dog anxiety

  • Introducing The ThunderToy and ThunderTreats!

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    We’re so happy to add some more members to the ThunderWorks family!

    toy treats

    Introducing the ThunderToy and ThunderTreats!

    Both work together to not only keep our dogs occupied, but calm them down too!

    They are a perfect accompaniment to the ThunderShirt, especially during stressful or anxiety-prone times.

    How it works:

    The ThunderToy slowly releases the delicious ThunderTreats over time which calm your pet due to the relaxing ingredients.

    The ThunderTreats are corn, soy and wheat free and contain chamomile and lavender for added relaxation benefits!

     

     

    Does your pooch deserve a ThunderToy and ThunderTreat? You can purchase one here!

     

  • Guest Blogger: Mikkel Becker!

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    We’re thrilled to have well-known and respected pet behavior and training expert, and Vetstreet.com contributor, Mikkel Becker back on our blog today! She’s talking summer storm season and pet anxiety. Take it away, Mikkel!

    Thunderstorm phobia is a common fear I address in dog training. Countless canines suffer every year when summer storm season hits. Symptoms of fear include panting, pacing, increased salivation, whining, shaking, hyper vigilance, looking overly sleepy, lip licking, furrowed brows, the whites of their eyes showing and shadowing their owner or attempting to hide or flee. Although the external signs of fear vary amongst individual dogs, the internal state of distress the dog experiences cannot be ignored.

    While logically there’s little danger involved for a dog kept indoors during a lightning storm, there’s no reasoning a canine out of their fear. The fear is very real to that dog, and without intervention, the fear not only remains for most dogs, but grows stronger with time. Fear is a motivator in the natural survival response for the animal to move themselves away from a perceived threat and into a safe place. Dogs are wired to avoid dangerous situations and flee danger for self-preservation. Loud booms and flashes of light are two such stimulus’ that dogs are wired to flee from, rather than run to, for survival. There is also the likelihood of a genetic influence, as studies have shown that certain tendencies, such as fear of numerous noises and separation anxiety, are linked to the fear of thunderstorms.

    Ongoing fear decreases a dog’s quality of life and impacts even internal functions, like debilitating their body’s immune system. Dogs are also at risk for injury or worse when they panic, as they may hurt themselves when attempting to escape or when running in a blind panic. It’s not only traumatic for a dog to experience ongoing fear, but it’s stressful to the pet parent who feels helpless to calm their pet.

    Though our dogs can’t help the fearful state they’re naturally in with thunderstorms, as loving pet parents, we have the ability to help our pets. Dogs don’t need to suffer needlessly. With just a few changes, a dog’s fear of thunderstorms can be drastically decreased or taken away all together.

    Here are the top recommendations I offer to pet parents when training their dog to relax during storms.

    The first tool I recommend to owners is the ThunderShirt. The ThunderShirt is essential, as it instantly calms the dog in a non-invasive manner. The gentle pressure of the ThunderShirt increases feel good endorphins and is similar to the comfort a baby experiences when swaddled. Pressure has a calming effect on animals, as made famous by Temple Grahndin in her work of transferring the calming effects of pressure on cattle to other uses, such as decreasing anxiety for people with autism. The effects of pressure have likewise been shown to calm dogs.

    The ThunderShirt is essential, because the wrap has immediate results for calming the dog with no prior training needed. The ThunderShirt works in about 80% of canines, thus it’s the most effective and natural tool to decrease anxiety in dogs. If the dog is in an overly panicked state, other methods may be used to no avail when a storm hits, because the dog is already so over threshold, they are not receptive to reinforcement. When dogs are panicked, even activities they would normally do without hesitation, such as eating a treat or playing with a ball are denied, because the dog is too fearful to respond. Fear also inhibits learning; with animals most receptive to learning when they are in a relaxed state. The ThunderShirt is my go-to tool as it calms a dog and brings them to an emotional state where they are receptive to learning and can receive rewards to help build a positive association with the storm.

