How To Give A Dog Massage Using The Effleurage Stroke
Step 4 of 8 in the Dogly Joint Support Channel
with RannaLynn of HippieHoundz, Wellness Advocate

Learn how you can share the benefits of canine massage with your dog as I walk you through how to do the effleurage stroke and why it's relaxing and healthful for your dog.

Using effleurage, you can open up your dog's muscles and energy flow - extremely beneficial for old, arthritic, young, or athletic dogs, to get well or stay well!

The benefits of effleurage in dog massage

Effleurage is an open-handed therapeutic massage and is much like Swedish massage that we're used to as humans: totally non-invasive -- a gentle massage without applying too much pressure.

Dog massage is so simple, yet can have a profound impact on your dog's health and longevity. Massaging your dog with the effleurage stroke helps reduce stress, reduce pain, alleviate sore muscles and muscle tension. Massage helps increase circulation while it strengthens the immune system and improves body functions. It also supports your dog's entire body for overall wellness, and just as important, helps build a happily centered and relaxed demeanor.

Added bonus: it's a wonderful bonding time for both you and your dog whenever you settle in for your regular massage session!

How-to: Effleurage canine massage


Let's get started with effleurage and your dog (the first of 3 canine massage techniques in this series). You can watch my demonstration of effleurage with my dog Daisy in the video below as you follow along with your dog.

Step 1: Getting your dog's body & mind (& yours) grounded

To start, find a quiet area to get comfortable and get grounded with your dog. If you have an essential oil or flower essence you know your dog likes, rub a couple drops between your hands, inhale, and set your intention for the practice. (You can see my safe essential oils guides here & here + my recommendations.) Sit for a moment with your hands resting on your dog and feel your connection.

If your dog doesn't settle immediately, especially if your dog is new to massage, don't get discouraged. For many dogs, it can take a minute to settle in, but gets easy after your first massage session or two. Just breathe deeply and slowly work into gently massaging your dog to create calm energy between the two of you.

Most dogs can't wait to get into it (just like humans) once they recognize the signals that it's massage time!


Step 2: Massaging with effleurage strokes - petting with purpose

The effleurage stroke is one of the most fundamental and versatile of canine massage techniques. I usually begin and end massage sessions with effleurage, even when using other deeper pressure techniques (like a deep tissue massage) in the middle of a massage, because it's light and relaxing. Perfect for warming up and then cooling down as you finish the massage.

An open-handed, long, flowing massage stroke

Effleurage is an open-handed, light, and flowing stroke. Begin with long, smooth strokes, hand over hand from the top of your dog's head to the tip of the tail. It's been said it's almost like gentle petting but with purpose.

As you repeat it over and over with a gentle rhythm, you should begin to see your dog relax and almost melt into you. (If you're looking at the video, you can see Daisy closing her eyes, obviously feeling good, and relaxing into it.)

Then I always like to continue massaging with the stroke from the withers (the area above your dog's shoulders and below your dog's neck) down to the rump and back legs, still long and fluid, hand over hand. You can gently roll your dog to the other side to repeat.

Now you can turn your dog tummy-side-up to stroke down your dog's chest and front legs. Apply gentle pressure on the rib cage and you can feel in between each rib as you stroke.

Continue massaging the inner side of your dog's front legs and back legs for a relaxing full body massage. Remember to stroke inside the length of your dog's ear flap, for an ear rub both right and left, since they're such a rich nerve reflexology point.

Outside - relaxing massage; inside - serious health benefits

It may feel that you're just giving your dog a gentle, relaxing massage with the effleurage stroke, which you are, of course. But inside, with your gentle motions, you're stimulating your dog's entire body in powerful ways that help keep your dog well for the long-term.

You're increasing your dog's circulation, balancing blood pressure and carrying oxygen and nutrients to support your dog's organs, joints, and muscle tissue. At the same time, you're stimulating the lymph system to eliminate toxins and strengthen the immune system.

When regular massage becomes part of a routine you and your dog look forward to each day or a frequency that works for you, you're also helping to head off health issues in your pet's body that might come up like pain from muscle spasms, joint weakness, or hip dysplasia. At the same time, you're reducing potential emotional health problems like stress and engendering more calm in your dog.


Step 3: Closing & sealing in your practice

Your massage sessions don't have to be long to begin reaping the benefits; you can start to perform massage with shorter sessions and increase every day. Once your dog gets into it though, you might get some persuasive body language to keep them going endlessly!

When you're ready to close, your effleurage stroke is the perfect technique to finish your session. Just go back to your long, sweeping strokes over your dog's entire body to gently give your dog a sense of completion as you close.

Then with both hands resting on your dog, thank your dog for being with you in this practice and feel your shared energy sealing all the good work you did together.

Discover the art of dog massage and learn the calming and healthful effleurage stroke in this video.

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Next up in the Joint Support Channel on Dogly

Now that you know how to give a dog massage using the effleurage stroke, continue to the next step-by-step guide to learn how to massage your dog using the kneading stroke.

Or hop over to the Joint Support Channel if you'd like to ask a question in the Community discussion and start any of the other step-by-step guides.

If you ever need more personalized wellness guidance, please reach out!

RannaLynn of HippieHoundz

Wellness Advocate
Dogly loves RannaLynn because she helps us keep our dogs well, connecting us with them on a deeper level in the process.

RannaLynn guides you

Traditional Chinese Medicine - Energy Healing - Massage - Anxiety - Meditation - Reiki

RannaLynn is certified

Certified Canine Massage Practitioner - Certified Animal Naturopath - Healing Touch For Animals Practitioner - Animal Kinesiologist - Usui Animal Reiki Master - And Member of the Veterinary Medical Association of Aromatherapy