The ThunderShirt is advertised as a shirt that will calm your dog in stressful situations. It was originally designed to help dogs get through thunderstorms but it is now also used for separation anxiety, reactive barking – and/or other stress related events.
Ease of Use(5/10): They seem to hype up how difficult this is to put on your dog. It isn’t as hard as they say, but I’m constantly sure I did it wrong regardless. If your dog is accepting of things going over its head the second round is much easier as the neck is already secure. I find it tricky to put the shirt on without it wrinkling somewhere, but I figure as I go along it will get easier. It’s also important to note that a skittish pup should be slowly introduced to the jacket so that it does not become a stress-producer. There are instructions when you get it to explain all of this.
Enjoyment(10/10): My dog settles down right away with this item. In fact the first time I gave it to her I ran downstairs to go grab something and she didn’t follow – she just looked at my boyfriend happily. That was the first time she let me out of her sight without barking. She shows some resistance to moving once its on – almost like she needs to reset for a moment, but after that she’ll curl up feeling fine, or slowly follow you around the house.
Effectiveness(3/10): She relaxes – when I’m home. If I do absolutely everything that I normally do to keep her from barking (at minimum effectiveness) she doesn’t always bark if I put the shirt on. So it does help with barking somewhat. That being said it does not calm her down if she isn’t almost completely exhausted already. The shirt should be used alongside behavioural modification, as it’s not a cure-all, but it still isn’t giving the promised result of helping her without training.
Durability(8/10): The Velcro straps had me worried for a bit, but they seem to be holding up fine. This being said – they will wear down eventually. It is also somehow magically immune to my dogs habit of chewing everything cloth near her when I’m gone.
Appearance(9/10): It’s pretty snazzy. It’s not an item meant as a fashion accessory but it took my fluffy Lilo and turned her into a sleek pup with her name labelled in a gorgeous colour on her side.
Smell(10/10): It’s has a neutral-nice smell to it when it comes to you and with dogs not sweating I am predicting it will smell just as good as your dog after quite a few hours of use.
Ease of Cleaning(7/10): Rubbing the fur off is really easy – though I’m not excited for when she catches some fur in the Velcro. I’m also not looking forward to the washing portion as it seems like this isn’t going to be fun with all of the spots that I’ll have to be careful on.
Feel(10/10): It’s soft and stretchy and I wouldn’t mind a matching t-shirt(without the squeezing portion) to go with it. This shirt is honestly better than the majority of my shirts.
Cost: ThunderShirt.com offers these up for $39.95USD – plus shipping. To get your shirt embroidered is an extra $10.00. This being said there are often coupons on the site that offer either free embroidery, or free shipping. There are also pet stores that are starting to stock the shirts for a similar price.
Size: There are many sizes available, with there now being a section for cats as well.
Bottom Line: The shirt seems to calm down Lilo and if she’s testing my patience I know I can rely on it to make her settle down for a bit – which makes training easier. Having her relax sometimes is a great gift and I probably would have paid a lot more if I knew the results it would have given me. That being said it didn’t do as promised so I am a little let down. If she wears this one out without chewing it to pieces I’ll order another one as soon as the budget allows for it.