The Healing Touch for Dogs: The Proven Massage Program for Dogs
Michael W Fox
I spend one day a week volunteering at my local animal shelter, so I see a lot of abused dogs. Many are desperately afraid of people, yet equally eager for human touch and affection. There's nothing more heartbreaking than watching a dog slink closer to you, its ears down, tail wagging madly, fully expecting a blow yet desperate for a pat.
I don't know what we did to turn independent wolves into creatures so frantic for human approval, but the results can leave you wanting to weep.
The worst part is that I'm still not sure how to make our interaction as soothing as possible. When I started, I was completely unaware of how much small dogs hate being pet over their heads or on their backs--they much prefer chests and necks. For many fearful dogs with a history of abuse, it's better to use one hand and leave the other still. I never realized how important it was to repeatedly stop petting the dog and see if it will re-solicit attention. I'm sure there are plenty of other aspects in which my interactions are found wanting, and I was hoping that this book would help me.
It didn't. Dr. Fox ascribes a certain mysticism to massage that I don't share. The first 40% of the book contains absolutely no useful information--it's just his strident defence of his technique. And to my mind, it needs all the defence it can get.I had assumed the "healing" referred to the emotional variety, but Dr. Fox actually believes that massage can heal disease and injury. Fox's method requires pinning down your dog and teaching it to accept the massage. To my mind, that indicate a problem with the massage itself, and it certainly is useless for a fearful shelter dog.
The book itself is quite short, and shorter still when you strip it of all the rhetoric. The illustrations are poor, and most of the information, such as dog anatomy, is probably too basic for the type of people who would pick up a book on dog massage.
I can't personally recommend this one, but if anyone knows of a good text on techniques for calming fearful or stressed pups, I'd love to hear about it.