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Although dogs are often loud and full of fun, especially as puppies, even the most boisterous dog can become anxious. This is especially true around loud noises, such as thunder and fireworks. Or perhaps your dog is just naturally anxious.
A thundershirt is a simple piece of clothing that will help your dog to stay calm and feel less anxious and safer.
How Long to Keep a Thundershirt on Your Dog
The total length of time that your dog should keep their thundershirt on depends on how long the storm or loud noise goes on. If they wear their thundershirt a lot, there is a chance that they will become too used to it.
(Think of it as you would a normal coat: if you wear it inside, you won’t feel the benefit when you go out).
If your dog wears their thundershirt for too long or too regularly, they will stop feeling the benefit. So try not to leave the thundershirt on for longer than an hour or two. This should be long enough for most storms.
But if the storm is longer or if someone is setting off a lot of fireworks, then your dog may need to wear it for longer. This will be fine every now and then but shouldn’t happen too often.
How a Thundershirt Works
A thundershirt is similarly shaped to any other garment your dog might wear, such as a raincoat or a jumper. But it is heavier and has thicker fastening straps. It works almost in the same way as a weighted blanket.
Many humans use weighted blankets to calm themselves or to help them sleep. There is something about the gentle but firm weight that both humans and dogs find very comforting. Almost in the same way we find a hug to be comforting.
Getting Your Dog Used to a Thundershirt
As mentioned above, it’s important that your dog isn’t confused when you put on their thundershirt. A lot of dogs hate wearing any kind of garment.
So you will likely only make matters worse if the first time your dog wears a thundershirt is when they are already scared and on edge.
When you first buy a thundershirt, your dog might not enjoy wearing it. Unfortunately, of course, you cannot explain to your dog why they will be wearing it. So it’s a good idea to allow them to become used to it.
Try to get your dog to wear their thundershirt for about 10 minutes. Repeat this every now and again so that they become accustomed to it. Otherwise, if you try to get them to wear it when they are feeling anxious or scared, it might only make them feel worse.
Finding the Right Thundershirt
The shape of a thundershirt will vary depending on the brand you choose, just like any other dog garment. But they usually wrap around your dog’s torso. Some have holes for your dog’s legs, just like a normal shirt.
Whether your thundershirt has leg holes or not, you will still need to wrap it. The thundershirt will have one of two large pieces of material that will be wrapped around your dog’s torso.
This means that you need to find a thundershirt that fits your dog. But it also means that it’s up to you to put it on properly.
The shape doesn’t matter too much. But it’s essential to find the correct size and fit for your dog. If the thundershirt is too loose, then it won’t have the proper effect. If it is too tight, then it will irritate your dog which will only make them more anxious and uncomfortable.
How to Wrap a Thundershirt
So how tightly should you wrap your dog’s thundershirt? We have already said that it needs to be tight enough that it will provide a comfortingly firm pressure. But not so loose that it won’t give the comfort your dog needs.
The thundershirt should be close to your dog’s body. It is supposed to swaddle and comfort your dog. A thundershirt is essentially hugging your dog. So it should be no tighter than a supportive and comforting hug.
If the thundershirt is too tight, then your dog will likely let you know. If it’s their first time wearing it, they might try and pull it off. But even if they try and pull at it, leave it on them for a little longer.
If they persist, especially if they are pulling at it near the tops of their legs, then it might be too tight and irritating them. If this is the case, you can easily loosen or rewrap the thundershirt.
When to Use a Thundershirt
As mentioned above, your dog can wear a thundershirt in thunderstorms. But they can also wear them if your neighbor is setting off fireworks. Or if they are just generally anxious and nervous.
Some dogs, especially if you live in a busy city, can be overwhelmed by or scared of cars and buses.
The thundershirt has quite a dramatic name but this only comes from the fact that it is often used by owners to comfort their dogs during loud storms. They don’t only work for thunderstorms either.
If your dog is easily scared by loud noises, then a thundershirt is a great way to keep them calm. We all wish that we could comfort our dogs and explain to them that there is nothing to be afraid of. But, this is the next best thing.
If this is the case, then you can also wrap your dog in a thundershirt when out on walks. This is a good way of easing them into a new environment.
Despite the name, thundershirts can be worn whenever your dog is feeling anxious or nervous. Although they shouldn’t wear them all the time, a few hours will be fine. Otherwise, they might become too used to it and they could become dependent on it.