Monday, October 29, 2012

Susan Sharpe’s Tips for Helping your Dog “Weather” Hurricane Sandy

1. Breathe.
Dogs first pick up on our body language, state of mind, and the energy in the room. When things are chaotic and you’re feeling stressed, so are they. While you can’t control the weather conditions or the fact that you may be staying at a different location, you can allow yourself and your pets a few moments of calm. Even if you’re sitting on a cot in a temporary housing shelter, sit quietly with your family and pets for just a few minutes. Breathe deeply. You’ll notice your pets (and children) will respond similarly and relax. Just giving them (and yourself) a few moments of calm will help lower the stress levels.

2. Secure.
ID your pets. Be sure your pets have ID on their collars and that it’s readable. Oils from their coats can erase information more quickly than you think. Double check their collars are securely fastened.

Use crates/carriers. Cats should be in their carriers/crates. If you’re concerned you may need to evacuate the house quickly, put your cat(s) in the carrier before the storm approaches. That way you can easily grab and go if needed. Your dog should feel secure in his/her crate. You may want to move the crate to be in the same room you are during the storm to help your dog be more comfortable. If he/she is showing signs of stress, cover the crate with blankets but allow fresh air to circulate. Provide peanut-butter-stuffed toys or other toys/treats that will occupy him/her.

3. Storm Anxiety.
Wrap Him. Use Anxiety Wrap, Quiet Dog, or any other tool you have that helps relax your dog at the first sign of storm anxiety. As usual, once you apply Anxiety Wrap or Quiet Dog, don’t interact with your dog. Remain calm and neutral otherwise you may risk increasing your dog’s anxiety level. If your dog begins to run anxiously throughout the house, crate him or tether him with a leash to a fixed object where he feels protected to avoid having his adrenaline level rise further. Some dogs are task-oriented and may fare better if leashed and walked through the house practicing commands. Use the house like an obstacle course and give lots of juicy treats as you go. If your dog prefers a dark closet, allow him/her to use it as a safe place as long as he’s not being destructive. You know your dog best and know which approach is best.

Other Tips. If you have electricity: a) gently place cotton ball in each ear to muffle the storm sounds; and b) turn on the TV/radio/van/dryer/washing machine to muffle the storm sounds and provide a familiar one to help comfort them.

If lightning/thundering: dampen Anxiety Wrap to prevent static charges from scaring the dog; close the window curtains and also turn on outside and inside lights to help mask the lightning flashes.

4. Travel Anxiety.
Calm and Contain. Use Anxiety Wrap, Quiet Dog, or any tool you have to help relax your dog. You want to associate any change/new thing to = “I get yummy treats!” in your dog’s mind. You can always cut back on your dog’s daily food ration to make up for the extra treats. If you’re temporarily staying in a different environment, give your dog time to adjust in a quiet spot if possible. If your dog is fearful by nature, now’s not the time to try to socialize him/her. Provide plenty of “safe space” and avoid having people approach him/her.

If you are getting separated from your pets, provide them with blankets/clothing with your scent on it and their favorite toy to help ease the time away. • 877-652-1266

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dog Anxiety Wrap Helps Thunder, Storm & Lightning Fear

Is your dog afraid of thunderstorms, lightning or heavy rains? The Anxiety Wrap often allows an animal to sleep through a storm. This form fitting wrap for dogs helps alleviate the fear a dog may have of the loud noises that accompanying thunderstorms. We had great success using the Anxiety Wrap with our own dog Daisy. The following article outlines how and why the Anxiety Wrap could work to make those thunderstorms a little more bearable for your dog.

Anxiety Wrap: Helping to Improve the Lives of Dogs
By Susan Sharpe Creator of the Anxiety Wrap

Thunderstorms – are they causing your dog fear, stress, pacing, anxiety, panting or nervousness? Often using an Anxiety Wrap will allow him or her to sleep right through the storm. Many people have noticed much improvement within 1 to 3 times of using the Anxiety Wrap.

