The PetMassage Assessment Stroke

The PetMassage Assessment Stroke

Assessment strokes are an important part of every canine massage. They help us, the Practitioner, and the dogs, identify where to focus to get the most out of the PetMassage session. Assessments strokes follow specific patterns and help us understand the dog’s whole body. They traverse the top line, the underside, and from nose to the toes of all four paws.

What is being assessed? 

It’s an opportunity for

  • me to assess the dog
  • the dog to assess herself
  • the dog to assess me and
  • for me to assess myself

I assess the dog.

Palpitation is with all the senses.

  • Touch. I feel for tension in the tissues, temperature variations, twitching, shifts in coat, skin, and underlying fascia, and receptivity.
  • Vision. I use both hard and soft vision when I notice the dog’s facial expression, angle of the ears, the eyes, the back crease around the mouth, is the mouth tight closed, open, yawning, overall body language, coat patterns, attitude of tail, curvature of the top line, weight shifts, balance and symmetry of weight-bearing.
  • Hearing, smelling, and tasting are also important. So important, I’ll be discussing them individually in future Helpful Hints.

The dog assesses herself.

Her reactions direct my hands. Her responses to my touch are honest and spontaneous. Usually her reactions suggest that what she feels is pleasing; sometimes, it is more informative because it’s not.

The dog assesses me.

What do I bring to the table? Do I have a preconceived agenda? Do I project apprehension, fear, worry, my own personal issues, or does she feel love, open ended support and caring? Do I present as confident? Can she trust me? Am I the leader? Or, does the dog have to take on that role?

I assess myself.

Do I feel comfortable? Am I present, available and absolutely focused? Do I feel any restrictions in my position or breathing? Do I feel balanced? Grounded? Hydrated?

We are Joined in Presence and Commitment.

This is the depth of presence and commitment during their PetMassage. Dogs react naturally and spontaneously. As, do I. This is the purest, most honest of communication.

Practical Application.

In an actual session the Assessment stroke is repeated with different pressures; or it’s combined with movements coming from angles to get a better idea of how to assist the tissues.

Video Demonstration.

In the video demonstration, Ilaria shows a variety of reactions as my hand traces over her topline.

  • First, there is a noticeable twitching at the back of the skull.
  • Then when my hand touches her over her loin, restlessness with a big heat release.
  • Touching the croup, her reaction turns to play (her default mode).
  • Play response continues as I move down the length of the tail.

I feel her twitches empathically in my body. I feel discomfort and a sense of inner turmoil with her restlessness. My face flushes with her heat release. And, I share the giddy feeling of joy when she plays. PetMassage is completely engaging!

I invite you to watch the YouTube video: “Assessment Strokes” on the YouTube channel: PetMassage Training and Research Institute. (See the Link below.)

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