The Thundershirt – an experience report

The Thundershirt – an experience report

After thinking about it for a long time, I bought a Thundershirt for Taiko.
I have heard a lot of positive things about it from some other dog owners and have also seen how dogs react to it.

With Taiko, I wasn’t sure if he wasn’t going to tear it off right away, but despite my fears, he had the part put on easily.

At first he was a little confused …
… but was soon able to lie down and even fell asleep with it

the Thundershirt in practice

After Taiko calmly mastered a thunderstorm and a breakfast with several people and dogs, the endurance test came:

Shibaforum meeting at the Edersee
with 20 people, 20 dogs and lots of “excitement” all around.
As long as there was action, everything was not a problem, but it was not possible to calm down in the midst of the others.

Taiko whined, yelped, panted, trotted restlessly, uncoiled his entire repertoire – until I put his shirt on.

It works
You could really see how it was good for him, he “felt” a little bit inside himself and then lay down under a bench. He only registered playing, screeching children and ringing, shouting cyclists with a twitch of his ear, even the crackling of the treat bag did not encourage him to get up (otherwise he is usually always there extremely quickly).

In the meantime he moved to another place, and in the end he even went to bed?

  • all in peace and “without sound”

Visitor is coming

Last week we had a lovely visitor and as long as he stayed in his motorhome, Taiko’s world was fine. However, if the visitor wanted to visit us in the apartment, the small resource defender appeared again with a loud roar.
We filmed it for documentation purposes, sometimes without a thundershirt, sometimes with – the result was amazing:

…on New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve was always a huge problem for Taiko – and of course for us too.
We didn’t know this fear from our German shepherd Wanda. She was in the middle of the crowd and we had to be careful not to retrieve the firecrackers.

It was different with Taiko, what we haven’t tried:
From the middle of November there was a special Bach flower mix specially mixed for him, unfortunately there was no effect.
Dap spray / plugs were unsuccessful, as were the rescue drops or combinations of all.

Also with all other more or less good tips like:

  • shutters down
  • windowless room
  • loud music
  • ignore (the worst tip of all)
  • hold tight
  • Let the vacuum cleaner run alongside
  • bark at the bad guys together etc. etc.

Taiko remained a barking bunch of dogs, constantly trembling, he was trembling all over, was barely responsive and I was just incredibly sorry.
The little food monster could no longer take even treats of panic.

In one year we went for a walk on the highway from 11:30 p.m. to around 1:00 a.m. because nothing worked.
As always, Taiko made his fear known by yapping loudly and was hardly to be interrupted. In addition he panted and trembled heavily, ran barking through the apartment, could not be reassured.
I was really afraid for him, that’s why our night excursion …

New Year’s Eve 2019 …

… the big question was whether the Thundershirt worked just as well as the rest of the year.
To everyone’s delight, it worked (the pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them)

The bang this year was incredibly long, long and, above all, terribly loud. The windows and floor of some firecrackers trembled, which sounded more like an explosion.

I was all the more astonished that Taiko reacted little and rarely barked, and I was able to sweeten him with particularly loud bangs.

(1) We had put the boxes on the sofa in order to offer the dogs as much retreat as possible and at the same time proximity to the people.

(2) While Mariechen looks out bravely …, (3) … Taiko is very relaxed, even though there is a violent bang at times

(4) 11:45 p.m. there is a lot of bang and especially loud, Taiko is (still) relaxed

(5) 00:05 the bang is in full swing, the ice cream tastes good

The Thundershirt in theory

For everyone who wants to buy a Thundershirt, here are a few tips to watch out for:

It is not a miracle cure and does not work for every dog, but it will hopefully work if it is carefully set up.

The Thundershirt does not replace training, but can help the dog to become receptive and responsive again.

If the dog is afraid of the sound of Velcro fasteners, you should get used to it first, the shirts are large and therefore a little louder.

Otherwise: put on in a calm and relaxed situation and watch what happens.

If the dog becomes very restless (i.e. much more restless than before) or does not want to move after a little getting used to it, then try again the next day.

Really extremely important: dress again and again in relaxed situations.

If the dog links: Whenever I get the shirt, something exciting / terrible happens, it may start to avoid the shirt (the shirt becomes an announcement of excitement)

I set it up at Taiko like this:

As a test, the Velcro fastener opened and closed 2-3 m away from Taiko – only his ears twitched briefly
climbed right next to him – no fear reaction
let him sniff on the shirt and give treats in between (can of course be another reward)
put the shirt on him and gave him a few treats as soon as he put it on.
On the following days I put the shirt on him 2 or 3 times (and was rewarded immediately after putting it on), if there were no excitement and then we tackled “the real thing”.

In the meantime I wear it every now and then when I’m thinking about it. Best before situations in which he relaxes anyway, e.g. in the resting phase after a walk or similar.

Fragrance and relaxation signal can also be used and I will also build it up in this combination.
I don’t know much about the exact effect …
Presumably, the constant, even pressure (which is also transferred to acupressure points) leads to an increased release of oxytocin, “the feel-good hormone”.
In the case of perceptually disturbed children, dosed pressure is also used in some cases, and restless babies are “spat” – this is the same principle.

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