April showers bring May flowers. They also produce some booming thunderstorms. Any owner of a nervous dog knows storms, fireworks and sirens can cause considerable anxiety.
Behavioral therapy and pills have been used to treat the problem, but with mixed results.
Now a special jacket for your dog is showing promise.
Pet owner Susan Bechtel agreed to try the Thundershirt on her dogs.
She has three: Johnny the Schnauzer, Drake the border collie and Winnie, the "nervous one."
Susan demonstrated what happens when someone knocks at the door. Her dogs start barking, but Drake starts spinning nervously in circles.
So Susan put the Thundershirt on Drake. It's a lightweight compression jacket that resembles a body suit. Velcro straps secure it. It's snug, but not restrictive.
The light pressure it provides is designed to help your dog stay calm during stressful events like thunderstorms, fireworks or separation anxiety.
Susan has someone knock on the door again. The dogs still bark, but this time Drake doesn't spin, and appears to be far less anxious.
"That's amazing. That is unbelievable. He is not spinning. He's not even barking or jumping", Susan says.
Certified dog trainer Scott MacConachie works with many different types of dogs, and specializes in those with behavioral issues. He's been working with Susan's littlest dog, the very nervous Winnie.
Winnie follows Scott's commands to sit, but is so excited that he doesn't obey for long.
Scott says forms of compression do help in training, though he is skeptical over how much the Thundershirt will help. But Scott tries a smaller version on Winnie and gives the commands another try. This time Winnie seems to be more focused, and can actually sit still.
"Right off the bat, he's less anxious", Scott says. He's pleased, but cautions that a device like Thundershirt won't solve all your pet problems.
"I think it has some validity. Dogs do like compression. But I don't think it's going to cure a dog that's fearful of the world, or a dog that has real fear or anxiety issues," Scott says.
It sells online for about $36. As with any pet product, it's a good idea to check with your vet before trying it out.