When I first heard of the concept of swaddling dogs to calm them, I'll admit I was very skeptical. I tried out one such product, the Thundershirt, a while back and was amazed at its effect on my test dog. He normally has severe anxiety problems when riding in a car, but he was much calmer in the tight-fitting doggy garment.
I also tried the Thundershirt for Cats with mixed results: one of my kitties did great it in, while the other just flopped over in a reaction I later learned is normal for some cats.
Thus, when I had the opportunity to test out of the Calm Coat, I had high hopes for its efficacy. Now that I know dog swaddling is a workable concept, I figured it would be another success.
Works for a Variety of Issues
The American Kennel Club Calm Coat is aimed at a variety of doggy issues, like nervousness, excessive barking, shaking, crating issues, and fear of noises like thunderstorms. Somehow, the tight swaddling of the garment makes many dogs feel more secure.
Granted, there are other ways to address these issues, like herbal calming remedies and humane anti-barking products like the Sonic Egg, but the Calm Coat gives you one product that cuts across a wide swath of problems. You simply put on the coat and you're combating fear, anxiety, and barking all at once.
It's easy to put the Calm Coat on most dogs. It fits on the dog's body, and you fasten it snugly in place with Velcro. The garment comes in extra small, small, medium, and large to accommodate most breeds, and it's made from a washable cotton and spandex blend.
The main trick to putting on the Calm Coat is to make sure that it's tight enough to give your dog a "hug" effect without restricting his free movement. It might take a few adjustments to get it just right.
Get Your Dog Used to the Calm Coat
Although the Calm Coat's main purpose is to soothe your pup, it's best to get the dog used to wearing it before a stressful time.
I recommend using it a few times under normal circumstances. Let your dog wear it around the house when nothing's going on, or strap it on for a walk. Once she's used to wearing it randomly, it won't be something scary and new when you put it on before an anxiety-inducing activity.
Even if you work your dog up to wearing the coat, you might find that it doesn't have any effect on stress. Although I have test dogs who respond very well to the swaddling method used by products like the Calm Coat, I've discovered with further research that some don't show any effect at all.
There doesn't seem to be any defining trait to help you tell whether or not your dog will respond to a Calm Coat. I've seen it work on dogs that are nervous in general, as well as mostly calm pooches who only have problems at specific times, like during storms or on the 4th of July. I deducted half a star as warning that even though it can be an extremely effective product for many dogs, your mileage may vary.
The Verdict: It's Worth a Try
I definitely recommend the Calm Coat as being worth a try. If it works for your dog, it will work very, very well. I personally prefer avoiding drugs and harsh training methods when dealing with pets, so I see the Calm Coat as a first line of defense.
The Calm Coat isn't especially expensive, so it's a pretty reasonable investment to make your dog potentially more calm and comfortable. You'll know right away if it works, as you'll see the dog's behavior change as he noticeably settles down. It's a versatile way to tackle anxiety with a simple garment.
Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.