Thundershirts

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GundogGuy
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Thundershirts

Post by GundogGuy » Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:14 am

Howdy doggy type folks...

I've been wondering about the effectiveness of these thundershirts and would like to ask the forum members here of their experience with them.
I have a stock of them in my shop and I have one or two I can loan out to people who come to me with anxious dogs. The results however are (so far) not very remarkable and it seems effect is certainly nothing like the results shown on the many promotional videos of these appliances...

I guess I'm asking "have you used one of these and did it work?" :D
"Oh what gold there is to find when one is blessed with an open mind" - me, not five minutes ago :-)

MPbandmom
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Re: Thundershirts

Post by MPbandmom » Thu Feb 16, 2012 9:07 am

I have one and use it with Sirius. I would give it mixed reviews. It does seem to help, but it is not a cureall. It can also seem to sometimes have a diminishing effect. Sirius is not a big fan of all the velcro and having it put on her. I think that is the noise and odd shaped thing coming at her factor. Once she has it on though she does usually seem a little calmer, and has on occasion fallen asleep during a thunder storm. Other times, she continues to pace and sometimes still trembles.

They do advocate desensitation(sp) training and using it during times that the dog is normally calm to avoid having it be associated only with bad things going on. Neither one of which, I have particularly done. (If storms occur at bedtime, she will often wear it all night and thus well past the storm. I also sometimes put it on her before walks, if I think there is a chance of encountering more unavoidable stressors than usual in a particular situation.) I am satisfied enough with it to continue using it.
Grammy to Sky and Sirius, who came to live with me, stole my heart, and changed my life forever as I took over their care and learned how to be a dog owner.

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GundogGuy
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Re: Thundershirts

Post by GundogGuy » Fri Feb 17, 2012 3:37 am

Thank you for the info :). I do go over the 'associate the thundershirt with calmness' conversation but as I'm not there when the people I lend them to use them I can't be sure that they are following instructions closely.
"Oh what gold there is to find when one is blessed with an open mind" - me, not five minutes ago :-)

jacksdad
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Re: Thundershirts

Post by jacksdad » Fri Feb 17, 2012 1:51 pm

I have always wondered if things like Thundershirts only help to a point. that if a dog's stress and/or anxiety is bad/intense enough, basically they might as well not being wearing a thundershirt.

I do think you need to take into account does wearing a thundershirt in it's self cause issues for some dogs. I am not entirely convinced it would/will benefit Jack. I bought one, but he so hates wearing stuff that after an initial attempt at slowly introducing it I let it drop and tried a different approach to the issue I had bought it for.

So, my two cents...don't forget to take the dog into account when using one of these. might help some dogs, but it might not help others.

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Re: Thundershirts

Post by WufWuf » Sat Feb 18, 2012 5:22 am

I wonder if it's possible that SOME dogs are actually shut down. For example I used to think that Honey's coat relaxed her (not thundershirt - raincoat) as she was quieter, less likely to react and more "obedient". It became clear that she was in fact far more anxious while wearing the coat as I started to understand her.

An animal healer tried a half-wrap (based on T-Touch and thundershirt uses an ace bandage) and Honey was on her way to shutting down before I stopped it. (I will add that she loves this lady and was fine once the bandage was removed :) )

Having read some of Temple Grandins stuff on deep pressure and relaxation I had thought that a thundershirt would help Honey but as Jacksdad says you really need to take the individual dog into account and I think it's just not for her.
Operant conditioning rocks but classical conditioning rules

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Nettle
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Re: Thundershirts

Post by Nettle » Sat Feb 18, 2012 5:29 am

WufWuf wrote: I wonder if it's possible that SOME dogs are actually shut down

That's a very shrewd obervation WufWuf and I am in agreement with you.
WufWuf wrote:Having read some of Temple Grandins stuff on deep pressure and relaxation I had thought that a thundershirt would help Honey but as Jacksdad says you really need to take the individual dog into account
We need to bear in mind that the hug/pressure=relaxation is a human reaction - and what we are dealing with is not human.

