Some people suggest that massage is only beneficial for senior dogs or canine athletes. The workshops Cathie and I designed recently, focussed on ways that manual therapy, exercises and knowledge can help influence the way that development progresses – from puppyhood to senior years. Of course, physical therapy is especially good for our silver faced chums with all sorts of benefits. But youngsters have a high level of activity – often wiggling and waggling carefree all over the place.
Moss was a perfect example of this. He is a 5 month old Vizsla/Collie cross with that infectious lust for life puppies have. He’s not worried about warming up, running too far, tripping up, straining muscles – he just wants to see what new and exciting thing is around that corner and if it’s even better than the thing he is currently playing with.
But this carefree attitude can lead to mobility niggles. In Moss’s case, he was developing a stiff back leg at the end of his walks. Although the walks are kept appropriate puppy length, he does love to play chase in the garden with his older, but still young, sister. At the vet consult before the therapy session, it was found that he was reluctant to fully extend either stifle.
His Mum had heard of us through Debbie Peters of Schooling 4 Dogs and asked if I could go over to check things out.
Of course, Moss is a wriggler. He’s a puppy. But we found that there were two ways to keep him still (-ish). One was to allow him to totally wash my face, ears, beard and neck – that way meant that I could work with his hind legs – mind you I could not see a thing. The other was to give him something to chew – preferably not my massage mat. That way I could work all over.
Between those two distractions, we managed to discover he did, indeed, have very tight thigh muscles – particularly those of the left. It’s likely he simply ‘pulled’ something which had gone undiscovered and unnoticed in general puppy wriggling and enthusiasm.
In the next hour, in between puppy tongue washes and treat nibbling, Moss received a good massage and his Mum and Dad received education on what is going on under that seething mass of puppy. They learned how to feel him – not pet him and to understand how a normal muscle should feel and what Moss’s tight muscles felt like.
You don’t need to wait before adding physical therapy into your dog’s growing-up. Armed with their recent knowledge of a massage routine, exercises and our warm-up/cool-down, his Mum and Dad are well equipped to help Moss’s current issues but also to continue that maintenance through his next stages of life.
Keep enjoying life Moss.