The Benefits of Canine Massage

Physiological benefits include:

  • Increased circulation, thus blood and oxygen flow throughout the dog which is vital to health tissues and organs
  • Stimulates on-going healing, flushing toxins from the body
  • Less Stress = more healing, stress levels can affect a dogs health; massage helps to reduce stress, and aids in healing from injury, surgery, illness or even a simple change in routine
  • Regular consistent massage will help keep your dogs muscles and joints moving, ultimately what you and your dog wants
  • Muscle soreness due to over activity, compensation due to injury or pain, or actual inactivity which has given rise to limited muscle movement
  • With arthritic or degenerative disease, massage can decrease pain patterns and the intensity of pain




Psychological Benefits:

  • Trust building, especially in fearful and anxious dogs
  • Re-introducting the dog to positive touch through desensitisation and counter condition to touch
  • For shelter, rescue and re-homed dogs, massage can positively engage through touch
  • Massage is calming
  • Reduces stress and anxiety

Massage Can:

  • Decrease pain
  • Improve joint health / mobility
  • Enhance and stimulate the immune system
  • Improve blood and oxygen circulation to the tissues and muscles
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Reduce / improve injury / surgery recovery time



  • Behavioural challenges
  • Anxiety and / or stress
  • Arthritic conditions
  • Pain / injury
  • Pre or post surgery
  • Pre or post events

Certified Canine Massage Therapist

About Rochelle Townsend

Qualified Vet Nurse

Unitec, Auckland

Advanced Canine Massage Therapy

Chicago School of Canine Massage

Professional Detector Dog Handler

Auckland Airport

Dog Obedience Instructor

for All Breeds Dog Training Club

Building trusting relationships with my dogs allowed for three very successful Championship Obedience and Agility sports dogs, team work and fun for all. For me the path to Canine Massage Therapy began with Delta who was diagnosed with Spondylosis and Myelopathy, she was my first Shepherd to suffer this and we were fortunate to do some alternative therapy with her which helped her immensely. It made me look at the other treatments available for dogs to complement and / or offer alternatives to heavy medications, hence the path to Canine Massage.

The Chicago School of Canine Massage was recommended to me and I applied and excitedly was accepted. The level of course content was exceptional and the world of benefits to dogs via the use of 'touch with intent' opened up to me.  Now my dream of working with dogs has developed to again assisting them be as healthy and mobile as they can be, regardless of age.

Animals of all shapes and sizes, be it horses, cats or dogs have been a big part of my life from a very young age, managing to wrangle our mum at a very early age to allow us to keep a stray kitten was the beginning of it all. After several years breeding Thoroughbred racehorses I decided to obtain my Certificate in Veterinary Nursing, and worked at a small animal and equine clinic in Drury, South Auckland for a few years before returning to Stud work. Almost 15 years ago the opportunity to train as a Professional Detector Dog handler came my way, I took it and working with dogs is a fulfilling role that I love.

Throughout the years as a family we have had four beautiful German Shepherds, Kon, Hudson, Brooklyn and Delta, and most recently we added our “giant German Shepherd” as such in Mackenzie our beautiful Leonberger, each have had their own special place and story to tell.

The Right Type of Canine Massage

Trigger Point Therapy.

This is one of the most effective treatments to reduce and eliminate pain and dysfunction in dogs. Trigger Points are highly irritable localized spot of exquisite tenderness in a nodule, in a palpable taut band of muscle tissue. Releasing trigger points will increase circulation that has been restricted through contracted muscle tissues and it also directly stretches the trigger point knotted muscle fibres. Trigger points can arise gradually via factors such as chronic stress, postural stress, overuse as seen in conformation, agility and general daily activity of dogs. Some other factors that contribute are anxiety, stress, structural imbalance, hypermobility of joints and even nutritional inadequacies.

Palliative/Hospice Massage.

Old dogs nearing the later stages of their lives, still need to be stimulated and massage is a great way to allow this to happen, even if the dog is not moving around much. Introducing massage will increase the blood circulation throughout the body, increasing oxygen flow through the body. Passively moving the joints promotes movement and fluid production to aid the joints, and stimulates the dog's nervous and integumentary system. Often this can invigorate the dogs and put a little spring back into their step while making them feel better in themselves. Hospice massage care focuses on primarily providing pain control plus physical and emotional comfort to the dog. Massage for end of life care is comforting for the dog and for the owner in so many ways.

Sports Massage.

Pre and Post Event massage are part of the whole sports massage picture, providing the canine athlete a great muscle warm up, stimulating circulation allowing muscles to work longer and more efficiently, and enhance the canine athletes state of well being which allows for optimum performance capability. Post Event massage is about assisting the dog to recover from activity or competition;, it is effective straight after the event or within the next 24 hours as well.

Lymphatic Massage.

A very light and delicate massage technique formulated to encourage the flow of the lymph fluid through the lymph channels and to the kidneys for filtration. Effective use of the lymphatic system is important for reducing swelling at wound areas, surgical sites, and injury swellings. It assists with geting anaesthetic drugs through the system quickly and out of the dog, and is also incorporated into pre and post surgical massage.

Pre Post Surgery.

