Forums » Behavior

Can Animals Become Desensitized to Calming Tools?

    • 173 posts
    January 20, 2017 1:11 PM EST

    Question submitted during the Calming Tools Part I - Physical Aids webinar:

    Is there any evidence that the calming effects of some of these tools, like the Thundershirt, decrease over time? In other words, could the animal become desensitized to the calming properties of the tools?

    • Moderator
    • 64 posts
    January 21, 2017 5:12 PM EST

    Hi there!  

    Great question!!

    Yes, for some dogs effects of calming tools may wane over time (the dogs become habituated to the change). However, this does not happen with all dogs. It's one of the reasons we use these devices in combination with other modalities to help decrease fear, anxiety, and stress rather than relying on one tool.  

    In those dogs that habituate, the reality is that some of them may not have been calmer but instead were behaviorally inhibited by the device. With exposure, some of those animals will learn to be more comfortable with the devince and their other symptoms will reappear.  

    Moral of this story -> If a patient seems to be habituating check for:

    1) behavioral inhibition

    2) whether family is using other calming modalities and behavioral therapies to help animal feel more comfortable.

    I hope that helps!

    Dr C