Not only is a dog massage therapeutic, but it's a great way to bond with your pet and help you de-stress. Author Tracey Stewart shares 5 pup-friendly techniques.

By Tracy Stewart

Dog Massage Tip 1: Circle the Shoulders. Gently placing both palms flat on either shoulder, use your finger pads to make small circles with mild pressure. Gradually make the circles bigger, changing directions and varying speeds.

Dog Massage Tip 2: Rub the Forehead. With your palm facing down and four fingers together and flat, rub your dog's forehead from the top of the head to the tip of the nose. Occasionally make small circles with your finger pads and rub up and down with light pressure.

Dog Massage Tip 3: Gently Tug at the Scruff. Grasp the loose skin on the scruff of your dog's neck or on other loose, furry areas of your dog's body and slowly squeeze your fingers and thumbs together while gently pulling upward. Try to alternate left and right hands, lifting the left up as the right lowers, and vice versa. Be careful not to pinch the skin at the end of the pull.

Dog Massage Tip 4: Nestle the Base of the Ear. Ball your fist and use your knuckles to rub small, gentle circles at the base of your dog's ear, just below the opening. Keep your palm facing down and use light pressure. A dog's ears are sensitive, so pay attention to the pressure and move slowly.

Dog Massage Tip 5: Stroke the Chest. Bring your hands to your dog's chest and wait for him to lie down on his side or back. With your fingers in a loose claw shape, use your fingertips to lightly scratch along the chest and under the armpits in a circular pattern. If your dog enjoys this, try gradually adding pressure and speed.

Only give your dog a massage if she is relaxed and receptive. Avoid massaging a sick animal (unless recommended by your veterinarian), and do not massage an animal in place of veterinary care.

About the Author: Tracey Stewart and her husband, Jon, live in New Jersey with their children and 14 rescued animals. She is a former veterinary technician. This excerpt is from her book, Do Unto Animals (Artisan Books).

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