So you've learned some massage techniques or you've had some done on yourself (so nice!) and now you want to massage your dog. What a wonderful idea!
A massage is truly a magical moment between you and your pup, and can reap so many benefits for him if you do it on a regular basis!
You may not realize it yet, but adding in a regular massage to your interactions with your dog can actually allow you to notice changes that might need to be addressed, help prevent injuries, and even add years on to your beloved pups life! So what's not to love about massages, right?
To do a complete massage, you can go through the following five stages, which will give you a guideline to follow so you know where you're going next. It's nice to follow a blueprint so that you don't just end up staying in one place and not really going anywhere!
Stages of a complete massage
The opening - This is where you will set your intention, set the mood, ask your dog if he wants a massage, and start lightly stroking him, helping him to relax. This stage is really important and you should do this at the beginning of every massage session.
Palpation - This is where you will be assessing your dog. You will run your hands slowly and very gently over your dog's entire body to feel for any changes since the last massage session. Take note of anything that feels unusual or not normal for your dog.
Body - This stage is the main part of the massage. You don't have to do a full body massage every single time, just decide ahead of time what areas you want to focus on. Decide what strokes you want to use, using how your dog's feeling as a guide, how much time you have and what problems or areas you want to deal with.
Passive stretching - This stage always follows the body of the massage and should only be done on warm muscles. If you decide to include it in your massage session, make sure to see if your dog is up to it, based on how he's feeling. You don't have to always stretch your dog's muscles, and you don't have to stretch all of the m during a session. But if you stretch one side, make sure to stretch the same limb on the other side, to keep your dog nice and even.
The Closing - This stage is really similar to the opening stage. You use light, gentle strokes over your dog's entire body to reconnect the whole body and soothe your dog, making sure he's full relaxed before you end the session. Just like with the opening, you should do this stage every single time.
Well there you have it! A nice blueprint to follow so that your massage sessions are complete and as beneficial to your dog as possible.
If you're interested in a more in-depth training in massage and acupressure, why not get on the waiting list for my upcoming course, Wholesome Hound: natural wellness for dogs including everything you need to know using gentle, effective home remedies.