Massaging can benefit the dog both before and after surgery by promoting relaxation, enabling the dog to be less stressed in the environment, and reduce swelling around surgical sites. It allows in some instances the limbs to passively utilise range of motion without the dog having to do the movement itself.

Myofascial Release.

Myofascial techniques refers mainly to the soft tissue manipulation in either direct or indirect techniques using a shearing motion. Myofascial release aims at softening and relaxing fascia, separating the muscle/fascia layers lying deep down. It is based on the fact that any tension, shortening, or thickening in the fascia can affect total body function and may set up a chain of restrictions throughout the body.


Read what our clients have experienced...

Lynda Dickins reviewed Canine Healing Hands

– 5 star

3 August at 2017


Bass was an elderly very large Leonberger who had trouble with his back legs due to an injury when he was 2yrs old, after his 1st treatment he went straight to the mat and looked at Rochelle as if to say come on I'm ready! He really enjoyed his massages, I couldn't believe the improvement in Bass's walking it was amazing in fact lots of people noticed it, I had tried lots of other different types of treatments but none of them gave us these results. Unfortunately we found out our amazing boy also had terminal cancer, Rochelle was wonderful and traveled to our home to give Bass comforting palliative care massages, I can't thank Rochelle enough for all the love and care she gave Bass in his last days. I would fully recommend her.

Laure Poley reviewed Canine Healing Hands

– 5 star

26 July 2017


Sailor didn't have any visible physical issues but when he got his first massage, I could see all the different trigger points which were very sensitive. He had a lot of tension in various parts of his body. After 3 sessions, I could tell the difference on how much more relaxed his body was. Sailor is a young 4 year old Staffy X, and I truly think that regular massages with Rochelle will help him age gracefully and comfortably. I highly recommend these sessions whether your dog seems healthy, injured or recovering.

Kim Deeming reviewed Canine Healing Hands

– 5 star

6 August 2017


Rochelle Townsend from CHH has been working with one of my shepherds; he has had back and elbow surgery. After each session with Rochelle he feels great back to running around etc, I even told Rochelle we would have to stop her sessions as he runs around like and idiot after and even playing with toys again (great to see him happy).

Trenbo Kennels reviewed Canine Healing Hands

– 5 star

6 August 2017


We had C.H.H down to Christchurch to work on a number of our dogs. We've dealt with numerous chiropractors and massage therapists over the years and left with the question, was it was really worth it? After watching Rochelle with our animals and seeing the instant results post treatment, was simply astonishing. We cannot thank Rochelle enough and have booked her to treat our dogs prior to their next two shows.

The hour-long feel great session. Aids health, mobility and maximises your dogs quality of life.

Discount applies for follow up clients at Papakura treatment room.
Appointments available for every fortnight at the North Shore dog training club in Greenhithe.
Home visits available,  travel fee may apply.

Times are an approximate, as the individual dog will only allow for the duration it’s comfortable with; and as such these times are guidelines.

Massage Options







Can take up to 1½ hours.


Includes gait observation, history information to provide a good starting point background, acclimatisation of the surrounds for the dog, and an approximately one hour massage.

Maintaining the feel good, waggy tail, and love of life in your dog.




Frequently Asked Questions

Feel free to contact us with any questions that are not answered here.

QMy dog is not injured would he/she need massage?


AEven normal healthy dogs are able to benefit from massage. Most pets are happy, active, chasing balls and sticks, running and jumping around. General massaging will help to relax tight or wound up muscles that occur without your dog showing any signs. Promotes good healthy muscles and maintain range of motion, your dog will still feel the benefits of more relaxed muscles and feel pawsome for it.



QWhat happens if my dog isn’t relaxed enough to have the massages?


ATrust is a vital component of the relationship between myself and your dog, if your dog is unsure of the initial massaging then I will spend time gaining his/her trust. As this is part of the process the fee is still payable as per booking.



QHow often does my dog need to be getting a massage?


AThis varies from dog to dog. Some dogs will require more sessions initially than others. If not in a rehabilitation program and looking at a general well being massage then it can be once every 2-4 weeks depending on the dog.



QMy dog is going to have surgery, do I need a Veterinary referral to come to you?


AYou do not need a Veterinary referral but I would suggest to mention to your vet and then ask your vet to contact me so that a full detailed history and surgery report can be discussed and from that together with your vet a comprehensive recovery plan can be discussed.



QI know that my dog is old, so not much can be done for old dogs, but would massage be of any use?


AJust because your dog is old, certainly doesn't mean that he or she shouldn't have the optimum ability to move about and enjoy their life with you. The benefits of massage for the elderly dogs really can make a huge difference to them. Stimulating muscles, increasing blood circulation and getting oxygen throughout the body.



QCan smaller breed dogs benefit from massage or is it just bigger, active dogs?


ANot at all, massage is available for all dogs of any shape, size, breed or age. Feeling good is important for all our best four legged friends.


Get in touch

Don't hesitate to contact me to discuss your requirements.


027 252 5060

Where to find Canine Healing Hands

Clinics in Papakura, South Auckland,
and in Newmarket, Auckland City

Send a message

and I'll get back to you promptly.


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