The Anxiety Wrap was created to fill an existing need, an alternative or holistic approach to behavior modification for dogs. It can happen by using the Anxiety Wrap to ease your dog's anxieties. When used properly it has proven positive to increase balance, self-confidence, focus, preparation for and during training, animal to animal socialization, animal to human socialization, bonding, relaxation, and gait awareness. As well as helping to end dog aggression, shyness, nervousness, releasing stress & tension, end jumping, stop destructive chewing, fear biting, car sickness, unnecessary barking, shyness, fear of loud noises, thunderstorm fear, sensitivity to touch, sensitive to sound, aloofness, emotional upset, hyperactivity, grooming issues and other anxieties.

Dogs, Like People, Are Individuals
Conventional medicine, behaviorists and trainers all have their place and the Anxiety Wrap was not designed nor intended to replace any of them, but rather to be an alternative or holistic addition to the plan. Being a trainer myself, I know from personal experience that animals, like people, are individuals. Both often require different ways of learning and/or recovery for past experiences.

Far too often animals, like people, fall through the cracks when traditional methods fail. Anyone wishing to see some of these animals need go no further than your local animal shelter or even your own neighborhood. When I personally experienced that traditional training didn’t work with one of my own dogs, it was then I began my search for alternative ways of training. A way of working with the entire animal that would include their mind, body and spirit.

This search led me from traditional training, that focuses on punishment for offering a wrong behavior and the removal of that punishment for offering the one desired, to a kinder, more respectful way of training. I was searching for a way to teach that could be fun for both animal and human. Soon I was using two reward methods of training. Operant Conditioning combined with Clicker Training but still there was more to be learned.

Our "Throw Away" Dogs
What about the dogs that didn’t or couldn’t respond to reward training alone? Those animals whose past issues and present fears were so overwhelming, it left them powerless to focus on anything else. Often these are the dogs we see abandoned, passed from one home to another. Dogs excessively crated, kenneled or chained, isolated with little hope of ever truly becoming part of a family pack.

Changing Dog Behavior By Changing The Body's Sensations
Soon I found myself studying the latest beliefs in calming signals and animal behavior. I became a Tellington Touch Practitioner, successfully completed Purdue University's "DOGS" Course Principles and Behavior, Bailey's Clicker Training, and the list goes on. After these workshops, seminars, clinics and courses I came to learn many behaviors and some health issues could be affected by the manipulation of the skin and by applying light to moderate pressure to certain areas of the body.

Behavior modification, a more rapid recovery -- they appeared to be aided by these sensations. But why? Why did it have an effect?

All my years of traditionalism prevented me from accepting what I had witnessed. Then I read a book titled Molecules Of Emotion by Candace B. Pert, PhD. When Candace wrote "the body and mind are not separate and one cannot be treated without the other," the pieces of the puzzle started coming together. Added to that learning was the example of Temple Grandin's "Hug Box," a device developed to apply deep pressure to help calm autistic children's over stimulated nerves. So we envisioned a product that would cover a large portion of an animal’s body without falling off or allowing the animal to get tangled up in it. At the same time it could not be binding or distracting, so to help calm the animal and help modify the undesirable behaviors.

I realized that animals, though admittedly much different than humans, still possess some of the same physiological and, may we dare suggest, some of the same psychological make up. Finally I began to understand how these effects were being possible.

Realizing this I began to experiment using various types of materials put together in various ways to increase the positive effects of the sensations being sent to the animal's brain by use of the body's receptors. Opening up the neurological pathways and substituting new sensations for old habitual ones.

Over much time and many prototypes the Anxiety Wrap was developed. A Wrap especially designed to help your animal as well as my own and those of my clients. Shereen Faber, PH.D., OTR, FAOTA, and author of Neurorehabilitation A Multisensory Approach, contacted us after discovering our product. She explains how The Anxiety Wrap uses a Technique called "Maintained Pressure" to help calm the sensory receptors.

We've found The Anxiety Wrap works especially well in situations where your dog is anxious or fearful, whether it's during a thunderstorm or trips to the vet or meeting new people. Due to its ability to help an animal become more focused, the Anxiety Wrap is an excellent tool for use with gentle training methods.

It can provide an under-confident animal with a greater sense of security, helping it become more comfortable and begin increasing confidence. For overly excited or hyper dogs, the Anxiety Wrap can help an animal become more calm and relaxed. Remember that every animal is unique and there are countless other ways the Anxiety Wrap can improve your dog’s quality of life.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Comparison of Anxiety Wrap, Thundershirt & Storm Defender

Comparison of Anxiety Wrap, Thundershirt & Storm Defender
By Cindy Ludwig, M.A., KPA-CTP


How does The original Anxiety Wrap Compare to the Thundershirt & Storm Defender? Each of these products is recommended for Thunderstorm phobia in dogs, but are they all equally effective? Are there any research studies to corroborate the claims of effectiveness of these products?


