6 Easy Techniques for Home Dog Massage

Dog massage can be a great way to connect with your dog whether he is suffering from an injury or not. However, massage is especially valuable if your dog suffers from arthritis, joint problems or other injuries that may be soothed by massage.

When beginning massage with your dog, start small. Many dogs are uncomfortable with touch and may need time to adjust. Keep the sessions short and light until your dog adjusts to the new routine. Watch for signs of discomfort and avoid areas that cause pain.

Technique 1: Compression

Compression involves pushing the muscle against the bone with a flat hand. This is a good starting point because it is very similar to petting you may normally give your dog and it loosens the muscles. Try this on your dog's shoulders and hips, which are common areas that might be infected by joint problems or arthritis. This is also good for legs.

Since this might be a sensitive area for your dog, start with a light pressure and build up only if your dog seems to tolerate it. Nothing is worse than a painful massage!

Technique 2: Effleurage

Effleurage is a gliding stroke down the spine following the direction of the fur. This, too, is a lot like petting and also may be a good starting point for your massage. It serves to relax your dog and get him accustomed to your touch. This also works well on your dog's head and tail, which connects to the spine but is often an ignored area.

Technique 3: Petrissage

Petrissage consists of semi-circular strokes on muscular areas. You may use your palms for large muscles and fingers for small muscles or smaller dogs. Again, adjust pressure based on your dog and his level of pain at each area. This works well almost everywhere on your dog's body. You can use your palms for areas along the shoulders, hips, back and legs and fingers for ears, gums and feet.

Technique 4: Pinch and Release

On your dog's neck and legs, try the pinch and release technique, which consists of taking a area of your dogs skin in your hand or hands, gently pulling it away from the body slightly and releasing. This serves to awaken your dog's skin a little and promote awareness to touch.

Technique 5: Vibration

Using a clawed hand to gently shake and vibrate your dog is called vibration. This can be used all over the body, again to awaken the skin and promote awareness to touch. This is a good finishing touch because it brings everything together.

Your dog may be a little uncertain about this particular touch, so begin gently and only vibrate for a second or two at each area. Adjust the pressure to the size of your dog as well. Vibrating a little dog too strongly may knock him over, creating a negative feeling toward massage.

Technique 6: Rocking

This is also a good finishing touch, which just consists of using both hands to rock your dogs body with the same motion you would use to rock a baby. This finishes up the massage with a relaxing touch that should put your dog right to sleep, finishing your bonding session.