Does The Thundershirt Solve Dog Leash Aggression Problems?

It’s still a work in progress, but we’re gradually figuring out how to fix Linus’ dog leash aggression.  This past week we added a new piece of equipment to our arsenal…a Thundershirt (aff link)! Yep, the same anxiety relieving doggy shirt that most dog’s wear to keep them calm during thunderstorm, fireworks, and other craziness around the house.

Just in case you’re joining us late we started working on Linus’ dog leash aggression at the beginning of the month and posted our goals and first week results here:

So how did our week go?  Did the Thundershirt help with Linus’ leash aggression?

Does The Thundershirt Really Work With Dog Leash Aggression?

Linus in his Thundershirt

Linus wearing his Thundershirt next to his pal Stetson.

Last week we did a day-by-day journal, but I wasn’t too keen on that kind of post and found that it got a little bit wordy and repetitive.  This time around I’m just going to give you the updates on how we progressed or regressed with Linus.

We actually made 3 changes in this weeks walking routines:

  1. As we mentioned earlier Linus wore his Thundershirt (aff link) on all walks this week.
  2. Instead of walking both Linus and Stetson I took Linus out on his own.
  3. I did not use Linus’ head collar on his walks and just attached the leash to his regular flat collar.

First of all we did a great job keeping up with my 30 day challenge of walking the dogs 30 minutes every day this past week.  The problem was the time we went for our walks.  5 out of 7 days this past week we didn’t get out until after 10pm and therefore encountered very few dogs on our walks. :(

Here’s what I observed on our walks:

  • Linus did a great job focusing on me and his walk rather than the other dogs we saw while out and about.  GOOD BOY!
  • Linus didn’t chase any squirrels, rabbits, or ducks, but then again I don’t think we saw any either.  GOOD BOY!
  • Linus seemed a little more stressed on our walks this past week.  That’s unusual considering he was wearing his Thundershirt, but I wonder if it has to do with one of the other changes specifically walking on his own rather than with his pal Stetson.  I may have to test that theory out next week.
  • Linus was at the front door with my gf and started barking, lunging, and whining at the neighbors dogs.  Major regression!  This is another problem that needs to be addressed.

Overall it was an uneventful week mainly because I didn’t get Linus out during the daytime.  There were mixed results with the Thundershirt (aff link), but we’ll continue to use it on Linus’ walk…if anything it probably keeps him a little bit warmer during this cold spell.  So I guess the answer to our original question: Does The Thundershirt Solve Dog Leash Aggression Problems?MAYBE…we need more data for a more conclusive answer.

I’m going to try a few different things on our walks next week.  I’m going to alternate bringing Stetson out on our walks.  When I walk both boys I have to use the head collars because when Linus decides to chase a squirrel Stetson follows and I get dragged along for the ride.  I also plan on introducing a no-pull harness to see if I like that better than the head collar.

That’s about it for week #2 of Linus and his adventures in dog leash aggression training.  Not too much progress this week, but hopefully we’ll improve by leaps and bounds in week #3!

So how about you guys?  Any progress in your dog leash aggression training?  Tell us about it in the comment section below.

Comments

  1. says

    We’re still walking every night for the 30/30 Challenge, but it’s darned cold this week! I’m really curious to see where this challenge takes you. I would have thought he’d do better walking on his own, but perhaps if his aggression comes from feeling insecure, that wouldn’t work out.

    • says

      I’m not really sure if it has to do with being insecure or if he was a little nervous with some of the activity going on around my community. The roofers have been making a lot of noise this week and I think that has him a little spooked.

  2. says

    I used and her adopter still uses a Thundershirt for my OCD Beagle (she turned round and round, finally bit off the latter half of her tail!) – it was amazing for her in the first 5 minutes it was on.
    My take on your walks is Stetson – though they take you for a drag, sounds like Linus enjoys walking with him. I look forward to next week’s report.

    • says

      I’m not really sure if he likes walking with Stetson as a security blanket, but we’ll see in the coming weeks. I have a feeling it may have to do with some of the things going on in our community. I’m glad the Thundershirt helped your Beagle. I think Linus likes wearing it too.

  3. says

    Hi Colby!

    Glad to see you and Linus working on an issue, as someone who has a dog that’s leash reactive, I understand how frustrating it can be!
    It can be worked with, and I have living proof of that!

    I wanted to share a few things that have been IMMENSELY helpful and will make this transition less stressful for you and Linus. :)

    Grisha Stewart has tackled this issue thouroughly through her book, website, YouTube videos and Yahoo Group. :)

    Behavior Adjustment Training (Found on Amazon + Barnes and Nobles)
    BAT for Fear, Frustration and Aggression in Dogs

    Her website : FunctionalRewards.com
    Yahoo Group: Functional Rewards
    YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/ahimsadog?feature=watch

    Hope that helps! Oh.. wait. I know it will :)

    • says

      Hi Erin,

      Thanks for the resources! That should be very helpful with Linus! I’ve been working with Linus daily and unfortunately the other dogs in the neighborhood haven’t been working with us (for some reason we’re going out and not seeing our friends). Anyhow, I’m probably going to start setting him up so I can work on some specific things.

