By Letha Cupp, RM/T,
Canine Massage Practitioner
Touch is a key element in our relationship with our dogs.
When you reach out and touch your pet in a loving manner, you are benefiting them and yourself. You and your pet will benefit by lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, improving the body’s immune response and supporting the bonding experience.
Here are some simple tips to massaging your fur-kid on your own:
Start by allowing yourself 15 minutes of massage time. Bedtime is a good opportunity to start the unwinding phase of the day.
Sit with your best friend by your side. Place your hand on the most convenient spot available. For me, that might be on the withers or at the hips, depending on how the fur-kid is snuggled up to me.
And just breathe.
Be conscious of your breathing: take a breath in slowly through the nose and let it out through the mouth, like blowing on a dandelion. Do this 10 times, really connecting with your pet. Breathe in the relaxation, breathe out the stress.
Next, practice effleurage, a smooth, light-touch stroking movement, from the back of the head to the tip of the tail or at least the base of the spine. Start at the center of the head and down the center of the back, then try the left side of face and head to left side of hips, and also the right. Try this 10 times. Aren’t you already feeling better?
Notice along the way if your pet feels warm, cold, has bumps, or scratches you didn’t notice before. Acknowledge these areas, but don’t let it disrupt the flow. You can return to anything you find after you are done.
Once you’ve completed this portion, continue stroking the front legs and the back. Start at the top of
the shoulders and hips and continue to the feet. If your dog is foot sensitive, you might stop just above the foot. You don’t want to spoil the mood, do you
Next, massage the ears. The whole ear. The edges, the base where the ear meets the scalp, the center of the ear leather. All of it. There are at least 200 acupressure points on and near the ear. When you massage the ear, you are creating a link between touch and at least 200 points on the body. Ears are amazing and 98% of dogs love having their ears massaged!
Complete your massage by placing your hands on the withers – tip of the shoulder blades – and hold. Be still. Continue breathing. What is your dog doing now? Are they stretched out, rolled over, sleeping? Is the nose wet, the breathing slowed, the dog smiling or all of these? You did a good job!
One note of caution before you try your massage. The key to a good massage is the pressure of the touch. Dogs should be massaged like you would massage a baby: very lightly. Dogs do not need, nor do they desire, deep tissue massage. Think of how hard you will rub your eye. You are using approximately 4 pounds of pressure to rub your eye. Do not grab, poke, push or squeeze muscles on your dog. I avoid any
on the spine or areas NOT protected by bones on the body. The heart, lungs, stomach and other critical organs are protected by the ribcage. However, the kidneys, bladder, small and large intestines and more are not. Be gentle and you will have no problems.
Do a 15 minute cool-down massage at least 3 times a week and see the changes in your companion pet!
Letha Cupp is a Reiki Master/Teacher and Canine Massage Practitioner with specialties in canine trigger point therapy and chakra work. She has been working with dogs and their human companions since 2008. She has three companion animals she considers partners in her journey with helping other animals.