Because Why?

I don’t want to come across as someone who trolls the internet looking for other people’s websites, blog posts or videos to criticize. More often I try to ignore most of it. Sometimes it lands in my lap. The link to the video included in this post was shared with me by the manufacturers of a new product designed to eliminate anxiety in dogs. I understand why they’d send it to me and I’m always happy to learn about new products to help the population of dogs I care a lot about.

The first image in the commercial for a calming coat is of a trembling, scared chihuahua used as an example of the dogs the product can help. I understand why they’d do this, but I had to work to not start getting pissed off about it. Princeton is not just feeling camera shy, Princeton is scared. I get it. We all get it. While we’re getting it, and they’re getting footage, Princeton is scared. Why is it ok to scare a dog in order to sell a product? We don’t push old ladies down a  flight of stairs in order to film a commercial for a distress call product to use after they’ve fallen and can’t get up. We don’t sneeze on people to give them the flu so we can get shots of them for a nighttime flu-relief medicine. But for some reason it’s ok to put a dog in a situation that scares them so we can get the images we need, to sell something. Even if what is being sold is of value–people have been using wraps, ace bandages and tight T-shirts on dogs for years to help with anxiety–it only seems to lessen the disrespect for the victim (the real-life animal actor) slightly in my mind.

As the commercial continues a claim is made that the product works because it “simulates a mother dog holding its young.” Seriously? Have they ever seen a litter of puppies being held by their mother? I know that we live in a world in which one can say practically anything they want about dogs and be believed, but this is creepily Orwellian. The myths that dogs need pack leaders, feel shame after peeing on the rug, you should correct dogs by grabbing their muzzle because that’s what mothers do, have just been joined by “mother dogs hold their puppies.” In internet-speak my response is WTF?

I also take umbrage with the assertion that dogs who need daily medications or treatments will no longer need them if they wear the coat. Body wraps do not work for all dogs. If they do, fantastic. If they don’t, it’s better for a dog to remain on daily medications and treatments that are working. My comment (which has since been removed) on their youtube page did not question the efficacy of their product, but rather the claim as to why it worked. I mean come on, “hold its young.”

I asked them to provide me documentation regarding this assertion. I was told that it was tested and veterinarian-approved. OK, that’s great, I don’t want that test info or the names of the veterinarians who have approved it, I wanted to know where they got the information that young dogs are soothed by being held by their mothers. Bottom-line is that there is information out there that supports the use of compression for ramping down nervous systems. With a little homework they could have found it but instead resort to the all-too-common tactic of “making sh*t up about dogs.”

I notice that they didn’t use Princeton as an example of their product working its magic. Though he appears later in the commercial notice his tightly tucked tail, one of the easiest pieces of body language there is to judge how comfortable a dog is. Unless when being held by their mothers puppies also tuck their tails (I just made that sh*t up). The company sent me info about their product and my feedback to them has simply been met with repeated claims that research proves it works. My issue with their advertising is not that their product doesn’t work, but their claim regarding WHY it does.

People should stop thinking they can keep making sh*t  up about dogs and it’s ok.

*Thanks to a reader for pointing out that one of the dogs has an electronic collar on. Aversives are contraindicated for anxiety.

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45 comments so far

  1. Natasha on

    Hee hee hee hee, you get ’em, girl! Holding its young, too funny! And yes, poor Princeton is on there for a nanosecond, poor thing…. And the coat’s not even tight! Happy Monday!

    • Debbie Jacobs on

      Glad I didn’t come across as a grinch!

  2. Ann on

    I totally agree! What decent owner/trainer would allow their dog to be frightened to the point of trembling for money? Obviously one too many. As for being held tightly by their mother – that’s too funny ad I know from having raised a beautiful litter of puppies last year with a fantastic first time ‘mom’ . watched them very closely for 8+ weeks and never saw a ‘hug’ . Not all dogs like to be held tightly or ‘hugged’. I have one who practically panics if held too tight while grooming her nails and feet.
    Speaking of nails and feet – have you noticed far too many print ads where the dog’s nails are painfully long and on TV you hear far too much clicking of overly long nails. People have no idea how long nails can impact a dog’s posture and gait.
    I won’t buy products that appear to abuse dogs and cats and I think that is the best way to get the message across- the manufacturer’s bottom line.

