September’s Delight: Canine Massage Chicago

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Rover-Time finds the work done at Canine Massage Chicago delightful! The school was created by Denise Theobald, a licensed massage therapist. Denise wants to educate the public that the same benefits touch has on humans can be seen in canines. Denise kindly answered a few questions for us and we’re excited to share what we learned!

Q. You are a certified massage therapist. What made you decide to move away from human massage and start Canine Massage Chicago (CMC)?
A. I have been a certified and licensed human therapist for 25 years. About 15 years ago while watching my 3 dogs play very hard in the yard I realized that they really needed this work as much as the elite athletes I was working with. I also always wanted to work with dogs so it seemed natural. I had a very successful human practice which I gave up about 2 years ago however I still have a handful of clients that I still see if they can work around my schedule. I have been working with dogs ever since and since there wasn’t much training for this work I opened The School of Canine Massage which has a far more comprehensive curriculum compared to any program in the world.

Tank had neck surgery for Wobblers. He's receiving weekly massages to aid his progress during recovery.

Tank had neck surgery for Wobblers. He’s receiving weekly massages to aid his progress during recovery.

Q. Can you tell us a bit about the range of services CMC offers?
A. We offer therapeutic massage sessions for all dogs. Including dogs that don’t like people and don’t want to be touched. We also offer pet parent classes in canine massage, kids touch and massage for dogs and puppy touch socialization. We also offer some basic training classes along with some shy dog classes. We believe that a confident dog with a strong skill set is a less anxious dog.

Q. When I think of massage, I think of a calming experience.  What ways can massage be used to benefit dogs who have anxiety or fear?
A. Massage and touch desensitization is a huge tool for calming down a dog and getting a dog comfortable with various forms of touch. Massage triggers the parasympathetic nervous system thus allowing balance in the body and a venue for the dog to cope better and recover from stress and illness. We use various touch desensitization techniques along with counter conditioning to make interaction and touch from humans a positive experience that they can generalize also reducing their anxiety. Teaching a pet parent massage techniques also help with overall relaxation and the animal companion bond.

Q. Humans also use massage in physical therapy. Can it be used the same for dogs that are being treated for medical ailments?
A. Massage is the missing link and needed for physical recover of most orthopedic and soft tissue injury and disease. Massage is used to reduce trigger points, muscle and facial restriction and soreness. It is used to improve joint function and getting the tissue healthy enough so that it can be moved, stretched and strengthened. We see a lot of dogs with advanced arthritis and joint pain. The body responds by constricting tissue around a joint thus causing a pain cycle pain syndrome. We can help alleviate that cycle and stave off the effects of degenerative processes.

Pairing touch with cheese.

Pairing touch with cheese.

Q. You also offer classes for pet owners. Why might it be useful for a pet owner to take a class?
A. It is very important that at the very least we teach a pet parent one on one a few techniques to do at home between sessions. Also basic behavior as many pet parents don’t realize that how they handle and interact with their dog is the cause of the dogs stress, anxiety etc. This is huge wake up call for most parents.  Helping the pet parent understand and read their dog is the first step and is crucial. Doing simple ongoing techniques to help alleviate soreness, help joint movement and providing positive touch is very helpful between professional sessions and is key.

Q. What partnerships are you most proud to have cultivated through CMC?
A. We are very involved in the rescue community however we have students from the career training program work on dogs at various shelters. I am most proud of the relationship and partnership with Safe Humane. Not only is the organization always willing to provide us with the tools that we need to arrange the working session, I have yet to see a group of staff and volunteers so dedicated and committed to the animals and community they serve. From the fundraising, enrichment training to the Illinois Youth Center trainings. They work hard and selflessly. (Rover-Time also featured SHC, by the way. Give it a read!)

We also are proud to offer free massage and training for foster parents through various rescue organizations including the Animal Care League and the Lucida Puppy Fund.

We also offer staff and volunteer trainings for free for those organizations wanting to learn more about enrichment through massage and systematic desensitization for their rescue dogs.

A very grateful thank you to Andrea Juracek for creating this wonderful connection for Rover-Time.

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