Show Dogs

Few lay people understand what needs to happen biomechanically in order for efficient, natural movement to be achieved and the common reasons why movement dysfunction happens. Luckily a canine massage guild therapist has a working knowledge and understanding of the dog’s muscular skeletal system which, combined with advanced soft tissue palpation skills, mean they are able to pinpoint exact areas in the dog’s musculature which may be inhibiting normal patterns of movement or causing a static postural issue.

In a nutshell all muscles should be working separately yet together at the same time. So what happens when a once sound dog shows irregular patterns of movement? A muscular problem may be due to:

– Strain
– Trigger points
– Myofascial pain
– Hypertonicity
– Shortened muscles

It’s important to note that at all point dogs will have a muscular issue or injury which may simply be down to enjoying life, playing with other dogs, slipping on flooring or as a result or a repetitive strain injury caused by something seemingly innocuous such as jumping on and off the sofa. It seems archaic to think that so many ignore how massage is the best therapy for muscular issues in their dog, yet the truth is many owners and show people have been slow to catch on that simple muscular issues are often the cause of a gait or postural irregularity which can be addressed through corrective massage techniques.

Muscular issues often manifest in a dog’s gait and posture through:

– Stiffness
– Inability to stand comfortably
– Leg shifting on the stand
– Head/neck shy
– Nervous/tense in ring
– ‘Tickly’ irritable spot in middle of back
– Lameness
– Not happy about being examined by the judge
– Lack of rear drive or fore leg reach
– Roaching
– Swayback
– Hackneying
– Lameness
– Single Tracking
– Paddling/winging
– Pacing
– Crabbing
– Throwing a leg

A Short Lesson In Muscle.

Muscles work in agonist and antagonist pairs. That means that as one muscle shortens its opposing muscle lengthens to reduce unwanted movement. Reciprocal inhibition is a neuromuscular reflex and depends on agonist and antagonist pairs being able to react and move together e.g. Hamstrings and Quadriceps. However when the muscle is injured through, for example, something innocent like playing with another dog this can result in a postural or gait issue that is a result of the adaptive hypertonicity or muscular shortening. A canine massage therapist always works on the dog’s full body to address primary areas of concern and secondary areas of overcompensation.

Canine Massage Therapy Aims To:

– Improve dynamic gait and static posture
– Give freer, effortless movement
– Rehabilitate from injury e.g. quicker recovery from lameness
– Provide a good hands on check of your dog’s muscular system
– Address areas of specific muscular dysfunction
– Break down restrictive adhesions
– Release restricted fascia
– Improve range of movement (ROM)
– Improve the dog’s acceptance and enjoyment of touch e.g. after bad ‘going over’ experiences
– Remodel scar tissue from the strain
– Allow tissue to return to its normal resting length
– Release trigger points
– Address both microtrauma and acute injuries
– Address anxiety issues due to behaviour held in the body as patterns of stored tension

Typically results are seen in 1-3 sessions. You may be advised to rest your dog for a specific time depending on the repair phase of the strain.

Find your dog’s registered, fully trained therapist here