Moving house? It can cause your dog a lot of stress. Here’s how acupressure can help keep him calm.
Moving house can be stressful. Even if you’re looking forward to the change of scene, it involves a huge amount of hassle and upheaval. And just imagine how it must feel to your dog. His familiar surroundings are being taken apart before his eyes, and then he finds himself in a completely strange place filled with unknown smells, sounds and sights. While your human family knows what’s happening and has some control over the process, your dog doesn’t have a clue what’s going on. In many cases, this can cause stress and anxiety.
Even if your dog is easy going and doesn’t seem bothered, you may still notice some signs that he isn’t feeling comfortable. He might turn into a “Velcro dog” who won’t leave your side. Or he might try to manage his anxiety by digging holes in the back garden or acting out in some other way.
If you notice some unusual behaviors in your dog during or after a move, he is letting you know that he needs you to comfort and assure him that whatever is happening, you love him and aren’t leaving him. Keep in mind that dogs are more attached to their humans than their locations, but that your stress level becomes your dog’s stress level. And moving house is high up on the stress scale.
Comfort him with acupressure
One of the best things you can do for the both of you is take a break from the moving mania, sit down together, and enjoy a Comforting Acupressure Session. It’s a way to give your dog your undivided attention for about 20 minutes, and to help yourself feel quieter, more grounded and centered.
As mentioned in previous articles, acupressure is an ancient healing art based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The intention in performing an acupressure session is to maintain a harmonious fl ow of energy and nutrients throughout the body, thereby nourishing all the internal organs and tissues. This in turn establishes balance within the body and supports and maintains emotional and physical health.
An acupressure session to help your dog deal with the stresses of moving involves acupoints that have been proven over the centuries to help both animals and humans feel less anxious and more secure. The acupoints presented in the chart accompanying this article can restore balance and let your dog know you really care about him. By following the instructions on how to perform this brief acupressure session, you and your dog will have what you need most right now – some peaceful quality time together.
Performing the session
1. Start the acupressure session by sitting quietly in a spot that’s away from the chaos of packing. Have your dog join you in a relaxed manner. It needs to be a place where you both feel safe, such as his bed or the couch. Breathe, and focus on your dog feeling loved and secure. Now take four deep breaths, and exhale fully with each.
2. You are ready for the hands-on part of the session. Place one hand in a comfortable place on your dog. Your other hand will be doing the acupoint work. Remember that the acupoints shown on the chart, except for the Bai Hui point, are bilateral – this means you will need to stimulate the points on both sides of your dog.
There are two hand techniques you can use to stimulate the acupoints. The Thumb Technique is most effective on the dog’s head, neck, and trunk, while the Two-Finger Technique is good for acupoints on the limbs, and with smaller dogs.
Thumb technique – Place the soft tip of your thumb 45° to 90° perpendicular to the acupoint shown on the chart. You can apply about half a pound of pressure or less, depending on the size of your dog. You don’t need to press hard; gentle is better because the dog’s energy flow is just beneath his skin. Slowly count to 30 while keeping your thumb on the acupoint.
Two-finger technique – Place your middle finger on top of your index finger to form a little tent. Then place your index finger gently, yet with intentional firmness, directly on the acupoint for a slow count of 30.
The hand resting on your dog, the so-called “non-working hand”, can move as needed for you to be comfortable. Feel for reactions from your dog, such as breathing more deeply and slowly, that indicate he is more relaxed and comfortable. If you feel him fl inch while you are stimulating a point, try using less pressure.
Dogs usually let you know if you’re doing a good job through energy releases such as yawning, stretching, licking, passing air, or falling asleep. However, if your dog seems at all distressed by the work, or a particular acupoint seems to hurt him, move on to the next point. Let your dog tell you what he needs. If it seems this is not the best time for him to experience an acupressure session, stop and try again another time.
3. When you have completed the session, sit quietly for another minute or two, and breathe. Very often your breathing will be in sync with your dog’s. This is the moment to acknowledge how important your beloved dog is to you, wherever you are.
10 extra tips for a stress-free move
To provide additional support for your dog during a move, combine the Comforting Acupressure Session with the following suggestions from canine behaviorists.
1. Leave your dog’s toys, bed and food bowl where they are until the last minute.
2. Maintain his routine as best as you can.
3. Don’t wash his special things, such as his bedding, either before or for at least a week after moving.
4. If possible, introduce your dog to his new home prior to the move.
5. On moving day, ask a family member or friend to look after him at their own home.
6. Be patient and positive with your dog during the packing and moving process.
7. Go for as many walks as you can both before and after the move.
8. Take a few minutes twice a day to play with your dog.
9. At your new home, find as familiar a location as you can for his bed.
10. Make sure your mobile phone number is on your dog’s tag and that his collar fits properly, just in case.