Animal Massage Therapist
Brochure | Curriculum | Enrollment Application
What exactly is Canine Sports Massage Therapy?
Canine Sports Massage Therapy is the therapeutic application of hands-on deep tissue techniques to the voluntary muscle system - for the purpose of increasing circulation, reducing muscle spasms, relieving tension, enhancing muscle tone, promoting healing and increasing range of motion in all breeds of dogs.
Who/what is Equissage?
Equissage is the leading trainer of equine sports massage therapists in the world. Since the inauguration of its original certificate program in 1991, Equissage has trained more than 10, 000 professional therapists. These graduates work for the top of owners and trainers in the horse world, and some have been selected as official massage therapists for national equestrian teams around the world. Mary Schreiber, the founder of Equissage, is acknowledged to be one of the true pioneers of horse and other animal massage in the country. Her best-selling videos on horse and dog massage have had worldwide distribution, with translations into a number of foreign languages. Her book The (How To) Manual Of Sports Massage For the Equine Athlete is recognized as the "Bible" of equine massage instruction, and her work has been featured on ABC Television's Health Show, Sports Illustrated magazine, NBC TV and in leading equestrian journals around the world. The Certification Program in Canine Massage Therapy (CMT) takes the same procedures and techniques developed for equine massage and applies them to the dog - based on the recognition that "a muscle is a muscle regardless of how it's packaged."
Is massage therapy recognized as beneficial to an animal's well being?
Yes, increasingly so. Just as the popularity of less invasive approaches to health care in humans has gained in recent years, so too have these procedures and methods gained acceptance in the care and treatment of animals. And just as we have witnessed the recent advent of professionals like equine chiropractors, equine physical therapists and equine nutritionists in the horse world, we are beginning to see these same professions develop in the dog "community".
What qualifications or background are considered important for success as an CMT?
The most important qualification for success as an CMT is a love of animals, empathy for suffering animals, and a sincere desire to help alleviate that suffering. While it would be preferable to have a background in massage therapy, it is not mandatory. Equissage's Certification Program starts with the basics of massage therapy and thoroughly schools the student in every aspect of the discipline. As a graduate, you will be confident that you know everything you need to know to provide canine massage therapy in an effective, therapeutic, and professional manner.
What kind of demand is there for canine massage therapy, and is the therapy "transferable" to other companion animals?
Every dog owner and trainer - whether they own or work with dogs involved in competition (Greyhounds, Huskies, et al), in law enforcement, in aiding the handicapped, or whether they have dogs just as family pets - wants, and in many instances, needs their canines to be free of muscle problems that can cause pain and inhibit their dogs' movement and performance.
Because of the health-promoting qualities of massage, as well as its restorative properties, knowledgeable owners and trainers are incorporating this therapy as an integral part of their dogs' total and continuous health care program.
The therapy is certainly transferable - by virtue of its generally universal effectiveness and similarity of technique - to other companion animals, such as cats. It would be necessary that those wishing to market feline massage services to study and lean the muscle system of the cat.
Must an individual be licensed as a certified (human) massage therapist before being certified in canine massage therapy?
No. At present there are no state regulations governing the licensing or certification of canine massage therapists. To put it in proper perspective, there are only 22 states that require licensing for human massage therapists. It will be quite a while - if ever - before states get around to licensing those who massage animals. As recognized leaders in the development of this therapy, we believe that Equissage would undoubtedly play a role in the establishment of regulatory guidelines when, and if, the day of state regulation should arrive. Massaging a dog, horse, or cat is not the same as massaging a human. To require an animal massage therapist to first learn how to massage humans would be akin to requiring a veterinarian to first attend medical school before practicing on animals.
Students successfully completing the program will receive 50 hours of continuing education hours, as approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB).
What subjects are covered in the curriculum?
The major emphasis in the CMT Program is on the application and sequence of massage techniques and massage strokes. As a necessary preface to this, it is vital that students be familiar with the basic physiology of muscles, the location of each major muscle and muscle group in the canine, the activity controlled by each muscle and the specific conditions which may affect the dog if those muscles are not adequately nourished through good blood and lymphatic circulation.
Another significant portion of the curriculum is devoted to the proper handling of all breeds of dogs. This knowledge is key to a suitable environment for the effective administration of the massage sequence. To illustrate, such an environment for a Golden Retriever can be a lot different than establishing one for a German Shepard.
Lastly, the curriculum devotes itself to a discussion of the tried and true means and procedures to be employed in starting and profitably marketing your canine massage business.