Friction and conflict can arise in multi- dog households. Acupressure helps calm canines and sets the stage for a harmonious environment.
Bruin is an easy-going Australian shepherd who shares his family’s home with Tilley, a young mixed breed livewire, and Miles, an older dachshund who is a complete maniac around food. Meal time is like a circus. Bruin stands like a statue staring at the person making the food, Tilley declares her resource-protection nature with sharp, shrill barks and growls, and Miles scampers around yapping insistently, unable to control his utter excitement at pending food. Although there has been no fighting or biting yet, no one can be sure that the chaos won’t someday escalate into violence. It’s stressful for both the dogs and their family. What should they do?
The canine nature
Dogs, by their nature, are pack animals. In the wild, they are predisposed to living communally and working together to hunt prey for survival. Domesticated dogs aren’t so different. When well socialized, most know the language of other dogs. They sort out their own packs and live together happily. However, different breeds display more pack mentality than others. Sporting dogs tend to live, play and eat together comfortably, for example, while herding dogs and terriers can find family life challenging. Add to these differences the individual quirks each dog possesses, and you can end up with a stressful situation in a multi-canine household.
Being alert to your dogs’ foibles is critical. Tilley is a resource protector, especially when it comes to food and her human companion, yet she’s timid around unknown dogs. Miles is a food nut but a peacekeeper at heart; he shuts down any over-zealous play among other dogs. Bruin is very tolerant to a point, but will lift a lip when necessary and warn offending canines to give up whatever they’re doing.
In the case of these three dogs, a canine behaviorist would likely suggest separating them at mealtimes. Once fights break out, you have a dangerous problem that needs to be resolved quickly, ideally with the help of a positive trainer or behaviorist. The same applies to dogs that become over-stimulated while playing, and start fighting instead. Safety for everyone concerned, including yourself, is absolutely essential.
You can create calm
Whatever the issue between your dogs, acupressure is something you can use to help calm the situation before things get out of hand. Acupressure can make a huge difference in how dogs behave and interact because it helps defuse the stress, fear, and anxiety they often experience when living with others of their kind. By providing an acupressure session to each dog in your pack, you’re promoting the calming environment needed for peace within your canine family. We all feel happier when our environment is calm.
Energetic pathways called meridians lie just below the surface of the dog’s skin. Chi (life-promoting energy) and blood flow along the meridians throughout the dog’s body. When chi and blood fl ow smoothly and harmoniously, all is well. If the chi and blood are restricted or blocked in any way, the animal can experience ill health and/or an emotional disturbance. Stress, fear and anxiety can contribute to a restriction of chi and blood.
Certain acupressure points (acupoints) located along the meridians are known to help reduce the emotions related to anxiety, fear, and stress. By stimulating these particular acupoints, you can help your dogs feel a greater sense of comfort and relaxation. When they’re calm, they will be less inclined to respond to triggers that may lead to conflicts.
The acupoints shown on the chart at right are specifically selected to lower anxiety and fear while also building a sense of well being. Using the tip of your thumb, or your index finger with your middle finger on top of it, exert gentle but fi rm pressure on each acupoint for a slow count of 30. Be sure to work down both sides of your dog’s body, since the acupoints are bilateral. Keep your other hand on your dog to feel for any reactions. Your dog might yawn, lick, stretch or pass air – these are all good signs.
At first, offer each dog a private session so he knows you’re giving him your undivided attention. Think about how much you want each dog to enjoy a peaceful home. After a few individual sessions every three or four days, your dogs will probably be a lot calmer and you can try offering a session with one or more dogs in the same room. Usually, all the dogs benefit from each session no matter which one is actually receiving acupressure; it’s just the nature of energy work. Enjoy the peace you have created in your multiple-dog family!