How to Massage a Dog to Sleep

Easy
10 - 30 Minutes
1 Day

Introduction

Many dogs have trouble sleeping. Older dogs may have trouble getting comfortable because of tired sore muscles or even arthritis, while active younger dogs may be restless from exciting days spent running, playing, or working outside. When your dog doesn’t sleep well, it might affect your sleep also. There are massage techniques you can use to send your dog off to sleep offering relaxation and comfort for sore and tired muscles. When you spend time every night massaging your dog, you'll see his sleep improve along with his overall life and mobility in the days to follow the massage.

Dog's Perspective

Your dog might be overly tired from not sleeping well, or he may be anxious and tense and in need of a good night's sleep. A relaxing massage can help either one of these cases but because of his anxieties or inability to relax it may take some time to get him used to a massage to help him sleep.

The Ears to Tail Method

Effective
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Step
1
Lie down
Get your dog settled on his bed and ready for sleep. If you’d like to set the ambiance for him, turn down the lights to a dim and play soft music.
Step
2
Ears
Starting with his ears, massage with small circles behind his ears working your way to the tips. Make these motions slow and methodic.
Step
3
Neck
Once you have finished the ears, work your hands down to your pup’s neck. Use long strokes to knead the neck muscles from near the base of the head down his back and chest.
Step
4
Back
With slow and methodic movements, massage the back. Move from long strokes on the neck to slow circles along either side of the spine and down the dog’s sides.
Step
5
Legs
Your dog's legs are used a lot and can be tired at the end of the day. After you have worked muscles on the back and sides, work on easing tension in his legs. Working from the top of each leg to the paw, use long strokes again making small circles with your thumbs.
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The One Side to Sleep Method

Effective
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Step
1
Bed
Get your dog to lie down in his bed ready to sleep. Try to keep the room quiet and not too bright. You’re preparing him for sleep, so set the stage to fall asleep.
Step
2
On side
If your dog lies on his side to prepare for sleep, get him comfortable and start by slowly rubbing his tummy in one direction. This will calm him and get his mind and body ready to sleep.
Step
3
Head
Once he has settled with the help of a tummy rub, massage the exposed side of his head. Use very small strokes in short circular motions to massage his ears and jowls.
Step
4
Neck
Carefully massage your little guy’s neck in the same small circular motions. You may only get to the one side as he’s lying on his side, but remember the goal is to get him to go to sleep, so as long as he’s getting a soothing massage, all is good.
Step
5
Legs and paws
By this time, your dog should be feeling quite relaxed. Ease any more tension he has by gently pulling the skin and muscles on his legs down toward his paws. Take his front paw in your hands and gently massage the paw pads and between his toes.
Step
6
Back to belly
If your dog needs more attention, go back to a soft and slow rub on his belly. You can talk to him in a quiet voice, or if he is still restless, start from the top again and work your way back down.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • You could help your dog relax more by setting the stage with a relaxing ambiance. Music, lights, even relaxing scents can help your dog fall asleep while you offer him a relaxing massage.
  • If your dog is mobile, getting him exercise before bedtime might help him relax more. A dog who is tired will be more eager to lie down and relax while you massage his tired muscles.
  • Be cautious of any sore or tender spots your dog may have. These swollen muscles might need a bit of extra work during your daily massages.
  • With time, tired muscles can soften and relax causing less discomfort during the evening massage.
  • Try to give your dog an evening massage in his own bed so he doesn’t have to get up to go to sleep. Also be sure to do this after his evening trip outside to go potty.
  • If your dog is experiencing uncomfortable dry and itchy skin you can offer him a massage with coconut oil which will help him to relax as well as soothe his skin so he can sleep better all night.
  • If you use essential oils, you can apply a drop or two of your favorite relaxing scent such as lavender or vanilla to help him sleep.

Conclusion

A massage is the best way to fall asleep. Helping your dog cope through a long day with sore muscles can create a soothing atmosphere sending the sandman his way. Set your pup up for a good night's sleep with a gentle evening massage.

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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