I’m going to go out on a limb and say that my dog, Lemon, isn’t quite right mentally. I often make jokes that his parents were first cousins, or that he was dropped on his head when he was a baby. But the truth is… Lemon has extreme anxiety.

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It’s something that he has had since I first got him at 8 weeks old and I suspect he was born with it. Either that or the thought of having to live with me for the rest of his life damaged him in deep, scarring ways.

Here is a list of things Lemon is frightened of just off the top of my head. There are probably loads more – but these are the main ones:

– keys
– utensils
– wine bottles clanking together
– plastic bags
– paper bags
– the sound of anything sautéing on the stove
– the sound of water boiling
– wheels of all kinds from cars to granny shopping carts
– all large vehicles
– bath time
– water (that you would go in, not drink)
– hair cuts
– nail clippers
– car rides

Recently it has gotten a lot worse. His list started to include:

– sunlight
– being anywhere except in his crate

What’s dog anxiety look like?? Well, for Lemon it includes licking his paw obsessively (it used to be until he bled, but luckily that has stopped), tail between the legs, and trying to make himself as small as possible while shaking and quietly whimpering and sometimes making himself sick.

After a couple weeks of not seeing him. And having to carry him outside where he would reluctantly go to the bathroom then try to run back inside. I knew I had to do something. Luckily my brother and his wife really know their dogs so I was pointed in the direction of the latest in dog anxiety treatment.

Lemon

Better days

It might sound ridiculous… and I will say I scoffed at the idea, but it’s called a Thundershirt. I never wanted to dress my dog up. I thought it was a waste of money. Even though I’m sure he would rock a bowtie like no body’s business… I am, above all things, cheap. I mean… practical. So first I made him one… I cut strips off of one of my t-shirts and made him a homemade straight jacket.

To my utter amazement. It worked. Apparently the gentle constant pressure works like swaddling a baby… or a Jodi in a snuggy.

So I went out to get him a real one so he wouldn’t look so silly. No one should be seen in public in a homemade straight jacket. There I found calming treats and spray. He hates the spray (which works by combining pheromones with lavender and chamomile) but I like the way it smells, so too bad buster. But the treats make a significant difference.

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I may be bias… but I think he rocks that Thundershirt.

The combination of all three has us going for walks again, sitting on the couch to cuddle while watching movies and over all just a much better behaved dog.

Another thing he really seems to like is the scent of vanilla. I made a French toast loaf the other day, recipe below, and found him sitting in front of the oven while it cooked. And yes… I joined him. Because it really does make your house smell fantastic.

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A warm, sticky mess of goodness… just like Lemon!

French Toast Loaf

1/2 loaf of bread
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
1/8 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 TBSP vanilla
1/2 cup apples cut into small cubes or dried fruit like cranberries
pinch of salt

1/8 cup butter
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

In a mixing bowl combine the eggs, milk, first amount of cinnamon, vanilla, sugar and a pinch of salt. Tear the bread into chunks and add to the egg mixture. Allow it to sit for at least 10 minutes to soak up all the eggy goodness. You can leave it overnight at this point if you want.

Add the fruit – stir to combine and dump the whole mixture into a loaf pan or muffin tins that have been sprayed with oil, lightly.

Combine the butter, brown sugar, flour, salt and second amount of cinnamon in a separate bowl. Pour over top of the bread/egg mixture in the loaf pan.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes until the egg has set. Serve to your bestest buddy.

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