A new trend in dog fashion has emerged over the past few years. However, many dog lovers remain unaware that the scarves tied around some pups’ bodies have a special meaning that goes far beyond simply looking stylish or cute.
Just like humans, dogs can become anxious about certain situations. This is particularly true of rescued dogs that have been abused by their previous owners. These animals are likely to display symptoms of fear such as shaking, cowering away from sudden movements, or even aggression.
It is not only rescue dogs that suffer from anxiety, however. Indeed, the nervousness can be triggered by a range of conditions. These may include separation anxiety – causing the animals to whine or bark anxiously until their owner returns – and confinement anxiety, which is triggered when an animal feels trapped and unable to escape.
Another cause of anxiety in dogs is loud noises such as thunderstorms and fireworks. Signs of noise-related phobias in dogs may present themselves in many different ways. These range from hiding, chewing, panting and pacing to clinginess with their owner, trembling and barking.
Medicating animals with these conditions is one option. The medications available include sedatives, which can be given to a dog after a consultation with a vet. These may, however, have side effects that could negate the benefits of giving them to your pet.
As a result, many pet owners turn to alternative methods to calm their dogs. Sometimes these soothing tricks can be as simple as creating a calm environment, putting out serene vibes yourself, or even a method of massage called TTouch.
In situations such as fireworks night, though, it may be difficult to create a calm environment for your pet because the loud noises will destroy any sense of peacefulness. So, methods including plug-in diffusers that release calming scents can be used. These aim to enhance a chemical that occurs naturally in the brain in order to relax a stressed animal.
For many dogs, however, these techniques will not work. Owners may consequently need to try several alternative calming methods before they find something that suits their pet’s needs. And this is why some owners have chosen to explore the option of scarf wraps.
These DIY wraps made their way across social media via a diagram that explains how to create the half-wrap around your pet. All that you need to do this is a piece of fabric such as a scarf or any suitable cloth scrap that you have to hand.
The wrapping technique is fairly simple to follow. You begin by laying the fabric flat against your dog’s chest, with even lengths either side. Then cross the two ends above your dog across its withers. Next, cross the ends underneath it, before bringing them back above your dog and then secure in a bow. And finally, ensure that the knot isn’t pressing on your dog’s spine, by bringing it slightly to one side.
If you’re still unsure of how to do this, don’t worry as there are plenty of diagrams and images of real dogs wrapped in the scarves online. If you would rather not create it yourself, however, you can buy half-wraps or thunder-coats online from several different suppliers.
The doggie body wraps can help with a range of anxiety-inducing issues including fireworks, thunder, travel and general nervousness. They work by applying pressure on your dog’s body and calming them, in a similar way to being held tight by a person.
Mekuti, a website that sells the body wraps, tries to explain the popularity of the garments. It states, “Body wraps are being used around the world to bring an animal’s awareness to their body away from the source of fear which could be fireworks or thunder, for example.”
The statement continues, “The sense of security given by the wrap also brings confidence, allowing them to release habitual responses and behavioral patterns, allowing them to observe the world around them and respond rather than react to stimuli.”
Although there has not been a huge amount of scientific research into how effective these wraps are, one such study has been conducted by CanCog Technologies. Dr. Gary Landsberg, a leading veterinary behaviorist, headed the investigation.
A group of ten dogs was examined to monitor their general symptoms of anxiety, their heart rates and the time that they spent in a “hide” box. While wearing the thunder wraps, the likelihood of the animals using the “hide box” was reduced by about half.
The observed anxiety behaviors also improved when wearing the thunder wrap, for example when the dogs were exposed to a stimulated storm environment. What’s more, the heart rates of the animals were reduced as well.
Dr. Landsberg said, “The improvement in observed anxiety ratings and the significant reduction in [the] use of the ‘hide’ box are both very good indicators that Thundershirt helps to reduce stress in a thunderstorm environment.”
It isn’t just scientists who are seeing the benefits of the wraps, but also dog owners across the world. Lots of happy customers posted reviews on the Metuki website. Cath from Wuff Dog Training wrote, “I am absolutely in shock as to how well the body wrap works. We have had a week of thunder and fireworks and I have now used it four times on my rescue dog. Every time within five minutes he was asleep, I am so grateful it has worked so well.”
M. Houghton also saw claimed to have observed great results with her dog. She wrote, “My ten-year-old collie was terribly distressed during thunderstorms or fireworks. At first I was skeptical that such a simple idea could work but with the TTouch Body Wrap on he’s a different dog and slept through a recent storm for the first time ever.”
