Our dogs feel stress and anxiety just like we do. They also like to have contact with us and love to be comforted, scratched, rubbed and patted.
So what better way to help calm your dog than with a nice relaxing massage.
Let’s take a look at why massage is good for dogs and how to go about it.
Why You Should Give Your Dog a Massage
If you have ever had a massage yourself you can probably guess some of the reasons why it is also good for your dog. The benefits of canine massage are too good to ignore.
- It is relaxing. Dog’s can get stressed or anxious for a number of reasons, like unfamiliar environments, strange animals or people, loud noises like thunder or fireworks, or other insecurities. A massage will help soothe your pup and keep them calm and relaxed.
- It helps calm nerves. A massage is relaxing to a dog’s nervous system. A nervous dog is jumpy and anxious and this puts stress on their body and health.
- It improves their general health. Massage helps to improve fluid circulation and blood pressure in dogs. Improving the flow of fluids in your dog’s body is good for their health.
- It can strengthen their immune system to help fight off infections and disease.
- It can help reduce pain. If your dog suffers from a chronic illness like arthritis or cancer a massage can help to relieve their pain. Warming up the muscles can help reduce pain and improve joint mobility.
- It can relieve muscle tension. Massage can help relieve stress on muscles, tendons, and ligaments that comes with everyday wear and tear. This is beneficial particularly in aging dogs but also helps younger dogs to age well.
- Aids their digestion which is good for their health and wellness.
- It helps keep their coat and skin healthy.
- Improves their mood and helps promote happiness.
- It is relationship building. Any kind of close contact with your dog helps to improve your bond. Having a strong bond with your dog will help ensure they are obedient and easy to train. And they will know they are loved.
- It acts as a regular health check. Regular massaging of your dog will help you to notice any changes with your dog’s body and skin. While massaging you can feel for any wounds, ticks, infections, lumps, or other changes. If you find something out of the ordinary take your pup to the vet to get it checked out.
How to Give Your Dog a Massage
Don’t attempt a massage if your dog is overly agitated. Try some exercise to help to wear your dog out first. Then wait a bit until they are calmer and a little more mellow.
- Talk calmly to your dog in a soft tone.
- Begin with petting your dog to help calm them and get them more relaxed.
- Use gentle pressure and a circular motion. You don’t need to massage deeply, just a light touch is good. Try not to dig in too much with your fingers, keep your fingers together and avoid using your fingertips. Just a soft touch with the palm of your hand should be enough.
- Start at their neck and work down towards the shoulders. Then work down to the chest and front legs and paws. Then massage down the back and spine and down the back legs and tail area.
- Massage your dog’s ears and face with a gentle, light touch. Don’t forget behind the ears, under the chin, and down the nose.
- Add in some gentle stretching. Stretching out your dog’s legs is also good for muscle aches and pains. Always do it gently and do not put pressure on the joints. Your dog will pull away from you if he does not like it.
- Be aware of how your dog is responding to your touch, particularly in sensitive areas like the paws and tail. If your dog flinches or pulls away then ease up the pressure and move on to a different part of the body.
- Stop if your dog doesn’t seem interested or is aggressive toward you.
- 5 or 10 minutes will be long enough for your dog to feel the benefits of a massage.
- Give your dog some love and praise when you are done.
When to Stop Massaging Your Dog
Not all dogs will enjoy getting a massage, so when starting, look for signs your dog may not be into it and stop if your dog is not enjoying it.
- Flinching or pulling away
- Nipping or snapping
- Growling or barking
- Flattened ears
- Tensing muscles
- Or he may just get up and walk away.
Canine Massage Techniques
There are a few different techniques you can use while massaging your dog. Which ones you use may depend on how your dog is reacting to the massage and what body part you are working on.
- Compression is holding your dog between your hands. This is ideal on your dog’s legs and tail. You hold your dog between your palms and apply a little pressure as you work your way down.
- Petrissage is a kneading or rolling motion. You can do this with your palms, fingers, or knuckles depending on what part of your dog you are working on. Start with a lighter pressure and if your dog seems relaxed you can gradually increase the pressure.
- Effleurage is long gliding and soothing strokes using your palms with a light pressure. Think head to tail with these strokes.
Take a look at this video for a visual of these techniques.
You can make massage a separate treat for your dog or a part of your regular grooming session. If your dog sheds a lot you can try these special massage gloves to make it easier.
Recommended Reading: How to Groom Your Dog at Home
If you want some more information or advice on how massage can help your dog’s health, try these books.
If your dog has some major health issues, or you are concerned about causing them more pain, then you can seek the help of a professional massage therapist.
Recommended Reading: How to Tell if Your Dog Needs More Mental Stimulation
Give Your Dog a Massage Now!
Giving your dog a massage regularly will improve their health and wellness, and strengthen your bond. Your dog will be happier and more relaxed and you may even benefit from spending quality time with your pup.
Make sure to apply techniques such as compression, petrissage, and effleurage when massaging your fur baby. Also, know when you need to stop the session!