Home > Daisy, Dog Behavior, Pet Products > Operation Thundershirt gets underway

Operation Thundershirt gets underway


IMG_4514Operation Thundershirt has officially begun at Casa del Mel. On Saturday evening the first real barrage of fireworks mayhem began. Unlike many of the ones I usually hear at this time of year, these were pretty mild, but it didn’t matter because Daisy was already in full fear overload. It was time to bring out the Thundershirt.

This time of year can be very frustrating for me and very stressful for Daisy. As a fourth of July baby, you would think I would be a lover of all things fireworks. Um no. Not so much really.Even as a baby my mother said I would cry when fireworks began. Like Daisy, the noise hurt my ears.

I am not opposed to people having fun with fireworks, but the constant barrage over the days and weeks before and after the 4th of July can be a bit much. On top of that is the randomness in which they occur. Day or night, I never know when someone will set off the odd bottle rocket or the humongously loud firework that booms with such intensity one has to wonder if they wouldn’t be better suited for a city’s firework’s display than a small cozy little neighborhood.

I feel fortunate that I only have one dog who is inconsolable this time of year (instead of three), but it doesn’t lessen the stress we all feel as Daisy deals with her fears. The Thundershirt helps, but  it isn’t a cure-all. Unlike thunderstorms, where the Thundershirt will calm Daisy so much she will go back to her kennel and fall asleep, fireworks are much more nerve-wracking for her. At best, I can hope it will take the edge off and make her less jumpy and less unsettled. Often, I just have to settle for cuddling with her and soothing her with my touch or voice. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

Last night was one of little success. Even with her Thundershirt on, Daisy was displaying all of the signs of a dog with a sound phobia:

  • Excessively panting
  • Pacing
  • Shaking
  • Curling up into a tiny little ball
  • Getting as close to me as possible and hiding her head in my lap
  • Refusing to go outside as soon as the sun started to go down
  • Unable to leave my side when she does get outside
  • Jumped at the slightest noise or movement (often unrelated to fireworks)
  • Inability to sleep or relax

It was only when the noises stopped that she fell asleep. Thank goodness they stopped fairly early. I cannot not hope that this will be the case as we get closer to the 4th.

Operation Thundershirt is underway, but Operation Melatonin may have to be implemented as a supplementary action. How are you and your dogs faring out there? Are you having much success calming your dogs this time of year?

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  1. Fletch'sMom
    July 1, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    Fletchy LOVES his Thundershirt! It helps him so much. Heck, we kept in it the whole 10 days my in-laws were visiting. The mean well but they terrified him!

  2. July 1, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    My sister is a basket case in the evening these days but once mom goes upstairs and Katie goes in the bathroom, she is fine.

  3. July 1, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    I’m so sorry for Daisy – Cali was afraid of fireworks too. 😦 I feel so bad when they are so frightened and it feels impossible to make them feel better! Fingers crossed that operation thundershirt helps!

  4. July 1, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    We are undertaking Operation Thundershirt here too, with Lovie, who is very sound fearful/reactive. It seems to help but can’t really ease away her fireworks heebeejeebees.
    I am heading to the Coop today to get melatonin, because I think it is something I should be giving her now. Thank you so much for sharing, and for sharing Daisy with us. You are so blessed to have one another.

  5. jan
    July 1, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    I do feel sorry for dogs who are afraid of loud noises. Sometimes when they are very near my house, I feel like i would like to wear a thundershirt myself. I’ve just never understood the excitement of spending big bucks on nanoseconds of a loud noise.

  6. July 1, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    Our biggest worries right now are thunderstorms as it’s summer and they’ve just started back up. With severe tstorms, melatonin is mine and Titan’s best friend. During the day time when we’re at work, Titan has “safe spots” in which he can find comfort. I tell ya, I use melatonin myself and it can ease any stress you may have given the right dose. Poor Daisy 😦

  7. July 1, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    Let’s hope Thursday rolls on real quick and that will be it for another year. Have a marvellous Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

  8. July 1, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    Ugh, I hate this time of year. We have close neighbors who I’m sure will be setting off fireworks, they do on pretty much every holiday. And they think it’s OK to continue them past 10 or 11:00. Just when you think they’re done, they start again. We are early to bed people, and it’s not just the dogs….my heart jumps when I’m just dozing off and another one goes off. Nothing phases our older Beagle, but I wish the two girls would be more like him. They will pace and shake until it’s over. Fireworks are also worse than thunderstorms for them. Even worse, we are going away with family this year and our pet sitter will be left to deal with them. At least she is a later night person than we are, and maybe can stay down in the basement family room where they are muffled a bit more until it’s over.
    I sure hope you and Daisy get through it OK. Good luck to everyone who will be suffering through this holiday!

