Many of you have read my article on weighted blankets, which is posted on a handful of different websites: In it I discussed the benefits of deep pressure stimulation, a concept pioneered by Dr. Temple Grandin.

A product for dogs called Thundershirt is using the same principle to calm anxious canines. Wrapping a dog in this snug-fitting vest with velcro closures is like holding them close in threatening situations.

I will be giving Thundershirt a try because my beloved bluetick coonhound mix becomes 62-pound lap dog during storms. He has an outgoing, cheery, adventurous personality and is very protective of his family. But when the angels start bowling, the din activates a red-eyed, hyperventilating neurosis, probably because dogs’ ears are so sensitive.

When we had a significant thunderstorm a few months ago, he-whose-deep-menacing-hound-dog-bark-is-sure-to-make-any-intruder-think-twice decided to climb into my side of the bed. I woke up wrestling with him, because it felt like I was being ambushed by a musky werewolf inside a subtropical greenhouse.

I didn’t know who or what was breathing heavily in my face and clawing me as they tried to put me in a reverse half-nelson. As I struggled to free myself from my adversary’s grip, a peal of thunder rang out and I realized that my poor dog just needed to feel safe. Once on the bed with everyone else, however, he was breathing so hard that the mattress vibrated for hours.

As a fan of Temple Grandin’s work and a proponent of deep pressure stimulation for humans and animals, I’m not surprised by Thundershirt’s success. I can’t speak to the quality or durability of the product, but with the rave reviews this product is getting so far, I thought I’d share this with other dog lovers.

Sedatives are expensive and can just immobilize dogs while they’re still panicking on the inside. This is a drug-free, low-cost solution that seems to work on most dogs. Now if they’d just make the Thundershirt in some stylin’ fabric prints…


I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship. –Louisa May Alcott

Follow-up: I’m happy to report that this product does help with dog anxiety. It doesn’t cure it, but my dog is less nervous about things that hurt his ears like thunderstorms and fireworks when he wears it. Everyone feels safer when they’re wrapped in a big hug and that’s what this product acts as. I just wish the exposed velcro hooks weren’t scratchy and that a version could be made out of a lighter material for when it’s needed on hot days.

©2011 H. Hiatt/ All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/

2 thoughts on “Thundershirt

  1. Wow,Thats a great idea for a product. There is another way to calm a dog but it probably doesnt work in cases of high fear. You know that place on the belly just inside the hind leg? Place your palm there and aply gentle pressure. It mimicks a lead dog or a mother and gives the dog a sense that someone bigger than him is in control in the sense of safety.:)


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