Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Trying out the Thundershirt

Thundershirt's seem to be the *in* thing right now to treat dog anxiety. Originally designed in Florida to help dogs through thunderstorms and fireworks I've only read about them fairly recently. Whenever I hear about an anxiety solution I usually stop to listen.

One of the most major issues Zoey and I have had to constantly work on is her anxiety. At almost four years old we still have some work to do. Zo has had separation anxiety for as long as I have had her. As a puppy it was very hard to deal with. Getting into this breed I knew there was the strong potential that she would have anxiety of some form. Cavaliers are bred to be with you at all times and they are so good at their job. Zo however took her job to a whole new level. She would completely freak out and be very upset anytime she was left alone. She would get loose stools, drooly, panting, and this terrified look in her eyes if you'd peak in the door after leaving. I tried so many things with her to try and help her issues.

The ones that worked the best were having her in a crate whenever she was to be left on her own so that she felt safe and secure in her environment. I also had some success with a dap infuser, music, and a herbal anxiety treatment known as rescue remedy. I stuck to the same routine anytime I left the house. Finished getting ready, picked up my keys, picked up my purse, grabbed a cookie from the cookie jar, told Zo to go to her crate, and quickly left. We've done this from the start. To this day when she hears me pick up my keys, if there is no cookie with it there is a very upset Zoey dog at the door. Needless to say the cookie wins every time.

Ultimately my favourite solution and the one that worked the best for her was introducing Mylee into our family! Mylee from the get go has been an amazing calming influence on Zo. She was the laziest most easy going puppy you could ever imagine. Nothing upset her, she was always happy, and most importantly seemed to know that I would always return home eventually. It was just what the Dr. ordered for Zo and much of her anxiety has disappeared except for her major triggers. Being in a strange place and having me leave her with someone she doesn't know that well(at a training class, show, park.. wherever) and our major obstacle.. the car. These two situations have been pretty much impossible for me to train her out of.

The car is getting so bad that I am starting to dread taking her places. It is not that she is upset to be in it, it is that she is *so* excited that she is going and anticipating where we might be going and what we might be doing it turns into extreme hyper anxiety. The panting, drooling, high pitch whine, and sometimes barking. I just can't deal with it anymore. It is getting completely out of control and only worse as she gets older. As much as I hate to admit it, it is also having a major impact on my driving, and more often than not I've been leaving her at home instead of bringing her. Something I hate to do because she loves coming so much. Once we get to our destination the trip home is always incredibly calm and quiet. It is just on the way to wherever we are going.

So tomorrow I am going to my good friend Debbie's which is approx an hour and 15 minutes if you don't hit traffic. Normally this drive is horrible with Zo. Her Thundershirt arrived in the mail today. Just in time! :)

It seems to fit her well. I have my fingers and toes crossed that it lives up to all the amazing reviews it has had. I know Zoey will give it a very thorough testing. Even if it helps somewhat I will be thankful. I have seen and used the concept myself when I worked with autistic children. Weighted blankets and full body hugs were often used in therapy during anxiety attacks and when they were extremely upset.

As you can see I have some high hopes for this little shirt and will have a review of it for sure.

Princess Zo trying on her Thundershirt
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Zoey is a bigger boned cavalier with a very deep chest. She weighed in at the Vet's on Monday at 20lbs. Her ideal weight is probably 19.5lbs. We got a size small thundershirt and it fits but barely. If your cavalier is over 20lbs and has a fairly big bone structure I'd probably go up a size. I know they are supposed to be snug but the Velcro barely closes. The size chart says 15-25lbs. I know if Zo was a bit bigger there is no way it would go on.
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Soft, Flexible, and puts pressure on in the right places
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Somebody is looking like a Princess Scrag, all that wet grass we've had lately.
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I also have Molly staying with me for a few days. I have her entered in her first show on the weekend. Keep your fingers crossed for us! She will be showing with her sister Becky. There is a fairly large entry so I hope we will have some good experiences before our ultimate goal in September. The CKCSCC Club National being held in Woodstock Ontario. More info can be found on the CKCSCC Website.

Pretty Girl
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Mylee is so happy to have a cuddle buddy again since she has been missing Presley.
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2 comments:

  1. Zoey you look cute in your shirt and excited your coming today with Molly, Lauren will be pretty excited to see her Zoe Girl. Fingers crossed the car trip in the shirt is helpful!

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  2. We have that same over excitedness happen whenever our dogs see their leashes. They go absolutely bezerk...whining...barking...yelping...jumping up on us...etc... for at least 7 houses when we walk them and also when they get into the car. Once we're on our way they are calm so that is good. Not so hard like what you're going through. But it is very embarassing to leave the house with the dogs. I'm sure the whole neighbourhood knows we are on the loose again. I have to pretend I'm not taking them and take everything out to the car, be calm, no sudden movements (not always easy when you have two small children who are also excited) and then I sneak the leash on them just before going out the door. Even then it feels like "WATCH OUT!!!!! Here WE COME!!!!!! At full speed and FULL Volume! Let us know how the thunder shirt works.

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