For me, the anti-anxiety vest was the beginning of a journey in understanding the complexity of dog anxiety. I had this idealistic view of rescuing a puppy and being best friends forever and ever. THE END. I didn’t realize that dogs could be scared to go on walks or that they craved a lot of mental exercise, or that they could just uncontrollably pee when they’re excited. This was the first dog I ever took care of on my own and was a bit naive I guess.
I’m a proactive person so my first call to action was to get help from a friend who’s a dog trainer. I asked him to come observe for a couple of hours and see if he could give me tips on how to help Ruby. This was a nice stepping point because I learned that dogs have long term memory, for some reason I believed the myth they only had short term memory, and that this could cause long-lasting traumas. This explained a lot of things about Ruby, like why she couldn’t control her pee around certain types of men who probably looked similar to the person who abandoned her and her sisters in a trash can.
My friend also taught me the value of mental exercise for dogs using scent games and put Ruby on a mild natural supplement (tryptophan) to relax her and make her more receptive to the training.
Needed something more than dog training
I saw improvements following his advice and learned the important lesson that this was a journey and there wouldn’t be a quick fix but I was still finding it hard to cope with Ruby’s constant anxiety.
We were living in an apartment where the downstairs neighbors would complain about everything and Ruby was starting to bark at any noise she would hear outside in the hallway. Seeing that we shared the hallway with five other apartments you can imagine that I started to get worried that soon they would be asking us to move out.
So I did what any normal millennial would do when in doubt, I started googling for solutions. This is how I found the anti-anxiety vest. I was looking for something that would have calming effects on the constant noises that she was hearing outside of our apartment
I can’t stress enough how much of a lifesaver this was for us. I read reviews on Amazon that were conflicting. Most people praised it but some did complain that it didn’t work for their dog so I was a bit torn. In the end, I gave it a chance because as I investigated about it more I found out that it had been scientifically proven to work in 80% of dogs which seemed like the odds were in my favor.
The first time I put the anti-anxiety vest on Ruby, I was amazed at the sudden change in her demeanor and body language. She just relaxed. Her barking stopped and alongside with the tips from my trainer friend we started to make leeway with Ruby’s anxiety.
Sometimes we bring Ruby to the park with her anti-anxiety vest if we see that she’s been feeling anxious. It helps her feel better.
Tips for using the anti-anxiety vest
- Make sure you introduce the vest slowly to your dog. Lay the anti-anxiety vest on the floor so that your doggy can sniff it. If your dog is food motivated, put some treats around the vest and have them sniff around to get them to associate it with treats.
- Try to make the first time you put it on as gentle and fun as possible. If you already have an anxious dog and you force them to put it on, you’ll be reinforcing negative feelings towards the vest.
- In the beginning, only put it on for 5 minutes and then take it off. Gradually increase the time that your dog wears it until they’re completely comfortable with it.
- Make sure the vest is the right size. You should be able to comfortably put two fingers between the vest and your dog. If it’s too loose it will not work properly and if it’s too tight it’ll be uncomfortable. Look for stores that allow you to exchange it if you get the wrong size for your dog.
How does it work?
The anti-anxiety vest uses pressure on your dog’s body to promote a feeling of safety. This is similar to weighted blankets used on humans or swaddling in babies.
Weighted blankets have been proven to increase levels of serotonin with the added pressure. This decreases blood pressure, heart rate, activity in the nervous system, anxiety, and regulates mood which in turn has a calming effect.
It also decreases cortisol which is the hormone that regulates stress in the body. High levels of this hormone are associated with high levels of stress.
This is a little video we made because we were just so impressed how well the anti-anxiety vest calms Ruby down, even when we go on walks she doesn’t pull or gets anxious from noises like she usually does.
The anti-anxiety vest was really the beginning of seeing Ruby’s dog anxiety in a holistic way. We found that besides training, there are certain products that could help minimize stress in trigger situations.
Of course, like any of the remedies that I talk about on this blog, it doesn’t work for all dogs. I have heard from owners who have been disappointed with the anti-anxiety vest and in the end, you need to find the right mix that reduces your dog’s stress. Just make sure that the store you get it from has a money-back guarantee policy so you can just return it if it doesn’t work for your dog.
As part of our paw-family, don’t be shy to reach out to us if you have any questions about the vest. We’re here to help reduce the stress of doggies around the world!