Did You Know That Your Dog Would Absolutely Love A Massage?
Every culture that allows domestic pets teaches its members ways to relate physically with those pets. In some countries, dogs live a dog’s life, and are rarely held or petted. We’ve noticed that some German dogs that we import do not seem to like our “American” way of petting. After investigation with our German contacts, we have learned that Germans have a slightly different approach to their dogs. They pet and stroke them in a different way and in different places than do many Americans. In our culture, petting a dog is very important. Most people tend to pet dogs around the head and shoulder regions and stop there. Others literally trounce their dogs, pounding their sides and ruffling their fur.Sometimes there is little method to the physical display. The dog is expected to “take it” whether or not it is the kind of physical affection it enjoys. Few dog owners stop to read their dog’s needs and desires. A dog owner may find that the dog does not enjoy being petted – if by petting we mean rough jostling or pounding. Instead, like many humans, they greatly
enjoy a more extended type of body contact – a kind of massage.Massage can be a beneficial technique when used as an aid to relaxation. The first principle of dog massage is to stop thinking of your dog solely from the shoulders up. Contact can be made with almost any part of the dog’s body if it is sensitive contact. Skilled veterinarians know this from treating unapproachable patients. They often have to devise creative ways of lifting the animal up onto an examination table, or treating injuries all over a pet’s body.To begin a dog massage, make a list of all the areas where a given dog likes body contact. If you are the dog’s owner, you know. If you are not, ask the owner. Then list the areas where
the dog is sensitive to touch. Begin your first massage with the areas on your first list, but include one area on the second. Gradually include more “forbidden” areas as you give massages.It’s best to begin on the head, gently massaging the eyelids, muzzle, and nose. Always keep one hand in contact with the dog during the entire massage. It’s best to have the dog in the sitting position. From the head area, work down the neck to the chest and pectoral muscle. Some dogs will automatically offer a paw. Take hold of it, but gently place it down if the dog seems to be losing balance.Choose a leg and work up and down on it very gently. If your dog decides to lie down, you will have better access to its rear legs. Try to avoid forcing the dog down. If your dog knows the command for down, you can use it in massage work, but don’t force the issue. Make your
strokes long and firm. Try to distinguish massage from regular petting. The massage should be more extended and pliable in its movement than regular petting. Avoid all slapping, pinching, and pulling motions. These will break the mood of the massage. Many dogs will communicate quite clearly what they like and dislike.