Bones & Joints

Doggie Massage Basics

How to Give your Dog a Relaxing Massage

1. With your hands, start by stroking your dog from the back of his head down to the base of his tail. Just stroke gently in line with the lay of your dog’s fur.

2. With your fingertips, try to make small circular motions on each side of his spine: first clockwise, and then counterclockwise. Just begin near his shoulders, and then work your way to the base of his tail.

3. Start applying gentle, vertical pressure using your thumbs on each side of your pooch’s spine. Work down each leg to his paws with the same motion.

4. As you work on his back, try lifting your dog’s excess skin upward. Knead or roll between your fingers and thumbs while starting at his shoulders down to the base of his tail.

5. With the use of circular finger motion, massage Fido’s rump area.

6. After this, start massaging the base of your pooch’s skull where his head joins the back of his neck by putting your fingers on one side and the thumb on the other.

7. This time, massage Fido’s cheek muscles by gently sliding your hands frontward on the sides of his face.

8. While following the lay of your dog’s fur, try flattening your hand, and stroking from his nose up to the top of his head.

9. Hold the base of his ears, and then pull from there to its tip as you rub his earflaps between your fingers.

10. Let your pooch lie on his side. Massage the muscles on his shoulders with slow, deep, circular motions. Next, start massaging his forelegs between your thumb and fingers as you work your way to his paws.

11. Try squeezing muscles between and along your dog’s toes, and then start moving each of his toes up and down with the use of a gentle, wiggling motion.

12. Flex your dog’s paws gently as you extend each one inward and rotate it to relax the tendons. Using your hands, give his thigh a deep, gentle massage.

13. Using your fingers, massage Fido’s hip joint in a circular movement. Try massaging down the back of his leg to his foot. Knead his paws and toes. Help your pup turn over, and then work on his legs on the other side.

14. Finish the session by talking calmly to Fido as you use slow strokes using your palm and fingers. Do this from his head, down to his back, and then to the tip of his tail. Perform the same procedure from his hip, to his hind foot, and then shoulders to his forepaw.

Some dogs are sensitive to having certain parts of their bodies touched. You know your dog best, so, if he hates to have his paws touched, don’t force it – remember, this is supposed to be relaxing for you both! Eventually, he may become relaxed enough to let those toes finally be touched!

Do you give your dog massages? Have any special tricks or techniques? We’d love to hear them!

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. StephanieRMontgomery

    Aug 22, 2017 at 7:27 am

    This post contains huge valuable information on our pets. This article can help by preventing risk. Truly it’s a nice job. Thank you for sharing with us. I massage my boy every night when we get in bed. I massage him until he starts snoring! He usually sleeps until I wake him up!
    This will certainly help all pet owners…

  2. Leslie

    May 12, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    So many people don’t realise that massage is an effective technique for lots of ailments that is pretty easy to learn and apply yourself without having to go to a special center or vet’s office. Obviously it would be beneficial for the owner and the dog to get some orientation and guidance first from someone who knows what they’re doing.. but then after really all you need is you, your dog, and practice! This article from Ortcanis mentions how massage can help to treat tired or damaged muscles in dogs with hip dysplasia.. I’ve only been doing it for a couple of weeks now on my dog so it’s probably too early to decide whether or not the effects it’s having are truly noticeable.. but based on my dog’s reaction I’m going to keep trying!: http://www.ortocanis.com/en/content/49-hip-dysplasia-treatment-in-young-dogs

  3. Linda

    May 7, 2015 at 11:39 pm

    Several years ago, we rescued a 4 year old Sheltie who had never been socialized. She was afraid of everything and everyone. She would regularly try to hide behind a piece of furniture or a potted plant. We put a leash on her while she was in the house and made sure she was at least in the same room as the rest of the family. Gradually, I started using the Tellington Touch method of massage on her as I lay beside her on the floor while she lay on a couch cushion. I would stroke and massage her and speak quietly to her. Sometimes we fell asleep with each other. Before long, she became my little shadow, and eventually learned to enjoy being around people and to become a joyful Sheltie the way God intended.

