Onxy’s story isn’t any different from most dogs at any shelter in the US. She found her way to the shelter, was adopted. She became too much dog for the family she was with so she was returned to the shelter. I started working with Onyx after she had been returned to the shelter. I was asked to work with her because she was “difficult to walk.” That was an understatement! The first few times I worked with Onyx I think we only “walked” about 50 feet outside the shelter before we went back inside. That took us about 30 minutes. After that I started bringing a Thundershirt with me.
The first time I put the Thundershirt on Onyx was very interesting! It took me a few minutes to adjust the Thundershirt, but once I got it on her she was a changed dog. After I got the Thundershirt on her she stopped mouthing me and jumping like a kangaroo! I wouldn’t say she was calm or that she had resigned herself to the situation, it was more like she felt a certain peace that she had never known before. Perhaps it goes back to the pressure points and the neural pathways sending messages to her brain. Whatever it was, it sure made my job of putting her harness on her a thousand times easier.
Walking her out of the kennel with the Thundershirt on was a whole new experience too. Prior to that day she was reactive to the other dogs in their runs, but with the Thundershirt on she could walk past their runs without barking/lunging at them. It was quite the transformation!
We went on our first real walk that day. We were able to complete the whole trail – what a pleasant surprise! When we returned to the shelter she was still calm and didn’t bark/lunge at the dogs as she went back to her kennel.
Over the coming weeks I was able to work with her a couple times a week. I always used the Thundershirt when I worked with Onyx. I was able to really improve her leash walking and began to actually train her. I even started training her in very basic agility.
Shelter environments are stressful and can be challenging on many different levels. I have used the Thundershirt on many dogs, like Onxy, who are pullers and can’t focus on lead. I have found that simply adding the Thundershirt is often enough to help them settle and find their focus on the walk.
Patricia Tirrell, CPDT-KA
Certified Professional Dog Trainer
Tellington TTouch® Practitioner in Training
Delta Society Team Evaluator
The Confident Dog