Simple and Effective Acupressure for Anxious Dogs

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For anxious dogs, life is a bit scary. They cower when a dog lunges their way and shake nervously when the vet approaches with a needle. They look as if they expect things to hurt, even if it’s simply the offer of a friendly pat from a passing dog lover. If this sounds like your dog, give acupressure a try! With regular use, acupressure will help your dog to trust your touch and relax a bit in the face of life’s inevitable challenges.

How It Works
Most dogs LOVE receiving acupressure and it’s really easy to do. Your gentle touch triggers the release of your dog’s feel-good hormones. She starts to breathe more deeply, feel sleepy, and let out a calm, relaxed sigh as her soft head nestles in your lap. It’s hard to imagine that only moments ago she was shaking with fear.

Acupressure brings positive emotional change. Your simple, caring touch transforms her habitual stress response and guides her to a happier place. With the two of you connected through touch, she’s reminded once again of your deep bond. And you get the satisfaction of helping her in a meaningful way just when she needs it most.

With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to use acupressure to lower your dog’s stress levels in all kinds of difficult situations. Here are a few everyday situations your dog may encounter:

  • Dealing with aggressive dogs
  • Receiving veterinary care
  • Fear of thunderstorms or fireworks
  • Anxiety when you leave the house

So let’s give it a try!
Acupressure is easy; you don’t need years of experience to start helping your dog right away. These techniques are safe and simple enough for anyone to try. One of the absolute best points to use for an anxious dog is Heart 1 (HT 1). This point is easy to find and most dogs find it deeply relaxing. And it will work for any animal – cats and guinea pigs included.

HT-1-dog-ENSit near your dog. Have her lie next to you. If she’s too wound up, have her sit or stand instead. Gently stroke the armpit region with a flat hand, following the direction of the hair from front to back. After a few strokes, gently place your fingertips (no long nails, please!) in the armpit crease. Find the deepest spot in the center of the crease, about halfway from the front to back. Take a look at the photo for guidance.

Now gently press and hold the point while breathing deeply. When you breathe deeply your body and mind relaxes. When you are relaxed it lets your dog know she’s safe and invites her to relax with you. Maintain pressure for 10 to 60 seconds or as long as your dog stays receptive. Then SLOWLY release pressure and finish off with a few more flat hand strokes.

The more acupressure your dog receives, the quicker she’ll respond to your touch. If your dog is prone to anxiety, use this point regularly (daily if possible) so she becomes accustomed to it. Then in a time of stress, she will remember these quiet moments of connection and be able to relax more quickly.

Want to see a high-energy Jack Russell turn into a puddle of happiness? Check out this video of Jewel receiving acupressure on Heart 1. It’s hard to believe that she was running around like crazy only moments before this video was shot. With a little practice, your dog can learn to relax well too.

Try Heart 1 tonight and let us know what your dog thinks about it. We’d love to hear your stories!


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About the Author:
Susan Tenney, CMT works internationally as a practitioner of Five Element acupressure for animals. She teaches classes for animal lovers of all ages and offers an online certification program through her company Elemental Acupressure. Learn more about her courses, books and acupressure charts at and


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Comments (17)

Anne Omland

This is amazing! My dog doesn't typically have anxiety but he might like this anyway. Thanks so much for sharing!

Susan Tenney

Yes, Anne, most dogs like this point - nervous or not. It is great to use when you just want to help them calm down after a good romp or give them a little support at the vet's. You can even use it when they are sitting next to you on the couch when you are watching TV.

Llyane @FrenchOnSkype

This is wonderful for my lab Luky - she's a high energy girl! But... I do have long nails, so I'll have to find a solution for that :) Thanks so much!

Darlene Graham

Do you have points for gran mal seizures? To prevent or shorten the length or amount of them.

Darlene Graham

Just tried your phone # & got recording not in service

Jan Gazda

I am blown away!! I was sitting next to my dog Bo, just now...who was lying down, in our closet, because our next door neighbor decided to set off his "leftover" fireworks...the day after New Year's Eve! Bo was a basket case last night with all the fireworks, too...and then again tonight. So, I did a search for "accupressure points for dogs to calm"...and your article came up! So, it seemed so easy, that I decided to try it...oh, my gosh!...after about 15 seconds of gently keeping pressure on his Heart 1...he quit panting. Then, after about 90 seconds, his head started to he was trying to resist laying it down, but he couldn't...amazing! So, I just kept my hand there, and after about 3 minutes, he laid his head down. I stayed there for another 8 minutes or so, and slowly began inching my hand out. He woke up a bit, and it was like he remembered..."oh, wait, I was all upset about something, wasn't I?"...and he assumed the position where his head was suspended just above the when he is anxious...but no panting. Then, after about a minute, his head went back down, completely...and he has been in that position, for about 15 minutes, now. His breathing is also slowed, finally. I a believer!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!! You rock, Susan!! I will be telling all dog owners about this!! God bless you!! Jan. P.S. He just now moved into a completely relaxed position...amazing!! Normally, it would have been at least two more hours of anxiety, before he would even begin, to calm down. Truly wonderful stuff!!


Good post on acupressure for dogs! As a licensed massage therapist I know how dogs LOVE massages just as humans do! They can get the same benefits! ❤

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[…] * Rover- Time  and ** Equine Wellness for their educational contribution. […]


really liked this and it helps me calm down my dacshund Vinnie and my chocolate lab Charlie


Thanks. Tried this after the storm & it helped a bit. Will repeat often!

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[…] like a human baby feels safe in a swaddle, dogs can feel comforted by having mild, constant pressure around them during times of stress. The consistent pressure, experts believe, has a calming effect on the nervous system by releasing […]

Using Hemp for Dog Stress this 4th of July | Therabis

[…] like a human baby feels safe in a swaddle, dogs can feel comforted by having mild, constant pressure around them during times of stress. To achieve this constant mild pressure, dog owners can use a snug-fitting t-shirt. If that […]


It works! I did this and my dog was so calm, she peed all over the bed! I don't even care about the pee. She was panting so hard from Cushings, she couldn't relax, but this worked and the panting stopped.

Marylou Maxwell

Thank you for this information, I use acupressure myself and have a very nervous rescue dog so will try this and let you know how we get on!


Thanks for this! Is there a good book reference to learn more about massage and acupressure points for dogs?

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