How do I know if it’s working?

Name a technique or device intended to reduce dog anxiety or aggression and I’ve tried it. Acupuncture, Dog Appeasing Pheromones, Prozac,¬†Thundershirt, Tellington Touch, Calming Cap…

Have to say, the Calming Cap was my favorite. The stretchy blue fabric over Isis’s head made her look like a superhero. We put it on her, sat her on her bed and Rob fed her treats while I paraded Leo past her. Her vision was sufficiently filtered that she did not stand and bark and lunge at Leo. Unfortunately, Leo, while still a puppy, had by then discovered his “big boy voice,” so those sessions usually ended with him barking at Isis.

At the time, Isis was also on Prozac and wearing a Thundershirt, but I think it was the Calming Cap that made the biggest difference. How can we know for sure? Maybe the Prozac was finally kicking in. As far as I can remember, though, she never lashed out while wearing the Calming Cap.

The Calming Cap was on loan, so we don’t have it anymore. Maybe I should get one for Leo. If he can’t see the bicycle, he can’t bark at it. We do have a Thundershirt, two actually, but I can’t tell if it works! He still is capable of having an explosive reaction while wearing the shirt; if he weren’t wearing it, would the reaction have been worse? What about the times he doesn’t have reactions while wearing the shirt? Would he necessarily have had one if he hadn’t been wearing it?

On Leo’s last birthday, his teacher asked if we’d ever tried a Thundershirt. I felt silly saying we had one but weren’t using it. Actually, I’d forgotten about it entirely, and then summer came, and it seemed cruel to make him wear another layer, but now that it’s fall, we’re using it again. He doesn’t mind it, so what can it hurt?

Same with Tellington Touch. When I told a trainer that I wasn’t sure whether it worked, she said, “Oh, you’ll know if it’s working.” But I really can’t tell. I enjoy petting my dogs in prescribed patterns. Sometimes it seems to relax them, but sometimes it gets on their nerves and they get up and move.

What do you think, fellow parents of reactive or anxious dogs? I’d love to know your experiences with Thundershirts, Tellington Touch, Calming Caps, and the like.


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