rebelle wellness

Elvis & Me: Natural Pet Care to Calm Your Anxious Dog.

{Photo credit: Tyler Abbott}


This is Elvis.

Lovably, wonderfully cute, right? I adopted Elvis about six months ago from my local rescue shelter, and they told me he was a “special case.” Since being brought to the shelter, he had been adopted and returned three times! By this point, Elvis stopped eating altogether, hadn’t exercised in months, and was considered “Kennel Crazy.”

I’d be lying if I said it’s been easy, but I am happy to report that Elvis is eating, exercising, and the only thing he’s crazy about now are his toys.

A huge obstacle in rehabilitating Elvis was finding ways to make him feel more comfortable with physical touch. Every time you reached to pet him, he would recoil in absolute terror, with his tail tucked between his legs, which is why I experimented with natural pet care in the form of massages with different oil combinations to help Elvis overcome his paralyzing anxiety.

Okay, I know that sounds weird. Natural pet care and dog massages. Sounds like something you would find at a very ritzy dog hotel for the Paris Hilton chihuahuas of the world. It may sound silly, but natural pet care has worked wonders for Elvis, and could do the same for your pup.

After a couple test rounds, and a few nipped fingers, I found a massage oil recipe that worked:

  • 8 oz. of coconut oil
  • 10 drops of Young Living pure lavender essential oil (you can experiment with different types of essential oils here, but lavender seems to work the best with the dogs in my life)
  • Then stir to mix

A combination of coconut oil (which I use for basically everything) and lavender essential oil soothed his nerves and enriched his fur coat. Fast forward a few weeks, and Elvis is subtly, but significantly, more open to cuddling, and being petted. With physical touch improving, Elvis is more easily connecting with others, and developing relationships with our family.

It’s like his spirit finally broke its shackles, and the happy, playful dog that was there all along has finally arrived.

Whether your dog has a troubled past, or has always been under your loving care, there are tons of benefits to giving your dog regular massages. Just to name a few:

  • Stress and anxiety reduction (perfect for 4th of July, storms, or other loud, terrifying events for dogs!)
  • Strengthens the bond between you and your dog
  • Improves body functions so your dog stays happy and healthy

Now that you’re thinking you might want to try it with your pet, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my techniques here.

  1. First, make sure that your dog is in a relaxed state. Maybe take her on a walk before starting a massage, to get all that excess energy out.
  2. Start the massage by adding the massage oil and just petting and rubbing your dog on her head, back, and belly. Normal petting basically.
  3. Then focus on your dog’s neck and make regular circulation motions. Apply pressure, but not too much. Just think of the amount of pressure that you would like during a massage.
  4. Work your way down to the shoulders. Imagine living your whole life without being able to reach your shoulders. Dog life can be rough. Spend a little extra time massaging the shoulders.
  5. Legs can be tricky. A lot of dogs don’t like their legs to be touched, so remember to be extra gentle on the legs, ankles, and paws. If your dog is resisting any part of her legs, just move on to the next area.
  6. Once you’ve finished the massage, observe your dog and see how she reacts. Keep in mind that you may receive incessant dog kisses post-massage.

{Photo credit: Tyler Abbott}


Tyler Abbott is passionate about natural, minimalist living. He is always looking for ways for him, and his dogs, to live with less. Tyler works for Humble, an all-natural deodorant company.


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  1. Natural Ways To Calm Anxiety In Dogs | How to Get Rid Of Anxiety

    March 26, 2017 at 11:56 am

    […] Elvis & Me: Natural Pet Care to Calm Your Anxious Dog. – A huge obstacle in rehabilitating Elvis was finding ways … with natural pet care in the form of massages with different oil combinations to help Elvis … […]

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