  9. July 1, 2013 at 4:12 PM

    BJ has all of your list of reactions when it thunders. Interestingly he has no problem with fireworks.

  10. slimdoggy
    July 1, 2013 at 4:25 PM

    This is our first 4th with Maggie. Having never had a dog with fear issues and not knowing how she is going to react, I’m not sure what to expect. I’m hoping she takes a cue from Jack and sleeps through it. Luckily, we are far from any big displays and it’s just locals.

    • slimdoggy
      July 1, 2013 at 4:26 PM

      And good luck with Daisy.

  11. July 1, 2013 at 4:38 PM

    Hailey also hates thunder and fireworks. She does the same sort of things. She has actually learned to hide in our basement now and that seems to help. Her thundershirt does seem to help a little, but she HATES it, so we generally only use it if it isn’t too hot and we are out. Hope this helps Daisy.

  12. July 1, 2013 at 5:51 PM

    I feel Daisy’s and your pain and frustrations. I tried melatonin last year and it did not help. The Thundershirt takes the edge off, but does not take all the fear away. We just put the AC on, turn up tv and I do what I can to comfort Max.
    This time of year is always so stressful for so many. Give Daisy a hug from us!

  13. July 1, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    This is going to be our first year with Loki during fireworks. Thankfully, I have a Thundershirt here if needed, but I am not sure how well it really works for him. Best of luck and lots of love for your furry child.

  14. July 1, 2013 at 7:03 PM

    Oh, poor Daisy. I hope the melatonin helps and that the 4th isn’t too bad. It’s funny because Rita is always on high alert, but she seems to be fine with fireworks. I think maybe it’s because we live close enough to hear the fireworks at SeaWorld every night in the summer so she’s used to it. She was fine last year on the 4th, so hopefully she’ll be fine this year too.

  15. Amy
    July 1, 2013 at 8:09 PM

    Aw, poor Daisy. I hope things don’t get too bad for you there. I am with you on not liking the fireworks much. Thankfully, we haven’t been subject to much out where we live… yet. Having not lived here at this time last year, I don’t know what to expect, and we’ve only had the dogs for 8 months now, so will be our first 4th with them. I do know Star is frightened of thunder – Li’l Bit, our chi, wasn’t frightened a bit during storms, so I expect she might be ok for the 4th. It will be a learning experience for all of us, no doubt…. Wishing a peaceful week for all of you!

  16. July 1, 2013 at 8:39 PM

    Our Maggie was so afraid of fireworks (and many other things). I know what you’re going through with Daisy. Fortunately, Sage seems unaffected by them, and fortunately, we’ve had very little in the neighborhood right now. I’m sure that will change.

  17. KateV
    July 1, 2013 at 9:04 PM

    Cheyenne isn’t as bad with fireworks as she is with thunder. We had the same experience with the Thundershirt- it helped, but not enough. What did help- HUGELY- was Comfort Zone. We get the spray, spray a bit on a bandanna she wears around her neck, and she is SO much calmer. Still awake and alert, but able to lay down and relax. Also helps at the vet and groomer. For especially stressful incidents, we’ll even spray some on the Thundershirt and combine the two.

  18. July 1, 2013 at 9:17 PM

    We used melatonin and the Thundershirt with Lilac and had pretty good results. We often took her to the basement, too, because it’s a lot more insulated and while I don’t think it completely drowned out the noise, it definitely muffled it quite a bit. Fortunately, while it makes our current three a bit nervous, it’s not nearly as bad as it was for Lilac. Fortunately, we usually only hear the fireworks on the third, (our town’s official celebration) a few on the Fourth and probably a little over the weekend. Life in a small town has its perks!

    • Mel
      July 2, 2013 at 9:22 PM

      I’ve thought about the basement too Carrie. I may have to go buy that Melatonin tomorrow. Poor Lilac. It’s awful to watch them suffer like this. Wishing you and Mr. Taleteller and the fur kids and peaceful and fun 4th. 🙂

  19. Jen
    July 1, 2013 at 10:55 PM

    Poor Daisy 😦 I’m glad that you get good results with a Thundershirt. One of my coworkers has one for her dog, though finds it only works if the shirt is on her dog prior to the thunder starting. Afterwards, said dog is still less freaked, but doesn’t settle as well.