TG writes some fascinating stuff and is well worth reading, but is way off beam on some issues (as most scientists are) and needs to be read critically and carefully (a good scheme with all written work).
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MPbandmom
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Re: Thundershirts

Post by MPbandmom » Sat Feb 18, 2012 10:43 am

I have considered the stressing more/starting to shut down theory in relation to Sirius and the thundershirt, but she is an odd one. Normally she doesn't like to be held or hugged. I am the only family member that can get away with the occasional hug. If anyone else tries, she dodges, mouthes, or otherwise tries to get away. (This is not something I subject her to very often, but occasionally I just can't resist.)

There have been a couple of instances where I have had her out on a walk and we have been caught out in thunder or been approached by an off leash dog. I have found that picking her up and carrying her for a short distance (I'm not in the kind of shape I was when I hauled children around on a regular basis.) seems to calm her down considerably. She will go from absolute panic, "I have to get home NOW" to walking a little more briskly than normal towards home. She also doesn't struggle in the least while I am carrying her. (maybe she is shut down, and I just don't realize it but her response to being held during these times is totally different to what it would normally be.) So, it seems that even though hugging isn't something she would normally enjoy, it can serve to sooth her in certain circumstances.

This is why I continue to use the thundershirt on her.
Grammy to Sky and Sirius, who came to live with me, stole my heart, and changed my life forever as I took over their care and learned how to be a dog owner.

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Nettle
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Re: Thundershirts

Post by Nettle » Sat Feb 18, 2012 1:42 pm

This illustrates the immense value of reading the dog in front of you. Just shows that what works for one doesn't work for all, and what seems as if it wouldn't work for one actually can. :)
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

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Dbqdogtrainer
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Re: Thundershirts

Post by Dbqdogtrainer » Sun Feb 19, 2012 12:02 pm

<snip>I have used and recommend the original Anxiety Wrap <snip>

Mod Edit: if you wish to take part in this forum, thats fine, but coming here purely to promote a product is not fine, therefore I have deleted the rest of your post except this one line, as it is fine for people to be aware there are similar/alternative products available.

Unfortunately it is often difficult to read another's intentions in the written word. I did not come here "purely to promote a product," but to respond to a poster's question about whether "thundershirts" work. Many people are unaware that the Thundershirt is not the only pressure wrap on the market; it is only a more recently introduced product. I do not remember what I posted, but it was probably a link to an article I wrote comparing the different products on the market. As a professional dog trainer I have a preference for certain products, as I'm sure other trainers do, and I prefer the original, patented Anxiety Wrap. In my practice I have not seen the same results with the Thundershirt. I have been teaching and writing professionally for 40 years - it's what I do - educate people about their options. I also have a background in science and the medical field and very interested in data and supportive research. I think you misunderstood my intentions.
Last edited by Dbqdogtrainer on Sat Jun 30, 2012 11:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Sarah83
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Re: Thundershirts

Post by Sarah83 » Mon Feb 20, 2012 5:29 am

I never used a Thundershirt or anything but I did notice that Rupert was calmer when he had a sweater on. He definitely wasn't shut down and the sweater was purely to keep him warm when it was cold (poor dog was severely underweight and miserable in the cold at that point) but it did have the added effect of him being less reactive and less stressed in general.

bendog
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Re: Thundershirts

Post by bendog » Mon Feb 20, 2012 6:05 am

We need to bear in mind that the hug/pressure=relaxation is a human reaction - and what we are dealing with is not human.
I remember reading something about this once. Hugging is relaxing for humans/primates because it mimics the whole mother/breastfeeding positions, being carried as a baby etc.
Dogs don't have the same chest-chest contacts as puppies so hugging is unnatural to them, and not soothing.

