Everybody loves a good massage, right? The stress that had built up in your shoulders, back and neck releases, and you feel so relaxed afterward. What if you could make your favorite furry feel that good? Now you can. Canine massage has been taking off in recent years. People with no children to care for turn to pampering their pets, especially their dogs. Pet massage workshops have been springing up around the country and filling up by the next day. Although many pet owners may roll their eyes at the idea of canine massage, owners who massage their dogs report a stronger bond and many health benefits for their furry friend.
Benefits of massage
The same benefits that human reap from a massage apply to dogs as well. Massages can relieve pain and stress, promote flexibility and increase circulation. Massage lowers stress hormones, promoting relaxation and positive energy. In some cases, the body’s autoimmune response may improve. Plus, when the dog’s owner is the one doing the massaging, the bond between the owner and pet strengthens.
Finding a massage therapist
Canine massage therapists can be found virtually anywhere across the country. Phone books and online directories are great places to start your search. You can also ask your vet for recommendations. If you know of anyone who has used canine massage on their dog in the past, ask for a referral.
When you find a massage therapist that you like, ask for references. You should inquire about experience and education. Ideally, the person should also be licensed. You are putting your dog in another person’s hands. If that person is not properly trained, they could cause serious injury to your dog. Therefore, check out a person’s credentials thoroughly before making an appointment.
How to massage your dog
The key to a relaxing massage is to make your dog feel comfortable. Here are some pointers to help:
- Have your dog lie on a firm surface. There should be no pillows or cushions in the way. The surface and position should be comfortable for you, the massager, as well.
- Start slow, with light pressure. Many of us underestimate our strength. If you’re too rough on your dog, he will get scared, and you could possibly harm him.
- Keep your speed even. Going fast, then going slow can make your dog upset. Keep a pace that will make your dog relax.
- Make sure to hit every spot, including the cheeks, tail, behind the ears, the bridge of the nose and between the eyes.
- End the massage with longer strokes and a slight increase in pressure.
- Follow your dog’s cues. If he starts to get restless, end the massage.
- Don’t attempt to massage a dog with other dogs nearby. Your dog will not be able to relax if he sees other dogs having fun. Try to keep the dog isolated.
The website MonkeySee offers videos on how to properly massage the various parts of your dog’s body.
What not to do
You can get hurt if you try to force a massage upon a dog. Here are some other things to avoid and some warning signs to look for.
- Don’t pull on the dog’s tail, whiskers or ears.
- Don’t press hard on the stomach, as organs can become damaged.
- Don’t massage strange dogs. Stick with your own dogs.
Stop the massage if the dog exhibits the following behaviors:
- Attempts to nip
- Rolling eyes
- Flattened ears
If you are interested in learning more about canine massage, visit the PetMassage website. It has a lot of information about workshops for dog owners, even specialized classes for children. You can watch videos, buy products, read articles and learn about becoming certified.