As some of you may have seen I have recently become the proud owner of a Teddy Maximus harness. Mum is totally in love with it, and not just because it looks good. I’ll let her explain more.
Some of you may not know this but Colin can be a fairly anxious dog. In most situations he is super bubbly and full of confidence but there are certain situations that can make him very stressed which, as a dog parent, always worries me. I hate to see him so distressed and am always looking for ways to help calm him down. At home, when he’s having an anxious moment, I usually use his Truffle Mat from Watts in the Box but when we are out and about, obviously, that is just not practical. Here’s where his new harness comes in. Holly from Teddy Maximus kindly gifted Colin one of her brand new harnesses at Discover Dogs when I stupidly left his at home. It looked gorgeous (obviously, it’s from Teddy Maximus) and, once we worked out how to put it on properly, it fitted like a glove. We put it on him and went about our day. Being at a busy show, I did not initially notice anything different about his behaviour but a number of people remarked on how calm he was. Calm is not usually a word I’d use to describe Colin, manic? Yes. Crazy? Yes. A total nutter? Definitely. But calm? Not likely. After a few people had commented on it I started watching him and lo and behold he was definitely noticeably calmer than usual. He also allowed me to leave his sight without crying at the top of his voice which, again, is very unlike him. He even managed to watch the flyball and agility without having a breakdown because he wanted to join in which is what usually happens. When he was then silent all the way home in the car, something that he usually finds pretty stressful, we were totally convinced that his new harness was magic.
After doing some research I have decided that due to the snug fit of the harness around his chest it works in a similar way to a ThunderShirt. The theory of a ThunderShirt is that is calms dogs by applying a constant, gentle pressure on your pets torso, much like swaddling is used in babies. A scientific paper written by King, C., Buffington, L., Smith, T.J., Grandin, T., studied the ‘The effect of a pressure wrap (ThunderShirt®) on heart rate and behavior in canines diagnosed with anxiety disorder‘ and was published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior in 2014 and the results were facinating. As a science graduate I love reading scientific journal articles, geeky I know, but here’s the low-down for any that doesn’t share my passion! King et al. found that the dogs wearing a ThunderShirt with the correct amount of pressure applied showed a lesser increase in average and maximum heart rate when compared to those that were in the control group or that were wearing the ThunderShirts loosely. As an increase is heart rate is associated with increased stress it is fair to conclude that the pressure from a ThunderShirt helps to reduce stress in dogs. Of course, this is just one study and only 90 dogs were used so more research is definitely needed! It will be extremely interesting to see where research in this field will lead, it would be amazing to see a drop in the use of drugs to treat canine anxiety.
There are lots of historic articles on the benefits of deep touch pressure on babies, adults with autism and on both adults and children in stressful situations but this article was only the second study on the benefits for our canine companions. The first, Cottam et al. (2013) looked at ‘The effectiveness of the Anxiety Wrap in the treatment of canine thunderstorm phobia: An open-label trial’ and had very similar results to the King et al. study. This study, which only investigated the effects of deep touch pressure during thunderstorms, found that after 5 uses of the Anxiety Wrap (similar to a ThunderShirt), 89% of owners reported that it was at least partially effective in treating their dogs’ thunderstorm phobia. Not bad at all!
I had never really considered a thunder shirt for Colin before as I didn’t consider his anxiety to be a huge problem. However, seeing how much happier he is in stressful situations when he’s wearing his harness and reading the papers about the benefits of deep touch pressure, I really wish I had. I would therefore strongly recommend a harness from Teddy Maximus if you have an anxious dog or onethat can find certain situations stressful. Of course, it is not guaranteed that is will work for every dog but it has worked wonders for Colin. I have a less anxious dog and he still looks super stylish!
You can head over to the Teddy Maximus website now and order your very own harness, with three different, equally gorgeous patterns to choose from you’ll be spoilt for choice!