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Petting with a Purpose: Focus on effleurage
By Maria K. Duthie
One of the most valuable massage techniques is also one of the easiest to do. Effleurage is a basic technique that everyone can do. It is great for both calming dogs down as well as for increasing circulation.

There are several different types of effleurage. Hand over hand is done by placing the flat of your hand and your fingers on the dog and running it down the body. As one hand reaches the end the other is placed at the beginning point and in turn follows down the body. It is similar to a plane landing and taking off. One-handed effleurage is done with one hand and the other simply resting on the body. The best place to put the hand is on a tender area or on the chest. This will provide the most comfort for the dog. Rotary effleurage is used on larger surfaces like the shoulder of a large dog or the body. In this type the thumb edge of the hand and the heal of the hand are mostly what is used to move the blood. Each hand pushes in a circular motion. The hands wok in opposite directions. It is similar to wax on wax off.

Some key principles to all of these types of effleurage are the speed of the technique and the pressure used. It is important to remember that you are trying to move the blood, therefore you need to go slowly enough and with enough pressure to do so. You can practice this on your arm. Let your arm hang and with the other hand try to move the blood up the arm. If you go to fast you will simply run over the skin and that will not move the blood. If you do not push with enough pressure nothing will happen either. The key is finding the appropriate amount of pressure. Just enough to move the blood not enough to make the dog move. If your dog does not like it stop and lighten the pressure. They are the best ones to tell you if you are doing it correctly or not. Be sure to listen to what they tell you with their body language. A good way to look at effleurage is to pretend you are trying to get water out of a hose. If you go to fast it will not work.

Effleurage can be used as a pre-event calming technique or as a post-event cool down. It is a powerful way to remove toxins from the body to help prevent soar stiff muscles. It is also great for increasing the circulation to an injured area or to take fluid away from a swollen area.

Massage is a great way to bond with your dog as well as to promote health and wellness. It should always be used in addition to proper veterinary care. Also remember if you have any doubts about your application of a technique stop and ask. Finally the most important thing is to watch your dogs reaction and if it is negative stop. If you have any questions please call 330-721-4640 or email