Touchy feely

I just finished giving Luke a massage; I regularly massage all three but I tend to focus on Luke the most.  For you long time readers; you all know he is a nervous ninny and a thorough massage does him good.  First he worries what I am doing; then he worries about why I am pushing him over.  Next he worries about why I am not letting him get up; all the while I am staying as cool as a cucumber.  He looks at me and sniffs to test my mood; then he relaxes.  He is much better than he use to be; after ten years he actually trusts me and really enjoys his massage, once we are into it.  How do I know he enjoys it?  He gets his googly eyes on; his eyes half shut and his third eyelid half up. 

Massaging your dog is not only beneficial for them; it is also great for lowering your blood pressure or destressing from a bad day.  The moment I start rubbing I can feel the stress leave my body.  Most dogs learn to love it if they don't from the start.  Many dogs are not the touchy feely type and need to learn to enjoy a massage.  But even if a dog enjoys a massage from you; they may not enjoy receiving the same treatment from a non family member.  None of my dogs would appreciate someone pawing all over them; it would be in itself, a stressful event.  So keep that in mind.  Several years back I talked to a gentleman who was offering Reiki for animals.  I understand the basic idea behind reiki and asked if there was a need for touch while doing it?  He assured me that no touch was needed; although if an animal enjoys it, they may touch. 

Massage not only feels good; it is very relaxing.  So relaxing that 5 min. after our session Luke remained on the couch as I vacuumed around him; something he never does.  Normally; as soon as I head his way he's gone, this was very interesting, he even had his eyes closed as I approached.  Massaging your dog regularly is a very good way for bonding time; it builds trust and helps dogs get over their touch issues.  I've worked with many dogs that cannot be touched in certain areas.  Owners say to me "oh ya very friendly, just don't touch his stomach," or "just don't touch his feet."  You should be able to touch everything; even their feet which is the most common issue.  Most dogs recoil when you touch their feet; even if they don't mind a whole lot. 

You must start slowly; and if they have any reservations about the process, add yummy treats into the mix.  Ah; good treats appear when the touching begins, your dog will soon look forward to the touching session.  Then once they are accepting the gentle massaging; you can slowly eliminate the treats.  When you massage you should have a firm but gentle touch; keep your hands flat on your dog, no digging fingers.  Keep one hand on the dog at all times; removing one if the other remains.  This helps to eliminate the startle factor; I learned this by getting my own massages.

Massage everything; spine, legs, tail, feet, ears, toes etc.  Luke loves a good face massage; he is particular about it but it is probably his favorite, the googly eyes come out bigtime for a face rub.  When you move; think "zen."  Pick up each foot gently and return it to the ground as if it is made of something very breakable.  But firm with your touch; you don't want to freak out your dog by acting apprehensive.  Canine massage should be short and sweet; unless of course you have one that slips into a coma from a massage...........then time may be limitless.  But my motto in life is quite while you're ahead.