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Tips & Tricks with Sylvia Wes: Basic Handling & "Puppy Massage"

Updated: Feb 17, 2021

Credits: Luisiana Lin, James Daniel⁣⁣⁣⁣, Sylvia Wes


Sitting around watching a show or did you just end a training lesson with your dog? End your day with a good Puppy Massage!

A massage is meant to desensitize your dog (any age!) for basic handling like grooming, vets etc… Try doing this at least once a day like when you’re watching TV or right before bed.

You’ll need a high value SAFE bone for your dog like a Nylabone to chew on while you start the massage.

Take your pup into your lap or sit on the floor with them. Take the bone and gently place it in their mouth, but do not let go on your end. Every once in a while take it out and put it behind your back then bring it back to them, still holding on to the stick. This shows him that your hands and his favorite bone are in the same thing and they will return to him or her, so all is O.K.

Food sharing helps your dog generalize their high value food reward in the same picture and that it’s not a bad thing to see your hand around food. This cuts down any resource guarding. So that high value rewards + your hand = good news!

Eyes: With a flat palm rub around your dog's eyes. If you can, tap their face lightly. This helps with potential gunk that you’ll have to clean.

Ears: Massage from the base to out of their ears and stick a finger inside of the ear gently rubbing in circular motion (T Touch) can release calming hormones to settle them down in stressful situations.

Sort of like acupressure for dogs!

Mouth: Rub your dog;s top lip and lift up and say “WOW NICE TEETH!” or “YAY!” Take a finger around his gum line to prepare sensitivity for teeth brushing at home and teeth cleanings.

Legs: Rub their legs all the way down to paw, then squeeze paw and tap each toe pad and tap each toe nail. This helps stimulate nail clippings. Take a finger and stick inside toe pads, prime locations for foxtails.

Tail: Swipe out tail and give it a soft tug then squeeze back of their thighs. This prepares the way they’ll be handled at the vet.

Give yourself a pat on the back! You’ve now been creating non-traumatic incidents for everyday occurrences for your best friend! :)

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