Carol Manley knows dogs–specifically, agility dogs. And when her own competitive Bernese Mountain dog blew not one but two of its ACL’s, Carol, then solely a dog trainer, began training herself as a certified canine sports massage therapist.
Manley spoke to Vet Tech and Massage Therapy students last night at the St. Cloud campus. Staff and members of the public also attended. Accompanying Manley was Logan, a Bearded Collie and agility dog–and very willing patient as Manley demonstrated massage techniques.
Manley said that the trick to massage with a pet–or sports dog–is to begin slowly with relaxation techniques. “It’s important for them to figure out that human touch is a good thing.” Deeper tissue massage sometimes takes time with a dog, and the therapist needs to read the dog’s “tells:” pulling away, the whites of the eyes, or teeth.
“They don’t speak English,” she reminded the audience. “They speak dog.”
Benefits of massage for your dog are numerous, she instructed. They include releasing muscle tension, increasing circulation and extending range of motion. Massage also can become an integral part of a injured dog’s rehabilitation.
Audience members stayed on to ask questions about dog nutrition and massage techniques they can learn to do at home. Logan sighed as the massage concluded and looked as if he would sleep well on the trip back to Brainerd.