Anxiety and the rescue dog


You have just rescued this beautiful new pup and you’ve brought him/her to your home. Is he being shy to a new home or is it anxiety?

There are several ways your dog can show anxiety

So, you understand that you have just brought your new furry baby home and he’s being shy or nervous. Understandable, right? Day one, two, three, now a week goes by. When is he going to warm up? You feed him, cuddle him, pet him, give him a nice warm bed with stuffed animals to snuggle with and he still is not relaxed. What to do?

My dog hides under the table or behind the chair

When we brought our lab, Cade, home he would hide behind a chair whenever there was a loud noise. As a pup, what the noise was or where the noise came from, didn’t matter. Off Cade would run. As he got older, he got used to the “regular” noise and would only go and hide behind a chair when the fireworks came out. The dreaded night for many dogs is the 4th of July because of all of the noise. Even if Cade was in the house, it didn’t matter. The house would shake with the noise. I wanted to make this night bearable for him to get through. After much research I heard of something called a thundershirt. I ordered it on and it didn’t look like much when it came in…a dog thin dog vest with Velcro! But after I put it on Cade snugly, he calmed down instantly! The theory behind the thundershirt is that it gives the dog a calming hug to reduce the fears and stress. Just as swaddling new babies can help them to feel more secure, compression can help anxious dogs to feel more secure. The pressure applied by the ThunderShirt has a calming effect that helps approximately 80 percent of dogs with anxiety to feel relief.

My dog doesn’t hide but….

There are many different types of phobias in dogs, but most prominent are noise-based phobias and separation anxiety. Each dog may exhibit different signs of these phobias, but some of the most commonly seen symptoms include:

  • Tail tucking
  • Hiding (particularly under beds or in closets)
  • Howling
  • Trembling
  • Pacing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Panting
  • Chewing
  • Paw licking
  • Destruction (such as ripping trash bags open or ripping the sofa cushions)
  • Defecating or urinating in the house
  • Lap sitting (particularly noticeable in bigger dogs)
  • Barking, crying and whining

If you have ever had your dog do any of these symptoms, it’s heart breaking when you can’t provide them with the comfort they need.

Why Chose the Thundershirt?

  • Simple and affordable solution to thunder (or other types) of anxiety
  • Does not present the potential for side effects that come with other anxiety treatments
  • Easy to put on and has Velcro closures making it adjustable
  • Can be cleaned and put through the washing machine to maintain cleanliness
  • Designed to be safe for use over extended periods of time (consideration must be given to the external temperature to avoid the possibility of overheating)

Who doesn’t feel comforted by a hug? By a warm, heavy compression?

Cinnamon and the thundershirt

On to Cinnamon, the star of this website! She is truly my rescue dog. Anxiety accompanies her everywhere, it’s like an unwanted shadow or companion. Sounds like many adults doesn’t it? The difference is, that sometimes, in adults, we can reason with our anxiety. (I have anxiety too…like mom, like dog, I guess!) But Cinnamon doesn’t understand that the loud car that is driving past her isn’t going to run her over. She hates bicycles the most. Maybe because they sneak up behind her and then race past. Anything that is loud or sudden sets her into a panic. Unfortunately for her, me and the unsuspecting victim, her anxiety makes her lash out to bite. Or nip, rather. I have to be on my constant guard also, or it won’t be a fun outing. I tried the thundershirt on her and truly, I tell you, it really works. There’s a calmness that comes over her. She isn’t as jumpy. Not every noise spooks her. It’s wonderful. We don’t keep it on her all day. I just put it on her when I know she will get nervous or anxious. Do the fireworks still bother her? Yes, but not as much. In fact, she can sleep now during them. This simple, yet effective product, has really helped us!

4 thoughts on “Anxiety and the rescue dog”

  1. Some good information was found here. We rescued a lab/Shepard mix almost a year ago. She was differently the runt of the litter, she was about 5 lbs and approximately 8 weeks old. I have a feeling there may be another smaller breed mixed somewhere. Her siblings were almost twice her size.

    We love her and would not give her up for anything.

    She has some anxiety issue, especially when I leave home. If the girls leave she really is fine. We tried the thunder vest. All she did was rip the velcro and the vet off. Our vet suggested putting her on Prozac, which we did.

    Things have gotten a little better.

    Would you have any other suggestions other than the Prozac?

    1. Hi Ken, Thank you for the comment. Your dog sounds like you love her a lot! I just want to ask…does your dog get aggressive? When my dog Cinnamon gets anxiety she tries to run and hide. If she can’t do that she barks and tries to nip people. My other dog, Cade, would hide but never would he hurt anyone. The reason I ask is because my daughter’s boyfriend has a dog that has bad anxiety. He shakes terribly in a new situation and then literally freezes in his spot. They give him +CBD oil hemp gummies for dogs. It really helps him! When they leave the house they put on soft jazz music. I have just heard of canine music that I am going to try on Cinnamon. It sounds like your dog has separation anxiety too? Does he have a cage or pillow area that he acts like that is his own space? Maybe with a shirt that smells like you or your girls? If he doesn’t have a cage/crate or dog pillow, I would try that. Add in special toys and the shirt scented with you. Please let me know what you try and let me know how it goes. I’m going to report on how the canine music goes with cinnamon in an upcoming post.

  2. Hi Tammy. This is great. I always appreciate seeing fellow animal lovers give wonderful advice. I am a former director of a cat rescue, but I also have 2 rescued dogs. I just did a similar segment on my site about cats. I too, found that the thundershirt does work. We had a time with our rescue dogs and it has really helped them. Thanks again for spreading the word how to care and comfort these sweet angels. Very nicely written and informative article.

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