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6 Tips for Giving Your Dog a Massage

  • October 24, 2012
  • 4:32 pm
6 Tips for Giving Your Dog a Massage

Canine massage has been shown to reduce stress levels, increase circulation, decrease muscle pain, and improve lymphatic drainage in dogs. It also creates quality bonding time for you and your pet. TAILS talked to Denise Theobald, Licensed Massage Therapist and the founder and lead instructor of Canine Massage Chicago for some easy tips and techniques for giving our pets some much-needed TLC right at home.

1. First, provide the massage in an area that has minimal distractions. Make sure your pet isn’t positioned facing a wall or corner where they feel trapped. If they have never had a massage, this 
positioning may feel threatening to them.

2. Choose a time to massage your pet when you are mindful and present. Touch with intent requires your full attention and focus on the animal and how you are touching them.

3. Situate your pet on an area that is neither too hard nor too soft. Working on a table where your pet cannot slide and is at the right height is a good choice. If the pet is afraid of being on a table, work on a mat or blanket on the floor.

4. Think and listen with your fingers. Feel what is going on in your pet’s body by knowing what is normal for your pet. Providing an “assessment massage” once a week will alert you of any changes in the body and give you information to direct your massage strokes. Gentle and flowing strokes along with light circular friction are good techniques to “feel around” and gather this information. Feel for heat, swelling, bumps, lumps, or tender spots.

5. In the beginning, you may have to find out what your pet likes. For some, too light of pressure may be stimulating, and for some light pressure is all that they can tolerate. Also, different parts of the body may like different amounts of pressure and speed.

6. Be aware of what your pet is telling you. Look for signs of discomfort, anxiety, and non-compliance. If your pet keeps pulling away from your touch, keeps looking at you when you touch a spot, yelps, cries, or tries to get away, then that means your touch is uncomfortable, he/she is in pain, or they are just plain not in the mood.

Try it out tonight!

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Read more: Behavior & Communication, Dogs, Everyday Pet Care, Pet Health, Pets, , , ,

Selected by Laura Drucker, TAILS Editor

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TAILS is an interactive website, online community, and print magazine that celebrates the relationship between pets and their people. TAILS features expert knowledge, advice, pet product reviews, local resource guides, community event listings, and fun contests to promote and encourage people to live responsibly with their pets.


+ add your own
9:11PM PDT on Jun 15, 2013

Both our dogs love to get a massage/rub down.

7:23PM PDT on Mar 26, 2013


2:28PM PDT on Mar 26, 2013

my dog has high anxiety and while the thunder shirt helps her, she does not like massages at all. i try touching her on her terms, then slowly extending it. but i have heard people say that their anxious dogs benefited from massage,

12:35PM PDT on Mar 12, 2013


6:21AM PST on Nov 6, 2012

nemam psa ali hvala

1:50PM PST on Nov 4, 2012

thanks for sharing :)

10:33AM PDT on Nov 1, 2012

This would help my dog in thunderstorms- he gets very stressed, though he wasn't in Hurricane Sandy- go figure. Thanks!!!

1:16PM PDT on Oct 31, 2012

A gentle little circle and a quarter massage (sorta 12 o'clock right round to 3 o'clock) with the tips of two fingers is a very calming and relaxing massage for our dogs.

9:08AM PDT on Oct 29, 2012

Thank you for the article

6:15AM PDT on Oct 29, 2012

my dogs love their massages!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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My beagle/basset mix (my profile photo) had big silky-feeling ears that would cover her eyes when sh…

Good advise. Thank you.

great article, very good info


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