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DOs & DON’Ts

The ambiance in which you work will directly influence the efficiency of your massage sessions, your stretching exercises or your hydrotherapy applications. Here are some guidelines for both you and your dog to observe in order to ensure maximum safety and efficiency during the application of your daily home health care program.


  • Do check with your veterinarian if you suspect your dog is not feeling well. Ensure there are no contra‑indications prevailing (see article on contraindications).
  • Do maintain a soothing atmosphere: not too much traffic, not too many noises. Eventually you may play peaceful, quiet music.
  • Do keep other pets away.
  • Do work indoors.
  • Do use a massage table cushioned with a blanket or large pillow. Keep the area around the table free of obstacles.
  • Do allow the dog complete freedom of head movement since this allows for better relaxation and for more feed-back signals to you.
  • Do wait after strenuous exercise.
  • Do wait two hours after eating.
  • Do check your dog and remove burrs, mud, etc. before you begin a massage.
  • Do always start massaging with a very light pressure and progress to deeper work.
  • Do keep your fingernails short and avoid wearing jewelry and heavy perfume.
  • Do keep talking to the animal throughout the massage session.
  • Do always pay attention to the feedback signs (eyes, ears, tail, breathing, noise and changes in posture).
  • Do keep records of your observations and the types of massage you give.
  • Do establish a massage and exercise schedule for the following weeks or until recovery if the dog is injured.
  • Do wear loose fitting clothing to give yourself freedom of movement.


  • Don't disregard the physiological signs of contra‑indications.
  • Don't allow loud music, commotion, and smoking.
  • Don't allow other pets to wander around. Prevent such an intrusion before starting the massage session.
  • Don't work in a narrow space.
  • Don't work on a dirty dog - one with mud or burrs on h is body.
  • Don't work hastily, too quickly or too forcefully.
  • Don't have long fingernails or wear jewelry.
  • Don't stop verbal feed‑back to the dog; he/she needs praise and reassurance.
  • Don't talk loudly or shout.
  • Don't talk to somebody else while working. You will lose your concentration and this will affect the quality of your work. The dog will definitely feel the difference.
  • Don't use heavy pressure at the start.
  • Don't ignore feedback signs from the dog (eyes, ears, tail, breathing, noise).
  • Don't work right after heavy exercise or eating.
  • Don't be angry or in a bad mood when working on a dog.
  • Don't think negatively.

Knowing how to safely approach your animal for massage, stretching or hydrotherapy is part of the secret to a successful home health care program. The extensive video library from Animal Awareness will teach you all the different steps to best cater to your animal. Your patience, perseverance, good humor, kindness, knowledge and skills will reduce the psychological and physical barrier between your dog and you, leading to better communication with your animal.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found the information useful.  My goal is help you provide quality home care for the benefit of your animal. 

Please visit our FREE library. Our many articles address important aspects of animal wellness and fitness. Take the time to scroll through our free library to find out how you can actively contribute to your dog’s wellness.

Animal Awareness also offers a large video library with over a 100 mini-videos that will show you how to easily perform the various massage and stretching techniques talked about in this article. These videos offer you the correct start and visual guidance. With this knowledge, you will be able to develop a good home care program for the benefit of your animal friend.  He will love you for it.

Enjoy your new Awareness!

Jean-Pierre Hourdebaigt, LMT

If you are just starting with your home care program, consider our “Introduction to Animal Massage” package,a 20% discount value on the first 7 DVDs, to secure a sound foundation in your animal massage skills. Take advantage of our other packages to further develop your expertise in animal home-care for the benefit of your dog(s).