Major triggers of anxiety in dogs are separation, thunderstorms, fireworks, car rides, strangers, unexpected loud noises, injury or other disruptions to a dog's life. One method of soothing and calming anxious dogs is the use of pressure or anxiety wraps. Wrapping is similar to swaddling an infant and uses a technique called "maintained pressure," first developed by Dr. Temple Grandin, to help calm herself and others with Autism. The pressure helps the person or dog become calm when fearful, anxious or hyperactive.
Using an Ace Bandage to Create a Wrap
Place the middle of an elastic bandage (wide for larger dogs, narrow for small dogs, medium-wide for mid-sized dogs) across the dog's chest.
Bring both ends up and cross them over the shoulders. The wrap will touch and connect the front, back, right, left, top, and bottom parts of the dog's body.
Cross the bandage over the top of the shoulder blades.
Cross the loose ends of the bandage under the abdomen.
Tie the loose ends over the top of the lower back.
Or wrap the middle of the bandage around the front of the chest.
Then cross over the back and then under the belly and back up around the chest and secure.
As the wrap presses down on the dog's fur, re-tie the wrap to make sure it fits snugly. The wrap should remain snug, but not tight, so check it periodically to be sure it doesn't obstruct movement or circulation.
When finished, the figure-8 wrap will surround the dog with uniform calming pressure. The wrap may only be needed for a short time or it can be left on as long as necessary to relieve fear, tension, or anxiety.
Step by step photos are available at: http://www.crvetcenter.com/bodywrap.htm
Using a Shirt as an Anxiety Wrap
Alternatively, a very snug shirt or a spandex tank top will work well as a pressure wrap.
Put the t-shirt or tank top backwards on the dog, with the tail poking through the neck opening.
Snugly tie the 'shirt tails' across the dog's chest.
Some people sew parts of ace bandages onto the shirt so that the bandages can be wrapped around appropriate parts of the dog. This will allow you to focus pressure at points that seem most soothing for a particular dog.
Buying & Using Pressure Wraps
You can purchase a pre-made pressure wrap, such as the Anxiety Wrap, a lightweight calming body wrap, which was created by Susan Sharpe, a certified TTouch practitioner (www.anxietywrap.com); the Thundershirt which applies a gentle, constant pressure to a dog's torso (www.thundershirt.com/); and the Storm Defender, "a cape created to give relief to dogs who are excessively afraid of thunderstorms" (www.stormdefender.com/).
The pressure wrap provides constant, gentle pressure to a dog's torso and chest. It is a non-drug approach used to modify the behavior of dogs that suffer from anxiety.
According to A Study on Pressure Wraps for Combating Dog Noise Anxiety from advanced Semiotics in Research, Health & Medicine, "The wrap applies ... maintained pressure across a wide area of the body, stimulating the body's receptors to help in transmitting different sensations to different parts of the brain. When the animal receives this new information, it's awareness & focus can change, resulting in the animal "letting go" of the old sensation and modifying its behavior."