This is Bee, a young heading dog. Yesterday, she had her third massage and, with each session, she’s getting better.
There’s nothing physically wrong with Bee; her Mum is training her for competitive agility and wants to keep her in top condition. Since Bee is high-energy, the massage sessions are also to help her with focus and mindfulness.
During her first massage, Bee took a long time to settle. At her second massage, I suggested that we introduce a toy and we used a braided rope tug toy. Then I decided to try pushing some treats into the braids and we got almost instant results. Bee became more relaxed and allowed more touch. When I left, her Mum and I promised each other that next time, we’d use a food toy for the entire session.
So yesterday, her Mum was ready. And how clever is she??? She purchased a silicone pot holder for only $2 from Kmart and spread it with peanut butter. We had our best massage yet.
Low stress handling techniques are all about keeping the dog below threshold – no stress or anxiety. Food diversion toys can help with this – and they don’t have to be fancy or expensive.
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand