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CANINE MASSAGE SIMPLIFIED
You know how good you feel after a massage. Believe it or not, your dog might enjoy, and benefit from one too. In this article, learn all about canine massage to sooth your pup’s aches, or just spend enjoyable time together.
Massage is one of the oldest forms of healing and has been used from ancient times to the present. Ancient Chinese and Romans already practiced some form of animal massage. The benefits of massage therapy no longer need to be proven. Such therapy has become widely accepted and recognized by the traditional medical community. Today, the animal world has strongly benefited from the progress of modern sport medicine.
Massage therapy is the manipulation of the soft tissues of the body to achieve specific goals of drainage, relaxation, or stimulation, as well as the release of muscle tension. Regular massage contributes to the overall economy of the body and to its ability to function efficiently. Active dogs, like human athletes, often play and train hard. Unfortunately, such demanding physical efforts often result in soreness, stiffness and sometimes in injuries and pain. Massage can help you minimize these problems, and maximize your animal fitness by keeping your dog flexible and muscle stress free.
Benefits of Massage
Massage therapy allows us to trigger the body's ability to help itself back to health. Here are some of the most important benefits.
To give a good massage, you need the right frame of mind, calm and relaxed. Use a soft voice to communicate with your dog and praise him/her all along the session. Give your dog full attention, using a light touch and a smooth rhythm. Concentrate on the sensations provided by your fingertips (the four T’s) for a better feel of the structures and the needs of your dog.
The four T’s
The palm of your hand and your fingertips will give you accurate feedback on the physiological state of the dog’s body throughout the entire massage:
Your fingers work like probes, quickly feeling, and assessing what they touch, knowing almost instinctively how to adjust your pressure and massage move. You will be amazed to find how fast this heightened perception will develop in you.
Pressure, Contact, Rhythm
The key to a successful massage is in the mastering of pressure, contact, and rhythm.
Proper posture & Positioning the dog
Good posture is essential when giving a massage. Good posture will ensure an energy flow from your hands to the dog and back to you, benefiting both you and the dog.
When to massage your dog
Any time is a good time to massage your dog as long as no contraindication prevails. Depending on your aims, use different massage routines at different time of the day, and away from meals. For example, early in the morning, apply the relaxation massage routine followed by a gentle version of the warm-up routine to the older dog to relieve his general stiffness. For the active dog, the warm-up massage routine should be applied before exercising, and the cool-down massage routine after. Any deeper form of massage is most beneficial after exercises, or proper warm-up with massage or with a warm blanket. To calm or simply relax a dog, the relaxation massage routine can be applied at any time. Consider applying it before, during, or after traveling, or during any other stress time.
Duration of a massage
Several factors will determine the length of a massage.
The relaxation massage routine should last three to five minutes on any given dog. However, if it is your dog’s very first massage you can stretch it to eight or ten minutes, emphasizing softness, both touch and voice. Praise your dog all along in order to gain is trust.
The full body light massage should last from fifteen minutes for small breed, up to thirty minutes for larger dogs.
Warm-up and/or cool-down massage routine should last ten to fifteen minutes depending on dog’s size.
Specific work on a body part should not exceed ten minutes. You do not want to risk overworking the structures involved.
Keep in mind that most dogs will become restless after twenty or thirty minutes massage. However, with practice, most dogs will learn to relax quicker and enjoy longer massage sessions.
Frequency of massage sessions
The dog’s condition and your massage aims will dictate the frequency of your massage sessions. For example:
A regular massage schedule will lead to faster and lasting results. The dog will love you for it, and it won’t be long before he begs for your massage attention.
Your dog’s feedback signs
It is very important for you recognize the various feedback signs your dog can display during your massage session. Here are some sure signs of apprehension:
Some sure signs of relaxation are:
Always monitor your dog’s body language constantly, and adjust your work accordingly.
Contra-indication to massaging your dog
If any of these conditions exists, or if any unknown symptoms arise, consult your veterinarian first. Please read our article specifically dedicated to the contraindications related to dog massage.
Massage as diagnostic tool.
Common Stress Areas
Regular massage attention to these common stress areas will keep muscular tension to a minimum and secure an optimal function of the musculoskeletal apparatus.
These massage techniques can be used separately or in any combination during a massage session to ensure positive results.
Dog massage is easily learned, easily applied, costs very little and leads us to a much richer relationship with our dog and results in better caring for his needs. With practice you will be able to "see" with your hands and listen as your dog’s body "tells its own tale.” This is the most efficient way to contribute to your dog’s overall fitness and well being while making his world a better place.
In the book, “Canine Massage, A Complete Reference Manual” written by Jean-Pierre Hourdebaigt, LMT, and published by Dogwise, you will find everything you need and want to know about massage movements, pressures, rhythms, techniques and sequences. Different routines are specifically designed for different situations. You will also learn about the various musculoskeletal structures, the areas of stress in an active animal and the potential stress sites.
I hope you enjoyed this article and found the information useful. My goal is help you provide quality home care for the benefit of your animal.
Enjoy your new Awareness!
Jean-Pierre Hourdebaigt, LMT
The “Proper Positioning For Efficient & Safe Massage” (CV001), the “Hand Sensitivity – The 4 Ts (VC002), the “Basic Massage Movements – Pressure & Rhythms” (CV003), the "Relaxation Massage Routine” (CV004), the "SEW/WES Approaches" (CV005), the “Full Body Massage” (CV006) and the “Stretching Exercises” (CV007) DVDs are the foundation of your work.
If you are just starting with your home care program, consider our “Introduction to Animal Massage” package,a 20% discount value on the first 7 DVDs, to secure a sound foundation in your animal massage skills. Then take advantage of our other packages to increase your knowledge of home-care protocols for the benefit of your dog(s).