General Question

canidmajor's avatar

Have any of you tried these things on your dogs?

Asked by canidmajor (11291points) May 26th, 2014

I will be consulting my vet this week.
I adopted a shelter dog over the winter, and I discovered this weekend that he freaks at fireworks. I have heard about Pet Calm, Rescue Remedy, and Thunder Shirts.
Do any of you have any experience with your dogs with any of these products? Would you recommend them? Or other products of a similar, non-pharmaceutical type?

Please, I am only asking about products here, not training methods.

Thank you.

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15 Answers

canidmajor's avatar

Interesting article, @longgone, thanks for linking it.

longgone's avatar

^ Sure! :]

OpryLeigh's avatar

I use a thunder shirt on my dog and it does relax her (she froze when I first put it on so I initially introduced it in short bursts, gradually keeping it on her for longer periods of time.) I use it alongside a Kong stuffed with corned beef and the two together help settle her really nicely during periods of high anxiety (firework season for example). I also have experience with ADAPTIL (AKA DAP-Dog Appeasement Pheremones) which also works although the results are much more subtle. I have used flower remedies (rescue remedy) on myself and it does work but I haven’t tried it on my dogs.

Smashley's avatar

I’ve seen the thundershirt fail completely a couple times (surprisingly, none of the buyers thereafter decided to take the company up on their 100% satisfaction guarantee). I thought just the packaging proved it was a scam: anything that claims to be good for so many conditions never is.

Beware personal accounts of the efficacy of dietary supplements. If you thought self-deception was rampant in the human supplement world, wait till you see those delusions as interpreted through dogs by desperate owners. As with any supplement, learn about the ingredients and study the mechanism that it supposedly at work before dropping money on unregulated claims.

Besides that, try gentle touch/hugs and soft talking when the fireworks are going on. Y’know, the classics.

canidmajor's avatar

Well, @Smashley, that’s why I was asking here if any one had experience, as it would be statistically improbable for them all to have some kind of agenda.

This dog is 10 years old. A) There is pretty much no chance of successfully conditioning the panic reaction out of this animal at this stage, B) all that would simply be rewarding and reinforcing his panic-reaction, and C) it is not feasible to be physically with the dog at every possible moment where thunder or a firework might happen.

So basically, I can assume that you’re answer is No, you have not tried these things on your dogs.

Smashley's avatar

I didn’t say agenda, I said delusion. People want to help their dogs, and they want to believe in the “cures” that are sold to them by shysters. The people who believe aren’t liars, the people who sell are liars. That’s all. By all means, ask your vet. I’m just trying to save you a couple hundred bucks on false hope, because that’s what I do.

Just don’t buy a Thundershirt. Supplements might work if they have real, dog-effective, ingredients, but Thundershirts are absolute bull.

longgone's avatar

@canidmajor It certainly is possible to re-condition a ten-year-old dog, unless this particular dog is well into old age. Don’t give up yet.

The belief that being petted reinforces fear has been discussed for a while. I think it is pretty much out-dated by now. I only heard about this recently, too… :

First off, reinforcing an emotion is technically impossible. Second, consider this: Imagine you’ve just been mugged. A friend comforts you. You will probably feel better, short-term. Will the comforting words make you more likely to be afraid next time you’re mugged? Of course not.

By the long-accepted logic, you should disregard the products you mentioned – all are supposed to make your dog feel good while he’s afraid, no?

The advice to not comfort a dog during thunderstorms makes sense with young puppies, as they have a good chance to learn that thunderstorms elicit zero weird behaviours from their humans. With an already anxious dog, this stage is over.

canidmajor's avatar

I am not rejecting this advice out of hand, I have adopted a number of older dogs over the last 30 years so I have experience in this area. The level of panic response in this dog is not something that can be conditioned out.
The reason I ask about products is because I am not set up at the moment to prepare my own herbal remedies that I have used in the past.

longgone's avatar

^ I just realized you asked to not receive training advice. I apologize. I’m not flagging my post since you responded, but you are welcome to.

canidmajor's avatar

Nah, I appreciate the concern. :-)

longgone's avatar

I’m glad. In that case…think about my comment regarding reinforcement of fear. Your problem may be made worse by ignoring the dog. Best of luck!

canidmajor's avatar

I am in no way “ignoring the dog”, don’t know why you would think so. (Really? “Ignoring the dog”?). However, excessive coddling of the dog reinforces the already established fear. I know this from first hand experience with a number of different dogs. Again, these were not puppies needing reassurance, these were older dogs with a full-on, established, panic reaction. Calming them with an herbal remedy doesn’t make them feel “good”, it physically calms them so they don’t have the same intensity of fear. The heart rate doesn’t go up as high, the blood pressure stays lower, and the adrenal output is lessened.
Like I said, I appreciate the concern, but my decades of experience will guide me better than theories put forth by strangers on the Internet.

I think that debating methods any further is useless, so I won’t be responding to those types of remarks any more.

longgone's avatar

I’m leaving these three articles for anyone who is interested. I didn’t mean to imply you are not taking good care of your dog, and I hope things work out for you. There is no need to respond.

snowberry's avatar

I’ve successfully used Bach Flower remedies on my dog. PM me for details. I also use the Thunder shirt on our new dog, and it works well.

I’m using a prescription anti anxiety medication on my new dog while she’s stuck 3 months in her crate during heartworm treatment. The result is so-so. I suggest you try each one out and see what works.

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