Touching Your Dog – August 9, 2010

When working on your dog it will help you both to relax if you choose a quiet warm room with no distractions, away from other people and pets.  Do not restrain your dog.  If he walks away it means he’s not comfortable with what you’re doing. 

Speak in a quiet reassuring voice.  Breathe slowly and deeply.  Start on an area where he is comfortable being touched.  Always be gentle and gradually build up to longer periods of touching time.  Stop when your dog becomes bored or resists.  You don’t want him tensing up.  It can take time to build up trust and confidence but when this is achieved, it will deepen the relationship between you and your dog. 

A good way to get started is by using a quick, light flicking motion against the direction of hair growth.  Using a relaxed, cupped hand, gently go over the body as if flicking off dust.  This touch is ideal for fidgety or touch-sensitive dogs.  After a few seconds of this, you can move on with your hands in a raking shape (the heel of your hand and fingertips in contact with your dog) and make long strokes.  Start under your dog’s tummy and work up towards his back.  Your dog should now be settled and ready for the next stage. 

With one hand lightly resting on your dog, use the flat of your other hand gently to push the skin around in a circular motion. Start off quickly, and then gradually slow your breathing and your hand movements.  As you slow down, be very aware of your breathing – concentrate on making single circles and felling the skin sliding over the top of the muscle. 

Do this randomly all over your dog’s body, and use only enough pressure to slide skin over muscle.  Gradually work towards the more sensitive areas, such as the paws, then gently spread the toes and work between the pads.  At any time you can gently slide your dog’s ears between your fingers and thumb.  The ear contains all the acupressure points of the body and by these gentle sliding actions the whole body is affected. 

As you gain more experience, experiment with different light touches.  Some dogs find fingertip contact very pleasant but others may find it uncomfortable.  Watch your dog’s face and body and be sensitive to any changes.  If your dog finds any of the touches too invasive try lightening the touch. 

When you’ve finished, gently make long strokes over your dog’s whole body to join up the areas you have been working on.

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