    • Debbie Jacobs on

      Once we tune our eyes into really seeing the dog in the picture or video it’s almost painful to look. And lucky you to have recently had a litter of pups to watch.

  3. Cybele on

    Brava! What you wrote needed to be said even. Keep fighting the good fight.

    • fearfuldogs on

      Thanks. I don’t want to become the whiny bitch blogging, but this one pushed my buttons.

  4. Linda Trunell on

    Good post – I agree 100% about the sh*t that people say about dogs. For example, have you ever seen a mother dog pick up a pup by the scruff of the neck and shake him to discipline him? I haven’t. I’ve seen them gently carry them – even gently pull them by a hind leg to get them back to where they should be – but never shake them. Yet there are people who say to discipline your pup that way is natural. Seriously, WTF?

    • Debbie Jacobs on

      What was so crazy about this claim is that it’s so obviously off-base!

  5. lchaimcanine on

    Amen! The making stuff up has to end. We have enough misinformation to counter as it is with our training clients. I bred one litter of puppies 10 years ago. She was a great Rottie mom. She never held them, scruffed them, grabbed their muzzles nor did she eat first nor alpha roll them. As they got older and more rambunctious she could get her point across simply through body language, a raised lip and an occasional snarl. But most of the time their education came through play and following in her footsteps. She was a wise soul!

    • Debbie Jacobs on

      Good dog moms are wonderful things.

  6. Joanne Davidson on

    I bred westies and belgians for 30 years. Quick nips and body language were my girls way of dealing with wayward pups. However, yes I have seen, many times, a bitch curl herself around a frightened or frustrated puppy, tuck them under her chin and generally comfort them with a “hug”. Also, every generation had a lead bitch that would intervene in situations. No other dog would ever try to challenge her authority. When my daughter’s dogs came over they learned quickly that they did not go out the door or come back in ahead of Vanna. She didn’t growl, but the body language she displayed made one dog back down the stairs so that she could go ahead of him.

    • fearfuldogs on

      I didn’t mean to imply that pups are not comforted by their mothers, but saying they are “held” seems a stretch to me. If they had said something about the coats simulate the sensation of being licked, that at least would have made some sense.

  7. Ann on

    Debbie- it was fascinating to watch the 5 puppies as they matured. I had waited many years to breed a litter- the dam and sire are exceptional in soundness of mind and structure( tho she is the one who hates to be held too tightly) and all health checks were done. My vet and his staff say I ‘oversocialized’ the puppies because they are so friendly and outgoing- giving kisses to anyone coming face to face. I kept my first male ever and a beautiful female. The differences continue to learn and develop is amazing.

    • fearfuldogs on

      I inherited a pair of lovely, well-socialized cocker spaniels and vets always commented on how nice they were. I miss them.

  8. LJWink on

    I don’t know about dogs holding onto to one another tightly, but I sure wanted to give the chihuahua a warm embrace (I know better, but I sure wanted to).

    Did you notice the black-lab-looking dog had an electronic collar on? Shock and calm?

    • fearfuldogs on

      Social animals can derive comfort and experience a lowering of stress when with someone they trust. I didn’t notice the shock collar, I’ll have another look. Ugh. If I was feeling at all sorry about picking on this ad, I won’t if they’ve got a shock collar on an anxious dog.

    • Leslie on

      I noticed that shock collar, too. It’s especially visible in the group shots where they’re all sitting with the woman.

      I loved their website that states your dog should weigh at least 20 pounds before being put in a Rein Coat. But then they turn around and sell a Chihuahua size. I guess they’ll say anything to try to make a buck.

      • Debbie Jacobs on

        I’m not sure if their motives are completely mercenary, but they sure didn’t do their fact checking, or proof-reading.

  9. Cybele on

    Everything about this video was questionable. My dog really appreciates her Thundeshirt. in fact she comes to me and leans against me when she feels the need. It wraps tightly around her not loosely like a rain coat (Rein(?) coat…rein what?). The woman in the ad was unnecessary as well. Seriously, how did her presence add to any veracity regarding the item. The clip of a truck pulling another truck with a “military grade” strap was equally meaningless. Oh well, I guess a sucker is born every minute.

