Monday, February 15, 2010
Home Massage for Dogs…Tips for Helping Your Dog Relax
By Joy Butler
A gentle home massage can give your dog comfort as well as aiding the nervous system and increasing circulation. You can vary your home massage in a number of ways.
Deep massage on dogs requires knowledge of anatomy and should be performed only by a trained and certified practitioner but there's no reason you can't give your pet a light, relaxing rubdown right at home.
Have your dog lie on a soft, firm surface such as a rug, although very small dogs can be done sitting or crouching on your lap. Start with several soft, slow strokes from head to tail. When your dog begins to relax, scratch gently behind the ears, moving to the cheeks, under the chin, over the nose, between the eyes and over the head. Rub each ear several times between your thumb and forefinger, working from base to tip.
Using three fingers, move slowly over the neck, shoulders, and chest in small, circular patterns, gently pinching folds of any loose skin in these areas. Lightly squeeze down the length of each foreleg, then place three fingers on each side of the leg and softly rub opposite directions several times. If your dog is comfortable with having his feet handled, use your thumb and forefinger and give each foot a couple of soft squeezes. This is a good time to look out for any burrs, ticks, or skin abnormalities. Use common sense in avoiding wounds, lumps, rashes or any sore spots.
The second phase of the massage can include placing your thumb and index finger on each side of the spine and 'walking' them toward the base of the tail, and then the outside of each thigh. You may also squeeze the length of the tail and move down the rear legs in the same way as on the front legs, if your dog doesn't protest. If at any point, your dog resists, respect his wish and move to the last area or technique he enjoyed. Finish up with several soft, slow strokes from head to tail.
Remember, deep massage should be done only by a trained and certified practitioner so it's very important to always keep your home massage light and gentle. When you finish, your dog will most likely be snoozing peacefully and you may be surprised to find your own tensions melted away as well.