Pressure wraps — the universal cure

During my ramblings through the woods with Ziggy (my rescued hound) I often meet dog owners with tales of their fearful or reactive dogs and, the help they have been offered by ‘dog professionals’. This little tale is about one such meeting.

Many dogs can become fearful for many reasons, it may be noises, strangers (dogs or humans) and unusual environments to name a few.

I met a lady today who told me about her own dog (he wasn’t present). She was unable to walk her dog herself because it would pull her over in it’s determination to get to other dogs. She believed her dog was fearful and was responding with an aggressive drive to get to the strange dog. Therefore, this he was kept on the lead.

She had sought the advice of a local behaviourist who had not really helped. This behaviourist and trainer had suggested using a pressure coat similar to the Thunder Jacket. I believe in trying to help a fearful dog with behaviour modification based on a strong research platform. Products such as the pressure vest make bold claims, however they are rarely supported by any meaningful clinical research.

Relying upon something like the Thunder Jacket is a lazy and questionable approach. A ‘proper’ qualified canine behaviourist will thoroughly evaluate your dog and advise appropriate behaviour modification programs. Fearful and reactive dogs can benefit from counter-conditioning and desensitisation programs designed to help your dog become accustomed to and accepting of strangers and situations. Strapping on a ‘vest’ is unlikely to be the panacea they are claimed to be.

Of course, you will find people that swear blind that the ‘vest’ has helped there dog. This may be the case, but there are many reasons why a dog’s behaviour may have changed. Without proper research and structured evaluation it if very difficult to recommend products such as the Thunder Jacket. This blog, by a veterinary surgeon is worth reading — the Skepvet.

Certainly, in the case of the lady and her dog — she has seen no difference in behaviour and is left in the situation were she cannot walk her dog. Her dog could benefit from a structured behaviour modification if she is willing to trust another ‘professional’ to do thing properly.

The take home message here: be wary of ‘professionals’ who seem to offer shortcuts and products that will fix things quickly for you and your dog.

Image credit: Flicker