    • Debbie Jacobs on

      I did also think the truck pull was a bit excessive. Now if they showed a lion trying to chew through it, that would be a different story. We have to stop being suckers, you are absolutely right.

  10. Sage on

    I agree–it’s a bunch of c**p and is probably only good as a raincoat. I have one (a raincoat) for Sage, who had no fears until this last 4th of July when all hell broke loose in my neighborhood with illegal flash bang fireworks. I put the coat on her (because it’s tight, not loose like the one in the video) and it did nothing. It’s great for walking in the rain though!

    • Debbie Jacobs on

      The availability of fireworks in our area has turned what was once a couple of days of firecrackers into over a week of explosions.

  11. jamie on

    I think the coat is probably BS but how many chihuahuas don’t shake all the time?

    • fearfuldogs on

      Which is why I referred to the tail tuck and not the trembling 🙂

  12. jet on

    Ack, horrible! 😛 As the pet industry continues to grow this problem is only going to get worse I’m afraid!

    • fearfuldogs on

      We can stay ahead of the game by not being willing to grab any hook dangled in front of us. But you are right, it’s going to be an uphill battle.

  13. Sophelia on

    In addition to all the very good points you and the other commenters make… who contacts someone to promote a product for them and then doesn’t answer questions about the product/deletes feedback from their youtube video? >.<

  14. Awe Debbie, you just make me laugh. Which when faced with such absurdities is sometimes all you can do. The saddest part is that people will believe all the stuff people just make up. I mean what happened to common sense? Thanks for speaking out against “sh*t people make up.”

    • fearfuldogs on

      I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are doing what they are doing with dogs, because they care about them. Their non-response to my comments, which they had in effect solicited by sending me the link, really bugged me. I suppose in the marketplace any PR is good PR on some level and desperate pet owners will be willing to keep shelling out money for cures.

  15. Matthew on

    I watched the commercial without sound….I would never buy or recommend this product. why? because of what Debbie posted?…nope. all though I would have caught the “made up 5h!te had I listened to the audio and that would have been that. But, I am fairly sure I can evaluate the evidence and make up my own mind.

    No, the reason I cannot recommend this product is because of what I saw in the commercial. And that lead me to conclude that I don’t think their implementation will work.

    The “wraps” (and that is being generous) look more like sheets draped over the dogs than wraps applying pressure that relieves anxiety.

    And I am not convinced the dogs actually were experiencing relief. lots of possible stress panting going on. Not to mention…Princeton didn’t look any better with it on than with it off.

    I already have concerns about the entire wrap concept, that it actually delivers on it’s theory. Their implementation as shown in their commercial….does nothing to change my concerns.

    • fearfuldogs on

      Thanks for sharing your perspective. Our advantage in the pet marketplace is sitting on our shoulders 😉

    • Cybele on

      I can testify to the validity of the wrap and if it really has an effect, at least for my dog. She is very fearful of sounds and when she gets frightened she comes and leans against me. That’s the signal for the Thundershirt. After I put it on her she immediately begins to relax enough to go to sleep instead of standing and shivering. That said, I know it doesn’t work for every dog just as the Bach Rescue Remedy has never helped any of my dogs while others swear by it.

      • Debbie Jacobs on

        I use a wrap and melatonin for one of my sound sensitive dogs during storms. He falls asleep.

      • Matthew on

        My concern is that the wrap actually suppresses, not relieves since “being wrapped up” is a fairly unnatural thing for dogs. they don’t hug or hold etc. So, that is my general concern.

        My other concern is that some dogs do not want anything on them. I know my dog is such an example. I tried the Thundershirt to help with some of his issues, but quickly abandoned after watching him with it on. which brings me to my other concern. with all the publicity about how it can help some dogs, I worry that someone not versed in “reading dog” will apply a wrap to a dog like mine and because they heard it works, and because they need it to work…will see what they want to see.

