It’s a well-known fact by now that pets, just like their owners, can suffer from mental illnesses and irrational phobias. Nobody who has ever cuddled an 80-pound Doberman during a thunderstorm can doubt it.
Many dogs become anxious at times, especially when confronted with situations beyond their experience. Whether they or their family is actually in danger is irrelevant. Just like some people are afraid of flying even though they know it’s perfectly safe, the individual perception is all that matters. If this is allowed to continue too long, a dog’s anxiety may become chronic and lead to undesirable behavior and even physical illness. How can this be avoided?
The first thing to understand is that your dog takes most of his cues from you; as long as you appear calm and positive, he will already feel better. There are also anti-anxiety medications for dogs. Letting them get enough exercise certainly helps, and you can even buy aromatherapy treatments and special dog music. In the end, though, it’s still a good idea to somehow insulate your pooch from stressors.
Of course, it’s not possible to always keep him from interacting with strange dogs, to avoid taking him to the vet, and to move to a place where fireworks are banned. A better idea would be to give him the tools to deal with tense situations, and two related products can now help you with this.
The ThunderShirt is a kind of harness that simulates the feeling of being hugged, which has been proven to reduce dogs’ anxiety levels. The ThunderCap from the same company is a soft hood that fits over the eyes, dimming the animal’s vision and creating mental distance between the dog and things that might otherwise frighten him.
Whether either of these will work for your dog depends entirely on him. In most cases owners have seen some improvement, but this isn’t guaranteed. In any case, it seems worth trying before putting your dog on drugs that may end up altering his personality.
For best results, it’s recommended that you get your dog used to the idea by putting its new accessories on for only brief periods at first. It’s also not a substitute for proper care and training. Remember that there are actually very few bad dogs, but many inadequate owners.