    Once the dog’s emotional state has been brought to a better baseline, there are additional tactics I use. One of my favorite solutions is to create a thunder room in the house. A thunder room should have the feeling of a hide-away where the dog can escape to and should be somewhat insulated from outside noise. A roomy closet or bathroom is ideal. Static electricity may build up in a dog’s coat during a storm, thus keeping the dog on hard floors rather than carpet and using dryer sheets to rub over the dog’s fur is helpful. Music can be calming for dogs and drowns out noise. For best results, play music loud enough to drown out some of the booms from the thunder, with classical music shown to have the greatest relaxation effect. The blinds should also be kept closed in the house, as flashes of light can be frightening for canines if they happen to catch a glimpse.

    Your dog should also be given training to associate the storm with good things happening to change their emotional baseline. For a play focused dog that enjoys fetch or structured tug, start a game as soon as the storm hits and continue throughout. Keep in mind you may want to play these games inside while sheltered from the elements and the loud noise. For other dogs, the storm should be associated with delectable treats. Each time the thunder hits, immediately deliver a piece of high value reward, such as boiled chicken or turkey hotdog. You can also use the storm to refocus your dog on another activity they deeply enjoy, such as trick training or giving them a stuffed food puzzle. Another less thought of but effective tool is to get a dog into a different state by triggering a behavior that’s innate in a dog. Use a chase toy, such as a fishing pole with a toy on the end to get your dog involved in a game of chase, or even race off a few steps yourself and reward your dog with a treat for following. You can also howl or bark, potentially triggering other dogs in your household if present, and starting a group howl. The chase or howl may break the cycle of fear even for a moment as a different area of the brain is engaged, where at that point the dog can be refocused onto another activity, such as eating their tasty treats.

    In addition, consider daily exercise for your dog as it boosts serotonin levels, a regulator of mood, and releases other feel good endorphins that build a dog’s resiliency. Exercise also provides a productive outlet for pent up energy that will help a dog relax more during the rest of their day. During the summer, dogs should be exercised regularly during the cool parts of the day with the amount of exercise needed depending upon the dog’s age, breed and energy level. Dogs should be exercised preemptively before a storm hits.

     

  • Insta-hey! We’re on Instagram, follow us why don’t ya!

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    That’s right, you can follow all the fun happenings at ThunderWorks by following us on Instagram! Stay tuned for fun contests, fan shout outs and more news from us at ThunderWorks!

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    http://instagram.com/thunderworks

  • Tips to Keep Your Pets Calm on 4th of July

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    Check out this video of our tips for the 4th of July:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJr3Ls5RdQI&feature=c4-overview&list=UUuIymvC4yigIVyLy_srg25g

  • Wishing you a “Thunderful” 4th of July! Now, let’s have a treat!

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    What a better of a way to include out pets in on the patriotic fun than to whip up these delicious red white and blue treats!

    We found this recipe from one of our favorite bloggers, Sugar the Golden Retriever and thought they make the perfect cool and summery treat for our favorite four-legged pals!

    Frosty Yogurt Berries Bone Parfait

    treats

    Ingredients

    ~1 tablespoon of Greek Yogurt

    ~1 tablespoon of Plain Yogurt

    ~2 teaspoon of fresh blackberries juice (=3 pieces of blackberries)

    4 x-small pieces of strawberries

    1 teaspoon of homemade toasted coconut honey oats (using old fashion oats, coconut oil and honey)

    Directions

    Use a Bone cookie cutter as a mold. Place it on a flat surface. We used a clear plate.

    1. Pour into the mold ~ 1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt.* Freeze it for about an hour.

    *This is the first time we used Greek yogurt for frosty paw recipe. It does not freeze well unlike the regular plain yogurt.*

    2. Pour ~2 teaspoons of the fresh blackberries juice. Smashed blackberries can be added too. Freeze it for about 20 to 30 minutes.

    3. Place little pieces of strawberries.

    4. Pour ~1 tablespoon of plain yogurt. Freeze it for 20 minutes.

    5. Place the tasted oats on top. Freeze it for another 10-15 minutes.

     

    Image via

  • Guest Blogger: Mikkel Becker!

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    We’re thrilled that well-known and respected pet behavior and training expert, and Vetstreet.com contributor, Mikkel Becker is here to share her advice on how to best prevent and treat pet anxiety related to the upcoming 4th of July festivities! Take it away, Mikkel!

