Invincibility Cloak

Risa in her Super Shirt.

Today was the first of a two-day freestyle seminar with presenter Michele Pouliot. My brain is stuffed and I have learned so much that I didn’t know before or needed a reminder to start doing. I love going to seminars and realizing I am still doing a million things wrong along with getting a lot of helpful tips on how to improve what I am doing. I cannot wait until tomorrow.

But this post isn’t about the seminar (I promise I will write about that later). This entry is about Risa’s Thundershirt and the awesomeness that it is. 😉

Being a reactive and fearful dog, Risa is a horrible hotel-mate. She barks and grumbles at the slightest sound. From people passing by in the hallways to shutting car doors. Heaven forbid someone knocks on a door, has a conversation, or if a dog walks by. It’s immensely frustrating for us both. Risa is afraid and I know that. But we’re in a hotel and, sometimes, people are trying to sleep. It’s too late to toss treats or try to classically condition her to the noises (and, to be fair, I never had much success with that when we lived in apartments) because we’re already there. I wanted her to feel more comfortable. Not to mention I hated getting so annoyed and frustrated with her that I’d start yelling. 🙁 I knew about the Thundershirt and thought that would be a good solution.

I have used tight-fitting T-shirts on Risa before with good success. She’s always enjoyed wearing clothing (weird dog that she is) and I had noticed she was less anxious while wearing a shirt during thunderstorms or fireworks. So, on our last hotel stay, I brought her tight-fitting shirt with her for an experiment. While we were lounging around the room she had it on and she was relatively quiet. I heard obvious noises and she didn’t startle. The worst she did was lift her head and look around. But no barking. Unfortunately, I do not feel comfortable with her wearing clothing without being supervised so I had to remove the shirt at bedtime. My experiment was a success, though. I knew a ‘body wrap’ would help Risa feel more calm and comfortable.

Relaxing calmly near the door in the hotel room while I enjoyed my dinner.

With the seminar less than a month away and another hotel stay in the near future after that, I knew I needed to get Risa a Thundershirt. For both of us! I knew we’d have a better chance of sleeping soundly through the night once Risa got one. Since it’s safe to leave a Thundershirt on a dog even unsupervised (okay, so nothing is without risk but at least this is made to fit a dog), I could put it on her as soon as we got to the hotel and just leave it on throughout the night.

I wouldn’t say the Thundershirt has been a miracle cure. Nothing ever is. 😉 But I have noticed a huge difference. Risa did not remain quiet last night but we didn’t have a lot of acclimation to the room time before I had to call it a night and go to bed. Today, she’s been much better. She did initially bark at passerbys when we got back after the seminar but it didn’t last. Even with me ignoring her boofs and growls. Pretty soon she just quietly laid on the floor near the door. Right now, she’s completely passed out on the bed near me as I type this entry. 🙂 Of course, she had a long day and she’s always sleepy after her dinner. But I think the Thundershirt has helped her feel more at ease. After all, she still used to wake up to bark when she heard noises in similar situations before without the shirt.

Considering how uncomfortable she felt at the seminar today (she wasn’t really that bad but she was clearly a bit upset about the other dogs), I may work her in her shirt tomorrow.

About Jamie

I'm just a traditionally-trained artist with interests in dog training. I currently teach classes at the local obedience training club (tricks, freestyle, and Rally-FrEe) and I also teach classes professionally for an organization who helps veterans train their own service dogs.
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