Dog massages therapeutic for pooch and person

Giving man's best friend a good pat is human nature, but now massage therapy for dogs is taking this connection to the next level.

At a dog day care centre in Ballarat, Victoria, the National College of Traditional Medicine is conducting training clinics for people interested in giving dogs the professional treatment.

Participants are taught how to assess a dog for tight muscles, adhesions or injuries, before identifying what type of massage is most suitable.

'Massage has a place for every species in the world'

Leslie Williamson has been a canine masseuse for around 20 years, after an accident left her and the horse she was riding injured.

"The only thing that brought us both back were really the hands of good remedial massage person," she said.

"So finding someone that would help me in a massage [and] physiotherapy for my horse was really important."

From there, Ms Williamson pursued education through the college and has been teaching others to massage dogs ever since.

"They're typical techniques that we're using in the human world as well but they're adapting to the dogs," she said.

"Whether it's post-operative, whether it's for relaxation [or] sports massage to keep them going throughout their sports career, it's no different for dogs."

But the practice is more than just a good pat, with Ms Williamson only conducting the therapy on dogs if a vet has given the all-clear.

"We have effleurage, compressions, kneading, cross-fibre racking, skin rolling, palm pushes, spasm release, trigger point — it sort of goes on," she said.

Relaxation flows both ways

Claire is one of an 11-person group in Ballarat undertaking the college's dog massage lessons.

"It's good for lots of things; improving their circulation, improving their lymphatic flow and all kinds of different benefits other than just relaxation," she said.

"I've definitely always enjoyed the natural side of things that don't involve drugs.

"It's actually really relaxing to do it as well and I just love working with dogs and seeing how they respond."

Ms Williamson said over the past 20 years, she had seen people embrace dog massages, even if they did not pursue the practice professionally.

"For a human, there is just nothing better than sitting down and seeing the effects with a dog; they have 'wow' factor moments," she said.

"Sometimes it's exhilarating for them, sometimes it's emotional for them, and the dog understands that.

"It's just amazing how they connect and it's like they never forget you either."