While presumably no owner would ever want to see their dog distressed, this pooch’s episode of barking and growling actually went on to save countless lives. Yes, not long after Kailey the rescue dog had happily settled into her forever home, she began acting very strangely – and this led her owner to suspect that something was very wrong.
Shortly after adopting a dog called Kailey, Suzy Chandler was left confused when her companion started growling at her. The normally shy Shepherd mix had seemingly settled well into her forever home, but now she had become distressed. She began barking and growling – and she wouldn’t stop.
Chandler had re-homed the three-year-old dog just two weeks before. In doing so, she had saved her from euthanasia. And even in that short time, Chandler knew that barking and growling was out of character for the pooch. “All of a sudden she just started barking and looking at us and growling, like trying to get our attention,” Chandler explained in an interview with FOX 5.
Before being adopted, Kailey had been on DeKalb County Animal Services’ adoption list for a whole year. It seemed that Kailey had had a tough start in life, and this made it difficult for her to trust humans. As a result, she sometimes snapped at strangers.
This meant, of course, that few potential owners had wanted to give her a chance. In fact, no one had seemed to want her at all – and this meant that she would soon have faced being euthanized.
Luckily, Keith Santer-Perham and Jacqueline Berlin fostered Kailey for a number of months. And fearing that Kailey would never find a forever home, Berlin posted a plea on Facebook. The post urged introverts to give Kailey a chance.
It read, “Do you like to be alone or just with a close friend? Is an evening at home surfing the web or cuddling with a loved one watching Netflix your idea of bliss? [Is] the idea of being grabbed anywhere by someone you don’t know horrifying? Meet your doggie soulmate: Kailey.”
Berlin described Kailey as a “Velcro dog who wants nothing more than to be with you.” Yes, Berlin was desperate to find her faithful friend a forever home and hoped that her words would receive a response. And it worked: Kailey’s life would soon change for the better.
Why? Because the appeal caught Suzy Chandler’s eye, and she quickly got in touch. She told FOX 5, “The story of what she had been through, it just pulled on our heartstrings. We just thought we would be the perfect people for her. It was a perfect match.”
After bringing her new friend home to her property in DeKalb County, Chandler was happy to see her settling in and bonding with her other dog. It also seemed like Kailey was recovering well from her troubled past and had even started to trust humans again. Plus, Chandler and Kailey had a great relationship. That was why Chandler was so surprised at Kailey’s behavior that morning on December 30, 2016.
Despite Kailey’s history, Chandler trusted her dog enough to realize that something wasn’t right when she began growling and barking. So she immediately put her on a lead and took her outside. It was there that she discovered what her new best friend had been trying to tell her.
It seemed that the clever canine had discovered a gas leak – one that was potentially extremely dangerous. “She pulled me directly over to the side yard,” Chandler told FOX 5. “Right away, I smelled overpowering gas and [heard] a loud whooshing sound.”
Realizing the potential threat to herself and to her neighbors, Chandler quickly called 911. She explained, “I just don’t take chances on people’s lives like this. It is a dangerous situation.”
Firefighters were soon at the scene. They set about monitoring the air in an adjacent apartment complex – home to numerous families – in order to ascertain just how far the leak had spread. But whatever the outcome, Kailey had raised the alert and, in doing so, had potentially saved dozens of lives.
Indeed, if the rescue services had not received the call and repaired the ruptured gas line, the outcome could have been very different. This news understandably spread via local media, and Kailey was hailed as a hero dog.
Kailey’s former foster parent Keith Santer-Perham was delighted to hear the story, too. He told FOX 5, “I thought it was awesome. Kailey is a really, really good dog, and I thought that was just a nice touch.”
Meanwhile, Chandler said, “She is our hero dog because we do not know what the outcome could have been.” She also hopes that Kailey’s tale will encourage other people to adopt dogs in need. “If you have the space, you have room in your heart to take in a needy animal, to love on them… it comes back to you tenfold,” she said.
Santer-Perham and Berlin echoed that sentiment to FOX 5. They said many dogs are abandoned in the weeks after Christmas, having been given as gifts. So they hoped that Kailey’s bravery would inspire members of the public to give homeless dogs another chance.
Kailey’s former home, DeKalb County Animal Services, is looked after by the Lifeline Animal Project. Part of its mission is to end euthanasia for dogs and cats if they are healthy or can be treated. And since it began its work, adoption rates have increased by 150 percent.
Still, DeKalb County Animal Services has taken in thousands of unwanted dogs and cats. In fact, a big part of its work is finding new homes for these animals. So adopting a homeless pet is a sure way that local residents can make a difference.
Rescue dogs often need extra time and care to adjust to life in their new homes, but they can bring joy and loyal companionship to their owners. Kailey did far more than that, though – and, in the process, she became a hero.