Half of our work as canine massage therapists happens before we ever lay our hands on a dog. Observing a dog’s body language and understanding what he/she is telling us is crucial to our work – a dog’s body language can tell us to come closer or to back off; it can tell us that the dog is feeling playful or threatened; it can tell us that the dog is relaxed or frozen with fear. Once we have gained a dog’s trust and he/she allows us to touch his/her body, continuing to observe the dog’s body language will tell us whether the dog feels comfortable with our touch or concerned. By being mindful of a dog’s body language before, during, and after a massage session, we can understand how best to approach and work with that individual to best meet his/her needs and level of comfort.
The observation assignment allows you to take time to observe canine body language in a variety of situations so that you can begin to notice physical cues and nuances that, when considered in context, indicate signs of stress, fear, aggression, playfulness, and relaxation.
Observe 20 hours of canine behavior in a variety of situations. Document each experience using the Observation Form below.