How Acupressure Can Help an Anxious, Dominant Dog
What's really Doggie Dominance?
You may have heard about dominant dogs taking control of the bed or the couch. You probably didn't hear about Heck, the Jack Russell terrier who fiercely guarded the TV and remote, holding his owners helplessly captive to a Westminster Kennel Club dog show. Turns out he didn't care who won. Growing understanding of canine psychology reveals that dominant dogs are likely displaying anxiety-based behaviors. Acupressure can help Scruffy relax.
Before assuming Scruffy is being dominant, it's important to rule out any medical problems. See your vet and explain the behaviors you have been seeing. At times, behavioral problems may stem from unidentified medical conditions. Anything that can make your companion uncomfortable or irritable, such as an ear infection or a tooth abscess, can lower his threshold for threats and aggression.
Few aggression problems are truly due to dominance; more likely they are triggered by fear, according to Animal Behavior Associates. UC Davis Veterinary Medicine appears to agree. According to their clinical aninal behavior services "Aggression is a common problem faced by many dog owners. It is commonly misunderstood to be based in dominance. In actuality, there are various reasons that dogs can react aggressively. Most commonly these acts are based in fear or anxiety." So if Rover is not truly acting on dominance aggression but most likely through fear, it means that he needs a different approach.
The use of confrontational techniques such as alpha rolls, leash and collar corrections, and scruff shakes puts you at risk of being bitten and may exacerbate your dog's behavior by increasing his fear or anxiety. If your dog is aggressive in any way, consult a qualified behaviorist in your area who employs gentle, science-based behavior modification techniques focusing on positive reinforcement, operant conditioning, classical conditioning, desensitization and counter-conditioning.
How can Acupressure Help the Anxious Dog?
You may wonder what it acupressure at this point. This is a hands on technique where the practitioner uses his finger tips to apply pressure on specific points. This form of holistic healing developed over 3,000 years ago as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Acupressure is currently used to treat a variety of physical, mental and emotional conditions.
This holistic approach is often confused with acupuncture, which is basically a form of acupressure using tiny needles. Unlike acupuncture which must be performed by a certified veterinary acupuncturist or a holistic veterinarian, acupressure can be done by dog owners, in the comfort of their home. Of course, it should never be used as a replacement for veterinary care not should it be a replacement for seeking a behavior specialist. However, it can be used as a supplemental form of relaxation to help keep a dog better under threshold, so there is room for learning better, more acceptable behaviors. A nervous, anxious dogs cannot learn!
When it comes to behavior issues, acupressure allows the dog to feel a sense of well-being and relaxation. A great way to get your dog relaxed enough before starting a behavior modification session. If you are serious about this holistic approach, it's best to ask your vet for a referral to a professional acupressure practitioner.
In an acupressure session, the practitioner will apply manual pressure to specific points on the dog's body. For instance, the HT7 point, known as Spirit's Gate, is meant to stabilize emotions and bring a sense of calm, whereas, the GV20 point, known as Hundred Meetings, helps calm the spirit and ease the mind.
If you are looking for a holistic approach and want to get a taste of how acupressure works, but are a bit intimidated about the process, you can invest in an Anxiety Wrap. Invented by professional dog trainer Susan Sharpe, the Anxiety Wrap is designed to relieve stress by targeting specific acupressure points while keeping constant, maintained pressure. Alternatively, you can try the Calming Face Wrap, another product by Susan Sharpe meant to provide maintained pressure while targeting two acupressure points located on the dog's face. Both these products can be effective in getting your dog ready for behavior modification.
Note: For a chart with doggie acuppressure points visit: Lucky Dog Health.
Disclaimer: if your dog is aggressive in any way, consult with a veterinary behaviorist or certified applied animal behaviorist before trying behavior modification on your own. Always make safety your top priority. By reading this article, you accept this disclaimer.
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