      Thanks again for the information!
      Colby

  4. says

    Colby, we had an issue with Delilah becoming reactive to other dogs while on leash.

    The first time it happened I was stunned. She had never gone at another dog before, ever. The second time I was stunned as well and didn’t handle that situation well.

    I did start bringing her to class again and noticed a couple of things 1) she does not like a dog charging up to her and shoving their nose in her bum, she will turn around and give them a face full of chocolate. When I am in class with her we try to warn people that might be working with us and get a tad too close.
    2) Delilah reacts to a reacting dog. If a dog walks into class calm and well behaved, she is fine with the dog. However if the dog comes in like a whirling dervish, Delilah wants a piece of that dog. When this happens I practice my LOOK command with her and try to disarm the situation.
    When we walk during the winter it is neighborhood walks. There is a house with two dogs in an electric fence. One of the dogs likes to posture, (s)he runs back and forth barking along the property line, Delilah wants a piece of that dog. As we approach the house she is on alert and tries to drag me over, I won’t have it though. I take out a treat and using the treat I lure her past the house. It’s working but it’s slow since we don’t encounter the dog every night.

    Someone (a dog trainer) mentioned to me that is like a teacher, when a dog isn’t behaving to her standard of behavior, she wants to correct that dog. I’m not sure if I buy that or not, but it kind of makes sense as I observe her and her reactions.

    Not sure if any of this will help with Linus, but throwing it out there. :-) (Sorry for the lengthy comment.)

    • says

      Hi Jodi,

      It sounds like Delilah’s reactivity is a little different then what I experience with Linus. Linus used to be pretty good with other dogs, but he was charged a few times by other dogs and now he reacts to most dogs when out on our walks. However, it seems like it’s only confined to our neighborhood and my parents neighborhood (maybe just familiar areas). I’m thinking it may be a guarding instinct, but not really sure. If I’m still having trouble I’ll bring a trainer in for some help. Thanks for your input! I can use all the help I can get :)

      Take care,
      Colby

  5. says

    The 30/30 is a great idea, I keep working with my doxie but I do think we need to start doing longer walks. Most of the time I can only get him to walk when I have another dog or person/or both with us. Thanks for the idea about the thunder shirt.

    • says

      We take longer then 30 minute walks, but 30 is the minimum. I think setting the minimum is a good idea because then I have an expectation before we go out. Our current routine is to put on Linus’ Thundershirt. Cut up some treats. Grab the treat pouch. Go for a walk. It’s worked out well, but for some reason we haven’t seen many dogs on this weeks walks. Maybe we’ll come across a few this weekend.

      By the way, I think the Thundershirt works better for some dogs then it does for others. I’ve heard great success stories vs mild success vs not helping vs regression. I’d say so far we’ve had mild success.

      Thanks for stopping by!
      Colby

  6. says

    Hi Colby! Our Buster also has leash reactivity issues and we found the Thundershirt to be helpful when we started working with him on it. For him, it seemed to “take the edge off” a bit and helped him focus more on the training. Also, we’ve taken a different approach in the training. Rather than asking Buster to focus on us, we made seeing dogs a game. Whenever we saw a dog in the distance, we’d ask him “where’s the doggy?” and as soon as he saw them he got rewarded. If he saw them and didn’t react (bark, growl, etc.) he’d get a jackpot. We had to start out at quite a distance to keep him from reacting, but over time that distance has shortened. We also found that he’s much less reactive on-leash if he’s had the chance to spend some time around other dogs off-leash at the park. Walking him home after a good romp in the dog park is a breeze – and a great time for lots and lots of rewards! Good luck with Linus!

    • says

      Hi Amy,

      Thanks for the great suggestions. I didn’t notice a huge change with the Thundershirt until the other day when I was walking Linus without his Thundershirt and he did seem a little more jumpy then normal. I think the Thundershirt is going is going to be used on all of our walks moving forward. I think I might try you’re “where’s the doggy?” training just to see how Linus reacts.

      Thanks again!
      Colby

  7. says

    Thanks for sharing your experience of using the Thundershirt to help with dog leash aggression problems. Have you become more conclusively satisfied since your last comment that it’s really helped?

    • says

      I probably say this about everything, but every dog is different. The Thundershirt does help Linus a little bit, but not as much as I’ve heard from others. I’ve heard some say it doesn’t help at all while others are completely satisfied. I do see it calms Linus, but he still does have anxiety during fireworks.

  8. says

    I’m a big believer in the Thundershirt. About a year ago took in a rescue dog that was on his last days. No one wanted him and he was a day away from his maker and I couldn’t let him go. I took him. He was a mess, nervous, digestive system a mess, barked non-stop. Within 2 weeks and with the Thundershirt (and a proper diet) his nervousness ended, digestive system back to normal and he really started to settle down. He really like the Thundershirt and even waits for it before we go on our walks in the winter time. They’re not that expensive and worth a try.

    • says

      Thanks for sharing your experiences with the Thundershirt. We heard some fireworks this past New Years. Unfortunately, it freaked out Linus so we put on his Thundershirt. It definitely does not work miracles for Linus as he was still spooked, but after we put it on he did stop pacing and sat next to me the rest of the night.

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