Do ThunderShirts Really Work on Dogs?

Let’s learn if these anxiety-relief jackets truly work and how they can positively impact your canine companion's life.

Feb 20, 2024By Nikita Hillier
do thundershirts really work on dogs

In times of stress, you can’t calm down your dog like you would a child. That’s why dog owners are always looking for new ways to help their dogs cope in times of stress. Enter the ThunderShirt. These devices (sometimes also called “compression jackets” or the brand name) aim to help dogs feel secure without resorting to possibly invasive measures, like medication.

In this blog, we will look at just how effective ThunderShirts are, examining their benefits and limitations. We’ll also share some other soothing techniques for dogs facing anxiety.

First Things First: Understanding Canine Anxiety

brown dog laying on bed
Image Credit: Conner Baker on Unsplash

Dogs, much like humans, can experience anxiety triggered by many different things. Most commonly, loud noises are the culprit. But sometimes, canine anxiety is standard for the breed (looking at you, Italian Greyhounds).

Thunderstorms, fireworks, and other loud sounds can often provoke extreme fear and anxiety in dogs, which can lead to a range of behaviors, including whining, pacing, panting, and even behavioral issues, such as destructive chewing.

Vets will often prescribe your dog medication, but medicating your dog really shouldn’t be the first option. Luckily, ThunderShirts have had HUGE success treating separation anxiety, anxiety from loud noises, and general anxiety in dogs. This is why they have skyrocketed in popularity.

Recognizing your dog’s triggers and addressing their canine anxiety is absolutely crucial to their overall health and well-being.

How Do ThunderShirts Work?

brown chihuahua looking scared
Image Credit: Michelle Tresemer on Unsplash

ThunderShirts are specifically made coats that wrap around your dog snuggly. They are applied around the chest and torso to apply gentle, consistent pressure. The concept behind these garments is that the pressure applied works to mimic the comforting sensation of being swaddled or cuddled tightly.

This is similar to the way that infants are calmed by being held. The pressure applied by these shirts is believed to have a huge anxiety-reducing effect on dogs, providing a very confident sense of security during any situations your dog may find stressful.

The Effectiveness of ThunderShirts

up close photo of brown dog laying on bed
Image Credit: Ryan Stone on Unsplash

ThunderShirts have shown massive success in alleviating anxiety for many dogs around the world. A lot of the pet owners who have used ThunderShirts have reported very positive outcomes and reduced anxiety in their furry friends. They have said that their dogs exhibit much calmer behavior and reduced signs of stress when wearing the shirt.

The wide success of ThunderShirts often depends on the individual dog and what triggers their anxiety specifically. Many dogs respond very positively to the gentle pressure while finding comfort and reassurance in the garment’s snug fit.

Whether the ThunderShirt Works Depends on Many Factors

white and brown pitbull laying down
Image Credit: Mike Burke on Unsplash

While many dogs find comfort in ThunderShirts, whether it works for your particular dog depends on many factors, including:

  • The source of their anxiety. ThunderShirts are far more likely to be effective for dogs with situational anxiety that is triggered by specific sounds or events. For dogs with deep-seated issues or generalized anxiety, you may need to speak to a vet or professional trainer.
  • Individual sensitivity: Each dog is unique. This means that their response to a ThunderShirt can vary greatly. Some dogs will readily accept it and begin to benefit, while others can find it uncomfortable. Their anxiety may even get worse.
  • Early introduction: It is important to introduce the ThunderShirt gradually and associate it with positive experiences. This can have a huge impact on how well the shirt works for your canine companion.
  • Consistency: Consistent and appropriate use of the ThunderShirt is super important. You want the dog to associate with the garment with being safe and comfortable. So, you should consistently have them wear it, even when they’re not actively stressed.

Getting a ThunderShirt for Your Dog

little pug laying on floor
Image Credit: Matthew Henry on Unsplash

If you’re looking at purchasing a ThunderShirt for your dog, it is a good idea to approach the process with as much thought as possible. Here are some things to consider:

  • Proper sizing: Make sure that you choose the right size shirt for your dog. A ThunderShirts that either fits too tight or too loose may not provide the calming effect you desire.
  • Positive associations: Make sure you introduce the ThunderShirt gradually and associate it with positive experiences. It will allow your dog to become accustomed to the garment during calm moments, offering treats or affection.
  • Regular use: Use a ThunderShirt consistently, even during non-stressful times, to prevent associating it with anxiety triggers only. This helps the dog see the shirt as part of a routine and daily life.
  • Observation: Make sure you monitor your dog’s response and adjust it accordingly. If your dog shows signs of discomfort or resistance, make sure you take time to reassess the fit or consider other ways to relieve your dog’s anxiety.

Alternative Soothing Techniques to the ThunderShirt

little brown puppy laying in grass
Image Credit: Nick Mundackal on Unsplash

While ThunderShirts can be super effective for most dogs, it is very important to explore a variety of other anxiety-relief techniques to help your pup, especially if they don’t respond well to the pressure garment. Some ideas include:

  • Desensitization training: Gradually exposing your dog to any anxiety-inducing sounds or situations can help them become calmer over time.
  • Calming music or white noise: Per the American Kennel Club (AKC), playing soothing music or white noise can help drown out any loud sounds your dog may be uncomfortable with. This can create a familiar and calm environment for your dog.
  • Safe spaces: Create a designated space for your dog where they feel safe. It should be easily accessible to allow them to retreat there whenever they experience stressful events. Keep the room quiet and provide familiar toys and bedding.
  • Aromatherapy: Certain essential oils, such as chamomile or lavender, are believed to have calming effects on dogs. Aromatherapy diffusers and sprays can help your dog relax and feel calm.
Nikita Hillier
By Nikita Hillier

Nikita is a huge animal lover who has grown up on a farm with many different animals, from dogs and cats to horses and cows! She has a lot of experience in the equine industry and is even in the process of studying for an internationally accredited Equine Sports Massage Certificate! In her spare time, she enjoys writing and spending time with her beloved animals!