    Fireworks are exciting to many people, but our dogs see them differently. The sight and sound of the patriotic displays we love terrify our dogs. They seem like an attack, an experience so frightful that days around the Fourth of July are the ones most likely to lose a dog, as they run away in terror.

    It makes sense from a survival standpoint for a dog to react fearfully to fireworks, because in the natural world, loud bangs and flashes of light may signal a life-threatening situation animals need to avert in order to stay alive.  The fear they experience is obvious:  Our dogs will be shaking, trembling, panting, pacing, drooling, hiding, running away, attempting to escape, whining and vocalizing.

    When dogs are afraid, they can injure themselves when attempting to escape. The people around a terrified dog are also at risk, because a scared dog is more likely to bite defensively.

    Stress and the body’s reaction to it has damaging effects when experienced over prolonged periods of time, damaging the immune system and making the body more susceptible to disease.  Stress also decreases reproductive hormones, increasing a dog’s risk of cardiovascular disease. (http://www.livescience.com/2967-animals-stressed.html)

    I know firsthand how horrific fear can be.  When I was a young girl I was afraid of air travel, so much so that I would have panic attacks both in the days leading up to travel and during plane trips. Family and friends would attempt to get me to understand that my fear had little basis, but their words didn’t help.  At the time I had flown to more than 48 countries safely, but I was still afraid.  That fear is similar to what many dogs go through: They experience fireworks displays with no real harm done, but the fear remains. Although we may believe that our pets’ fear of fireworks lacks reason, to the dog, the situation is very real.

    These dogs are in a state of distress.

    To overcome my fear of airplanes and get to the confident state I’m in now as a frequent flyer, I worked to change the way I viewed plane trips, as well as incorporating calming techniques to relax myself during flights. Today as a dog trainer, I help dogs overcome the fear that feels very real to them by changing their perspective and using calming techniques.

    If your pet experiences fear around the Fourth of July, there are some practical ways you can decrease your pet’s panic and help him or her relax. The right training will not only keep your pet safe during the days around the holiday, but will also boost your pet’s quality of life and promote the bonding between you and your pet.

    The top recommendation I give to clients with anxious pets is to use the ThunderShirt, a pressure wrap that’s a non-invasive, natural way to calm pets.  The ThunderShirt is the top anxiety-reducer recommended to pets at the North Idaho Animal Hospital, where I teach training classes. I’ve seen the dramatic difference in dogs and cats on many occasions. Pressure wraps are calming to pets. Just as swaddling a baby or giving a tight hug to a close friend is comforting, pets are similarly comforted by pressure hugs. Dogs respond amazingly well to the gentle pressure the ThunderShirt provides. The ThunderShirt works on 80 percent of dogs. (And if it doesn’t work, as I remind my clients, there’s no harm done to your dog or your wallet, since ThunderShirt offers a money-back guarantee.)

    The ThunderShirt provides immediate relief. I’ve watched time and time again as dog’s whole body relaxes and outward symptoms of anxiety, such as trembling and panting, decrease shortly after the ThunderShirt is on. For best results, I have clients use the ThunderShirt at the onset of stress, such as when the pet first hears fireworks in the distance. The faster fear is addressed and comfort is applied, the less panic a pet will face. But even if the pet is already in a full blown anxiety response when an unforeseeable event occurs, such as when a surprise crackling and bangs when fireworks next door suddenly set off, the ThunderShirt will still do its job and calm the pet at whatever stage of anxiety they are in. The ThunderShirt also works for other stress evoking situations, such as trips to the veterinarian, car rides and thunderstorms.

    In addition to the ThunderShirt, there are training tactics that can help pets remain stress-free during the season of fireworks and thunderstorms. One of the best tactics is to prove your pet with a comforting den-like hideout they can retreat to when fireworks are being set off. When pets are in a panic, many seek out a place of refuge to hide in. Closets and bathrooms make ideal hiding areas, because they’re smaller in size and usually dark. Make these areas as comfortable as possible; giving the pet blankets and even hiding areas inside, such as their regular crate or a chair with a blanket draped over the top for them to hide under. Keep the windows of the area and surrounding rooms closed to prevent the pet from catching the flashes of light that accompanies the sounds of fireworks or storms.

