thundershirt?

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Postby pitsnok » December 22nd, 2011, 1:47 am

Okay so we have dealt with Boss's crate issues since he first came to us, but are finally getting to our wit's end with his protesting... he goes in his crate fine, but lately has been throwing absolute fits anytime he is in there (over night is our big issue here...)

For those of you who have used them, do you think a thundershirt would be helpful for him? I'm kind of out of ideas and thought that could be a reasonable next step...
~Brittany, Degan and Harlow's mom


"It is true that Pit Bulls grab and hold on. But what they most often grab and refuse to let go of is your heart, not your arm."
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Postby Tubular Toby » December 22nd, 2011, 3:20 am

I know people that love them. I don't have any experience with them, but something my trainer did with Toby was use a body wrap to help him relax while training. I dare say it worked, but that may have been because he was going "What the crap is on me?" At any rate, it's the results that matter. ;) Although I never used it long enough to know if he'd eventually get used to it. I actually should probably start trying it out more often...

I could be wrong, but I *think* Amalie has a thundershirt for one of her dogs? Hopefully she'll weigh in. =)
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Postby Malli » December 22nd, 2011, 4:29 am

I've seen them in stores...
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » December 22nd, 2011, 8:16 am

I've heard both pros and cons. Well, not cons, but just no results. But they have a moneyback guarantee so if it doesn't work at least you can get your money back.

Maybe get some of that DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) and spray it by his crate. Or lightly spritz some lavender around it. You could also try giving him some melatonin - I would think if that worked, he would only need several days worth of it until he just got accustomed to sleeping through the night. There is also l-theanine, but that takes several weeks to build up in the system.

Do you ever crate him when you're home? Every time he goes in there, is it for a long period (overnight)?
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Postby copperlegend » December 22nd, 2011, 10:18 am

We use one with Kia, she's got some anxiety issues and is easily stressed by other dogs barking or seeing dogs she is unfamiliar with. It doesn't cure her, but I really think it takes her down a few notches to a much more manageable level. I know of several other people that have had great results, and others who see no difference.
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Postby FAB dogs » December 22nd, 2011, 12:06 pm

I second the DAP suggestion. I have a DAP diffuser and always kept it plugged in when I had new foster dogs come into the house. I hadn't used it for a while but dug it out when Fenway moved in and I did notice a difference in him almost immediately. I haven't refilled the diffuser in months but he hasn't shown any sign of regressing.

If you do use the thundershirt, I'd be interested in hearing how it goes for you. I've considered using one for Fens when we're out in public.
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Postby amalie79 » December 22nd, 2011, 1:01 pm

Thundershirt-- LOVE IT. It works well for ours, as have T-Touch wraps. River has storm anxiety, Robin has everything new and unfamiliar anxiety, and Luna is just a fruitcake on legs right now. Simon did well with the wraps for his storm phobias. River also wears hers when we are on our way to a competition or taking a long/stressful car ride.

No it doesn't cure them, but it definitely helps take the edge off, at least for my dogs.

We've been dealing with some sibling aggression at our house lately. I haven't written about it, honestly, because I'm sort of wrapped up in it completely. Luna has developed some resource guarding in relation to food and me-- if it has to do with me or food+me, then there's trouble. If it has to do with Adam, it's all fine. And one of the biggest issues we're having right now is the crate, because as a result of all this, Luna has lost bed privileges, couch privileges, and is on a strict NILIF, and I need the crate for management. Big time. We're also doing a lot of classical counter conditioning/desensitization type stuff and good old fashioned obedience. :)

All of us are taking L-theanine, myself included. :) I'm using some aromatherapy (lavender, orange, chamomile) for us all, as well as some calming herb teas for myself, since I know that part of this is my own anxiety. Luna gets another calming herbal supplement in the evenings if she's really wound up. Any time I need her to settle, she wears the Thundershirt and it definitely helps.

We're doing the classical conditioning (an open bar/closed bar thing) with her in the crate to build crate value and help keep her from guarding it.