        I understand the principle, and I know the concept helps humans. but I have actually not see or read any work directly related to dogs that validates that the principle does work on them. (except “anecdotal”, which I personally don’t discount entirely out of hand simply because it wasn’t double blind, peer reviewed) If such data is out there, I just haven’t found it yet.

        I have noticed that dogs do seem to get comfort from pressing up against. So the question is…does the wrap provide the same comfort as pressing up against…or do we just hope it does?

        Anyway for all 2 cents or less my opinion is worth. a properly applied Tshirt would be MUCH cheaper and MUCH more effective than what was shown in the commercial because I am pretty sure the concept calls for wrapping, not draping.

      • Cybele on

        As I said I’m sure it doesn’t work for every dog but I know it has a positive effect on mine. If she had shown any resistance to it I wouldn’t have forced her to wear it. It was a little pricey but it’s in it’s fourth year now, so not a bad investment in the long run. Also, I think part of the concept is not so much that the dog is getting hugged but it’s given a better sense of the wellness and safety of its body while under stress. There’s a name for the body work/ therapy which escapes me at the moment that uses the same principle.

      • Debbie on

        You bring up good points. I have seen dogs freeze up when a wrap is applied and many people probably don’t realize that they should desensitize and countercondition to it.

      • Cybele on

        I just remembered the therapy is called the Feldenkrais method and as an assistance dog trainer in training we applied its principles to help a dog understand where it’s body was in relation to the world it had to function in.

      • Debbie Jacobs on

        I think that Feldenkrais was an inspiration for Linda Tellington-Jones’ development of Ttouch.

  16. Janet Finlay on

    Well said Debbie. I was concerned about the very obvious stress signs shown by many of the dogs and the electronic collar one is wearing – yikes! Am also not convinced by the looseness of the coat. TTouch wraps and the Thundershirt work by applying light pressure – this doesn’t look like it does that – and it was not at all clear how the “built in harness” works. And as for the claim that it mimics mothers holding their pups – huh? I’ve seen mothers curl round their pups, flatten them with a paw and nose them but never “hold” them! I’m not even sure what that means.

    • Debbie Jacobs on

      Lots to be questioned for sure! It’s a decent looking rain coat.

  17. Janet Finlay on

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-VQ6NEVeHk In this one they claim that it is pressure at the scruff of the neck that mimics the mother picking up a puppy by the scruff. That is starting to sound CMish. They also claim that oxytocin is released by this action? The amusing thing is that for most of the video the coat is not even in contact with the scruff of the dog’s neck so even if the rationale wasn’t bunkum, the coat isn’t applying any pressure there! And I do think it is invidious to suggest that other pressure wraps cause pain and discomfort to elderly dogs. If anything the opposite is true.

  18. Karen Boyce on

    Hi, just had a look and agree “mother holds it young” was a pretty daft thing to say. I am more concerned with the shock collar the one older collie type is wearing!!! The prongs are clearly visable. How can a company promote an anti anxiety wrap and yet be using such equipment on a dog. Talk about double standards.

  19. starlett DeSpain on

    I agree that animals need anxiety medication. it’s better than them dying from heart problems from stress. my dog is going to the vet in the morning. my dad had an emergency and will not be back. thank God they’re going to take her in in the morning. she has many symptoms and possible many causes. I do have some medication but I’m going to wait until her blood work’s done and x-ray. I absolutely know one of the problems is separation anxiety and confusion. she’s my granddog in which my son left for over a year and returned. now she’s dehydrated and drooling and can’t keep much down at a time. I’m giving her Pedialyte for the dehydration. I have Reglan for nausea but I’m afraid she might have a blockage also. I could give her Klonopin for the anxiety which I might do tonight. she has a great appetite 4 special food like salmon and cheese. she eats her dog food with canola oil. but every since my son returned she has lost weight and then this but he did not notify me for a long time. he loves her but he doesn’t understand that he can’t work all night and sleep all day. she’s used to being with Grandma on the farm. the only thing bad she does is get mice but I don’t use poison outside. all these people that don’t believe in medication make me mad. that’s what it was invented for. I’m going to keep her with me and do all the things needed, not just medication. I’m not a fanatic on anything. but animals are my number one passion.


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