    Drowning out the sound of fireworks is another helpful tactic. Classical music has been shown to be naturally calming for dogs. Play it loud enough to make the crashes of fireworks less abrupt and to drown out some of the background noise.

    You can also change your pet’s perception of the fireworks to make the noise symbolic of the onset of something pleasurable happening. Depending upon the dog, a food puzzle, a trick training session, fetch or a structured game of tug are all ways to change your pet’s association of the fireworks. Changing your pets focus, such as getting them to work towards getting food or engaging in play, changes their focus from fear to food acquisition and food. One trick I’ve used with my parent’s dog, Quixote, is to howl with him. The act of getting your dog to vocalize in a socially facilitated situation of howling along with a person immediately changes a pet’s focus. The more the pet associates fireworks with something they enjoy, the more relaxed the pet will be.

    Pets should never be left in an area where they can escape or injure themselves when the fireworks are happening. Unattended canines must be left in a doggy proofed area, such as a crate or enclosed area in their hideaway den when left alone. For dogs with a history of escape or panic when left alone, use constant supervision during fireworks season or leave them with a professional, such as a pet sitter, who can provide the comforting techniques to calm your pet while you’re away.

    When taking your pet outside to potty or when going out on walks on the days surrounding Independence Day, keep your pet on a leash or a long line to prevent escape and subsequent harm. Pets can be walked and taken outside with their ThunderShirt to make outings less frightening even with fireworks around. Exercise provides an outlet to channel excess energy in dogs; it also releases calming endorphins. If you use a regular flat collar, you may opt for a martingale type instead that tightens on the neck without choking the dog to prevent the animal from backing out of the collar on walks if startled. For pets who react to the sight of fireworks, consider using a  ThunderCap, which reduces the visual stimuli, making it less frightening.

    The Fourth of July doesn’t have to be a frightening experience for your pet. You can keep them safe and calm by using training tips, providing a safe and secure hideaway, and using the natural action of the ThunderShirt to calm your pet.

    -Mikkel Becker

    Mikkel Becker Low-Res

  • Strike a Pose!!!!

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    Ever tried to catch a picture of your dog and were unsuccessful? Have no fear? Here are three tips to ensure your pooch is picture perfect!

    1. Get ground cover

    Kneeling or lying on the ground to shoot from low viewpoints can be uncomfortable, especially on a wet day. Taking along some plastic sheeting to keep you dry will make the experience more bearable.

    2. Include their favorite toys

    Keeping your pet’s attention while you get your shots is always tricky, but most will have a favorite toy that you can use to keep them occupied. This prop might also give your shots extra character.

    3 Try some treats
    Sometimes your dog might need some encouragement. Arm yourself with a pocketful of treats that will get your dog to play along, and reward them when you get the shot you want.

    (via)

    Do you have a good pic of your dog? Send it or post on out Facebook page!

  • ThunderShirt's 1st Annual Charity Dog Wash!

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    This Friday May 31st from 2:00-5:00 PM we will be hosting a dog wash at our national headquarters to benefit local cause, the Coalition to Unchain Dogs which is dedicated to improving the welfare of dogs living outdoors on chains.  In addition to the dog wash, attendees can enjoy local food trucks and various community partners who will be exhibiting.  We will also have a pet photographer, goodie bags and a raffle!

    Dog wash: $15. General admission is free, and donations of any amount are welcome!

    At our location:

    905 Jackie Robinson Drive Durham, NC 27701

    Thund_15050_Dog_Wash_Flyer

  • You Lucky Dog!

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    Hey friends! We’re lucky to have you, and to celebrate our favorite Irish holiday, we thought we’d give YOU a free Thundershirt! Here’s how you can enter…

     

    Step One: Visit us on Facebook, and “Like” our page (if you don’t already).

     

    Step Two: Post a photo of your dog or cat to our Facebook wall, and finish this sentence as the caption: “I’m so lucky to have {INSERT PET’s NAME} because…”

     

    Step Three: Share your post with your own Facebook friends, and invite them to “like or comment” on your post!

