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In this Post: I discuss the question, is it okay to have dogs in the massage room? A hugely personal decision, but one that should be thought through ahead of time!
Last week, I polled my Instagram audience. The question, “Do you allow dogs in your treatment room?” And, I’m not going to lie, the results shocked me a little!
Dog Town USA
The town I live in is affectionately nicknamed “Dog Town USA.” Rightfully so, EVERYONE has a dog. There are great parks and trails for dogs to join their humans while hiking, skiing, and paddleboarding. People bring their dogs everywhere, to outdoor restaurants, gyms, and EVEN GASP their massage.
Because of this reality, years ago, I had to come up with a policy when it came to dogs.
Now, before I dive too much further, I want to share that I LOVE dogs. I think they are wonderfully amazing creatures that change lives. My dog Doom, whom I had to put down last year (he was almost 17), saved my life after my brother died in 2008. He grounded me, forced me to get outside, and was always there when I needed a shoulder to cry on!
Right now, I have a goal to declutter my home. Once I complete that goal, a puppy named Ton-Ton will be my reward.
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Dogs are sensitive, loyal, and awesome friends. BUT, I decided they didn’t belong in my treatment space.
Now, I’m not saying that you should make the same decision. In fact, 59% of you said you were okay with dogs hanging in your treatment space while you worked on their human. Nope. I’m not trying to deter you from creating a practice that works for you. What I am saying is that I want you to think through your dog policy before you are confronted in real-time with this scenario.
Getting Clear on Your Dog Policy
Really, this is the best way to make all policies in your massage business! With careful thought and consideration BEFORE you have to make an actual decision. Being caught off guard causes us to waiver in indecision, a feeling that doesn’t lend itself to a sense of being in control of the business YOU are creating! And I don’t know about you, but I want to be the one calling the shots!
Creating a blanket policy that dogs aren’t allowed in my treatment space was the right decision for me.
When employees would ask if their dog could hang out for an hour, the answer was no. When clients asked if their dog could come in, the answer was no.
Creating an overarching policy allows me to free up mental energy. I don’t have to think through how I feel about each individual or their particular dog. Whether this dog seems like it would be the one to pee on my rug, or tare through the garbage, or scratch at the door, instead, it’s always, “Nope, sorry. Dogs aren’t allowed in my space.”
Last week, when a long-standing client of mine came with his dog (not the first time he has done so), it was easy to remind him of my policy.
I wasn’t always this straightforward or even clear on this policy.
I used to bring my dog to work, occasionally allow staff to bring their dogs, and sometimes let clients have dogs sit in the treatment room while receiving their massage.
But you know what, some clients are allergic to dogs, others are scared of them, and one too many times, trash cans got strewn all over my office. I also realized that I’m not as able to give an effective massage when I’m worried about a dog’s comfort. When a dog is circling around me, struggling to find a place to relax, it stresses me out. And the last thing anyone wants is a stressed-out massage therapist:)
But you know what, that’s just me.
Maybe you like to have your dog at your office as a form of protection. Or maybe you like the idea of opening your doors to your client’s four-legged friends. And guys, no judgment here! If that works for you, awesome! Just remember that some clients may have a problem with this! If you choose to allow dogs in your studio, make sure you clearly communicate with your clients about this reality.
Dog massage is also a thing. My only experience with this was in school. My school offered an optional internship where you learned how to massage dogs. I did not sign up for it, but Doom got to go to the practice sessions with students who did take the class. He loved it! (The closest I got to this type of work was an internship in school for rabbit massage. I HATED it! But some students loved it, to each their own!)
Maybe you are drawn to working with canines. There are therapists out there who work exclusively with this population! To learn more, check out: https://e-trainingfordogs.com/canine-massage-therapy-certification/
Couples Dog Massage
Another thing some massage therapists are doing is actually specializing in couples massages with dogs. One human, one dog – that’s the couple. Their motto – “Dog treatments are the new dog treats.”
So, Is It Okay To Have Dogs In The Massage Room?
With so many people out there, if you feel called to have a dog-friendly practice, you can ABSOLUTELY create a nice niche for yourself! Just make sure ALL of your clients are aware that this is a niche you serve! Some folks truly feel having animals in the treatment space is unhygienic. It’s important to be sensitive to this fact and clearly communicate the reality of what occurs in your space and how it may affect others.
Maybe you already have strong feelings or policies in place regarding this topic. Perhaps, I am planting a seed for you to think through this occurrence in the future. Either way, you need to figure out what works for you! After all, it’s your practice.
- Boulder College of Massage Therapy Graduate
- Nationally Certified through NCBTMB
- Colorado Licensed Massage Therapist
- Certified CranialSacral Level 1 through Upledger
- Certified Herbal Therapist through Nutrition Therapy Institute
- Certified Fujian Massage through Barefoot Masters
- Fort Lewis College - Majored in Art, Minored in Business Administration
- 6 Year Winner of Best Massage Therapist for "Best of The Boat" Competition
- Massage Business Owner Since 2008