Monday, June 13, 2011

ThunderShirt Review, Vol. 2

To Review:

(1). Neurotic-Ass Terrier {Terriorist}

(2). Greatest Enemies: Vacuum / Dust-Buster; Car-Riding, especially non-highway driving.

(3). Enter: ThunderShirt 

(4). Hurdle Numero Uno: SharkVAC.  Result: No Bueno.

Now Playing...

Hurdle Numero Dos: Road Trip to Waco.

As you can see, our journey did not begin as if our vehicle was swathed in calming love and comfort.  The Boom was all pant-y {in the Expulsion-of-Oxygen Sense... not the Victoria's Secret sense} and wouldn't lay down... per usual.  Actually leaving the garage and getting on the road didn't improve matters. 

Note: The Beastie Boom looooves sitting in the driver's lap - a control freak, just like her mama.  Obviously this does not a Model of Safe Driving make.  We rarely let her do this.  She had just escaped my clutches when I show this video... She's a surprisingly strong little booger. 

Once we got settled on I-35, Boo-Butt quieted down a bit.  As is her M.O., she'll go from lap, to floor board, to back seat, and back to lap for the entire stretch of highway driving - rotating positions every 5 minutes or so.  While she's not scretching like a banshee, it's still highly obnoxical. 

I'll say this for her, the little witch does have good taste in cruising music:

The minute we signaled for our exit, the wheels came off the whole operation.  Squealing, scratching, shaking, screeching. She was so out of control that I couldn't catch the zenith of the meltdown for fear she would bound on top of E and cause him to run off the road... All par for the course when Traveling with the Boom. 

{warning: adult language ahoy}

Soooooooooo... as you might have guessed, our ThunderShirt is now neatly repackaged and waiting for Fed Ex pick-up.  Huge Fail.  Epic Fail. Tremendous Fail.  We didn't even try it again on the way back... I think she might have been calmer {relatively speaking of course} sans shirt. 

Back to the drawing board...

ETA: I've had a bunch of people suggest Benadryl and/or trying an Rx drug... We've tried every single one under the sun.  They don't have any effect (and a few have the opposite effect).  I know she is safer if restrained but that only makes her anxiety worse... often to the point where she will vomit and/or have diarrhea.  We only travel with her if both of us are in the car - never a solo driver (unless she's going just across town... then we crate her and pray she keeps calm long enough to get where we're headed without a Bodily Fluid Incident.). 


  1. Poor little puppy!! I have a jackchi (Jack Russell and Chiwawa - weird I know) and we had the same problems with her when we traveled. Our vet suggested that for long car rides we give her a little bit of baby benadryl (1 mg per lb) just to calm her down (kinda like xanax for our four legged friends). I was totally against it but Sophie's raging psychoness on one 9 hour drive caused me to have my hubs pull over to a CVS and get some. It worked like a charm. She's 7 lbs but I only gave her 3 mg and she wasn't drugged or wasted like I expected. We do that now with every long car ride (typically over 3 hours) and she's a champ -- we have zip, zero, nada problems now. Weird enough for shorter car rides now too she's a lot more calm -- maybe she's just getting used to it or maybe she was just being a true bit*h before but she's a great traveler now!
    I totally understand your pain though -- riding with a freaked out dog can put the best of us in a terrible TERRIBLE mood and ruin life. Hope you find something that works!!

  2. @Cat - oh yes - we've tried benadryl, xanax, prosac, and actual injectable tranquilizers. NOTHING works. It's absolute insanity.

  3. ahhh the thundershirt. what a sad day for me when I put one on my boston terrier and rang the doorbell, expecting sunshine and rainbows instead of the usual attack-dog freakout. NOTHING. he does seem calmer when he walks around the house with it on. we're going to give it a try on walks when it cools down enough {since we're in texas, I'm assuming putting it on him during a walk right now would constitute dog abuse}. for now...thundershirt=fail.

  4. Imagine this behavior with an 85 lb Lab. Yes, we drug him on long drives. I can't handle it. I can barely handle it when we take him a mile to the vet.

