The best way to swaddle a dog is to stand behind your dog and place the center of your wrap at their chest, never around their neck. Then, cross the wrap over itself at the dog’s shoulder blades, to create an “X”. After that, take the wrap under your dog’s belly and cross it, making another “X”.
Everyone knows swaddling helps make babies feel more secure and at ease. Much like in human babies, swaddling has plenty of health benefits for your fur-babies too. While some techniques are different for dogs, the science behind it is the same.
Swaddling is especially beneficial for dogs that suffer from anxiety. Being wrapped up in a blanket and held close to their owner helps them feel safe and secure. With that said, some dogs hate being swaddled because it makes them feel trapped. If you try swaddling your dog and they don’t respond well to it, don’t try to force it. That will only make the anxiety worse.
Today, we will be diving into some of the many benefits of swaddling a dog (assuming your dog enjoys it), then we will go over a few methods to make swaddling an easy process.
Why Should You Swaddle Your Dog?
Below are three great reasons you may want to consider swaddling your dog.
Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Fear of fireworks, car rides, storms, and loud noises are all common for dogs. They don’t have to be an ordeal, though. Swaddling can make these stressful events less antagonizing
Think of swaddling as a constant hug. Who doesn’t like hugs? Swaddling places gentle pressure on the dog’s back and chest, producing a calming sensation. The pressure makes the body release endorphins, which create a sense of well-being and pleasure that reduce anxiety.
Swaddling is an excellent alternative to mild sedation in stressful environments or situations. Once your dog’s anxiety symptoms have subsided, take the wrap off, so they don’t get used to wearing it when they aren’t worried. Otherwise, it may become less effective.
Makes Healing More Relaxing
As we now know, swaddling releases endorphins, and endorphins relieve pain. Recovering from injuries or surgery is tough, for both dog and owner. Dogs are generally active animals and enjoy being able to run and play.
When they have all this pent-up energy, their anxiety levels can rise. Anxious feelings slow healing and can cause your dog to hurt themselves even further. And the cycle goes on and on.
If your dog is agitated from being cooped up, it might be worth it to try swaddling. You can leave your dog swaddled all day, just be sure to take the wraps off for a few minutes every few hours so they can have a break and their coats can breathe.
Ease Nail Trimming and Medication
Swaddle your dog before you start trimming your dog’s nails or administering any medication. Even though we just want to help them by cutting their nails, they think we’re trying to cut their toes off.
Giving eye or ear drops can be such a pain too. Wrapping your dog can help make this process easier for you both.
How to Swaddle Your Dog
Dog swaddling is very simple and effective when done correctly. If your wrap is too tight, it will cause your dog discomfort and more anxiety. If it’s too loose, it will be ineffective. Remember to swaddle your dog at the first sign of anxiety symptoms, or a few minutes before a stressful event to keep your dog from getting worried.
Wrap Your Dog
You can use a scarf, ace bandage, or anything similar that you can wrap around your dog. First, begin by following the instructions at the top of this article (right above the first image). Once you’ve completed that step, finish by bringing the wrap back around to the dog’s back and tie it in a knot. Make sure the knot isn’t placing direct pressure on your dog’s spine.
If you want the swaddling to have even more of a calming effect, you can use your dog’s favorite blanket. The scent of their favorite blanket will help them relax and stay calm.
Remember to remain calm and move slowly, so you don’t add to your dog’s anxiety. It’s also recommended you try this wrap in a no-stress everyday situation first for a couple minutes to make sure your dog is okay with it, and you know how to fit it correctly. You don’t want to be learning how to do this when your dog is already stressed.
Your wrap should be snug and feel like a gentle hug, not restrictive or constricting. You should also keep an eye on your dog while they’re wrapped up in case they get themselves tangled in it.
Using a Thundershirt as an Alternative
Thundershirts are the most well-known anti-anxiety vests on the market. If you don’t think they’re right for your dog, or if they’re too expensive, there are plenty of other ones out there to choose from. They work the same way as the wraps mentioned above. However, their velcro straps make them less of a hassle to put on. They can also be worn for long periods of time without any supervision.
Can Dogs Sleep in Thundershirts?
Although it’s not recommended for dogs to wear thundershirts 24/7, it is okay for them to sleep with the thundershirt on. If you plan to have your dog sleep while wearing the thundershirt, make sure you take it off a couple times throughout the day.
Keep Your Dog Close
Use a Blanket
We can all agree there is nothing cuter than a puppy burrito, right? If you can swaddle a baby, you can swaddle a dog. Well, a small dog anyway. Dogs are pack and den-oriented animals. So they like to be covered and close to their pack, which is you. This is easier to do with smaller dogs, but if your big dog is cooperative, he’ll also like it.
Take your dog’s favorite blanket, or a familiar smelling one with your scent, and just bundle them up. Obviously, make sure you aren’t bending him in any uncomfortable positions. Once you have your puppy burrito, hold your dog close while talking or stroking their head to soothe them.
If you want to take it a step further, you can purchase a weighted blanket for dogs. While this is common sense, don’t leave your dogs unattended while they’re wrapped up like burritos. Not only will your absence cause more anxiety, but they might also trash around to escape the blanket and injure themselves.
Carry Your Dog
Yep, you read that right. You can be THAT dog parent. If your dog is small enough, you can purchase a sling or comfy bag to keep your dog bundled and close to you. A small carrier mesh crate will not have the same effect because they don’t create the hugging feeling.
This gives you the option to keep your hands free, so you can carry on with dinner, laundry, etc. Combine an anxiety wrap with a sling for your extra neurotic dogs. If nothing else, it’s at least super cute.
Adding Pressure Point Therapy to Swaddling
We often think pressure point therapy is only for humans, but dogs have pressure points as well! The pressure point that is responsible for stress relief is found on the dog’s forehead.
If you want to add to the calming effect of swaddling, hold your dog close to your body and gently massage the top of their head. Don’t just lightly pet them, apply some pressure. After a few minutes, your dog should be much calmer.
The Biggest “Dont’s” When Swaddling a Dog
It’s not difficult to swaddle a dog, but there are a few mistakes you should avoid. Here are the top three “don’ts” when it comes to swaddling.
Don’t Force it On Your Dog
Some dogs don’t like the feeling of being swaddled, and that’s okay. There are other ways to calm them down. If you try to swaddle them when they don’t want to be, it will make them feel trapped and increase their anxiety.
Don’t Wrap it Too Tight
You want your dog to feel safe and secure, but you don’t want it to be too tight. If a dog feels like they can’t get out of the wrap when they desire, they’re not going to like it. Not to mention the fact that dogs might have trouble breathing when the wrap is too tight.
Don’t Overuse It
Just like everything in life, too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing. Swaddling is great, but when used too much, it will begin to lose effectiveness. Only swaddle your dog when they absolutely need it. See if you can calm them down with pressure point therapy before swaddling.
Keep in Mind
All dogs have their own needs, wants, and opinions. Swaddling is a great and easy way to relax a nervous dog. If your dog shows any discomfort or elevated signs of anxiety after swaddling, double-check the wrap is fitted correctly. If it is fitted correctly, take it off immediately. It might take more than one attempt to get it right. Always consult your vet to make sure no underlying health issues are causing your dog’s anxiety that they need to be treated for.
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Bryan Harkins is an avid dog lover and the proud owner of dogdorable.com, a website dedicated to all things canine. With years of experience working with dogs, Bryan is passionate about providing valuable information, tips, and resources to help pet owners provide the best possible care for their furry companions.