The Anxiety Wrap

The original patented pressure wrap, the Anxiety Wrap was developed by Susan Sharpe, a certified professional dog trainer and T-touch practitioner in 2001.

The Anxiety Wrap works in two ways: 1) maintained pressure, and 2) pressure applied to acupressure points in the neck, chest, shoulders, belly, mid-section and rear legs. Only the Anxiety Wrap has rear leg straps that create rear-end awareness to target pressure points in the hindquarters where dogs often hold tension. The straps are adjustable and removable.

The Anxiety Wrap is made of a stretchy, thin, breathable fabric. It contains elasticized elements which apply pressure to acupressure points and allow the fit to be customized to each individual dog. Velcro closures are located on the aspect of the garment that lies over the dog's back.

The Thundershirt
The Thundershirt, a pressure wrap first marketed in 2009 was developed by dog owner, Phil Blizzard. It is made of a thicker fabric than the Anxiety Wrap, with velcro closures on the front of the garment over the dog's chest as well as around the girth. The velcro near the dog's head is a drawback for sound sensitive dogs. The Thundershirt, which resembles a dog coat covers less of the chest and shoulders, especially in larger dogs, and is less form-fitting than the Anxiety Wrap.

The Storm Defender

The Storm Defender was invented by electrical engineer, Tom Critzer who first started selling the product in 2004. According to Andrew Critzer, Tom Critzer's son and Managing Member of the Storm Defender LLC, the Storm Defender is a unique product designed to alleviate Thunderstorm phobia. The product, described as a "cape," contains an anti-static metallic lining that protects the dog wearing the cape from static electricity that occurs before and during thunderstorms.

Although the Storm Defender is not a pressure wrap and is designed primarily as a treatment for Thunderstorm phobia, the Storm Defender website advises against putting the Storm Defender on a dog for separation anxiety and then leaving. Conversely, the Anxiety Wrap is a pressure wrap that is marketed for thunderstorm phobia as well as other types of anxiety. On the Anxiety Wrap website the product is advertised as safe to leave on a dog while the owner is absent. This is an important consideration for owners that have to leave to go to work.

Role of Medication

According to the Storm Defender website, "certain drugs may make the learning process [associated with use of the Storm Defender] more difficult."

When asked about this recommendation, Critzer said, "The recommendations regarding drug use mainly come from my father’s ideas about the dogs learning behaviors. We’ve softened that idea somewhat and now recommend owners consult their vets. Generally speaking, it’s difficult for dogs to sense the true effects of the Storm Defender if they are too doped up.Other than that it’s OK to combine techniques."

The Thundershirt website advertises that there is "no need for medication." On the Research page of the Thundershirt website there is a discussion of the author's opinion regarding drawbacks associated with medication, one being a long onset of action and another, oversedation. Valium is cited as an example of a drug that might be prescribed. A discussion of medication management is beyond the scope of this article but suffice it to say that Valium is not a medication used for anxiety management in dogs. In fact, it is infrequently prescribed for people these days due to the availability of shorter-acting benzodiazepines. The author writes that Fluoxetine (Prozac) is a drug that is administered for the life of the dog, but this is not usually the case.

Medication that is used to treat anxiety is usually prescribed for short term management, as it is in people, to decrease anxiety enough to allow the dog to learn to have a neutral or even positive association with an object or situation that previously evoked fear or anxiety. When medication is used it should always be accompanied by behavior modification under the guidance of a skilled professional trainer or certified behaviorist. Medication alone does not address the underlying issue or work to teach the dog new ways of responding to his environment.

The Anxiety Wrap can be used effectively alone or as an adjunct in the management of anxiety and fear. The Anxiety Wrap website does not advertise that the Anxiety Wrap eliminates the need for medication.

Cost and Guarantee

All three products offer a money-back guarantee. This excludes embroidered Thundershirt products. The Anxiety Wrap and the Thundershirt each sell for $39.95, while the Storm Defender sells for $44.99 - $55.99, depending on size. The Storm Defender can be customized with the dog's name for an additional $7.00. The Thundershirt also offers customized embroidery for an additional $10.00.