  5. OK, so...I disappointed that this didn't work, but I tremendously appreciate you sharing the experience, so we all know not to waste our time.
    Thoughts on the car thing. (1) With our two larger dogs (and once we can figure out an arrangement for the small one), we restrain them. Not because they are afraid or crazy, just so they are safer, and not climbing around getting slobber and hair everywhere or running us off the road. They make seat belt harnesses for dogs (in our case since we have an HHR with a large hatch area- we have a restraint strap/carabiner arrangement.) It's safer for the dog, and driver.
    (2) Here is what our trainers have suggested for easing dog's fear of cars. When you're not actually going anywhere, bring the dog into the car (not moving) and give them treats and praise them like crazy (as long as they aren't going nuts- you don't want to reward the bad behavior). If they seem cool with that after a few short sessions (no more than 5/10 minutes each), go for a short drive - maybe around the block- and reward/praise them like crazy as long as they are calm. If that works- reward and praise them whenever you are in the car.
    That being said- I know that these trainer tips don't work for everyone, but it's usually worth a try!

  6. We've also tried Benedryl on our dogs for a long road trip and other stress inducing things, and sometimes it works. In some sitations though, if they are normally bat-shit crazy... their adrenaline is going to completely bypass the bendryl. If the dog is really crazy, and its a really unsafe situation (like a long car ride by yourself), you may need a RX med from your vet. Much more effective than benedryl- and ALWAYS make sure if you do use the benedryl, that it's the kind that is ONLY the
    Diphenhydramine, and doesn't have any other ingredients which can be harmful for dogs. Consult your vet to make sure you are using the appropriate dosage as well. Best wishes!

  7. @Mrs A - Yes, I know we are kind of the Model of Unsafe Driving with Dogs, but restraining her makes it worse and she usually ends up working herself up so much that she vomits and/or has diarrhea. We don't do solo car trips with her any more because of this (unless it's to the vet or across town - then we crate her and pray she doesn't have enough time to go totally nuts). We have tried every RX under the sun and the vet has basically told us that if he gives her anything stronger it could damage her liver. We might have to resort to some sort of personal trainer... especially once we have children - there's no way I'd put her in the car with a child at this point.

  8. Hola K - I know you've heard it all, and I'm sorry the Thundershirt was a bust, but I thought I'd throw in my little bit of advice anyway. I got the 'shirt for Maui because he is terrified of thunderstorms, and although it does kind of make him act drunk, he's still very freaked out if it's a legit storm - panty, going in circles, etc.

    Lots of Google results recommend alprazolam (aka Xanax) for storm-anxiety in adult dogs, but unfortunately I know from when Maui had to be sedated post-heartworm-treatment when I first got him that Xanax has the complete opposite affect on Maui as intended. For the heartworm sedation, the vet ended up prescribing Acepromazine, which is a scary-effective sedative. Like, I-stared-at-him-constantly-to-make-sure-he-was-still-breathing effective.

    Fast forward to thunderstorm season, and after trying the thundershirt plus Benadryl to no avail, the vet recommended trying Acepromazine. I have to know that a storm is coming and give it to him about 2 hours prior to give him time to completely zonk out (otherwise his adrenaline will override the sedative), but it works - he just sleeps through the whole thing. Has your vet mentioned Acepromazine (or "ace" as the vet techs call it)? Like I said, it's super effective, so you'd definitely want to be careful with dosage especially on such a little lady as Boom, and you'd probably want to test it out at home for a few nights to see how much she needs to get her to zonk out (as opposed to just stumble around), but it might be worth a shot?

  9. I just realized I wrote "panty" in that comment. Gross.

  10. I was so hoping this worked for you -- our little monster Ellie is a mega-drooling, anxious, puking nightmare in the car. We have gotten dramamine to work for her (you basically give the kiddie dose or equivalent, and the tabs are easy to break in half), so we resort to that on long car trips.

  11. My god, you've tried MORE than everything for your little Boom -- that's just crazy!! I hope you can find something that makes it a little easier because that's just not fair for you two! At least little Boom is the cutest thing in the world -- makes it a little easier!!

  12. I've never had a dog that didn't love the car, so I have no advice. But I think my Cairn terrier would make a great bf for the boom, they like the same music :)

  13. This was informative and hilarious! One of my dogs is not a car fan either, shakes and usually makes herself vomit in the process. But she's much much larger than the boom, so lap sitting isn't a possibility.

  14. Well SHIT! I was so hoping it was going to work. It started storming at 530AM which means Ollie started freaking out at 515AM ... pacing, whining, jumping to put her front paws on the bed. Nothing like 70 pounds of desperately needs to be groomed golden hair to wake you up. NOTHING CALMS HER DOWN! And seeing as I didn't get to sleep until 230AM and I take my boards manana, I was one pissed off mama. Oh well ... so much for the thundershirt. :(


happy little comments!