The Anxiety Wrap Can Help Your Dog End Thunderstorm Fear: Three Easy Tips Can Also Be Used to Lessen Storm Anxiety

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Dogs that fear thunderstorms can find relief with this patented product called The Anxiety Wrap. It's used by veterinarians, dog trainers, behaviorists and Tellington Touch practitioners in the U.S. and around the world. The product works by using a gentle technique called, "Maintained Pressure," which has been used with autistic children and in neuro-rehabilitation for years. The inventor and veteran dog trainer, Susan Sharpe, also provides training tips to be used in conjunction with The Anxiety Wrap.

Any positive exercise you can do helps to create a better association between your dog and the storm.

Thunderstorm season is approaching across much of the United States which can bring months of distress to thousands of dogs who suffer from thunderstorm fear. The remedies for this issue are limited and the consequences can be severe which is why Susan Sharpe, ADPT, CDPT and veteran dog trainer, is recommending the use of The Anxiety Wrap (U.S. patent no. 6,820,574) to ease or eliminate this fear.

Thunderstorm anxiety can be a serious problem. A fearful dog can exhibit minor symptoms such as trembling, pacing and panting, or more extreme ones that result in damage to the house or to himself, including serious injury and/or even death. This issue is disturbing emotionally to owners as they see their dog in distress and are unable to ease its suffering.

Ms. Sharpe explains, "Many owners have had to modify their lifestyle because they're afraid to leave their home if a storm is approaching for fear of their dog causing destruction. They also suffer sleepless nights when their dog wakes them up in the middle of the night looking for comfort during a storm." The Anxiety Wrap is a non-pharmaceutical, gentle and easy way to help a dog lessen or end its fear of thunderstorms. "It's tremendously gratifying to hear back from our customers who report their lives are back to normal and their dog can now weather thunderstorms with little or no distress," comments Ms. Sharpe.

The Anxiety Wrap:
Susan has over 20 years experience training and boarding dogs, many of whom have had serious fear/anxiety issues. She invented The Anxiety Wrap to help her clients' dogs remain calm during training or boarding. Launched in 2001, The Anxiety Wrap is made of a comfortable, stretchable fabric an animal wears like a bodysuit. The Anxiety Wrap provides gentle pressure over as much of the dog's body as possible and helps him/her become calm whether he/she is fearful, anxious, and/or hyperactive.    

It works by using a technique called Maintained Pressure, which was first publicized by Dr. Temple Grandin, an autistic doctor who developed the "Hug Box," which provides a calming affect for children and adults with autism. The practice of swaddling babies to help calm them is another example of Maintained Pressure. Thunderstorm fear is one of The Anxiety Wrap's biggest uses, followed by separation anxiety, and other anxiety and/or fear-related behaviors.

Help Dogs Weather Storms:
Once the owner follows the instructions acclimate his/her dog to The Anxiety Wrap, all he/she needs to do is to put The Anxiety Wrap on their dog when the dog indicates a storm is approaching. If the owner is leaving the house or going to sleep and believes a storm may occur, he/she can apply The Anxiety Wrap on the dog beforehand. Some dogs respond immediately and sleep through the storm while others may take a longer period of time and/or need training in conjunction with using The Wrap. Ms. Sharpe offers three simple training tips owners can do to further help their dog weather a storm:

  • One: Determine what part of the storm causes your dog to react
  • Two: Aid in finding your dog a safe place such as a window free closet or bathroom.
  • Three: Redirect your dog's focus to help him let go of his perceived danger

Remain as neutral as possible if you must interact with your dog to help find a safe place and/or redirect this focus away from the perceived danger.

"First, determine what part of the storm triggers your dog's reaction," explains Susan. One example is a dog that chases and barks at the lightning or thunder through the house. "This dog might fare better in a crate with a cover over it to help minimize the lightning while placing a radio or television on or near the crate to help with the thunder. Be sure to observe any crated dog during distress as it may increase his anxiety," says Ms. Sharpe.

Second, see if your dog can find a safe place where he can remain calm through the storm. "Sometimes this is the bathroom, sometimes it's the closet," explains Susan. "As long as the occupants of the house are okay with the location of the safe place and the dog remains calm without undergoing further trauma, this is an acceptable solution."

If a safe place can't be found, Ms. Sharpe suggests a third tip, "You might try attaching the leash and walking your dog through the house, asking him to perform learned behaviors or go up and down stairs, etc. Redirecting your dog's focus helps him let go of his perceived danger. Make your house an obstacle course and give the dog juicy treats for maneuvering through, especially during a stressful situation. Gently engage your dog in whatever his favorite activity is whether it's a game of fetch or hide and seek."

Don't give up if you don't see improvement right away. Ms. Sharpe explains, "Any positive exercise you can do helps to create a better association between your dog and the storm." She counsels that there are some dogs whose sense of perceived danger is so strong, they will not allow their focus to be redirected, regardless of what is offered to them.

The most important thing, Ms. Sharpe cautions, is to remain as neutral as possible if interacting with the dog. "Often we humans will try to reassure our dogs by talking in an animated way, sitting with, hugging, and petting them," she explains. "Unfortunately, giving them special attention even with the best of intentions can actually reinforce their fearful behavior. To a dog, this out-of-the-normal behavior can justify his anxiety. After all, something must be wrong or his human wouldn't be making such a fuss. Also be sure to never punish the dog for his fearful behavior."

One way to try and prevent thunderstorm fear from ever beginning is to make the most out of that critical first year of puppy hood. Along with extensive socialization, Susan recommends playing ball or other fun activities with the puppy whenever a storm occurs while the puppy is not showing any signs of thunderstorm fear.

The Anxiety Wrap:
Ms. Sharpe is currently working with Cornell University to develop a research study on the product's beneficial effects. The Anxiety Wrap has been featured on The Today Show and Dr. Barbara Simpson introduced the Anxiety Wrap at the 2002 AVMA Convention as one of four ways to work with thunderstorm fear in dogs. The Anxiety Wrap has received positive reviews in major trade magazines such as Whole Dog Journal, Animal Wellness, Fido Friendly, and The Bark. The Anxiety Wrap is available at, 1-877-652-1266, and is sold at various online and print pet catalogs as well as stand-alone pet stores across the United States. It is used by pet owners, veterinarians, trainers, behaviorists and Tellington Touch Practitioners in the U.S., Canada, Australia, U.K., Spain, South Africa, Mexico, Japan and Hong Kong.


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Kimberly Ring
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