T is for ThunderCap

Leo rocks the ThunderWorks brand Calming Cap, a.k.a. the ThunderCap

When we were first introduced to the Calming Cap, our trainer, Shannon, lent us a bright blue one.

“The idea is that it reduces visual stimuli by filtering a dog’s vision,” she said. “I held it up to my eyes and you can still see through it, but it just makes things kind of indistinct.”

Rob approved of the look. “Isis looks like a superhero.”

Of the pictures above, Rob said, “Leo looks like he has a bag over his head.”

True, the gray one isn’t as cute, but at least it matches Leo’s ThunderShirt. I’m thinking of sewing a superhero insignia on it. What I like about the pictures is that Leo looks happy and calm. The dog model on the ThunderShirt site looks a tad depressive.

Oh, sorry, did I bury the lead? What I really want you to know is that the ThunderCap WORKS.

As I’ve described, the Calming Cap was the ONLY thing that noticeably reduced Isis’s anxiety around Leo.

Even though Leo’s barrier frustration in the car had gotten really bad, Rob was reluctant to put the ThunderCap on him for their drive to and from the jogging parking lot. He thought 1) Leo wouldn’t like it because he wouldn’t be able to see anything, and 2) It would be embarrassing if anyone saw him.

I asked, “More embarrassing than having people see him bark like crazy inside the car?”

After their second car trip with Leo wearing the ThunderCap, Rob said, “I will never doubt the power of the Calming Cap again.” Leo can see movement outside the car window, but he doesn’t bark at it. And that makes for a more relaxing jog.

I highly recommend the ThunderCap for dogs who are nervous during car rides, or visits to the vet, or any other scenario where they bark at visual stimuli. Some dogs might not tolerate having the mask over their faces. Leo has been trained to wear a Halti or a muzzle, so he doesn’t mind it at all. If your dog has never worn anything on its face, I suggest taking the time to build positive associations with the ThunderCap, perhaps by following this handy step-by-step process (and intro to clicker training) to training a dog to wear a muzzle.

T is for ThunderCap

T

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17 thoughts on “T is for ThunderCap

  1. Very cool – never seen one in action before. Kind of like blinders for a horse… in a very general sense. I think the superhero logo is a great idea!
    Now, I assume interacting is out of the question with the cap? This makes sense given dogs who need it are probably anxious and shouldn’t go socializing all willy-nilly? Where I’m going with this is… have you had the chance to see how other dogs react to the cap? I mean, it blocks their view of his eyes and facial expressions, which could freak some dogs out in the way it limits communication. Kind of like some dogs bark at people with hats/sunglasses because of the shadows and not seeing everything weirds them out.
    This just came to mind as I remembered – years ago – when we were at a dog show, we saw a bloodhound in the building that was wearing a snood (to keep his ears clean) and it freaked Moses out. If they walked by our area, Moses would bark at him – and Moses rarely barks. Sans-snood, though, Moses had no problem with that dog. So I figured having the dog’s head and ears covered masked the body language and Moses was uncomfortable not being able to get a good read on the dog.

    Not that this should at all deter use of the cap – just wondering if it’s something you’ve noticed when out and about.

    • Mia doesn’t seem troubled by it, but then, she’s pretty familiar with Leo. That is a good point though… I wouldn’t let a dog wear the cap while interacting with other dogs off-leash. (I don’t like it when people leave Haltis on at the dog park, either, because another dog could pull it.) But it also might cause a problem someplace like a dog show, like you describe, if it weirds other dogs out.

      So far, Leo’s only worn it in the car. I’m tempted to use it on walks, but a little self-conscious, because of the whole “bag over the head” look. Even if he did wear it during a walk, we’d try to keep him pretty far away from other dogs.

  2. That is awesome that he is doing so well with it. I have heard of these but have never seen them in action. I might have to pick up one and try it with Bourbon. It might help his reactivity in the car. :) Thanks for the tip!!

  3. I’m very impressed by how relaxed and happy Leo looks. Ruby curls up in a ball and looks miserable when I put the Calming Cap on, which is why we haven’t done much with it.

    • Yeah, i can see how that wouldn’t facilitate “calming.” Despite his barrier frustration, Leo is a pretty mellow dude otherwise.

  4. Oh thank you! I have never heard of this before either, but I wonder if it’s something Millie would benefit from while we are trying to get her used to being in an environment where lots of dogs are! That said. her head is so little I don’t know whether we would get one that is a good fit though! but worth a look for sure!
    Hugs, Carrie (Myfie, Ellie and Millie) x

  5. I think Leo looks like a superhero, too! Underdog’s faithful sidekick, perhaps?

    I don’t own a dog, but my sister-in-law’s could certainly use a ThunderCap around the chickens. :)

  6. I’ve heard about the vests and sweaters but not the cap. I love how we’re able to share such valuable information to help each other. Great post.

  7. The only time I have to work with anxiety with my dog is during thunderstorms… and she reacts to thunder so the thundercap may not work in her case… but I can sort of see why the thundercap works for you. Donna is calmer when I shut the door to the study, then she no longer has the need to go look outside the door and get restless when it thunders. Sometimes, just setting limits seem to calm her down. ;)

  8. I didn’t know about these until just recently, and wasn’t sure what the use would be or how it would work. I love that it doesn’t seem to bother him at all. We are trying an anxiety wrap on Cricket right now, and since she’s not used to wearing anything, there is definitely going to be an adjustment period, but I am hoping we will get there.

  9. Thanks for sharing. I have a ton of great stories with ThunderShirts, but hadn’t had anyone use the cap yet. I will keep it in mind. Do you know if it helps with lightening during thunderstorms? The shirt has worked wonders for my patients, but if it decreases the visual stimuli, I wonder if the cap would help for those that lightening is a trigger during storms.

    • I’m not sure. They can still see through it, so they would still notice the flash of light, but it might decrease their anxiety about it.

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