relieving canine anxiety the natural way with #ThunderShirt

This article first appeared last month on Hybrid Rasta Mama, where I contribute a monthly article about holistic pet care that you can read on the second Wednesday of each month. Head on over to Hybrid Rasta Mama to see this months article, "Dogs Going Vegan."


It seems everyone is anxious these days. There are bills to pay, mouths to feed, and politics to debate. 

Though they don't give a darn what's going on in congress, our dogs have their own anxieties. These anxieties can seem irrational and hard to understand since our pets can't pipe up and explain their feelings. 

Dogs have their own language to show anxiety. Signs that your dog has anxiety include:

• shaking/trembling

• destruction of things

• hiding/cowering

• pacing

• aggression

• restlessness

• excessive barking

• raised paw (as if injured)

• crinkled brow

• yawning (when not tired)

• excessive itching

• excessive paw chewing (or other body part)

• licking chops

• tucking tail between legs

Anxiety in dogs can be general, especially in a dog who has been traumatized or abused, but is more typically situation-specific. Some common anxiety-producing situations for dogs include storms, fireworks, or other loud noises, fear of certain types of people (children, men, etc.), travel, and separation anxiety.

We have the option to pop a pill to relieve our anxiety. And we have the option to do the same for Fido. But most of us don't wish to live life in a drug-induced haze, and we certainly don't wish to deal with unwanted side effects that these strong medications–however effective–can bring. Herbal remedies are an excellent alternative, as is behavioral modification, or a combination of the two. These methods can take time, and it's hard to be patient while we watch our pet in panic mode. Wouldn't it be great if we could just give our pooch a great big hug to melt his worries away?

We can.

Enter ThunderShirt.



After doing a lot of research, including case studies of my own, I now recommend my clients and friends try the ThunderShirt as a natural, quick, safe, and effective method to reduce canine anxiety. It doesn't work for everyone, but it does work for most, which is awesome. No medication required. No side effects. It seems almost too good to be true. So how does it work?

ThunderShirt uses gentle hugging to calm your dog or cat. With its patented design, ThunderShirt's gentle, constant pressure has a dramatic calming effect for most dogs and cats if they are anxious, fearful or overexcited. Based on surveys completed by over two thousand customers, over 80% of dogs and cats show significant improvement in symptoms when using ThunderShirt...How does ThunderShirt work? Experts believe that pressure has a calming effect on the nervous system, possibly by releasing a calming hormone like endorphins. Using pressure to relieve anxiety in people and animals has been a common practice for years...

Using pressure to relieve anxiety has proven to be effective for infants (swaddling), in people with autism, and by animal trainers and veterinarians to release a variety of animal anxieties.

Not all, but some, veterinarians can be quick to prescribe anxiety-relieving medication. They want to see quick results to help your animal, but some may be uneducated about alternatives, and some even have ulterior motives. I feel that for my family, including my pets, it is important to try natural methods before taking that route. ThunderShirt can provide relief that is just as effective and rapid as harsh medications, so, in my opinion, it's worth a try!

The first step when using the ThunderShirt is to slowly get your pet used to it in a positive way. ThunderShirt recommends that you feed your dog a favorite treat using the shirt as a plate. This way, your pooch will feel good about his new attire right away. The next step is to try the shirt on and use it for very brief periods. Many dogs achieve instant anxiety relief the moment the ThunderShirt is put on, but some may take a bit longer. There are countless stories of animals with extremely high-anxiety levels during a storm, for example, finding instant and complete relief, even falling asleep during a storm that would have otherwise thrown them into a complete meltdown.

ThunderShirt is not an affiliate of well minded, though I have been provided the ThunderShirt product in order to conduct some of the following case studies:

the big, bad world: enter, ThunderShirt, part 1 (Rex)

the big, bad world: enter, ThunderShirt, part 2 (Jack)

the big, bad world: enter, ThunderShirt, part 3 (making it through the 4th)

the big, bad world: enter, ThunderShirt, part 4 (Remington)

ThunderShirt is available for both dogs and cats and can be ordered online or purchased at most pet stores.

Have you tried ThunderShirt or another natural method for reducing pet anxiety? We'd love to hear your story!

the big, bad world: enter ThunderShirt part 4 (Remington)


Remington is a big part of my life. I met him when he was just a puppy, and he's been sweet and sour ever since. Part Winnie-the-Pooh, part devil, this guy has a big heart that has a tendency to grow anxious in certain situations. His anxiety comes out in the form of destruction. He has actually, truly eaten through a metal crate, and he has eaten most of a wall, and he has torn through a friend's couch, and some other stuff (we'll spare him the embarrassment of exposing the full extent of his deeds). His worst enemy: being alone or confined, or worst of all, alone and confined.

His family loves him dearly, so when they embarked on a new canine anxiety-producing adventure, I really wanted to help, both him and them, so I called up my friends at ThunderShirt. They were eager to help me help Remington.

I've been helping Remington's mom open Square Roots Preschool out of her home, so I'm intimately familiar with Remington's new position: being confined to the master bedroom during school hours. His family set him up for success, yet he still floundered. Here are a few examples of his work since the first day of school:


Before Remington's ThunderShirt arrived, his family tried music and a gentle lead,* which kept him busy, but didn't really seem to reduce his anxiety level:

[wpvideo KcGVzNr5]

He eventually just laid down and stared at me, as if to say, "help."


I tried to spend time with him, but school duties called.

Since I'd experienced the success of the ThunderShirt with other dogs, I was very anxious for Remington's ThunderShirt to arrive. I introduced it slowly, at first, as the directions suggested. We offered up his favorite treats, using his new ThunderShirt as a plate:

[wpvideo 3gDgozMR]

He took to it quite nicely, so we tried it on. That's where we hit a bit of a speed bump. Remington was unsure, so he tugged and pulled and twisted.


With a bit of calm encouragement and supervision over several days, he has become more comfortable with the idea of the ThunderShirt, and we're hoping he'll be able to wear it for all anxious occasions very soon.

It's looking promising. Isn't he handsome?RemTSWearing

If you'd like to read more about my experiences with the ThunderShirt, please check out the following:

the big, bad world: enter ThunderShirt part 1 (Rex)

the big, bad world: enter ThunderShirt part 2 (Jack)

the big, bad world: enter ThunderShirt part 3 (making it through the 4th)

Disclaimer: I was provided with a ThunderShirt in exchange for my honest opinion. 

* I do not promote or recommend using a product for a purpose other than for what it was originally intended by it's manufacturer.