why. I have been sharing some of the information I’ve come across. I hope you will do some of your own research and contribute your findings as well. If something is helpful for your dog, it may be helpful to others. We would love to hear from you.

thundershirt asm 214x300 What can help a dog fearful of thunder storms?

Willie proudly wears his Thundershirt while posing with his Grandma.

Today, in our last installment on anxiety during storms, I am going to share what I use to help Willie, my Golden Retriever, cope. I use a few different things, but in lieu of space, I’m going to talk only about the Thundershirt today.

So, how do I help him? Frankly, there’s only so much one can do to help an animal frightened of storms. But, we can help them to some degree, and I think that’s important. I do recommend using Thundershirts. I think that’s helped him tremendously.  And I make sure to stay with him if there is an event. It is not a 100% shift, but it’s a big help. I am in no way affiliated with the Thundershirt people, but I believe in their product.

Why does the Thundershirt help? Believe me, this is a wonderful invention, and worth every penny. The garment applies a constant pressure that produces a calming effect. It’s very much like having a constant hug! Wouldn’t you be reassured if you got hugged when you were frightened? It is the same idea behind swaddling infants, and in the research from autistic pioneer, Temple Grandin. Dr. Grandin found that gentle pressure gave her immense relief from anxiety. Pressure vests are used by special needs teachers to help calm and focus children that suffer from a wide variety of circumstances.  (Thundershirt.com website) There is real science behind the Thundershirt. Willie will ask for his Thundershirt before storms now. Really, he does. And he loves it so much that he wants to wear it all the time. I kept it on him during some of the dog training classes to help him focus. When I take him to a dog park, I put it on him. There’s far more stimulation in that environment than where we live, so I believe the thundershirt helps him to be more confident when going into a new situation. He loves it so much that if he sees me pick it up, he comes over and sits in front of me asking to wear it. The dog seriously LOVES to wear garments!

I absolutely recommend you try a Thundershirt if you have a dog that is upset by storms. I would even go so far as suggest it for new foster dogs. It can only help support them in their transition. I also encourage you to pay close attention to your dog’s behavior. See if you can tune in to what is upsetting your dog.

I will have more suggestions for working with nervous dogs in future installments, and I hope you will enjoy reading that. Animals are very sensitive creatures. They are pure sensory beings. In dog training, we learn that they read our body language so accurately that our own wandering thoughts can betray our movement and throw off the dog’s behavior. Willie is so tuned into me now that he seems to know what I’m thinking before I ever say anything. I often think he’s capable of reading my mind! If he’s reading my mind, then he certainly is aware of the shifts in barometric pressure and the change of electricity in the atmosphere. Medication can only be helping by dulling out a dog’s natural senses. In some instances, it is necessary. I encourage you to read about it, but to use medications only as a last resort. Try natural remedies first.

Patty McGuire resides just outside Chalottesville, VA with her best buddy, Willie. Willie has hisweb portrait 221x300 What can help a dog fearful of thunder storms? own blog at www.everybodyloveswillie.tumblr.com. An etsy store specializing in custom knits for bigger dogs is coming Fall 2013.









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