When working with dogs that is a HUGE word. You’re performing physical therapy, not petting. The dog may not have been touched in a professional way before. Petted certainly, but intentional touch. Possibly not.
You can’t force them to enjoy massage. You can’t force trust. It will happen. It’s not about pampering. Massage will affect all parts of their body. Muscles, nervous system, lymphatic system, joints – everything. That is bound to feel odd at first for a dog. Plus, your dog might be sore, tense, anxious or uncomfortable. And here is someone touching them. If you’ve had a massage session yourself, you’ll know how important it is to feel safe and have trust in your therapist.
By working with the dog, letting them know this is not coddling but beneficial touch, that trust is built up. And they let you in – physically and emotionally.
When we were working with Alfie and Flint recently, both leaned in for a head to head touch. And later while Chris was working with Alfie, Flint decided he would sit in his lap while I was working with him. Trusting. Special. #bestjobintheworld