Dog getting massaged

How to massage your dog at home

Most of us love it when we get to indulge ourselves in the luxury of a spa massage. But we all have busy schedules and money seems to have a million places it needs to go before we book an appointment. If we are lucky, a significant other might just have the right touch and volunteer to ease those tired muscles and help us relax. Just a few minutes of massage at home can help us feel so much better and bring us closer to our partner.  

All of the benefits you get out of massage your dog can experience too. Dog massage is offered as a professional service by certified dog massage therapists. But many of the benefits of a professional massage can also be shared with your dog by you, in the comfort of your own home.

Benefits of Dog Massage

  • Release of muscle tension
  • Maintaining muscle tone, range of motion, and flexibility 
  • Joint flexibility
  • Decrease atrophy of muscle tissue
  • Endorphin and cortisone release, both play a key role in relieving pain and inflammation
  • Enhance respiratory function
  • Stress reduction
  • Decrease of heart and respiratory rate
  • Immune system stimulation
  • Energy balance
  • Mental focus and concentration
  • Emotional adjustment from fear, separation anxiety, trauma, grief, or aggression

How dog massage can help fight off disease

Physical activity and movement are essential for the lymph system to function properly. The more your dog exercises, the better it is for his lymph flow. For dogs who are inactive, either because of a physical disability or lifestyle, it’s important to stimulate the lymph system with a massage. The stimulation of lymph that occurs during the massage will increase your dog’s ability to fight off infection and disease. 

Strengthening your bond

Most (but not all) dogs naturally love to be touched. Gentle human touch can be very healing and increase the bond you have with your dog.  A dog who has not been feeling its best due to injury, arthritis or growing pains can begin to what it’s like to be free from pain.  They will feel gratitude for your touch and often start coming to you to ask for more.  

How to massage your dog at home

  1. Set your intention to create a relaxing and bonding experience with your dog
  2. Soften the environment by lowering the lights, quieting the television and turning on some soothing music
  3. Find a quiet spot where your dog loves to rest.  This can be either on the floor, in your dog’s bed, or on a blanket
  4. Invite your dog to the spot and sit alongside them. Just sit together for a minute or two.
  5. Gently place your hands on your dog’s shoulder and hips
  6. Take a few deep cleansing breaths
  7. Begin to make gentle clockwise circles with the palms of your hands
  8. Reverse and go the opposite direction
  9. Place your index finger on either side of your dog’s spine. With almost no pressure, begin to make a tiny circle in a clockwise direction with your finger. Pick up your finger and move it down ¼”
  10. Work your way down your dog’s spine from his collar to the base of his tail
  11. Now go down the opposite side of his spine
  12. From here, you can make a few gentle sweeping motions along your dog’s ribcage.  Do not apply any pressure.  Just lightly sweep as if your hands were a feather
  13. Return your hands to the beginning position, palms on the shoulder and hips. Hold your hands steady for a few moments
  14. Give gratitude and silently express your thanks for allowing you to share in this energy exchange

Increasing the bond with your dog

For more tips on how to build the bond with your dog, also check out

Alexandra Bennett, CCMT, CCAP is a United States-based canine wellness specialist. She is certified in Small Animal Acupressure, Canine Therapeutic, Sports, and Senior massage. Alexandra owns Barking Princess Canine Acupressure & Massage in Salt Lake City, Utah. In addition to acupressure and massage, she offers cold laser therapy, crystal healing, tuning fork sound healing, chakra balancing, flower remedies, personalized guided meditation and distance Reiki energy healing.

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