Dog Massage Diaries: Can I Massage My Dog?
We all know how much our dog loves belly rubs, strokes and scratches behind the ear. But did you know that dogs love massage too?
‘You really want me to massage my dog!’ I hear you exclaim.
Yes! Absolutely! It is extremely beneficial for your dog. If you have ever experienced a massage yourself, you know how wonderful you feel afterwards. The same is true for your dog - not only can it get rid of knots that can cause twinges and pain, it also gives another opportunity to connect and bond with your four legged friend.
Five reasons why your dog would benefit from massage
Reduces stress and anxiety - dogs are always alert, for fun and for danger, and this can stress out their bodies. A loud noise, the loud crack of a branch, a cat…or a frightening thunderstorm, and yes, even super-fun games can create too much tension. A massage can ease the tension and help to recalibrate their mental, physical and emotional stress levels
Promoting overall well-being - just like humans, when we’ve had a relaxing massage we can feel balanced, refreshed and revitalised. It’s the same for your dog
Body function - massage can improve circulation, reduce swelling and inflammation, assist the lymphatic system and potentially strengthen immunity. In fact, done correctly massage can stimulate every system of the body
Treat & prevent muscle injury - promote and restore musculoskeletal balance and increase range of movement. Muscles not only move joints, they also stabilise them, so even minor muscular problems can lead to overall musculoskeletal imbalances and pain. As owners we often can’t see these and our dogs can’t tell us about them
Strengthen your bond - it can be quite odd at first for your dog to have a massage, but as soon as they see how wonderful they feel, your relationship and bond will have developed wonderfully
Would my dog like a massage?
Canine remedial massage is a highly skilled, safe, non-invasive, drug-free therapy - suitable for both the young, active and fit dog, as well as the older, less mobile dog. In qualified hands it can work wonders but there are also few things you can look for at home…
Dogs spend a lot of time looking up! Even though Big Al says they can’t (Shaun of the Dead reference!), gently massaging around their neck and their ears, in slow circular motions, can relieve tension
Dogs can be ‘front wheel’ or ‘rear wheel drive’ – for instance, spaniels are front wheel drive (perfect for scampering, nose to the ground) and whippets and greyhounds are rear wheel drive (perfect for explosive bursts of speed). This can give pointers as to where your dog might hold tension and where you might find the most muscle development – have a look and see what you find
Dogs are so eager to please us - they can make us think they’re up for that long walk or for that ball-chasing game when really, in their heart of hearts, they’d really rather not. Look out for them licking their lips, looking away, or even simply getting up more slowly – those could all be signs that you are asking your dog to do what you want, and not what they want
Replace ball-play with treat-finding based games in the house or garden – you’ll be amazed just how exhausting those are for your dog; they can also be really calming and promote confidence
Poppy and the Dog Massage Diaries
Poppy wasn’t feeling herself and we could see some changes to her (not jumping on the bed, stairs a challenge and a little hesitation on her back leg). So we asked Michele from The Dog Masseur to come over and see if she could feel anything that needed help.
Have a read below:
So my humans noticed that I haven’t been feeling quite myself lately and they’re right. I’m not so keen on jumping up onto my bed anymore and those stairs up to the tv room are a bit of a challenge these days - I didn’t think they’d noticed but I’ve been having to bunny-hop up them recently, and yes, I have been stumbling a little from time to time. Truth is, it’s been making me feel a bit down in the dumps.
Apparently my humans have heard about someone called The Dog Masseur and they’ve asked her to come and check me out, so let’s see how it goes - I’m a bit nervous and maybe even a bit sceptical too but hey, if you don’t try something once you’ll never know, so here goes …
The Dog Masseur has arrived (her real name is Michele) and I’m a bit nervous so my legs are shaking a bit. I wonder if she’ll notice? She seems friendly, but I can see she’s watching me like a hawk whilst I move around - I guess she’s sussing out why I’m a bit wonky.
We’re going upstairs to the tv room for my treatment where it’ll be nice & quiet and we won’t be interrupted by the others trying to muscle in. The Dog Masseur has waited for me to go up the stairs ahead of her to watch me … sneaky!
I’m not used to being alone with a stranger so I am not sure if I can relax… so far this mostly feels like normal cuddles with my humans, but maybe she’s starting by just trying to reassure me.
Ah ok, so this is starting to feel different - she seems to have found the really, REALLY sore bits in my neck - I didn’t even realise they felt so bad … but it is a very odd feeling this massage thing. I’ve worked out that if I wriggle around a lot she can’t get to the bits that have been causing me discomfort for ages. But turns out this massage lady is REALLY patient - she’s not fooled by my wriggling tactics! She’s just playing it cool and calm and waiting until I settle down again to carry on.
