Frequently Asked Questions
What should I expect in the first session?
During the initial session, which can be slightly longer than an hour, we will cover a full medical and behaviour history, a gait observation, palpation, trust building and initial massage.
It is important to understand that I am a stranger, the kind of touch is different to what your dog normally experiences either from you or from your Vet, and the room may be strange to them so some dogs may not settle in their first session. Time may be needed to build up trust. Don't be surprised if it takes your dog a little while in that first session to truly relax. There are dogs who literally fall asleep straight away, but equally there is the opposite. (read about Bailey in Client Stories)
Many things influence how a dog responds, and it varies from dog to dog.
If my dog doesn't settle easily will he/her still benefit? Some dogs will settle immediately while for others the trust building that takes place in that first session is vital to pave the way for the constructive work that will follow in subsequent sessions. To date, I have never come across a dog I couldn't massage or who didn't benefit from it.
Do I stay with my dog during the session?
More often than not your dog will be more comfortable with you present. You have a strong bond with your dog and they will look to you for support so you do stay with them during the session.
There are floor cushions for humans for that very reason!
Should I feed my dog before their massage?
As massage therapy stimulates the digestion please do not feed your dog immediately before their massage.
Ideally also try not to schedule a session at a time when it is normally their mealtime. Your dog will find it difficult to settle if they are expecting their food. If it can't be helped and their session is scheduled for mealtime then you could feed them a light meal an hour or so before their appointment, and then feed them the rest later.
Can I exercise my dog before massage?
Assuming that your dog is able to be exercised please go ahead as normal. Your dog is more likely to settle if their normal routine has not been changed too much.
How many sessions will they need?
As with their initial response to massage this varies from dog to dog, and also depends on the reason they are receiving massage therapy. I have a number of ageing and / or arthritic clients who I see regularly on an ongoing basis. The same is true for those coming for maintenance reasons.
Those coming for recovery reasons will likely not need long term help, unless you desire it for maintenance. Just like us, in one massage we feel a bit better but it can take a few sessions before our knots are fully released, and bear in mind we don't have to go through the same trust building exercise as our dogs do.
If your dog has very tight muscles, then these will be uncomfortable to touch so it is important to go slowly.
I will also show you some techniques that you can do at home in between sessions so over time coming to see me following the immediate need can be more of a "tune up". I have had some clients who have noticed such a change in their dogs' attitude that they have only needed a few sessions. For other dogs it isn't until the 2nd or 3rd session that they really get it and understand they don't have anything to fear, and they begin to really enjoy it.
We would discuss the plan together, your goals for massage, how much you would like to do or are able to do at home in between sessions. We will re-assess as we go and you begin to see the benefits in your dog.
Should I come to the clinic or will they be better at home?
The clinic spaces are designed to have minimal distractions. The idea being "nothing to see or smell here, so carry on and settle". In their own homes, they are often on high alert - let's not forget many dogs see it as their responsibility to protect the home from scary things like the postman. This can make it difficult for them to settle in to their massage.
Some dogs are old and frail and physically challenged to come to a clinic, others look at the car journey and change of scene favourably and enjoy the outing.
Will they enjoy it?
Have you ever had a massage? It feels great! Your dog will likely feel the same depending on how comfortable they are with new people and being touched. If not straight away (especially if they are carrying a lot of tension and feel sensitive) then over time your dog will relax into it and enjoy their sessions.
Is massage therapy covered by insurance?
Some insurance company's will cover massage therapy for some conditions so please check first with your insurer if you need them to cover your sessions.