Unfortunately, anxiety is a common problem that afflicts a lot of dogs. This is obviously stressful for four-footers and their pet parents, so you’ll want to take steps to help soothe your dog’s frazzled nerves.
There are a number of ways to address anxiety. Ultimately, you may need the help of a certified dog behavior consultant or veterinarian, but there are some other tools that may help too.
One of those tools is known as a calming cap – essentially, a hat or mask anxious dogs can wear to feel more secure.
Below, we’ll share what calming caps are, identify a few of our favorites, and provide some tips for using them. We’ll also dive into a couple of general anxiety-lowering strategies that may be worth a try.
Quick Picks: Best Calming Caps for Dogs
- #1 Thunder Cap [Best Overall Calming Cap]: The Thunder Cap’s secure fit and ability to partially obscure your dog’s vision makes it one of the best calming caps available.
- #2 Happy Hoodie [Most Affordable Calming Cap]: This calming cap helps your dog feel more secure via a combination of compression and noise isolation – and it does so without breaking the bank.
- #3 Zoo Snoods [Cutest Calming Cap]: This cap may not provide the best sound isolation available, but it will provide your pooch with some soothing compression while looking doggone adorable.
What Are Calming Caps for Dogs?
Calming caps are essentially tight-fitting caps that you put on your dog. These hound headdresses are designed to soothe Spot by:
- Providing some physical compression, which can be comforting for some dogs
- Partially obstructing your dog’s vision to block out triggering stimulus
- Partially blocking out triggering noises that cause your dog stress
These caps come in a variety of styles and sizes to meet the needs of various furry friends. However, almost all coming caps provide some sort of compression, and most either partially obstruct a dog’s vision or hearing. The obstruction isn’t debilitating, it’s just designed to keep out excess stimulation.
Most calming caps can be comfortably worn while at home or out and about.
The 5 Best Calming Caps for Dogs
Without further ado, here are some of the best calming caps for canines. Make sure you have a measuring tape ready so that you can find a properly fitting cap for your furry friend.
1. Thunder Cap
A vision-blocking calming cap with an adjustable design.
About: The Thunder Cap partially blocks your dog’s vision so that he can easily enjoy a walk without becoming distracted by triggering visual stimuli. The sheer fabric is lightweight and soft, making this calming cap suitable for regular use.
This type of cap is probably overkill for a lot of dogs, and some may become completely incensed at having to wear it, so consider consulting with a trainer or your vet to determine if a cap like this will benefit your pup.
Your dog can still see with this cap – the fabric is sheer, but for some dogs, that vision-dampening will go a long way to helping him stay calm.
Most fans of these caps use them for vet visits, grooming trips, car rides, or other situations where a dog is unusually stressed and anxious.
- Two adjustable straps
- Reduces vision with sheer fabric while still providing enough vision for basic navigation
- Soft, lightweight fabric
- Elastic design for a snug fit
- Comfortable ear holes
Options: This black calming cap comes in extra small, small, medium, and large sizes.
- Includes ear holes for comfort
- Made by the same manufacturer that makes the anxiety-stopping Thundershirt
- Adjustable straps and elastic design make it difficult to shake off
- The fabrics seem comfortable for dogs
- This cap only blocks vision, not sound
- Some owners found the cap challenging to put on
2. The Happy Hoodie
The Happy Hoodie
Snug, soft calming cap that helps block out upsetting noises.
About: The Happy Hoodie is a snug, babushka-esque calming cap that’s designed to reduce triggering noises. This calming dog hoodie is made of a stretchy nylon blend, making it lightweight, comfy, and durable enough for daily use.
These ear-muff style caps are perfect for dogs who are easily startled or triggered by loud sounds. Owners have used these caps to help lessen their dog’s anxiety around vacuums, fireworks, gun fire, sirens, etc. These muffs are also a popular grooming tool, as they can dampen the overwhelming sound of a loud blowdryer during a grooming session.
- Provides compression and noise isolation
- Soft, nylon fabric
- This calming cap provides a very snug fit
- Easy to put on and take off
Options: The Happy Hoodie comes in small or extra-large in black, pink, purple, white, or blue color options.
- Can be worn either “ears-in” or “ears-out”
- Owners had no trouble putting this calming cap on their dogs
- Seems to effectively block out triggering noises
- Cap may be too snug for some dogs
- Some dogs were able to slip the cap off, but this shouldn’t be an issue if you adapt your dog to the cap slowly
3. Pet Hoodz
About: Pet Hoodz offers an excellent calming cap that comes in several sizes and provides a tight fit, while still being super comfortable, thanks to the soft fabric used. This helps ensure your dog will remain comfy while enjoying a break from upsetting noises.
- Machine-washable design
- Tight fit provides light compression
- Cap helps block out excess auditory stimulus
- Soft fabric
- The stretchy design produces a snug fit
Options: This cap comes in black, blue, lavender, or grey. Choose between a small, medium, large, or extra-large size.
- Cap seems comfortable for most canines
- Owners reported the cap was very effective at reducing anxiety
- The cap is easy to put on and take off
- Some dogs were able to slip free of this hood
- May not block really loud noises (fireworks)
4. NACOCO Cap
About: If your pooch is mainly triggered by visual stimulus, this affordable calming cap by NACOCO might be what you’re looking for. Similar to the Thundercap, this calming dog head cover has ear holes to allow your dog to hear normally, while safely blocking your pup’s vision during stressful situations.
