Decreasing Animal Anxiety

As any pet owner would know, animals feel anxiety. New situations, thunderstorms, travel, etc. can all have an effect on them.

A professional dog trainer, Susan Sharpe, was looking for a way to help new dogs relax when they were dropped off at her Doggie Resort. Aware of some work in this area on other animals, she decided to design a product that could help dogs relax. That product became The Anxiety Wrap.

After much success with their product, Susan has gone on to create another product, the Calming Face Wrap, that can help ease excessive barking, digging, and scratching. I recently asked Susan about her products, and what we can expect to see from her next.

Tell us a little about The Anxiety Wrap.

The Anxiety Wrap â„¢ is the only patented pressure wrap invented by a 25-year dog trainer that uses the techniques of Acupressure and Maintained Pressure to calm dogs. It’s used for thunderstorm, separation anxiety, car travel and helps end jumping and constant barking as well as any other issues resulting from stress, fear or anxiety. It invented the category of pressure wraps nine years ago and is used by pet owners, veterinarians, trainers and behaviorists all over the world.

What inspired it?

I was looking for a way to help shy, anxious and even fearful dogs become relaxed and calm when dropped off at our Doggie Resort, which included walking multiple dogs through the field and woods. I had known about the ground-breaking work Dr. Temple Grandin developed with using pressure to calm cattle – which revolutionized the cattle industry — and I recently attended a Tellington Touch seminar where they use t-shirts on dogs to try and calm them. About the same time, I read Dr. Candace’s Pert book called, “Molecules of Emotion” where she discovered that people have sensory receptors all over their body to communicate emotion — not just in the brain.

All these things got me thinking and I started putting t-shirts on my client dogs but the shirts were awkward, created elimination problems, and dogs got tangled up in the t-shirt’s sleeves. So I used duct tape to secure the t-shirt and found the more pressure applied, the calmer the dogs became! One day an owner arrived and was quite taken aback to see her dog wrapped in a t-shirt and duct tape so I knew I had better begin developing something that was more appealing!

How does it work?

The Anxiety Wrap uses a specific design and blend of lightweight fabric that is extremely comfortable and applies pressure over as much of a dog’s body as possible while activating key acupressure points. The comfort level of the dog must be maintained or the garment, itself, may cause undue stress and anxiety. Unlike other products, the Anxiety Wrap’s custom blend of fabric allows it to constantly flex and stretch over the dog’s body, eliminating habituation. It is designed to allow the dog to urinate and defecate freely and is safe to leave on the dog when you’re not home or overnight.

You recently came out with another product called the Calming Face Wrap. Could you tell us a little about how that works?

The Calming Face Wrap uses the same two techniques that the Anxiety Wrap does: Maintained Pressure and Acupressure. It’s safe, gentle, is easy to use and it’s not a muzzle in any way! We’ve found it helps end/lessen constant barking, digging and scratching and works well in conjunction with the Anxiety Wrap.

Who would you recommend your product for?

Both products are recommended for pet owners with dogs that suffer from stress, anxiety, fear and hyperactivity. There are dozens of behavioral issues that can occur as a result of any of these core issues such as thunderstorm or separation anxiety, travel anxiety, jumping, barking, aggression, shyness/insecurity. We offer free-of-charge online support and recommend training programs in conjunction with The Anxiety Wrap for certain issues as well as veterinarian examinations to rule out medical issues. We will not sell our products to anyone who allows his/her dog to live its life outdoors.

Besides the Calming Face Wrap, do you have any other great products in the works? If so, can we have a hint?

We are working on some updated Anxiety Wrap designs in different colors so stay tuned!

What are some goals that you hope to accomplish over the next year or so?

We’re a small shop and we continue to grow. We enjoy being small as we can maintain the quality level and integrity of our products, however, it also presents challenges in increasing our capacity to meet the demand of thousands of pet owners. I suppose the best way to state our goal is to “grow well” and continue to provide high quality products and customer service to more and more pet owners.

What are some lessons that your business has taught you?

Just as in dog training, perseverance pays off. Developing and growing a business is sometimes romanticized but it takes hard work, time, more hard work and more time. It also has challenged us to grow in ways that we never expected.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

We challenged ourselves to find a way to give back above and beyond donating money and/or Anxiety Wraps to needy organizations. So we developed the Anxiety Wrap Charity Foster Program where we provide our time, resources, shelter and training to rehabilitate dogs who are down on their luck. We then find them loving, forever homes.

Also, the Anxiety Wrap’s effectiveness is currently being study by Dr. Nicholas Dodman at Tufts University for dogs suffering with storm fear. We’re very excited to see the results which should be issued early 2011.

Any advice you’d like to offer fellow entrepreneurs that are just getting started?

Whew. Do your homework. Develop a business and marketing plan. You’ll be presented with many “opportunities” along the way. Make sure you put the time in and research them thoroughly. Also, lead with your integrity and do the right thing. You may not “win” every battle that comes along, but at the end of the day, you will be proud of what you’ve built and grateful for the opportunity.

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