Dogs, like any human being, love a good massage. For both you and your dog, massages can lower blood pressure and reduce stress in only minutes a day. Here are four exercises you can try out on your dog at home in addition to you regular grooming routine:
Using a flat palm, slowly manoeuvre your hand around to touch all parts of your dog’s body. When you practice this daily, you will get a full understanding of your dog’s body and will be able to catch any changes in its hair, skin, fat, muscle and bones. This may manifest into symptoms such as changes in surface temperature, sensitivity to touch, localised swelling or muscle tension, coat quality or tight skin. If you are able to catch symptoms early, you can have them treated before any forming illnesses or medical conditions become aggravated and un-treatable.
This is useful for occasions such as when your dog is totally freaking out during a thunderstorm. With your hand, start from the top of your dog’s spine and slowly run it down the spine in one long sweep to the tip of the tail. Repeat this several times and if your dog likes it, you can increase the pressure gradually. Just be careful not to push down on your dog’s lower back. Finish up by resting one hand to rest at the base and rear of your dog’s head, and the other on its back just above the high point of your dog’s hips until your dog calms down. These two points of the spine corresponds with rest and relaxation responses of the body.
For the active dog, this exercise will prolong its energetic body. With your hand, start with petting all over your dog’s body for several minutes; then vigorously with the heel of your hand rub the large muscles, such as the neck, shoulder, buttocks, and thighs. Subsequently, gently lift and squeeze these large muscles, much like kneading bread dough. From there, wrap your fingers around each lower leg and squeeze lightly, then relax your grip to move your hands up each limb. After finishing with a final round of petting all over the dog’s body, then your dog is ready for take-off.
Dogs also get joint stiffness and sore muscles after excessive activity from the day before. Help you dog’s recovery by starting with petting the sore area around the joint to warm the tissue. Then apply gentle compression and releases over the area using the palm-side of your hands. These rhythmic compression helps the fluid and blood flow throughout the muscles and take tension off the tendons around the joint. Finish off with more petting over the sore area to soothe the nerves.
Like any massage that you may receive yourself, do not apply sudden or direct force over a bone – especially since dog bones are much smaller than a human’s. It is also important to note that these exercises are not a substitute for medical or veterinary care, in which more serious pains may require professional advice.