- Lightweight, nylon design
- Adjustable plastic buckle
- Elastic snout band for a secure yet comfortable fit
- Easy wipe-to-clean design
- Affordable price
Options: This black vision-blocking cap comes in small, medium, large, or extra-large sizes.
- Cap is super-durable for everyday use
- Cap lets your dog see well enough to get around while still blocking triggering visual stimuli
- Pet parents found the cap effective for car rides and vet trips
- The nylon cap doesn’t provide much compression
- A few pet parents reported that dogs couldn’t see through this cap at all
5. Zoo Snoods
About: If you’re looking for a knitted calming cap that provides your pooch with just enough noise isolation without being too tight-fitting, this adorable Zoo Snoods cap is worth considering.
The fabric knitted cap is super comfortable for your canine and comes in some absolutely adorable designs, like the dinosaur model featured here!
- Adorable design
- Flexible knitted fabric for a snug fit
- Provides light noise isolation
Options: This calming cap comes in small, medium or large sizes
- Cap is comfy enough for daily wear
- Absolutely adorable design
- The knitted fabric is breathable enough for warm weather
- Not the most effective noise blocker available, but great for light noise dampening
How to Pick the Right Calming Cap for Your Dog
Here are a couple of key tips to keep in mind when picking out a calming cap for your canine companion:
- Know your dog’s source of anxiety. Different dogs have different needs. Not all calming caps block out visual and auditory stimuli, so take note of what triggers your canine companion and pick a cap that will help block noise or visual stimuli, depending on what makes your dog more anxious.
- Find the right size. Calming caps need to fit your dog snuggly in order to be effective. Be sure to look at the manufacturer’s sizing guide before purchasing a cap for your canine. You’ll also need to take your dog’s ear size into account.
- Pick out a comfortable fabric. Make sure your cap of choice has a breathable fabric that your dog can comfortably wear while out on walks or visiting the vet. Take your local climate into consideration as well.
Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Dog’s Calming Cap
Now that you’ve found the right cap for your canine, here are some essential tips to keep in mind when using a calming cap:
- Introduce the cap slowly. This new tool may feel overwhelming to your pooch at first, so take introductions slowly. Allow Fido to familiarize himself with the cap before putting it on, and be sure to provide plenty of treats and praise when he’s using his calming caps. Give your dog time to adjust to the cap and try to introduce the triggering stimulus as gradually as possible.
- Clean the cap regularly. Be sure to keep your canine’s calming cap clean by washing it according to the manufacturer’s directions. You may even want to use a dog-safe detergent with a soothing scent like lavender.
- Don’t just use the cap in stressful situations. It’s important that your dog gets the opportunity to wear the cap in non-stressful times, too, so that he doesn’t associate the cap with negative situations.
- Remember to use more than one strategy. Unfortunately, some dogs will need more than one strategy to help manage their anxiety. Don’t forget that a calming cap is just one piece of the puzzle and not a comprehensive treatment plan on its own.
Other Anxiety-Reducing Strategies to Try with Your Dog
Helping your hound cope with anxiety is no easy task. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach for every dog, but there are some strategies that may make it easier on your canine companion. Here are a couple of ways you may be able to help ease your canine companion’s stress:
- Canine Anti-Anxiety Prescription: Dog anxiety medication like doggie Xanax may make it easier for some dogs to work through stressful situations. These medications need to be prescribed by a veterinarian and paired with constructive training.
- Dog CBD: Some owners have found that canine CBD oil can help soothe Spot. This oil can be administered in droplet form or integrated into treats for your furry friend.
- Calming Collars: Calming collars utilize a synthetic version of the soothing hormone produced by mama doggos. They don’t work for all pups, but many owners find them effective.
- Calming Beds: Some manufacturers make specially-designed calming dog beds, with plush fabrics that envelop and comfort a stressed-out pup. Some beds even are infused with lavender to add a calming scent sensation!
- Exercise: It’s possible that your canine companion simply isn’t getting enough exercise. High-energy breeds need plenty of time outside, or they could be prone to destructive behavior out of boredom. Make sure your furry friend is getting the attention he deserves.
- Soothing Supplements: There are plenty of calming supplement chews for dogs that can ease your dog’s anxiety and help him feel better.
- Management Strategies: Try to make your dog’s environment as relaxing as possible to avoid unnecessary stimuli by implementing smart management strategies. For instance, you might block out windows to prevent pups from seeing triggers or use a white noise machine to block out upsetting sounds.
- Working With A Behaviorist: When in doubt, work with a certified dog behavior consultant to address your dog’s struggles. These trained experts can help you identify and work through the source of your dog’s anxiety.
Of course, one of the most effective (if challenging) ways to help reduce your dog’s anxiety is to desensitize him to the source of stress.
In this technique (which you can see in the video below), you’ll provide positive stimuli (usually in the form of treats) when your dog is exposed to a low dose of his trigger. The key is to keep your dog below his personal threshold during the exposure process to help create a new positive or neutral association with a stressful situation.
Calming caps aren’t effective for all dogs, but they can be quite helpful for some, making them an excellent tool to try when managing your mutt’s anxiety. These tools are fairly affordable and can make a positive difference for your pooch, so they’re certainly worth checking out.
Does your dog suffer from anxiety? Has he used a calming cap? We’d love to hear about your experience below!