Like you, your dog could probably benefit from a good massage. In fact, canine massage is considered one of the best things you can do to bond with your dog. Massage therapy can help with behavior problems and help your dog feel better. Plus, it’s fun to do.
Massage can be simple or complex. At its simplest, massage is really just rubbing the dog gently all over his body. It helps with circulation and any muscle aches the dog may have. Plus, it forces you to notice what is going on with your dog health wise. As you touch the dog, look for any problems, such as burrs, parasites, cuts, scrapes, bumps or mats in the fur.
To massage your dog, have him lie down on the floor. Start at the head and rub the dog gently, moving down the dog to the feet and tail. Be gentle and talk quietly to let the dog know you aren’t doing anything weird. If you have a high-energy dog or a dog that isn’t used to being touched very much, you may have to start with short sessions. For example, when my dog Tika was in her hyper-exuberant youth, she could handle about 20 seconds of massage before she leaped up and spazzed off. Now she loves it and just lies there for as long as I’m willing to massage her.
If your dog has behavior problems, you may want to look into more specialized massage techniques. Tellington Touch or TTouch (http://www.tellingtonttouch.com) is a specific massage system that was developed by Linda Tellington Jones and is designed to help reduce stress and tension. Originally, TTouch was used on horses, but it benefits other animals as well. Unlike traditional massage, with TTouch you make small circles with your fingertips in a clockwise motion. Because it is so subtle, even nervous dogs start to relax.
Although TTouch can sound a little bit "off the wall" as a solution to behavior problems, it does seem to help. I’m not a trained TTouch practitioner by any stretch of the imagination; many people take multiple classes over the course of many years to become truly proficient. However, I have watched one of Linda Tellington Jones’ videos and tried out the techniques on my own dogs. When I worked at a vet clinic, I often did a bit of TTouch on dogs while the vet was examining them or when dogs were being prepared for anesthesia. Doing the tiny TTouch circles did seem to relax them.
No matter what type of massage you decide to do, it’s probably better than not massaging your dog at all. Dogs and humans both benefit from being touched. Massage can be a positive, fun way to improve the relationship you have with your dog.