And I'm doing Susan Garrett's Crate Games. It's fantastic. http://www.clickerdogs.com/crate_games.php The whole thing is building value in the crate and helping a dog learn the cues that mean "I'm about to work" vs. "I can settle in here for a while." One of the exercises is basic Premack stuff-- if you release the dog from the crate, but they choose to go back in anyway, they get jackpots. I released Luna the other day, and when she saw one of the cats, you could see her thinking and then she ran back in her crate. It was as though she thought I was tricking her. lol She's not a crate fiend the way Robin is, but she sometimes runs to it when we come from outside now (and we've just been working on this in earnest for a matter of days) in the hopes of scoring a treat.

Also, I sit next to the crate and if Luna barks/whines, the whole crate is covered. When she stops for a bit, the blanket comes up-- starts again, blanket goes down. Then if she's quiet for a while without the blanket, she gets a treat. And so on. I'm having to do this and then move slowly to the door, slowly out the door, slowly out of sight. It's been tough and I'm using the University break as a chance to spend a lot of time working on this. At night, I'm making Adam crate her, since she seems to have developed such a resource-attachment to me. There seems to be less protesting (so far) to him taking care of things in that realm.

Also bought a DAP refill, but our diffuser is broken, so I haven't used that much.

Try the Through A Dog's Ear CDs-- you can download from iTunes or Amazon. We also play those on the way to competition with River, to classes with Robin. And sometimes just for me. I keep meaning to burn to a disc and set it up to play in their crate room when I'm not there.

As you can see, I like to throw it all at the wall and hope something sticks. That said, I've been using the Thundershirt and Through A Dog's Ear for about a year now, independent of the other things, and love them both. The nice thing about the Thundershirt, too, is that it's ok to leave on them unattended.

Lot more info than you asked for, but this is all soooo present in the front of my mind right now.
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Postby amalie79 » December 22nd, 2011, 1:11 pm

(we used the T-Touch wraps that Kristen mentioned for a year or two prior to using the actual Thundershirt. And while an ACE bandage is a lot cheaper, I think the Thundershirt is worth every penny.)

Also, if you can't afford/don't want to spend the $$$ on the Susan Garrett crate games DVD, youtube it. It's not on Youtube, per se, but there are quite a few people who demonstrate it with their dogs, plus there's Susan Garrett's Recallers series, and it's a big part of that. I think a lot of people have posted themselves doing the crate games with their dogs.

For example, this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8HNO79bZMY I haven't watched the whole thing, but the first couple of minutes suggest that she will explain how it works. But if you can get your hands on the actual DVD, it's a blast. :)
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Postby LMM » December 22nd, 2011, 2:48 pm

Like anything else, it doesn't work on every dog BUT having said that, I've seen it work on most dogs we've used it on. Some dogs the change is more subtle (like KIa, just taking her down a few notches) and others the change is "Oh my GOD why didn't we get that on video!?". I definitely recommend that and the DAP collar or spray. Never had much luck with the plug.

I also second the Through a Dog's Ear CD.
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Postby copperlegend » December 22nd, 2011, 4:24 pm

Yeah, we use the Through a Dog's Ear CD's, and it seems to be another helpful tool in taking things down a notch or 2.
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Postby pitsnok » December 23rd, 2011, 1:24 am

Thanks for all the suggestions guys, I don't have time to individually address each thing right now, but all sound like very helpful options.

Liz, he is rotated throughout the day, usually for about 4 hour increments with Degan and Harlow. We struggled a LOT with getting him INTO the crate in the beginning, and some "crate gaming" helped. He goes in his bed fine now, but unless Degan and Harlow are also in their beds, he protests... and even sometimes then.

I feel bad because he can't be very comfortable, but he can't have a bed or blanket with him because he tears them up and EATS them... We have tried having the crate covered, uncovered, sitting by it, ignoring him, blah blah blah... he just goes into a zone that is so hyped up that nothing seems to help. We usually leave the tv on, but have tried not doing it too...

It's just frustrating... it's the ONE thing about Boss that is bad.
~Brittany, Degan and Harlow's mom


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