Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Connection Touch

I was with a group a few weeks ago teaching a seminar.  I asked the group how many of them massage their dogs vs. just petting them.  Out of a group of ten I had 3 that raised their hands. 

Let's talk the importance of your touch.  When simply petting a dog, we tend to move our hands quickly over the dog.  We actually bring their blood right up the surface and usually increase their excitement.  Nothing wrong with that except it's not really touch - it's interaction.  Touch is when you calmly stroke your dog, with the soul purpose of connecting and enjoying him (and visa versa!).  The calming stroke is like his mother dog licking him - it feels great to a dog!  Slowly and calmly you stroke him down his back, his shoulders, his chest.  If he lays down and rolls over, continue to stroke his sides, his back, his feet.  No need to belly rub him. This is the connection touch (belly rubs are fun and silly and perfectly ok at another time!).  You can be quitely and sweetly telling him how much you love him, how handsome or beautfiul he/she is, etc. 

Massage is a step up in the connection touch.  You are actually using your finger tips and thumbs to massage those muscles, feel for knots and places where your pup holds his stress (yep, they do that just like people do).  Work it out slowly, look for skin twitches which mean it hurts just a bit, and work on that spot a bit (if it doesn't go away within a few days talk to your vet).  Work his legs, his feet, and I have found from my work in our canine daycare, alot of dogs LOVE to be rubbed on their eyebrows above their eyes.  I use only my thumbs on this and just do small circles.  Every dog has a favorite "rub me" place (again, NOT the belly with this!) - find it and use it to end your session with.  When you do this easy work with your dog you are teaching them how wonderful it is to feel calm and relaxed.  It's an important piece in their life.  So often I find that dogs do not get touched enough, or if they are, it's always the excited play touch.  I've had dogs come to me that resist this touch only because it's so unfamiliar to them.  If you have a dog like this, take your time, work only on a shoulder and then stop if he looks uncomfortable.  Take the time to get him hoooked on how good this feels. He might, in the beginning, only allow you to massage him for a minute, then he'll get up and move away.  That's ok - next time he'll stay longer!

Never forget the power of touch - your dogs will love you for it even more!

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