What is Canine Water Therapy?
The term "canine water therapy" can mean a lot of things... it can range all the way from an hour of tennis balls and power swimming to an hour of massage in the warm supporting waters at the stairs of the pool. Usually it falls somewhere in the middle with a combination of movement in water and some kind of bodywork during the resting periods. What determines the session depends on many components - the expertise and intentions of the therapist, the nature of the dog's injury, the condition and age of the dog, where that dog is emotionally with water and the experience, etc...
There are many bodywork and massage modalities that can be very effective when applied in water - read more about Canine Bodywork and Massage.
In any program of water therapy that one seeks out, the most important component for me is that the dog and their person feel safe. When everyone involved is relaxed and comfortable, only then should we progress with swimming and the other options that water has to offer. It doesn't do any good for a dog to swim or move in water when their body is full of stress and fear. In a state of fear, their gait will be one of panic and not a relaxed full range of motion stride and the benefits of the therapy you are seeking will be undermined. Regardless of your goals when you come to a water therapy program of any kind, make sure it feels safe for both you and your canine friend. If you want to read more about the emotional components on the bigger picture, click here to read Drifter's Story.
It was when I saw water therapy done badly that inspired me to finally found the Association of Canine Water Therapy, an organization dedicated to safe practices and a neutral website and entity for all to participate (click here to learn more about the ACWT).
Witnessing the effects of unsafe practices, I was also inspired to finally start my training program that I call "the Heart of Canine Water Therapy" (click here to learn more about my training opportunities).
One thing I find comfort in is that most owners who are seeking out this line of work for their beloved canine companions, are highly discerning - they are already seeking alternative help and the safety of their dog is at the forefront of their minds... this is a good thing.
As a concerned owner of a dog in need, I urge you to listen to yourself and seek out a program that feels good for both you and your canine friend.
Read More: check out our article Canine Hydrotherapy: Health Benefits of Swimming for Dogs
Also read about Sarah, and how she expanded our definition of what canine water therapy can be. Read Sarah's Story.
Click here to book a session for water therapy at La Paw Spa.
If you are outside of the area, click here to find a therapist near you.
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