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Discussion Starter #1
I'm just curious if the thundershirt really works, does it help to keep a dog calm during a thunderstorm and/or fireworks etc? Anyone have experiences with it? Ty in advance!
 

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I tried it once with my dog Batman. Batman is not a GSD, but a husky/greyhound mix. He ate it.
 

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I tried one. I did the desensitizing training with it before using it for any storms. First predicted storm I thought it helped a little. Next storm (next day) not so much. Any time since if I get the shirt my dog heads for her hiding place as soon as she sees the shirt and a storm hasn't even started yet. So for us it didn't work.

I tried several herbal/homeopathic remedies as well and personally didn't have any success with those either but they are worth a try. Rescue Remedy is one.

What I have found works best for us is to just let her go hide in her chosen spot and ignore any other behaviors like shivering or whining. I don't try to comfort. I just go about my business and try not to trip over my dog when she gets under my feet when I move about (I do tell her to get out of the way in a normal voice). Over time I have noticed that while she is a great predictor of storms and still doesn't like them she is much better. She still will opt to hide a bit or lie under/near my legs if I'm sitting. But the shivering, whining, panting and pacing have stopped. Now, if I can get my husband to stop telling her it's ok and such and working her up when he is home during a storm :(

Unless your dog has dangerous behaviors like bolting out the door, frantically tearing things up or gets so worked up that it may hurt itself, you might try to just ignore the behavior. You acting normal reassures the dog there is nothing to be worried about. I does take time though.
 

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My Traveler doesn't wimp away, he stands and barks aggressively at the sound of fireworks or storms. It appears he thinks he has to stand off the bad guys or something.

I am too cheap :wink2:so I made a version of a Thundershirt using thick terry bath towel and either pins or clothespins. He did calm down enough to lay down and only do the low growl indicating annoyance rather then full spectrum seek out and attack attitude prior to putting it on. I've also used just a big man's T-shirt pulled up tight around him. I put his head thru the neck hole and front legs thru the arms and wrap up the body.

My experience with Rescue Remedy is 50/50. If I know hours in advance of a thunderstorm, it works somewhat. Instantaneous response- not so much.

Lynn & Traveler
 

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I have better luck getting my storm-phobic dog chewing on a bully stick before the thunder rolls than I do with the shirt. The key is to get them in the relaxed "chew-zone" so they don't pay attention to the noise. I only give bully sticks during storms now, so they are the special "storm treats."

If that doesn't work, I take the storm-phobic dog in the bathroom and sit on the floor, next to the tub and commode. The piping in bathrooms helps ground the electric charge that is part of the problem for storm-phobic dogs. It's truly the best room in the house for them -- some of them figure this out and "shelter" in the dry bath tub or even behind the commode.

Take a look at Ph.D behaviorist Patricia McConnell's website -- she's got quite a few good articles on storm phobia. She's among the most respected canine behavioral authors in the U.S., so this is a very trusted source:
Search Results | McConnell Publishing Inc.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you everyone for your replies! Then it doesn't seem worth purchasing. @Traveler's Mom, Tasha reacts the same way! She will even occasionally howl at the thunder. She just barks at thunder and fireworks, like how dare you! Sometimes I can tell hers it's okay and she'll stop barking, but not all the time. She's never goes and hides or cower at all, so I don't think it's fear based, but I could be wrong.
 

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Look at your own reaction to the storm as well as your reaction toward Tasha's. Magwarts link, Patricia M talks about counter conditioning and creating a positive association, our own reaction plays a role in this, they pick up on our subtle cues. None of ours have had problems with storms, guns, or fireworks and I suspect it's our happy outward expression toward them that they've picked up on.
 

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Kane barks and wants to attack thunder and fireworks as well. I find practicing obedience (sit/down)...simple ones that he's 100% on in a firm voice, followed by play rewards (tug/find it) for each one he obeys works well to calm him down. Usually, he's only excited about the sounds for the first few then is able to calm down beside me. I think he feels assured that I have everything under control and he only needs to obey.

Basically, I decided that he's not allowed to bark in the house for ANY reason beyond an alert. Usually, I tell him to quiet and correct him if he doesn't. During these scary times, though, I do positive reinforcement rather than a correction. I'm still firm in my commands. though.
 

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One thought picking up on Nigel's idea (about your own state of mind)....

You might try diffusing some lavender essential oil (EO), or even better, an EO blend that targets calmness and relaxation. I love Aura Cacia's "Mellow Mix" blend for this. It's easy to find (Whole Foods, Amazon, Vitacost, etc.) and costs around $10/bottle (plus the cost of a diffuser, if you don't already have one).

I started using it when I had a neurologically-damaged foster dog who was creating a lot of stress with his many issues. I bought it for him to see if it would help him, but what I found was that diffusing it actually helped calm me so that I could better help him. It did seem to take the edge off him a little (moving his threshold back a bit).

It does seem to work on dogs to some extent -- though I don't think it's been well studied, and it may all be the human-placebo effect at work. Aromatherapy and dogs is purely anecdotal, but it's one of those things that won't hurt and might help you. I notice that when I diffuse the Mellow Mix and put on quiet, relaxing music, my whole pack sacks out in the room with the diffuser and naps. It's kind of remarkable to me how they all want to nap near in the room with the diffuser -- though it's quite possible they are gravitating toward me when I'm in a peaceful, calm mood and just reflecting my energy back at me.

The worst that will happen is that your house will smell really good! :)

(If you have cats, though, diffusing EO may be a bad idea. They're such weird and sensitive creatures that I never know what's okay for them or not--I'm not a cat owner!)
 

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Look at your own reaction to the storm as well as your reaction toward Tasha's. Magwarts link, Patricia M talks about counter conditioning and creating a positive association, our own reaction plays a role in this, they pick up on our subtle cues. None of ours have had problems with storms, guns, or fireworks and I suspect it's our happy outward expression toward them that they've picked up on.
Perhaps I should expand my explanation. For the first 3 or maybe 4 years of life, Traveler never reacted one way or the other. During our training for and at the BH trial and even to this day, he has no reaction to gun shots or anything like that. It seems the whistle of ascending fireworks is bothersome. As with storms, who knows. It may be the atmospheric change & charge that gets to him.

What is particularly interesting is if I take him for a walk outside during fireworks or storms, he is calm and collected and seems totally oblivious to all the havoc.

Maybe he's just a weirdo :laugh2:
 
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