Shipping for the Storm Defender is $6.00 within the United States and $15.00 for international shipping. Shipping for the Anxiety Wrap is $6.95 for First Class Mail and International first class to Canada, $8.95 and up. Additional shipping options are available for the Anxiety Wrap. The Thundershirt is currently offering free shipping.

Sizes and Colors

The Storm Defender and Thundershirt each come in 7 different sizes, and the Anxiety Wrap is available in 11 different sizes and can also be custom-sized for an additional $25.00. . The Storm Defender is only available in red and the Anxiety Wrap is presently only available in black. The Thundershirt comes in three colors - navy blue, pink and gray.


In a recent, as of yet unpublished clinical research study conducted at the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine by Nicole Cottam and Dr. Nicholas Dodman the Anxiety Wrap was found to be effective in 89% of the study participants suffering from Thunderstorm phobia.

Based on surveys of Thundershirt customers, the company reports that "over 80% of dogs show a significant improvement in symptoms when wearing the Thundershirt." Symptoms are subjective, whereas signs are objective observations. It is impossible to evaluate symptoms in dogs since dogs do not have verbal language.

Storm Defender LLC advertises that over 95% of their customers report successful results. This statistic, according to Critzer is inferred from the number of returns which he says ranges between 2-3% of total sales.

In a study to evaluate the effectiveness of the Storm Defender Nicole Cottam and Dr. Nicholas Dodman at Tufts University divided 23 dogs into two groups, one with the anti-static Storm Defender cape and the other, a control group with a non-anti-static cape. Both capes resulted in a significant reduction in owner-reported anxiety scores from baseline scores.

Although there was a greater reduction in median anxiety score in the Storm Defender group than the group wearing the non-anti-static cape during the fourth thunderstorm, there was no statistically significant difference between the two groups in their median anxiety scores or owner assessment of anxiety reduction achieved with the cape.

The results of this study suggest is that the anti-static property of the Storm Defender may not be responsible for the product's therapeutic effect. The investigators concluded that more research is needed to determine why both capes were effective.

Summary and Conclusion

The original patented Anxiety Wrap is made of a lightweight breathable fabric that can be worn swimming and used to cool a dog in warmer months. The velcro closures are at the top of the garment away from the dog's head so that removing the garment does not startle the dog like removal of the Thundershirt.

The Anxiety Wrap comes in 11 different sizes with the option of custom sizing. It has elasticized elements to provide optimal fit, whereas the Storm Defender and the Thundershirt each come in only 7 different sizes.

The Anxiety Wrap is the only product that provides rear-end awareness for additional stress release its the adjustable and removal hind end straps.

While the Thundershirt provides pressure around the dog's girth, the Anxiety Wrap covers more body surface area and provides a more even fit with more maintained pressure than any other product on the market today.

The Storm Defender is more expensive than the Anxiety Wrap and the Thundershirt and its purported benefit is limited to thunderstorm phobia, whereas the pressure wraps are effective for all types of anxiety. The purported anti-static mechanism of the Storm Defender for anxiety reduction in thunderstorm phobia has not been substantiated by clinical research.

The Anxiety Wrap is the original pressure wrap; the Anxiety Wrap and the Storm Defender are patented, whereas the Thundershirt is not.

In a recent clinical research study conducted at Tufts University the Anxiety Wrap was determined to be a "safe and effective treatment for canine Thunderstorm phobia" with an 89% rate of effectiveness. The Storm Defender was found to be "moderately therapeutic in treating canine thunderstorm phobia," but again, the researchers were unable to conclude that this effect was due to the Storm Defender's special metallic lining.

The 95% success rate reported by Storm Defender LLC is based on the number of returned capes, and the 80% success rate advertised by the developer of the Thundershirt is based on customer surveys.

The Anxiety Wrap comes with the added bonus of online support from certified professional dog trainers at no extra charge. For the money, the original patented Anxiety Wrap offers an overall greater therapeutic benefit to dogs with Thunderstorm phobia and other anxiety-related disorders as well as the added value of customer support from experienced certified professional dog trainers.

The Thundershirt in Navy Blue

The Anxiety Wrap on an Anxious Dog