Yvette Armendariz

Arizona Republic

Everyone who has owned a dog knows how much they like their tummies rubbed and their ears scratched. Why not take it a step further and treat them to a massage? After all, dogs are people, too. At least, that's the theory behind Dogs Are People Too Pet Massage and Instruction, a new Phoenix business that teaches people how to give their dogs massages.

“Just like people, pets also love the attention and relaxation a massage can give, and it will actually help their overall well-being,” said Tracy Piatt, a certified canine massage practitioner (yes, there is such a thing) and owner of the business. “After about the third massage, your pet will begin expecting it and will communicate to you when it's massage time.”

Pet massages aren't new. They have been around since the 1980's, apparently started by a guy who gave human massages and branched out. There are even a couple of schools that teach it, including the Pet Institute in Toledo , Ohio , where Piatt learned the technique and a trade group known as the International Association of Animal Massage and Bodywork.

There are other people in the Valley who give pet massages, to dogs and horses, but Piatt might be the first one to teach pet owners to give their dogs massages themselves. He travels to customers' homes for one-on-one lessons, offers group classes at his Phoenix studio or goes to theme parties where guests bring their dogs to learn massage techniques.

What does a massage do for a dog? According to Piatt, it enhances bonding, helps to alleviate pain, increase circulation and flexibility and enhances recovery from illness or injury.

Does it work? Brooke Andersen of Mesa thinks it does. Since learning the technique from Piatt, Anderson has given her year old boxer, Chuco, an almost daily massage. “I know it sounds crazy, but he loves it. He is antsy for the first couple minutes, then he limps out.”

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