How to Learn Acupressure Techniques for Dogs?

Acupressure is a technique that has been used for a long time to treat several health issues in dogs. But how to learn it? This article gives you a short introduction to the traditional Chinese massaging technique.

Acupressure is a Valuable Technique to Treat Dogs

Acupressure has been used in ancient China centuries ago. It has survived the remarkable progress that has been made in western medicine. In fact, acupressure got even more popular in the western world over the last two or three decades. The reason why an increasing number of people use this manual technique is: it doesn’t have any side-effects.

Admittedly massaging pressure points is not the strongest available medicine for most health conditions. And I definitely recommend combining it with other treatment modalities. But at the same time, acupressure can play an important role in enhancing conventional therapies and help to get better outcomes.

When to Use Acupressure?

Don’t try Acupressure in acute or life-threatening situations! Get your dog to the vet when first and ask them if it’s safe to use acupressure as an additional therapy. The strength of this technique comes to fruition when we use it for chronic conditions such as arthritis, chronic pain, asthma or chronic gastrointestinal upsets.

Yes, You Can Learn it!

Most importantly acupressure is something YOU can do to make your dog feel better! Everybody can learn this technique. Our helpful and illustrated guide will help you to locate the points and teaches you how to massage the pressure points.

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Preparing For An Acupressure Session With Your Dog

If you’ve decided to massage acupressure points on your dog at home it’s important to prepare some space for the session. Consider the following recommendations when picking a location:

  • Choose a space where your dog is relaxed and comfortable. Large dogs typically prefer to stay on the floor but a small dog might prefer to lie on your lap. Grab a nice fluffy blanket to make them comfy when lying down on the floor.
  • Find a location that allows you to move comfortably during the session. Blood flow and the movement of your own Qi is important during this session to help with energy transfer.
  • Limit distractions. Turn off the TV, put your phone on silent, and consider closing the door so that other pets (or humans) can’t interrupt the session. This also includes mental distractions – be sure to choose a time when your dog isn’t expecting food or playtime.

It’s important to pick a time where both you and your dog are relaxed. This will help you connect during the session.

Give Your Dog Time to Relax

Your dog may not understand what it is you are asking of them the first few times you initiate contact with the intention of performing acupressure. They often squirm and twitch, unsure of what to expect. Once they begin to understand that this is a time to relax, they will settle and may even move to help you find the points on their body that most urgently need attention!

A dog that’s ready to go for a session will often lean into the owner, lick them and settle into a comfortable position. Always allow your dog to pick the direction and position that they want to be in. If your dog gives you any signs that they do not want to participate, don’t force them.

Acupressure Techniques

During acupressure, you will use your hands to be aware of any changes happening in the body. These could either be an existing blockage or the free flow of Qi after removing a blockage by acupressure treatment. Learning to sense what the body is communicating takes practice. You can educate your hands by focusing on the various sensations experienced during these sessions and by learning what the sensations indicate.

Two-point work techniques include:

  • The Thumb Technique: During this technique, you’ll use the soft and fleshy part of your thumb at a 45 – 90° angle to the dog’s body. It’s best to use the thumb technique on the trunk of the body or the limbs of large dogs.
  • The Two-Finger Technique: To perform this technique, place your middle finger over your nail on your pointer finger, making a small tent between the two fingers. Then apply the soft portion of the pointer finger at a 45-90° angle from the dog’s body.

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How Much Pressure is Enough?

The meridians and acupoints that will be treated are just under the skin so you only need to apply gentle pressure. Extreme pressure could cause additional pain. If your dog ever shows signs of discomfort at any point, stop to apply pressure and move on to a different area.

If you are unable to feel changes in your dog’s body at first, that’s ok! It takes time to learn how to feel the sensation of moving chi and removing blockages through the hands. Simply apply gentle pressure for 1 – 30 seconds, focusing on the sensations created and closely watching your dog for any communication.

How to Know Your Treatment Works?

Signs that you’ve helped your dog release any blockages include release signals, such as yawning, rolling over, stretching, sighing, groaning, and passing air. Some dogs will even fall asleep during their sessions! Once your dog has shared a release signal, you’re safe to move on to another acupoint.

To work with your dog will not only help them to feel better but it can also help to build a strong bond between you. You’ll likely experience that your dog comes up to remind you that it’s time for their next acupressure session!

How often should I Treat my Dog with Acupressure?

The best results are achieved by treating your dog regularly. Many dog parents make it their habit to treat their furry companion a few minutes per day. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll achieve by just spending 5-10 extra minutes with your dog each day!

The secret is: Don’t give up, keep practising!

The key to success in acupressure is time and repetition. 

As a beginner in acupressure, it can be hard to locate the correct acupuncture points. But after a while, you’ll build up your confidence. You’ll start to “see with your fingers” and begin reading your dog’s response to your touch. In fact, dogs will actually help you by letting you know what they enjoy and what they don’t. 

How do I Know Which Points to Treat?

Point selection is crucial for successful treatment. There is a large number of resources where you can find point presciptions and point charts. Here are my recommendations for you: