Special body covering wraps called Storm Defender Capes, Anxiety Wraps, or Thundershirts that provide gentle calming pressure have been developed recently. Although these products may at first sound like they are gimmicks, but there is growing evidence that they may actually help, and studies are underway to investigate their effectiveness.
This concept of pressure as a calming influence has been described by Dr. Temple Grandin, a famous professor of animal science who created who own "squeeze box" growing up as an autistic child. She tells how sound and light can be overstimulating to autistic children and how pressure provides relief from this overstimulaton.
These body wraps and coverings have been found to be useful for several anxiety problems including noise phobia. They may not work in all dogs but we have seen results in many. We have provided links below to their various manufacturers for more information. The Thundershirt is available at Deer Run!
For best results pressure wraps should be introduced and used several times BEFORE using during a noise event. Teach your dog good things happen when he feels the gentle swaddling pressure.
The Storm Defender Cape was developed assuming that electrostatic charges in the air during storms cause dogs to become anxious.The lining of the cape was designed to eliminate these static charges. Studies with the cape show improvement in dogs wearing the cape, but also in dogs wearing a similar cape without the special anti-static lining.This may indicate that just wearing the covering may decrease anxiety.
The Anxiety Wrap is made of a stretchable fabric the animal wears. It uses a technique called Maintained Pressure. Maintained Pressure is a technique also used with Autistic children, and in neuro-rehabilitation to modify the body's sensory receptors and change the nervous system back to a more normal state. There is currently a scientific study being done on the benefits of the Anxiety Wrap at Tufts University Veterinary Behavior Department.
The Thundershirt uses the covering theory and also adds gentle pressure over the dog's body with a snug Velcro closure and stretchy fabric. It is hypothesized that this body pressure hugs the dog, giving relief to anxiety.
DEER RUN NOW CARRIES THE THUNDERSHIRT!
It is not fully understood how all these body coverings work, but many dogs have shown improvement in noise phobia and a decline in anxiety while wearing a cape, wrap or shirt. Usually the response to these coverings takes some time to develop and is not instantaneous.At least 3 wearings, and following the manufactures instructions carefully are important for success. Especially when combined with the other anxiety treatment modalities, body coverings can often help decrease the stress of noise phobia.See these websites for more information.
The Calming Thunder Cap is a wonderful tool for easing your dog's anxiety in high-stress situations. The Thunder Cap reduces visual stimuli and helps your dog to remain comfortable, overcome his fearfulness and increase his confidence. The single-panel sheer fabric window does not blind your dog, but simply filters his view. Try it for yourself - you'll see that while your vision is somewhat limited, you're still able to comfortably and assuredly make out shapes.
For more treatment methods see the sections below: