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!