These are some of the canine massage techniques you can use:
- Passive Touch (Laying on of hands): Holding or resting hands on an area of the dog’s body.
- Effleurage: Gliding strokes used to begin and end a massage.
- Petrissage: Kneading, similar to working with dough in which the soft tissue is lifted, rolled
- Friction: Small deep movements in a specific area of the body usually done across muscle fibers
- Tapotement: Rapping/drumming/patting action to stimulate body systems.
- Compression: Pressing, in a downward motion, on the muscle tissue into the bony parts beneath the surface
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Laying on of hands
This technique is simply holding a particular area of the body without applying pressure or movement. This has a calming soothing effect. It is good for areas that may be too sensitive to touch like sore muscles and joints (hip dysplasia and arthritis). It helps to warm the underlying tissues through the touch of your hand and stimulates circulation.
This technique uses long, flowing strokes and is used to begin and end a massage session. It prepares the tissues and the dog for deeper work by warming the tissues, relaxing the dog, and increasing blood flow and oxygen to the areas being worked. It also encourages the release of wastes and toxins from the body.
This stroke is simply gliding over the surface of the dog’s body following his contours. It may look like petting, but it is touching with a specific intent. Effleurage warms the underlying tissues and increases blood flow by dilating the arteries. More blood means more oxygen and nutrients to the area. While stroking your dog, you are checking for areas of heat, cold, restricted movement, resistance, swelling, and inflammation. Using effleurage against the grain encourages the blood to circulate back toward the heart to be oxygenated and redistributed throughout the body.
Be sure to maintain contact with your dog at all times to keep the dog grounded and connected. Effleurage has a soothing effect on the dog and gives the dog a sense of well-being. You are becoming one with your dog!
Petrissage (Kneading the dough)
This technique rolls, squeezes, kneads, and twists, by picking up skin and superficial tissues thus freeing adhesions, improving circulation, stimulating the removal of toxins trapped in tissues, and releasing spasms. Skin rolling and wringing is also used. It also increases blood flow and lymphatic drainage while releasing superficial restrictions of the skin and tissue.
This technique helps to spread fibers and increase circulation. It uses pressure to compact the tissue against the underlying bone and thereby spreading the tissue. Compression is a pumping action that flushes the capillaries, relieves muscle spasms, and softens fascia and tissue. Slow rhythmic compression is very relaxing to the dog. Stimulating compression has a more vigorous, rapid rhythm and is usually used on large muscle groups. The stimulating compression is used to get the dog excited physically and emotionally in preparation for an event.
This technique is done with cupped hands in a tapping motion. It is also called tapping, hacking, cupping. It stimulates muscles and the circulation of blood vessels near the surface. Cupping helps clean toxins and phlegm inside the lungs. This technique should only be used on the ribcage.
NEVER use percussion over the kidneys, which are located on both sides of the spine, behind the ribcage.
Tapping can be used for a stimulating effect as a pre-event warm-up or before physical activities.
This technique is used to create heat in the deeper tissues by pressing tissue into bone. It is a heat generating friction stroke. It can be used across fibers. Moving the tissue against tissue softens and stretches the fascia. It helps break up adhesions, scar tissues, and connective tissues that are usually the result of surgery or injury.
This technique is used to loosen tissues, breaking up restriction and increasing flexibility in muscle tissue.
What dogs do naturally actually has a purpose behind it. Scratching helps stimulate the lymphatic, circulatory, cardiovascular and neurologic systems and stimulate the dog’s autoimmune systems. It is particularly good for geriatric dogs.
Pre-event massage is intended to stimulate the dog using rapid strokes such as effleurage, petrissage, tapotement, and compression.
Post-event massage flushes toxins out of the body after heavy activity and exercise. It helps eliminate waste, moves fluid out of the system, calms the dog, and stimulates the lymphatic system. Post-event massage uses passive touch, effleurage, and compression.