It’s an awful feeling to see your dog stressed out or anxious. Many pet owners find that their dogs relax when wearing a thundershirt, anxiety wrap, or calming vest. You can buy these products ready-made, but going the DIY route has several advantages.
Making your own dog a thundershirt is less expensive. If you’re a serious crafter, you probably already have all the necessary materials and tools. A DIY thundershirt is also great for pups that don’t fit into standard dog apparel, like dachshunds, greyhounds, and French bulldogs. Our list covers five of the best DIY dog thundershirts, ranging from easy no-sew items to advanced projects.
The 10 DIY Dog Thundershirts
1. DIY Dog Anxiety Vest Pattern by Mimi & Tara
|Materials:||Cotton fabric, thread, Velco strips|
|Tools:||Sewing machine, scissors, pattern (available on esty)|
Consider this dog anxiety vest from Mimi and Tara if you are comfortable using a sewing machine. You have to buy the pattern off Etsy, but it’s reasonably priced. Depending on how large your dog is, you can use an old T-shirt. Or, if you feel like splurging, pick a fabric that matches your dog’s personality. Patterns are available in small to XXL. This dog anxiety vest pattern has positive reviews, with sewers agreeing that the design was simple and easy to follow.
2. DIY Dog Anxiety Wrap (ACE Bandage) by Doginton Post
|Materials:||Long elastic bandage (“ACE wrap”)|
The Dogington Post has an easy guide for a DIY dog anxiety wrap. Just dig around in your first aid kit for an ACE bandage and follow their video tutorial. This is an excellent alternative to the DIY Thunder T-shirt listed above if you can’t get a shirt over your dog’s head. The downside to this anxiety wrap is that there is a learning curve to wrapping the bandage “just so” around your dog. This isn’t a solution for restless pups, as your dog will need to stand still for a bit while you tie this anxiety wrap on them.
3. DIY Anxiety “Scarf” Wrap from Leggings by Cuteness
|Materials:||A pair of leggings|
|Tools:||Seam ripper, fabric shears|
The website Cuteness has instructions for a no-sew anxiety scarf wrap; it’s the perfect project for someone who is comfortable cutting fabric and using a seam ripper. This anxiety scarf wrap might be the most stylish option on your list, and you’ll use a pair of leggings to make the wrap. The fringy bandana is a nice touch for a fashionista pup that needs a little help calming down. The instructions state that this wrap works best for small to medium-sized dogs.
4. Custom Made DIY Thundershirt by K9 of Mine
|Materials:||Jersey knit, Velcro strips|
|Tools:||Scissors, dotted pattern paper, flexible measuring tape, ruler, pen|
Are you an advanced sewer who wants to tackle a new project? Does the thought of dog couture sound exciting? We’ve saved the most complex option for last: a custom-made DIY thundershirt brought to you by K9 of Mine. This project is not for the novice sewer, as you must create your pattern based on your dog’s measurements. The linked video offers clear, step-by-step instructions. Everything about this thundershirt is customized, so have fun choosing colorful fabric.
5. DIY Thundershirt for Any Size Dog by Trupanion Blog
|Materials:||Cloth material big enough to wrap around your dog (scarf, fleece, blanket, old T-shirt)|
These versatile directions explain how to create a DIY thundershirt for your dog using materials you probably already have at home. Whichever item you choose as the base of your anxiety wrap must be big enough to fit around your dog. Larger items like towels or blankets may need to be cut into a rectangle before use. Scissors are the only tool required for this no-sew project. Even those with no DIY experience should be able to accomplish this task. If your dog is wiggly, you may need help wrapping and tying this DIY thundershirt.
6. DIY Thundershirt from Old T-shirts by daniKate
|Materials:||Old T-shirts, Velcro strips, thread|
|Tools:||Scissors, needle, sewing machine|
This copycat thundershirt uses a pattern from a commercial thundershirt. The directions are not particularly detailed and instruct you to trace the thundershirt to make your own pattern. Because the plans aren’t very clear, this project is probably best for someone with sewing experience who can piece together the design. It’s an inexpensive project since you can simply use old T-shirts you have around the house for the bulk of the cloth material. The shirt can be adapted to fit any dog.