However - MPbandmom, Ben is very similar, he definately visibly relaxes when I hug him if he's stressing (and I can feel him relax and go floppy, rather then tense as it would be if he shut down). So it really does depend on the dog! I suspect a Thundershirt would work with him, but it definately wouldn't with Poppy (she'd probably try and rip it off)

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GundogGuy
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Re: Thundershirts

Post by GundogGuy » Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:54 am

I find it quite strange that these things seem so popular but there wasn't a barrage of 'mine works great' posts here... hmmm... something to think about...
"Oh what gold there is to find when one is blessed with an open mind" - me, not five minutes ago :-)

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Wes
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Re: Thundershirts

Post by Wes » Thu Feb 23, 2012 11:16 am

I think the reason that a lot of people who use them and then return them is that they're expecting a HUGE behaviour change. I used one with my old pit bull terrier and am currently using one with a foster dog. The foster, Remy, is terrified of people and loud noises. While it doesn't do much for the people fear, when I know there is going to be loud noises (maintenance on the apartment, busy times in the building, etc) I put his Tshirt on and make sure there is Rescue Remedy in his water. Together, they make it so he can function. He is still scared, but not completely shut down or hiding under the bed. The difference it makes is slight, which is why I think so many people just think they don't work.

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GundogGuy
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Re: Thundershirts

Post by GundogGuy » Thu Feb 23, 2012 12:52 pm

Interesting Wes... So would you (or indeed anyone else) in your experience say that the compression therapy (need to stop using the brand name i guess) only deals with the symptoms, albeit with varied results rather than offers a tool for solving the root of the problem?

There is a lot of talk in the dog training/behaviorist world about counter conditioning, habitualisation, desensitisation, etc but surely, if these dogs with issues are counter conditioned, habitualised, desinsitised or whatever then the issue would no longer be present?

I'd love it if these 'tools' did what they say on the packet but I'm dubious about recommending them thus far...
"Oh what gold there is to find when one is blessed with an open mind" - me, not five minutes ago :-)

jacksdad
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Re: Thundershirts

Post by jacksdad » Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:53 pm

GundogGuy wrote:I find it quite strange that these things seem so popular but there wasn't a barrage of 'mine works great' posts here... hmmm... something to think about...
I think Wes is onto something. The expectation of a quick fix, a put the thundershirt on and see HUGE night and day changes is at play for some.

If dogs do benefit from pressure applied to their body, I think we need to be careful not to view thundershirts/wraps as THE solution or cure all. Rather a part of the solution. Much like a front clip harness or halti/gentle leaders don't end pulling but can help in the anti pulling training.

Accepting for the moment that dogs do benefit from pressure applied by a wrap/thundershirt, it might help them cope, but unless I am missing something it does nothing to change how the dogs feels or associates with a fear or point of stress/anxiety. So there is still behavior modification need to address/alter the underlying emotion/association towards a trigger that would need to accompany the use of a wrap or thundershirt.

Given who has responded so far, I am actually not too surprised in the responses, they seem to be of the type that looks deeper at something. is it really working, does it only seem to be working, do I hope it works so there for it is? aka more analytical. Though if any of the people who have responded so far were having "mine works great" experiences, I am sure they would have said so AND gone a bit deeper into why they thought it was working verse just a "mine works great" post.

I hope people who feel it has helped chime in. That they don't hold back just because there wasn't a "barrage of mine works great" posts. Not only chime in, but report more than "mine works great". what did you see, what was the situation you looked for it to help with, did you do anything else in combination with the thundershirt etc.

Do dogs benefit from pressure applied to their body? I honestly don't know. I think there needs to be some more study and critical thinking applied to it to know.

For my self, based on my study sample of one (Jack) and the every growing claims of what it will "cure", am a bit suspicious of it's value. Particularly in extreme fear/anxiety situations. I would love to see some work on what hormones/chemicals and brain waves are active when wearing a body wrap verse not.

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