How to Give a Dog a Relaxing Massage

Easy
10 - 20 Minutes
1 Day

Introduction

Some owners may balk at the idea of giving your dog his very own “massage appointment”, but pampering your beloved pooch may actually hold quite a few benefits for both you and him. Massages can help stimulate circulation and blood flow, eliminate stress and tension, and provide plenty of opportunities to bond with your dog. It may also help to decrease your own stress and give you both a few minutes of peace and quiet. Ultimately, taking ten to twenty minutes out of your day seems like a fair price for a comfortable experience for your dog.

Dog's Perspective

Your dog can overexert himself sometimes between exercise and play and petting is almost always welcome from the right person. A massage is not that far off from some drawn out petting and most dogs are likely to be very content to lie around and let you pamper them. However, hyperactive dogs may need a little bit of tiring out first.

The Maintenance Method

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Step
1
Use flat palms
Start with open palms in order to have an unobtrusive surface to rub up against your dog. Your dog is less likely to be very keen on being poked or prodded, so avoiding this type of massaging technique is ideal.
Step
2
Rub the flat surfaces
Run your hands along the sides of your dog’s body, as well as the back, the nape and sides of the neck, and the top of the head. Use long, gentle strokes and pet the fur in the direction that it flows to avoid tugging or pulling on it accidentally. This will take more time for a larger dog than a smaller one, but you should do this for several minutes to encourage calmness.
Step
3
Feel along the limbs
Without squeezing or poking, run hands along each limb including the tail to warm the extremities and provide affection where your dog may not always receive it. If your dog has sensitive legs or paws, work him up to it by offering treats in exchange for being able to touch his limbs. This can help encourage him to allow it during massage time.
Step
4
Rub gently along the face
Use two or three fingers to rub along your dog’s snout, under the eyes, over the eyes, over his cheeks, and behind his ears. This rubbing should be gentle and as unobtrusive as possible to prevent your pup from getting annoyed at the attention.
Step
5
Make a note of any changes
The maintenance method can help you begin a daily routine to check your dog for things like injuries or illness much sooner than you might notice otherwise. You can detect things like bruises, open wounds, or swelling when you provide a maintenance massage every day and are better able to address the issue when you’re next able to visit a veterinarian.
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The Relief Method

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Step
1
Start with petting
Begin your routine with a little bit of normal petting along your dog’s back, sides, and head. This doesn’t require any pressure, just sharing affection as you normally would with your dog. This can help get him more relaxed for the next steps of the massage.
Step
2
Use gentle compressions
Gently press on areas which can develop tension such as the hips, the shoulders, the neck, or any other areas that may seem to be causing your dog any pain or issues. The relief method works well for dogs who suffer from arthritis or joint pain in order to provide some temporary relief in both their joints and their muscles. The pressing should not be hard and should not cause your dog any pain.
Step
3
Count out a rhythm
Time your compressions to a rhythm in your head, preferably using one that is somewhat slow and maintains the idea behind relaxation. Use this rhythm to rotate between different areas of your dog’s body that need the attention while making sure that the parts of your dog’s body are getting the massages they need in order to stimulate blood flow and relief.
Step
4
Soothe with more petting
Once your compressions are complete, go back over the body with plenty of petting and gentle rubbing to finish off the routine and settle the body down for rest afterwards.
Step
5
Repeat after heavy activity
If your dog is a big exerciser or is high energy, perform this massage after heavy activity in order to allow his body to calm down and avoid unnecessary strain on joints and muscles. The massaging can help to ease aches and pains and make it more likely that your dog will be ready to go the next day.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • Be cautious about using massage to treat injuries or illness, as massaging the wrong area can sometimes make conditions worse. If you’re not sure whether or not massage may help your pup feel better, consult a veterinarian first.
  • Making the area more comfortable is a good way to encourage your dog to relax. Use pillows, blankets, or a doggy bed to cozy things up and create a nice atmosphere for your dog to enjoy while you spend time together.
  • Be careful when massaging your dog’s ears or face to avoid putting too much pressure on sensitive areas. Always be gentle when massaging to avoid any harm or injury. 
  • If your dog is nervous about being touched or won’t settle down, consider working slowly up to a full massage. Offer treats and toys as a distraction while you massage small areas one at a time to build a positive association surrounding the massage and the touches involved.
  • If your dog simply isn’t the type to enjoy massages, don’t force him to endure them. Find other activities to do in order to promote relaxation. 

Conclusion

Overall, while it may seem a little silly, giving your dog a massage may help to promote both wellness and health in a variety of ways, including a more comfortable bond between dog and owner. Remember that the key component is relaxation, so don’t hesitate to get real comfortable on your living room couch and provide some love and affection for your cuddly canine while you’re at it.

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