The Benefits of Canine Massage
The Benefits of Canine Massage for Nervous Dogs
I know what you are thinking - CANINE MASSAGE? As a Certified Canine Massage Therapist, I hear this day in, day out. I take the laughs and jokes in good stride, because I know that the benefits of Canine Massage are very real - just ask one of my clients! Today I am going to focus on the benefits of Canine Massage for nervous and/or aggressive dogs.
It's interesting to see the different views taken on massage with differing species. With humans, we get massage for physical ailments, but also, more often than not, we get massage to relax after a stressful day at work or stressful period in our lives. For Canine Massage, most of my clients have physical issues, such as elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, arthritis, or a number of other ailments. We never think of the psychological need of some dogs to have soothing touch. When you go into a shelter, the most ignored dogs are the dogs who are fearful and afraid. They cower in the corner of their cage. Perhaps they are not used to humans. Maybe they have never received a loving touch from someone, as if to say, "hi there!". This is where Canine Massage comes in.
For a nervous or aggressive dog, massage is a way to get them used to not only touch, but to receiving love. The thought enters their mind that, hey, these humans aren't so bad! Now of course, for any dog with a nervous or aggressive disposition, this will take time. It will not happen overnight. You need to go slowly, winning the dog's trust. A good way to do this is just to meet with the dog, letting the dog calm down and go to its favorite chair or sofa. Once the dog is calm, you can slowly get closer until you are able to touch them. Always let the dog sniff you; this gives him information on who you are. With severely aggressive dogs, it may be necessary to use a muzzle, in case of any biting or snapping; this can be removed later once the dog is calm or on subsequent visits.
A good place to start is a small spot just behind the ears. If you rub this area with your thumbs in a circular motion, it will help the dog to calm down. You can also take your fingers on either side of the vertebrae and apply medium pressure from the back of the neck all the way to the tailset. This releases endorphins, which provides a feel-good factor for the dog. These are just two moves that you can start with to calm the dog down.
So what are the benefits? Well, think of how you feel when you are stressed. Everyone reacts differently. Perhaps you feel like a wound up string, unable to relax. When this happens, your muscles tighten up and do not release. This is exactly what happens with canines too. One of my clients has to take a lot of medications, and one of the side effects is that these medications make him anxious and dehydrated. In turn, this has led to him having tight muscles, which means he plays less and generally lays around, creating a knock on effect. According to his owner, he just "isn't himself". I have been working on him for about two and a half months now and he has had wonderful results. He plays more with his brothers, he is more alert, and he has stopped the moaning which plagued him during his sleep. His owner is very happy with the results and tells me this often. This is one of the most gratifying parts of my job. So in short, the benefits are that muscles are loosened, the dog can finally relax, and can get back to his or her former self.
It's a proven fact - more and more people are turning towards holistic methods for themselves and even more recently, for their pets. Before throwing the idea out the window, why not try it first? Your best bet is to find a Canine Massage Therapist who is certified. Although we are not vets, we are trained in basic canine anatomy and so know what to look for. Remember; this is not a promise that all will be cured. Canine Massage Therapy is meant to be a compliment to good diet and veterinary medicine. However, I have never known a massage to hinder a dog in any way, so why not give it a go? Your dog will thank you for it!
Licensed Massage Therapist/Canine Massage Therapist
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