Hmm, I didn’t realise just how sore my lower back has been feeling too - it’s so easy to get used to things being a bit sore and just get on with it, but now that I think about it, my sore back is making other parts of me sore too. I have to admit (but not to her, yet) that massaging my hips and legs is pretty amazing and she’s found that niggly spot on my front leg too.
Oh now this is just plain weird - she’s got me on my side and is gently stretching each of my limbs in each direction. Apparently I’ve got ‘full range of movement’, whatever that means.
Seems like that’s the treatment over for today and I’m feeling really, really sleepy now … just going to potter off to my bed for a snooze. I think she’s okay. She can come again.
The Dog Masseur is here again this afternoon and she’s asking my human how I’ve been. I’m glad he’s noticed that I haven’t been stumbling since my first massage treatment, although I’m still a bit tense.
So we’re going up to the tv room again for my treatment for some peace and quiet. I think the others have realised I’m onto something good here - and I’ve just realised that I’ve found it easier to get upstairs since my first treatment.
I reckon she’s gonna make a beeline for all the niggly bits she found last time. Yep, she’s checking her notes ... but I’ve decided I’m going to go more with the flow today; maybe a bit less wriggling around if she’s lucky.
Hmm, seems like the left side of my body is still the niggly area, but I’m going to try lying down on my side to see if that makes the massage thing feel better. Turns out it does! When I lie on my side and try to chillax, The Dog Masseur can reach my chest and my tummy and the inside of my arms and legs SO much more easily! It’s still a bit weird but I reckon I’m getting used to her now.
Ok, so I am just going to have to do some more gratuitous wriggling again, just to keep her on her toes - don’t want her thinking I’m a total pushover, this is my house after all.
Oops, I accidentally fell asleep so it can’t have been all that bad! And I just felt like doing a huge stretch when I woke up - apparently that’s a really good sign. I have to admit I do feel a whole lot better.
My toes have felt a bit tickly but apparently that’s normal for us dogs. And that little niggle that I had just above my knee has gone - amazing!
Massage number 3 here we come. I’m actually looking forward to it today. The Dog Masseur is talking to my human again. First he says I’m still a bit tense in my tummy (it’s my back really - d’oh) but that I’ve started coming upstairs to the tv room again in the evening for cuddles. I do like cuddles.
So I reckon I’m almost an old hand at this massage lark now. I’ve come bounding up the stairs and onto the sofa straight away, she can hardly keep up with me! I think I’m going to just go ahead and lie on my side right away today so that she can spend as much time as possible making my muscles feel lovely and warm and supple.
Oh go on then, I’m going to roll right onto my back! That way she can massage my chest and neck muscles more deeply and it feels soooo good. Oooooo and that hind left leg of mine really needs this massage. I wonder if I lean into her whether she’ll take the hint and massage more deeply?
Ok, weird ‘skin-rolling’ thing going on now - I think it’s because my human said my tummy feels tense so it’s his fault! It does make my skin feel all fluid and youthful again though … I like it after all.
Massage number 4 today. My human is telling The Dog Masseur lady that he’s noticed a big improvement in me since the last treatment and I seem much happier in myself. My other human says I’m jumping up the kitchen step again too when I need to rush to the front door to see who’s rung the doorbell. They’re right, I do feel heaps better. I’m glad they’ve noticed because I know how much they love me. They’re alright, for humans.
This massage thing doesn’t feel weird at all now, in fact I love it! So I’m bounding up to the tv room ahead of her again this morning, adopting the ready position for the massage to start; I’m a little bit impatient even - hurry up!
I’m not even the tiniest bit nervous or wriggly now - I know that when she starts massaging it’s going to feel amazing (even my feet!). I think the extra stretching I did of my own accord during the massage makes me realise just how much better everything feels now.
I actually feel like a different Schnauzer, almost like a puppy again! I feel bouncy and can run around freely with the Schnauzer pack in the garden. I wonder when my next appointment is ❤️
About Michele at The Dog Masseur
Michele is a member of the International Association of Animal Therapists – many Pet Insurance companies will cover treatment provided by IAAT therapists. She is fully insured.
Having had a lot of treatment over the years for back and other niggles from sporting activities, Michelle had first hand experience of the benefits of remedial sports massage. Being the owner of two equally active dogs, she found herself wanting to help alleviate their muscular niggles too - and looked into whether she could train, in a formal way, as a canine massage therapist.