People are putting shirts which simulate hugs on their dogs during Fourth of July fireworks displays in an attempt to calm them down.
The “Thundershirts” reportedly simulate hugs by applying pressure to certain areas, and were inspired by similar shirts used for autistic children.
“These come in two main designs—a spandex T-shirt that’s meant to give an animal a balanced hug, and a vest with straps designed to put pressure on particular parts of the body,” reported Wired. “The insight that certain kinds of touch and pressure can have a calming effect was first popularized and championed by livestock behavior expert and autism-awareness-advocate Temple Grandin, who invented a ‘hug machine’ for humans with autism after noticing the way a light squeeze calmed cows before slaughter.”
It’s currently unknown as to whether the shirts completely comfort dogs, however, in one study of 18 people, 89 percent claimed the shirts helped.
“As we often are wont to do when we look at science, we want to say if it works for humans it will work for our pets. In some cases it’s true and in many cases it’s not,” declared animal behavior expert Michelle Mullins. “Unfortunately we don’t have a huge amount of scientific studies about this.”
“I rarely if ever recommend them as a cure all,” she continued, adding, “but I have seen many dogs successfully use these as part of their therapy.”
Veterinarian Amy Learn also claimed the shirts were “subjective,” explaining, “Their job is to squeeze… It’s postulated that it feels like a hug. This is one of those things that isn’t super scientific… A lot of it is subjective. It’s the owner saying, ‘Oh, my dog feels better.'”