What the Consumer Should Know About Dog Massage
(Or How to Choose the Right Provider for Your Canine Companions)
Dog Massage is a relatively new business, and as such there is no certifying body that regulates the activity.  In other words, anyone can claim to be a canine massage provider without proof of education and training.  Protect your animal - ask your provider about his/her background in animal massage!
Some states have passed laws regarding the definition of animal massage, and stipulated that within those definitions, the massage provider must work under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian.  Missouri and Nebraska both have such laws in place.  However, if strict guidelines are followed, a canine massage provider can work on healthy dogs as long as he/she does not diagnose illness, disease or any other physical or mental disorder, prescribe medical treatment or pharmaceuticals, or perform any spinal manipulations.  A responsible massage provider will ask about your dog’s medical history in order to verify that the animal is, to the best of the owner’s and veterinarian’s knowledge, in good health.  Animals without a clean bill of health will not be massaged (without veterinarian approval and consent), and if the massage provider perceives any indications of possible ill health during a massage, the massage will be terminated and the animal referred back to the veterinarian of record. 

What Lang Institute for Canine Massage Providers Have to Offer
There are several animal massage schools across the country, and several human massage schools that offer classes in animal massage.   Many of these offer a hundred hours or fewer of study, and most have very little, if any, hands on massage in a classroom setting.   A Lang Institute graduate has successfully completed over 680 hours covering the following topics:
  • canine anatomy
  • canine physiology
  • orthopedic pathology
  • biomechanics
  • disease and hygiene
  • nutrition
  • breed specifics and characteristics
  • small business fundamentals, general and canine-specific

The Lang Institute for Canine Massage program culminates with an additional 52 hours of an on-site practicum which provides the student with additional training and presentations by animal professionals as well as supervised massage sessions.  The Spring 2006 Practicum (attended by this provider) included drug dog demonstrations and presentations by two veterinarians, one specializing in animal rehabilitation, a professional animal behaviorist, a breeder, and many others.   In addition, each student massaged over 65 dogs ranging in age from 12 weeks to 14 years, including representatives from each of the AKC-defined dog groups as well as mixed breeds.  These clients included drug dogs, performance dogs (such as agility, herding, and obedience), therapy dogs, show dogs, and companion dogs, obese dogs, and disabled dogs. 
In other words, a Lang graduate has education, training, and experience!