How To Master The Art Of Dog Massage
Nothing says pampering like a full-body massage. It works out all the kinks and knots, it stimulates blood flow, it soothes sore muscles and it calms and relaxes. But these benefits aren’t just for people – our dogs can get all the same perks from a massage. The best thing is you don’t have to take your pooch to an over-priced spa to get a doggie massage – you can do it yourself! We’re going to give you some valuable tips on how to master the art of dog massage.
- Set up your massage area. This can be on the floor, a table, the couch or a bed – it just needs to be comfortable for the both of you. A blanket or a padded mat will make the spot more snug (and will ensure your dog won’t slip if you’re giving the massage on a table). Make sure there’s nothing to distract your dog in the area (like food or toys). If this is the first time they’re getting a massage, you want to make sure the space is non-threatening (they aren’t facing a wall or a corner). He can be sitting, standing or lying down on his belly. If he’s lying down you may have to re-position him at times to get at hard-to-reach areas.
- Start at the top of your dog’s head and work your way down his neck, making circular motions with your fingers. Head down to the shoulder region – this is the sweet spot. Your dog can’t reach this spot on his own, so spend extra time here and give it some little pampering. Move down to the chest and front legs, all while pressing your fingers and rubbing in a circular motion. Come back up to the back and start toward base of the tail and the lower legs. Repeat as often as necessary.
- Don’t press on your dog’s stomach. This can cause internal damage if you press down too hard. At the end of the massage, feel free to turn your dog over and give his belly a scratch or light rub.
- Take your time. This isn’t a race. It’s a relaxing time for both you and your dog, and it’s a chance to explore your dog’s body to find unexpected injuries or growths during this overall health check. You’ll find that a dog massage helps strengthen the bond between the two of you and will become an anticipated part of your daily/weekly routine.
- Listen to your dog’s body language. It will tell you if you’re pressing to hard and making it uncomfortable. If he jerks, yelps or flinches, you’ve likely hit a sore spot. Be gentle in these areas and rub lightly or avoid them all together. If he responds well to a certain area, make note of it and spend some extra time there.
- Start off with short sessions and build up the time spent giving a dog massage. Your first massage should only be a couple minutes in length. Once he gets use to the process, you can take your time and stretch it out to 10 or 15 minute sessions.
- This is a relaxing dog massage, not a therapeutic massage. If your dog requires a therapeutic massage, take him to a professional that specializes in deep tissue massage. If you try it on your own, you could cause more harm than good.
Massage is beneficial to all kinds of dogs. It can relieve joint stiffness and soreness, serve as a warm-up for active dogs, calming nervous dogs or just be part of your daily routine. Have you given your dog a massage? Tell us about it. Just leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
Amy Tokic, Editor of PetGuide.com, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).
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