The miraculous Thundershirt is heralded by many dog owners as the perfect solution. It’s designed to wrap your dog snuggly, providing a sense of security that keeps your canine calm.
If you’re not interested in purchasing the official Thundershirt, you can make your own with a little ingenuity!
Also – make sure to check out our article on 10 Tips For Keeping Your Dog Calm During Fireworks on the 4th of July!
How Does a Dog Anxiety Wrap Work?
Dogs and humans alike are comforted by gentle pressure – in fact, the dog anxiety wrap technique is very similar to the process of swaddling an infant. This comforting technique is called “maintained pressure,” and it’s been used to calm animals and humans alike by hitting specific pressure points around the body.
Oftentimes your dog will instantly feel calmed by the pressure sensation, but some dogs may require multiple wear sessions to get used to the wrap, so it’s recommended that you practice with the wrap a few other times in low-stress situations prior to the stressful event.
How to Make a Thundershirt For Your Dog
There are a few different DIY Thundershirt approaches you can take. In this post, we’ll be detailing the most common ace bandage anxiety wrap method, as well as a method using a t-shirt, and finally a process you can follow to sew your own Thundershirt-style wrap.
Using an Ace Bandage to Create a Wrap
The ace bandage technique is the most common DIY Thundershirt strategy you’ll see around the web. You don’t have to use a bandage though – a scarf works too!
This strategy comes from the TTouch Wrap technique and is used successfully by many owners to calm stressed-out canines.
1. Start by placing the middle of an ace bandage across your dog’s chest. The size of bandage you use will depend on your dog’s size – use narrow bandages for small dogs, and wide for large dogs.
2. Next, bring both ends of the bandage up and cross them over your dog’s shoulders. Cross the bandage of the top of your dog’s shoulder blades, then cross the loose ends of the bandage under your dog’s stomach.
3. Lastly, tie the loose ends over the top of the lower back, away from the spine. You want to aim for snug, but not constricting – the pressure should feel like a nice hug!
Also check out this video that demonstrates exactly how to position your dog’s anxiety wrap.
As a safety note, never leave your dog unattended while wearing an anxiety wrap, as they could accidentally become entangled in one.
You can also create DIY Thundershirt with a simple t-shirt. Use a snug shirt or spandex tank top – something that will be tight enough to provide light pressure to your dog.
Step 1. Put the t-shirt on your dog backwards, so that your dog’s tail pokes through the neck opening.
Step 2. Next, tie the shirt tails across your dog’s chest. In addition, some owners also sew on ace bandages to the t-shirt so that the bandages can be wrapped around the dog’s various body parts, hitting the appropriate pressure points.
Sew Your Own Anxiety Wrap
In the video below, one owner shows how to create your own Thundershirt vest with an anxiety wrap sewing pattern. This strategy is more advanced, but will create a lasting, durable anxiety wrap you can continue to re-use over the years.
Where to Purchase An Anti-Anxiety Wrap For Your Dog
If these DIY techniques seem like too much trouble for you, or if you want something of higher quality, you can try one of the name brand dog anxiety wraps on the market.
- Thundershirt. The Thundershirt is a comforting, vest-like wrap with a series of velcro folds and flaps that put gentle pressure on your pet to keep them calm. It’s the most well-known of the bunch and boasts impressive success rates.
- American Kennel Club Anti-Anxiety Coat. The American Kennel Club Anti-Anxiety Coat is very similar to the Thundershirt, but is made by the AKC. It comes at a lower price than the official Thundershirt, but ratings online are not quite as high.
Other Strategies For Soothing An Anxious Canine
If a Thundershirt or similar wrap isn’t soothing your pooch, you may want to try some other anxiety-relieving strategies, such as:
- Anti-Anxiety Medicine. Of course, you never want to give your dog meds without cause, but severe anxiety is as good a reason as any (especially if you’ve exhausted other options). See our list of the best anti-anxiety medicine for dogs, including over-the-counter options you can buy online, as well as medications that require a vet’s prescription.
- Treat-Dispensing Dog Toys. Some dogs will do best if they’re distracted from the scary fireworks or storms happening around them. Treat-dispensing puzzle toys can occupy your pup’s interest and can even begin to desensitize them to frightening stimuli (woah – fireworks mean I get special treats)! Some dogs will be too terrified to even be interested in food, but others who are especially food-motivated may be won over by some particularly tasty treats.
- Anxiety-Proof Crate. Some crates are especially well-suited to anxious dogs – and in some cases, having a tough crate is essential for keeping your dog safe. Why? Well, nervous dogs will sometimes do anything and everything they can to escape their crate – sometimes that means hurting themselves in the process. If you’re afraid your dog could hurt himself in his panic, getting an escape-proof, anxiety-safe dog crate might be your safest bet.
Have you ever used an anxiety wrap vest or a DIY Thundershirt to calm you pup during a storm, fireworks, or some other anxious event? How did it go? Share your experience in the comments!