7. Emergency DIY Thundershirt by My Old Country House
This thundershirt idea is ideal if you find yourself in need of a quick solution for your dog. It may not work on every pup, but it couldn’t be simpler. No tools are required for this anxiety wrap, just an old T-shirt that fits your dog and nimble fingers for tying it in place. You’ll have to be careful not to tie the T-shirt too tightly but leave it too loose, which may not be effective. Again, this anxiety wrap is a temporary solution but doesn’t take long to make.
8. DIY Cat or Small Dog Thundershirt by Instructables
|Materials:||T-shirt, 1-inch Velcro|
|Tools:||Scissors, marker, sewing machine|
This DIY thundershirt is designed for a cat but would also fit a small dog. The directions illustrate how to cut a pattern for the wrap out of an old T-shirt, including the top and bottom pieces. It also shows you exactly where to place the Velcro. While the plans call for a sewing machine to make this thundershirt, you can hand-sew it. If you’re familiar with using a sewing machine, this project should be easy. It’s also inexpensive since you can repurpose old T-shirts you already own.
9. DIY Quick Anxiety Wrap by sarahsuricat
|Materials:||Long, stretchy material (scarf, bandage, cut-up T-shirt|
This visual diagram shows you how to properly tie on a dog anxiety wrap using a scarf, bandage, or other thin, stretchy material. The wrap must be positioned to hit major calming points on your dog’s body since it doesn’t provide the same coverage as a full thundershirt. Try to use this wrap on your dog when they’re calm, but don’t leave it on for long, or the relaxing effects will be limited.
10. DIY Thundershirt Using Chip Clips by AgilityNerd
|Materials:||T-shirt, plastic clips|
This video tutorial shows you another method for securing a homemade thundershirt. All you’ll need is a T-shirt that fits your dog and several plastic clips. These items are widely available and inexpensive if you don’t already have a few at home. For this method, you’ll use the clips to tighten the shirt around your dog instead of tying knots. This variation may work better for a dog who is anxious and struggling because they don’t have to stay still as long while you get the shirt in place.
Do Dog Thundershirts Have Side Effects?
One study examined the effectiveness of anxiety wraps in treating canine thunderstorm phobia. None of the owners in that study reported any adverse side effects.
The biggest risk in trying a thundershirt is that it won’t work for your dog.
How Is a Thundershirt or Anxiety Wrap Supposed to Fit?
A thundershirt that is too large for your dog will not only be ineffective but it could get caught on furniture and other objects. A thundershirt or anxiety wrap that is too tight could cut off your dog’s circulation.
It should be snug while still allowing you to slide a finger between the fabric and your dog’s skin. A properly fitting anxiety wrap won’t shift or hang loose when your dog moves.
How Long Should I Leave a DIY Thundershirt on My Dog?
We think it’s best to consult your vet on this matter. Your dog’s age, overall health, and reason for anxiety (if known) may play a role in how long your dog can safely wear a thundershirt.
My Dog Doesn’t Like Their Thundershirt. What Now?
Thundershirts are an effective treatment, but not all dogs will tolerate wearing one. You can try a few tactics to let your dog warm up to the idea.
The thundershirt’s scent may be unfamiliar and off-putting to your dog. Wrap it in one of your unwashed shirts overnight. This makes the thundershirt smell familiar, like you.
You can also try giving your dog a special treat they only get when they wear their thundershirt. Lastly, double-check that it fits correctly and isn’t chafing your dog’s skin.
Making a DIY dog thundershirt is fun and can save you money. If you need something quick, try the anxiety wrap made from an ACE bandage or the DIY T-shirt thundershirt. We included one option for advanced sewers who want to make a customized, made-to-fit thundershirt for their dog. Consult your vet if your dog continues to experience anxiety.