Today’s fast paced and always connected world can be stressful. It can all take its toll, not only on your mental health, but also on your physical wellness. Many of us turn to a trusted method of relief in the age old healing method of massage. We often forget that the world can also be stressful for our furry companions. They suffer from some of the same issues we do from mental anxieties to physical issues. They have less understanding and control over their everyday environments and have often been rescued from very challenging and traumatic situations. So, it makes sense that massage could be very beneficial not only for us, but for our favorite furry friends.
1) How did you decide to get involved in dog massage?
After deciding to leave my corporate job, I wanted to find something that I really loved, made me happy and fulfilled my purpose in life. I have always loved dogs and so I adopted my first dog and fell in love with Rocco immediately, he is like my son and after some time all I wanted was for him to live his best life. I thought about getting him a massage to make him feel happier and relaxed, just the way I feel after one massage. After researching and finding out that dog massage was almost non-existent in my area, I decided to make this my career and become certified. It was destiny, because through this I would not only help my own dog live and feel better, but also all dogs in need. It was through all this that I discovered all the amazing and real benefits of dog massage, and it became my whole purpose in life to make dogs lives healthier and happier.
2) How does massage for dogs compare to human massage?
Dog massage and human massage have a lot of similarities in the sense that the purpose in both is to rub muscles and joints of the body to relieve tension or pain using pressure points and different techniques. A big difference besides the different anatomy is that dogs will not usually just lie down or turn as needed to perform the massage and do not understand why and how the massage can benefit them until they feel the effect afterwards. Giving a massage to a dog can be challenging, stressful, and difficult, but I have found through experience that after the first massage, they will usually even gravitate towards it because they feel the effect and how good it makes them feel at the end. I also had to study dog behavior and I work on relaxing myself, especially before a session, to internally project calmness and good energy. Also, every dog is different, some dogs know they need it from the first session, so they will lie down and feel so relaxed that they will snooze. Others will take a couple of sessions to get used to the activity or become comfortable with me as the provider, and others are unfortunately not suitable for massage.
3) What kinds of dogs would benefit from getting massage?
I would say any dog of any age would benefit from a massage, but especially dogs in their senior stage suffering from arthritis, stiffness, and muscle atrophy. Dogs with injuries, recovering from surgeries/injuries and also dogs with anxiety/nervous or fearful issues are also a good fit.
4) What are the challenges you have faced when trying to give a dog a massage?
In over 5 years I have been lucky to have successfully massaged most of my clients, but there have been some rare challenges such as dogs:
-not sitting still or running around
-being too energetic to be able to perform the massage
-acting aggressively and wanting to bite me during the massage
5) How do most dogs react when you give them massage?
Most dogs do very well during a massage, they relax, lay down and even are very communicative with their needs. Some sleep during the massage which is the highest compliment I can get. Some will take a couple of minutes or sessions to get comfortable enough to get to this point, but are very cooperative. The dogs let me know with different cues where they need more work and where they need lower or higher pressure.
6) Do you have a success story you could share of a dog’s life improving because of your massage?
I am so thankful that I have had multiple dog parents who have given me positive feedback on the effect the massage has given their dog. One specific and very successful story is an 11 year old Bernese Mountain dog who has been receiving dog massage therapy from me amongst other therapies due to his age, arthritis and muscle atrophy for some years. There was a period where it was very difficult for him to walk, but mostly stand up. After a few consistent and weekly therapies, he was able to get his strength and muscle movement back and stand up as before. Carter is still working through this, but it has made a difference in his mobility. His mom lets me know how comfortable and more mobile he is after his massage treatments and that means the world to me that my work is making a difference in a dog’s life.
7) What makes your service a bit different from others offering dog massage?
One of the unique features of my services is that I give the massages where dogs feel most at ease, in the comfort of their homes. This way dogs don’t get nervous or anxious in a new place that they are not familiar with. They can lay on their favorite place and be at ease with the company of their trusted owner.
8) Can you tell us a bit about the certification for dog massage?
Dog massage certification is a lot like human massage certification. You need to study, go to school and get certified and that’s what I did.
9) What do you enjoy most about giving massages to dogs?
There are so many things I enjoy about the work I do. I absolutely enjoy every minute of every massage I do for every dog. I believe it is my calling and have made my life’s purpose to make dog’s lives happier and more comfortable. Even though this career does not make me rich in money, it makes me rich in love for every dog. I enjoy interacting with them. Touching them calms them down but also has a magical effect on me, but more than anything I enjoy all the things they teach me like unconditional love and living in the moment. Really, what I enjoy most about it is the rewarding feeling that the dog feels better physically and that it is making a difference in his or her well-being and that it will help them in the future.