Why do people like to pet dogs

Relaxation for dogs and humans: why the hormone oxytocin helps!

So you can relax together with your fur nose and reduce everyday stress.

Do you already know the hormone oxytocin? You can even call it the "cuddle hormone", because cuddling, loving caresses and a relaxing massage set a biochemical reaction in motion not only in the dog. The hormone oxytocin is accumulated, blood circulation is promoted, stress hormones such as cortisol are reduced, blood pressure drops, and the immune system is activated.

Temple Grandin, professor of animal science at Colorado State University and author of many books and essays on animal behavior and autism, wrote in 2007: "A dog's oxytocin levels rise when it is petted - including those of the owner, by the way."

Loving touch brings calm and creates familiarity. We think there are many good reasons to use the so-called dark season for a cuddle break with the dog.

Not only do we humans suffer from stress, our dogs too. To name just a few examples of canine stressors:

  • Drive
  • Unfamiliar noises and situations
  • Separation fears
  • Misinterpretation of communication
  • Changes such as relocation, change of location, vacation or dog retirement ...

The symptoms of stress can vary greatly from dog to dog. Permanent panting, barking, aggressive behavior, allergies, scratching or licking of the skin up to fearfulness can be observed, for example. But not only when stress occurs, a cuddle break with the dog can offer a wonderful closeness between person and dog.

What can you do?

First of all, it is important not to force anything. It is best to proceed very gently. Mostly the fur nose shows what is good for her and what is not. Ideal: use quiet situations for intense caresses.

You will of course stroke your dog often, but stroke it as carefully and consciously as if you were stroking a dog for the very first time. You will surely be amazed that it feels very different ...

Most fur noses prefer touching the side of the body, the shoulders, the chest, thighs and the base of the tail, and stroking the dog's ears is also very popular. It is very easy to notice what the dog is comfortable with when he presses his body towards the caressing hand, stretches with relish or even closes his eyes. Turns in the direction he likes. My bitch and also one of my males parks with his "rear" right in front of me in order to have the base of the tail scratched intensively. Full of happiness, they stretch their heads upwards.

Most dogs find it pleasant to have a calm, yet powerful crawl. However, most people do not find patting e.g. on the head or stroking against the fur line so pleasant.

But how can you massage the dog specifically?

Massages are also a good means for dogs to bring bodily functions disturbed by touch back to flow - just like us humans. This increases the well-being and can support the healing process in old, stressed or sick dogs. Muscles become softer, blood and lymph circulation are stimulated, relaxation, stress reduction and inner balance can be achieved.

Warning: If your dog is sick, e.g. suffers from inflammation, injuries or ulcers, avoid massages yourself and clarify the symptoms with a specialist such as a veterinarian, animal physiotherapist or animal health practitioner.

Before starting a dog massage for relaxation, it is ideal to do so after a walk, as the dog should have loosened up and previously been busy. Make yourself comfortable with your dog on a rug or blanket. Slowly start touching the dog. The bitch can stand, sit or lie on their side. First, gently place your hands on your back or sides of your body. Dogs do not like to experience jerky touches unprepared - especially when the dog is not used to it.

Start with the massage with the beautiful name "flowing hands". In doing so, you rub your hands slowly, gently and fluently over the dog's body in the direction of hair growth. You quickly notice what is good for the dog, but also where his body is possibly tense.

Then you can slowly slide your thumb or fingertips down the dog's back, drawing light circles on both sides of the spine. You can also use the flat of your hand to make gentle circular movements.

If the dog likes it, lying on its side you can easily take the fur from the spine between your fingers and roll it down towards the belly. This is how you loosen any tension.

Many dogs love to have their ears massaged. Did you know that there are around 200 acupuncture points in the dog's ear? It is best to massage each ear alternately. Let the dog's ear slide gently between the thumb and remaining fingers and massage gently. To get started, it is best to stroke your thumb from the auricle to the outer edge of your ear. Watch your dog - he will show you the way, what is comfortable for him or her.

Anyone who deals with dog massage will quickly come across the "Tellington Touch Method". It is a type of massage that is performed with the fingers and hands in certain positions. It was developed by Linda Tellington - hence the name. In a very specific way, circles are made on certain parts of the dog's body. The TTouches today consist of over 20 different hand positions and movements. The double T in TTouch stands for the English word “trust” = “trust”: freely translated “Tellington-Confidence-Touches”. For an initial overview, here is more information: https://wissen-hund.de/tellington-touch/?cn-reloaded=1 or https://tellington- Methode.de/

Book tips.

We would be delighted if we aroused your interest in this topic. Here are some book tips from us:

"Dog Reläx" by Sabina Pilguj

"Massage dogs properly" by Brunhilde Mühlbauer

“Relaxation training for dogs” by Karin Petra Freiling

"The excited dog" by Monika Schaal