Though we say “It’s a dog’s life” to describe lazy activities, all that chasing, digging and running around can take a toll on your poor pooch’s muscles! Your child can help your family pet take a breather, and help herself relax, too, with this soothing activity.
First, your child should make sure that she and her pet dog are in comfortable positions in a quiet area. The dog should be on a soft but firm surface like a dog bed or couch.
She can start by petting spots that she knows her dog enjoys being petted on. Then she can try some massage techniques that start at a dog’s head and work her way down the whole body to the tail. For starters, she can do long gentle strokes with one hand while the other hand rests softly on the dog. She can also alternate hands, always keeping the free hand resting softly on another part of the dog’s body. Make sure she uses very slow, gentle movements.
Small, circular strokes also feel good for the dog. Remind her to not use too much pressure and avoid pressure on the dog’s stomach or any sensitive areas. She should use gentle movements and lighten up or stop if the dog seems unhappy. As always, she should avoid pulling a dog’s ears, tail, or whiskers.
You and your child will recognize signs that show that your dog is enjoying the massage. For example the dog sighs, stretches out, or wags its tail, you know he’s loving it!
She’ll probably want to keep the first session short to get the dog used to the massage. Next time, she can increase the amount of massage time to five minutes or more. Have a water dish nearby for your dog to enjoy after the massage.
Like humans, dogs enjoy a host of benefits from massages, such as increased general health, flexibility, circulation, and feelings of calmness. She’ll probably feel pretty calm and relaxed herself after the quiet cuddling session!
Beth Levin has an M.A. in Curriculum and Education from Columbia University Teachers College. She has written educational activities for Macmillan/McGraw-Hill and Renaissance Learning publishers. She has a substitute teaching credential for grades K-12 in Oregon, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.