  20. July 1, 2013 at 11:40 PM

    I recently did a few posts about ThunderShirt…success stories, mostly. Glad it can help Daisy some. Poor thing.

    • Mel
      July 2, 2013 at 9:21 PM

      It works wonders for her during thunderstorms which is why I love it. So glad to hear others have had success too.

  21. July 2, 2013 at 12:13 AM

    So sorry that Daisy is so miserable. Not to play doctor here, but have you ever tried valerian root for anxiety? I use it when going to the vet. Here’s a site I use for dosage recommendations: http://www.ehow.com/way_5139298_dosage-valerian-root-dogs.html

    I give capsule form, but it also comes in liquid. You have to be careful with dosage as it can lower blood pressure and heart rate.

    It is just a thought that I thought you might be interested in. Hang in there. Even though our dogs handle the fireworks just fine, I don’t like them. Sounds too much like guns going off and the noise really bothers me.

    Hope you find something that helps to get through this “wonderful” holiday.

  22. July 2, 2013 at 3:51 AM

    My sympathies; I’ve had a dog in the past that was terrified of both fireworks and thunderstorms. The Thundershirts are great! Other things I would try are taking her into your basement or if you don’t have one, into your garage (inside your parked car) and put the radio on. In addition, I’d try DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) spray – spray this around your house every evening during fireworks season.

    If you can get Daisy settled, I’d also try petting her with some long, slow strokes down the length of her body. These should help to calm her central nervous system.

    Take care!

  23. July 2, 2013 at 8:22 AM

    Poor Daisy, that must be very rough for her. Fireworks are scary and people are getting crazier each year, setting off larger and larger ones on their own, in neighborhoods.

    • Mel
      July 2, 2013 at 9:20 PM

      I know Peppino. It’s hard when they keep getting louder and more obnoxious. We have our air on tonight (even though it is unnecessary) because it helps muffle the noise.

  24. martie13
    July 2, 2013 at 9:20 AM

    Molly is a rescue who spent the 1st 3 years of her life tied outside. Not only did she have to suffer through thunderstorms but it was reported that kids threw firecrackers at the dogs. So yes Molly suffers greatly from noise phobias and although I put on her thundershirt, spray a little DAP periodically and give her comfort she still does not handle it well. She may be a little less “frozen” (she appeared almost catatonic) than she was 2 yrs. ago when she came here as a very shut down girl though and it may just be that she now feels more secure. I hope all our pups get through this with as little trauma as possible.

    • Annie B.
      July 2, 2013 at 2:27 PM

      Sending you some Reiki Molly to help you through this trying time ❤

      • Mel
        July 2, 2013 at 9:17 PM

        Thank you so much Annie. It must be working. No fireworks tonight and only a little last night and Daisy has been able to go outside at dusk.

    • Mel
      July 2, 2013 at 9:19 PM

      Oh Martie. How awful for poor Molly. That makes me so sad. I sure hope she gets through this holiday with as little fear and suffering as possible. Poor baby.

  25. Annie B.
    July 2, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    I can sympathize for both of you and all the pups/parents out there! My Arlo (Chi/terrier rescue) is beyond the top terrified of anything sounding like a gun. He was partially feral when he arrived and we have worked very hard on his “frights”. We do use a Thundershirt and Reiki with Arlo with some success. He needs me to be right there throughout. I have not used DAP or melatonin, thank you for the heads up! My other Chi, Buster, is not so badly shaken, and just burrows deeper into his blankets. Best of luck and peace will eventually return. Our town council is working on a fireworks ban or a severely limiting ordinance ;o)

    • Mel
      July 2, 2013 at 9:18 PM

      I am so sorry Annie. I know just how it must feel to watch him be so afraid. I hope your town council passes that ban for Arlo’s sake.

  26. July 3, 2013 at 1:15 AM

    Yeah. So it seems that one day holiday amounts to a week of fireworks. Practicing? Who knows.

  27. Jessica
    July 4, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    Oh, poor baby! Daisy, I don’t know why humans get extra crazy this time of year! Taylor just seems like she is on high alert, but (thankfully) I have not seen any evidence of anxiety. Don’t worry, Daisy…today will be over before you know it!

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