     

    The post with the most “likes and unique comments” by 5:00pm EST on Friday, March 15, 2013 will win a free, embroidered Thundershirt!

  • Thundershirt Earns ‘Petfinder Seal of Approval’

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    Thundershirt Earns ‘Petfinder Seal of Approval’

    Brand Among First to Receive Pet-Friendly Designation –

    Durham, N.C.– Thundershirt Founder Phil Blizzard is thrilled to announce today that the company has been recognized with the first-ever, official “Petfinder Seal of Approval.”

    The Petfinder Seal of Approval extends the trust and authority of the Petfinder name to products, services, brands and initiatives that have met specific pet-friendly criteria. Petfinder, the online leader in responsible pet ownership, is committed to championing individuals, organizations and brands that are actively working to improve the lives of pets through a variety of programs, including the new “Petfinder Seal of Approval.”

    Petfinder Seal of Approval applicants are individually qualified, and criteria for qualifications are detailed on their website, but include the absence of harmful testing on animals, the promotion of adoption over sale of pets, and the safety history of the product, among others.

    Great for fear of thunder, barking problems, separation anxiety, car or travel anxiety, crate anxiety, noise anxiety, leash pulling, general fearfulness, reactivity, excitability and more, the Thundershirt is the best solution for pet anxiety.

    With its patent-pending design, the Thundershirt applies gentle, constant pressure to the torso. This pressure has a dramatic calming effect for dogs and cats if they are anxious or fearful. Anxiety experts believe that pressure has a calming effect on the nervous system and may release calming hormones like endorphins or oxytocins.

    The Thundershirt for Dogs is available in sizes XXS to XXL, and comes in their signature Heather Grey, Pink or Blue Polo designs. The Thundershirt for Cats is available in sizes S, M and L, and Heather Grey only. Suggested retail starts at $39.95, and the products can be personalized with custom embroidery for an additional charge.

    Visit www.Thundershirt.com for more information, or contact Kerry Sutherland at K. Sutherland PR, Kerry@ksutherlandpr.com or 949-328-4895 to request a product sample, high-resolution image or interview.

    - ### -

    About Thundershirt

    Founded in 2009 in Durham, N.C., Thundershirt’s mission is to bring relief to the millions of dogs, cats and their families struggling to cope with anxieties. The Thundershirt is designed to apply a constant, gentle pressure to a dog or cat’s torso creating a dramatic calming effect for most users. Thundershirt continues to investigate dog and cat anxiety and fear issues with scientific-based studies and surveys from recognized veterinarians and pet owners.  Thundershirt has already helped hundreds of thousands of dogs across the country and around the world.

    The company also donates thousands of Thundershirts and funding to rescue groups and shelters to help these organizations manage their anxiety cases and find permanent homes. Thundershirts are sold online at www.thundershirt.com and by retail stores, veterinarians, trainers and kennels across the country.

    Online: thundershirt.com

    Facebook: facebook.com/Thundershirt

    Twitter: @Thundershirt

    Pinterest: pinterest.com/Thundershirt

     

    About Petfinder

    Petfinder is the largest online, searchable database of animals that need permanent homes. With more than 320,000 adoptable pets from more than 13,700 animal shelters and rescue groups throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico, Petfinder has facilitated more than 20 million adoptions since it was launched in 1996. In addition to being an adoption database, Petfinder also is an all-inclusive resource guide for how to select the right family pet and build a successful, life-long relationship. Thanks to its sponsors, Petfinder is free to both visitors and to its animal placement organization members. Sponsors include BISSELL Homecare, Inc., a manufacturer of home cleaning and floor care products, The Animal Rescue Site, PetFirst Healthcare, the exclusive pet insurance provider for Petfinder, and HomeAgain, a microchip and pet recovery service.

    Online: petfinder.com

    Facebook: facebook.com/petfinder

    Twitter: @Petfinder

    Pinterest: pinterest.com/petfinder

    iPhone App: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/petfinder.com-adopt-pets/id354876999?mt=8

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