  4. Marian

    May 16, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    My 4 year old Chihuahua comes to me for his massages. I have trouble walking so it’s hard for me to take him on walks. So, he just looooooves his massages, especially around his neck. He will fall asleep in my lap usually. He’s so cute.

  5. Dr Les Ellam

    May 16, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    I’m also a qualified dog masseur and muscle therapist and spend a lot of summer going two shows and events trying to get the idea of dog massage into the local consciousness. It has to be the best job I have ever done in my life. Helping a dog who comes in stiff legged, sad and with their tail down but who leaves an hour later with their spring back, tail wagging and having smothered me in dog kisses is an absolute joy. We work with the owners so they learn what we are doing and hopefully take some ideas back as homework. Glad to see this article helping to spread the word.

  6. Tan

    May 16, 2014 at 9:45 am

    My 6 year old lab Raven is startingvto struggle with long walks being that he is a service dog and trained to help me in many ways his walks can be very long. He was having cod liver oil however recent reseaech has shown fish oil and cod liver oil are in fact very bad for dogs as they prevent the absorbtion of vit. E. So i have started giving him a gentle lavender oil massage at bed after a long day… he loves it and rolls to present his sore side when i pick up the bottle. The lavender helps him to settle to sleep (and me) and is fiving a lovelt shine to his slightly greying black fur. My little one dusty puppy looks at me all jealous at this now and so I rub any excess lavender into her afterwards. If i dont do his rub down at bed time after a long walk he is very stiff the next day. I just firmly stroke over his hip and leg as i would if i was just stroking him.

  7. Dorie

    Mar 11, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    I’m not a masseuse but that’s what I’ve been doing all along! Guess it just comes natural to me, I rub her the way I would want and where I know it would feel good. I must be doing alright cause she loves it!

  8. Dale Kwong

    Mar 11, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    I live on the 5th floor of a condo. On our last trip up of the day, I use it as an opportunity to connect with my pup through massage. It calms him down before bedtime and allows me to see if he has injured anything during the day. I only get through Step 1 of what’s listed in the article, but it’s still a good chance to give him the once over and get him accustomed to touch.

  9. sarah

    Mar 11, 2014 at 9:31 am

    My Old bassett loves a massage before getting up of a morning. .especially on his back legs. ..he melts into bed like a mushy marshmallow

  10. Bonnie

    Mar 11, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Love the info on massaging technique.i use some already for my Schnauzer.even though she is healthy.

  11. Jenifer Funk

    Jan 22, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    I teach canine massage to dog owners and people who want to be Certified Canine Massage Therapists. This is a great introductory routine for people to connect with their pets. I do treat canine massage the same way I do human massage therapy because it is much the same with indications, contraindications, and techniques so generally stay away from terms like “rubdown” but I thoroughly enjoyed your article. 😀 Cheers, Jenifer Funk, BME, LMT, NMT, CCMT, NCTMB, AbundantLifeMassage.com

    • Natasha

      May 16, 2014 at 11:33 am

      How I wish you were based in Johannesburg, South Africa! I would love to do your canine massage course!

  12. Sandra

    Jan 20, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    I massage my boy every night when we get in bed. I massage him until he starts snoring! He usually sleeps until I wake him up!

  13. Denise

    Jan 20, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    I have a chocolate lab with alzheimers and I have found some melatonin and doggie massage helps relief some of the symptoms of anxiety and “sundowners” evenings…I say massage and she lies down on her side now. Great Article!

  14. Rob

    Oct 15, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Still nothing beats a good belly scratch or rub.

  15. sandy sheldon

    Feb 5, 2013 at 11:58 am

    I used to massage my friends’ pitbull outside on the concrete patio, warm from the sun. That big boy would relax and just melt on the warm surface. Looked like a french puddle. (ouch!)

    • Vicki

      Mar 11, 2014 at 10:05 am

      hee hee berry punny

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