When you think of canine massage, you probably picture a dog laying on a table wearing a robe and getting his ears scratched. Or, maybe you think it’s a glorified petting session and just another way cute way to pamper your dog. You may be surprised to know that canine massage is actually a therapeutic practice that can be used to treat all sorts of issues, from stress to arthritis and injuries.
I had no idea what to expect when Hunter got invited to try out a canine massage session courtesy of Diane Pekarek, Certified Canine Massage Therapist and owner of Modern Dog Massage. Diane recently began a partnership with Holistic Lakewood, a human massage studio, to offer canine massage clinics periodically throughout the year.
I figured canine massage would be similar to a human massage and that Hunter would eat it up since he loves to be pet and get attention. In reality, the massage was very different than what you’d expect based on how a human massage goes. Which makes sense, since dogs are very different than humans.
First, there is no table for a dog to lay on. Which is good, since if you think about it, a dog would not be most comfortable laying on a table. As Diane explained, canine massage is all about making the dog feel comfortable, which can mean letting them wander around and get comfortable with their surroundings and the masseuse (as was the case with Hunter), before doing any massage. Since a dog has no idea why they are there, they can’t be forced into receiving a massage, they need to get comfortable with the situation first.
Hunter was definitely a little apprehensive. Unfortunately, I had taken him to the vet right before the visit, so he probably was still in a vet frame of mind when we arrived. Diane was very patient, explaining that many dogs are nervous on their first visit since they really don’t understand what is going on. Diane gently focused on certain areas, noting parts of his body where he was tight, and even mentioning some atrophy he has in his leg from a previous surgery he had. She is very knowledgeable about dogs and their anatomy and I could tell that she was focused on evaluating Hunter to see what his needs were and how best to make this a pleasant experience for him.
She said it can take a few sessions for the dog to get comfortable and understand what is going on, but most dogs adapt to the practice fairly quickly. Hunter spent most of the massage looking at me, which I thought was so sweet. I could tell he was nervous and wanted my assurance that this was ok.
The whole practice of massage was very eye opening to me. We talk so much about the stress relief our dogs provide to us, but do we ever think about all the stress they are taking on living in our world? A typical dog can deal with so much stress on a daily basis – from the anxiety of being left at home all day to the stress of visiting a dog park or accompanying us on our human activities – and it can take a toll on them in many different ways. I love the idea of doing something for my dog to help relieve some of the stress he may be carrying, but is not able to communicate to me.
Canine massage has many physical and emotional benefits, including relieving muscle and joint pain, improving circulation and immune functions, releasing endorphins as well as decreasing stress and deepening the human-canine bond. Although all dogs can benefit from canine massage, it is especially helpful for senior dogs or dogs with recent injuries. Diane encourages pet parents to watch the session and she provides simple massage techniques you can use at home. Each canine massage session lasts 30 minutes and is $40.
To reserve a canine massage session, call Holistic Lakewood at (216) 904-2524. They only schedule canine massages when there are no human massages scheduled, since not everyone may want to be greeted by a dog when going for a massage (crazy I know!)
You can find out more information on massage and Holistic Lakewood here: https://holisticlakewood.com/services/Canine-Massage-Clinic/
You can find out more about Diane here as well: https://www.moderndogmassage.com/ She also offers in-home massage sessions for dogs that don’t travel well and schedules appointments at her studio in Medina too.