Top Three Dog Massage Moves

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In Part 1 of this article I introduced the Whys and Benefits of dog massage. Here I’ll follow up with my three favorite basic and effective moves you can do for your dog.

Putting the Moves On Your Dog

You probably already do some version of these moves subconsciously. That’s because your dog guides you. You just have to pay attention. For instance, when your dog cuddles up on the couch next to you, where does your hand go automatically? When you find your hand nudged firmly upward by your dog’s nose, where does your hand land on your dog’s head? I know in my own practice, that the more adept you get at reading your dog’s signals, the easier it is to know what he or she is telling you she needs in terms of massage.

How To Do Dog Massage

Any member of the family can massage your pets. I always include teaching the owner in my initial sessions with a dog. One Labrador Retriever’s family now take turns (dad, mom, teenage son) massaging their dog on a regular basis. That’s one pampered pooch! It helps that the dad is a physical therapist too, though I didn’t know that until part way through the session when he asked if dogs have a clavicle (collarbone). They don’t, by the way.

I’ve coached one mom with a mentally challenged daughter on how to massage their dog who was recuperating from knee surgery. The daughter now delights in doing her “special move” whenever their dog sits beside her.

Why do I give my secrets away? The more you do your homework, the faster your dog will heal from surgery; keep mobile; or experience a more comfortable old age. I suggest doing short massages at home daily, even twice daily, to augment regular monthly visits to a professional therapist for massage and ongoing assessment. Isn’t the point of holistic bodywork to get the dog feeling better, faster?

Top Three Massage Moves

1. Still Holds

That’s right, the first “move” is just holding your dog. The key is for you to relax, focus and breathe. Ground yourself first so there are no distractions (gentle relaxing music is fine). This time is for you and your dog.

Then, using both hands, place one on your dog’s chest and one on the withers (the upper back towards your dog’s collar). If your dog moves away, beckon again and let him or her come back to you. Never force a massage. You want your dog to have a positive association with this type of touch.

Breathe in and out. Then go to other areas, like withers and rump (just before the tail), mid back and belly, over each shoulder, over each hip.

2. Broad Strokes

Using a relaxed, open hand, stroke lightly down either side of the spine. Go slowly. Pressure should be as light as it feels for you to place your fingers over one of your closed eyes. Lighter is actually better.

3. The Wave

Move your hands like you are doing a Hawaiian dance, waving your fingers in large, scooping motions. Now do this at the back of the neck on your dog so the tissues become loose and malleable beneath your fingers.

That’s it. Simple, right? Practice these basic moves daily with your dog!

About the Author Laura Arseneau

Laura Arseneau is a Canine Bodyworker and Bach Flower Remedies Animal Practitioner. Her company, Four Paws Wellness, offers mobile services throughout Niagara Region and at a clinic location, PetVet Eastside in Stoney Creek, Ontario.