Since I began formally massaging canine’s I’ve found that using the traditional massage sequence I was taught is not always the most effective course of action. Sometimes, you have to just go with what works, what the dog tells you and accomplish what you can in the short time they will give you their attention.
When I meet a dog for the first time they often “tell” or show me what is most active for them. I can tell by their body posture, attitude and behavior where their issues are most active. It’s also incredibly difficult to get certain breeds to sit still and concentrate long enough to go through a complete massage sequence.
So, I start with what they show me first.
In this picture is our GSD Vixen, who is a dominant and social working dog. She has quite the personality and will tell you exactly what she wants, when she wants it. Normally her deltoids are what need the most work but, in this session, after briefly working her neck and deltoids she immediately showed me her belly to have her pectorals worked on.
As a massage therapist it’s important to listen. She didn’t need much work but she needed a bit to assist with the stretching of her forelimbs. This posture is what some behavior books will call “Crazy legs” with the dog totally on their back and their paw extended in the air; it’s a sign they are secure and happy. But, I believe, when this appears in the massage that the animal is also stretching their muscle with you and releasing their trapped energy as they change emotional states.
What’s the take away? If you are a massage therapist listen to your animal. If you are an owner, watch carefully what happens in your massage session and how your dog responds. I guarantee you see similar issues over and over again as the emotional issues of their home life and behavior show up in their body.