Aussie Article and Thoughts on Canine Massage

by Maria K. Duthie c.e.f.m.p.

What is it that makes our four legged friends jump, run, sit, and lay down?  It is their nearly 600 hundred muscles which.  Every joint has a pair of muscles, which work to bend and straiten the limb.  Imagine how it must feel to have one of those muscles not wanting to work yet still having to go on with a normal dog day.  Still jumping when the gluteals are pulled, still running when the deltoid is in spasm.  Dogs will work for you because they love to please.  All of another or us at one time have needed to rub their arm or leg, dogs need to also but they do not have hands to do so.

The art of massage has been in existence for centuries.  Hundreds of years ago people would use massage to help their animals remain healthy.  That practice has recently come into fashion again.  Whether it is for an older dog with arthritis pain or a younger dog in training massage can be a very valuable tool.  It promotes health and wellness in our animal friends by:

  • Increasing circulation

  • Relieving pain and stiffness

  • Increases range of motion

  • Reduces mental and physical fatigue

  • Helps removal of metabolic wastes

  • Releases muscles and chronic tension 

      Massage is very valuable for rescued animals that have not had the opportunity to bond with people in the early stages of life.  It is positive touch, which allows them to relax and begin to trust.  This emotional level is a very important aspect of massage that can sometimes be left out.  Buddy, an eight-year-old Australian Sheppard mix was rescued from a shelter and was never very affectionate.  He began coming for massage as a result of a tendon injury.  His owner was very happy to find that not only did his leg improve but his attitude did as well.  He used to suffer from separation anxiety and often would rather lie under the bed rather then be petted by his owner.  Following his massages he began to want to be petted and generally became more confident.  He was a much happier dog, and his owner felt a connection with him that had not been there before. 

Often animals hide their medical problems from their owners.  This was the case with Rusty, a nine-year-old Australian Shepard.  He showed no signs of pain at all.  Approximately one year before he began massage he had stopped jumping on the bed and had stopped lifting his leg when he urinated.  Within three massages he was doing all of that and more.  He began playing with other dogs and generally became less aggressive.  It became apparent that he had some hip pain as well as a pulled slenius muscle.  This had to be painful but he learned to adapt his behavior to compensate for it.  Long-term compensation can lead to decreased muscle tone.  It can also place unnecessary stress on other muscle groups.  Extra stress can lead to possible soft tissue injury.

 It is our job as owners to watch our animals carefully.  Pay attention to how your dog walks.  If he or she twists or crosses their feet there could be extra strain placed on muscles.  Even more important is to notice a change in this pattern.  As a massage practitioner I want to know how the dog prefers to lay and on what side.  Every detail of the animalís natural movement is relevant.  Half the battle is observation.

In my practice I use a combination of Swedish and sports massage techniques as well as acupressure, reiki, and cranio sacral.  I find this combination to be a powerful method.  Every dog is different and is in need of varied practices.

For further information on massage or help with what we have already covered please visit


(Back to top)