Griffin has never liked loud noises. But this summer, after an incident where we were stranded outside on a trail during a pretty intense thunderstorm, her fear of thunder went from mild to crippling. No one likes to see their pup in obvious distress, so we started researching options to help her relax during events like thunderstorms, fireworks, or other loud noises (she also now hates the sound of applause, go figure).
In the course of our research, we came across the Smart Pet Love Snuggle Puppy. Snuggle Pet’s are stuffed animals that have a battery-powered heart beat designed to recreate the intimacy and comfort of a “real-feel heartbeat” that comes from cuddling with another member of the pack. Although I do my best to comfort and cuddle Griffin in these moments, the fact of the matter is, they don’t always happen at times when I’m fully available to focus on her.
So, we ordered Griffin a Snuggle Puppy. I have to admit that, at first, I was a little skeptical of how it would work. When I first turned on the heartbeat, Griffin was not sure what to make of it and she retreated from the toy. And, even worse, Boston treated it like a critter she caught outside and tried to shake it and kill it.
Thus, we learned that it is important to spend the appropriate amount of time introducing your dog to the Snuggle Puppy, and it is important to realize that this takes some time and patience.
Here’s how we did it. At times when we didn’t need it, i.e., during sunny weather on a normal day, I would turn the heartbeat on and let the girls sniff the toy. If they came close to it and engaged gently and appropriately, they received a treat. If they did not, i.e., if they tried to bite it or play tug with it, I simply took it away. It probably took us a few weeks of doing this every few days before they fully understood just how beneficial the toy was to them.
After a few weeks, it was game time. We had severe thunderstorms in the forecast, and I knew well before they arrived that Griffin would be stressed out by the loud thunder.
The first time we officially put the Snuggle Puppy into action, we had success. The storm was at night and Griffin cuddled the toy on the side of our bed instead of retreating under the bed and crying. Although she was not fully relaxed during the storm, the Snuggle Puppy definitely helped her keep her fears in check.
What we were even more impressed by, was that, after this experience, Griffin wanted to take her Snuggle Puppy with her everywhere! I wasn’t prepared for that but have to admit that I was incredibly touched by it. Now, in addition to helping Griffin through stressful incidents like thunderstorms, her Snuggle Puppy comforts her when she just wants to relax at home, or when we travel to a new location (which we do fairly often). We’ve even taken to calling it her “binkie” because she gently carries it around with her wherever we go and she likes to snuggle with it every night, not just during stressful events.
Based on our experience, we would highly recommend the Smart Pet Love Snuggle Pets to anyone who is dealing with a dog that experiences fear or anxiety. In addition to helping with loud noises, which was our specific concern, Smart Pet Love Snuggle Pets can help with other causes of anxiety such as being left alone or being put in new situations.
In addition to what we’ve outlined above, here is a summary of benefits to using a Snuggle Pet:
Reduces negative behaviors resulting from anxiety, including whining and barking
“Real-feel” pulsing heartbeat and heat source mimic being part of a pack, working to ease loneliness, fear, and separation anxiety
Pet is calmed by appealing to natural instincts, not through medication
Helps puppies sleep throughout the night
A great crate training tool for new puppies
Two AAA batteries (included) last up to two weeks with continuous 24/7 use
On/off switch on heartbeat allows for use only when necessary
Machine washable on gentle cycle
Disposable heat source lasts for 24 hours and is non-toxic and safe for people and pets
About the Author: The Dobie Sisters are two rescued Dobermans currently living in Blowing Rock, NC. Follow us on both Instagram (@dobiesisters) and our blog to follow our adventures in the Blue Ridge Mountains and beyond, and to learn more about the gear, treats, and toys that fuel us along the way.