Last night we had an enormous thunderstorm here in Ottawa. It was the kind that rattled the windows and sent tiny vibrations running up and down your spine: loud, powerful and spectacular. While Rory has never been bothered by bright flashes of lightning and loud claps of thunder charging overhead, we noticed a great many tweets talking about how pets were trying to crawl into bed with you and started wondering how we could calm our canine companions.
Enter the Thundershirt. This novel approach to addressing anxiety issues literally dresses your pooch up in order to calm them down. The shirt provides dogs with a gentle, constant pressure that results in a profound calming effect, similar to that of a constant hug. It functions around the same pressure principle that is used to calm people with autism who suffer from persistent anxiety or children with certain behavioural problems. Another way to think of how the Thundershirt works is to compare it to the practice of swaddling a baby that needs to be calmed; although the canine variety does not restrict mobility.
This invention was created by Phil Blizzard. Inspired by his 50-pound mutt, Dosi, who was extremely frightened of loud noises, Blizzard searched for a way to keep his beloved pet from panicking when the heavens started to grumble. Despite trying noise desensitization training and several other approaches, poor Dosi still suffered through thunderstorms. Finally Blizzard tried applying gentle, constant pressure to Dosi – the kind that is now provided by the Thundershirt – and Dosi at last calmed down.
Of course the Thundershirt may not be for every pooch, but it has had significant success in helping with all kinds of canine anxiety, including travel, noise, barking, crate, separation and, of course, thunderstorms. How do you calm your pet when nature starts rumbling?