What is canine massage?

Canine massage is a therapeutic discipline that involves directly working with all of the soft tissues of a dog’s body in order to assist the dog in achieving relief from a variety of physical and emotional challenges, including muscular soreness, chronic stress, and more. 

What is the difference between human massage and canine massage?

Human massage therapists work only on humans and canine massage therapists work only on canines. The education and licensing are different. 

Why take this coursework vs. online programs offering similar content?

Canis Bodyworks workshops are hands-on workshops taught by leaders in the canine massage/bodywork, behavior, and vet rehabilitation community. Hands-on learning is crucial when learning to communicate through touch and provide the correct application of techniques. 

I have no experience or background working with dogs. Can I still take Canis Bodyworks workshops?

Yes. The only requirement for working with dogs is that you have an empathetic heart and feel love and respect for all animals. 

Who can take Canis Bodyworks workshops?

Everyone can take Canis Bodyworks workshops.  Our workshops are appropriate for beginners with no prior experience or training with dogs as well as for people who have a wide level of knowledge and hands-on experience. Pet parents, shelter staff and volunteers, veterinary and rehabilitation professionals, canine massage therapists seeking to continue learning in advanced techniques and applications, and anyone who works with dogs or in a dog-focused business will find a Canis Bodyworks workshop, or series of workshops, to meet their needs. 

Are there prerequisites to taking any of the workshops?

We require that the "Trust and Relationship-Building with Dogs" workshop be taken before most of our other workshops because it offers an essential foundation of skills required by anyone who works with dogs in any capacity. Many of our workshops also require that “Canine Massage Fundamentals” be taken as a pre-requisite as well. Pre-requisite details can be found on the Workshops page.

Exceptions are rare, but we can consider them on a case by case basis. 

Where are the workshops offered?

Our workshops are taught in northern Virginia, Chicago, St. Louis, and Vero Beach, FL.  If you would like to bring one of our instructors to teach a workshop out of a facility in your area, contact us at info@canisbodyworks.com

Do you offer any discounts?

Yes.  If you work or volunteer a minimum of 10 hours per month at an animal shelter or rescue organization, we would like to offer you a 20% discount off of our fundamentals workshops - “Trust and Relationship-Building with Dogs” and “Canine Massage Fundamentals.” Verification will need to be obtained from the facility before a discount can be provided.

Are Your Workshops approved for Continuing education Hours?

All of our workshops, except our Case Studies Practicum, are approved by the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage (NBCAAM) for continuing education hours for animal bodyworkers.

Our “Trust and Relationship-Building with Dogs” and “Canine Massage Fundamentals” workshops are approved for human massage therapists through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB).

Our “Trust and Relationship-Building with Dogs” and “Canine Massage Fundamentals” workshops can each provide you with 24 hours of continuing education credit in jurisdictions that recognized RACE approval.

Alternatively, we also offer a Canine Massage Therapy Program for Veterinary Professionals. The program consists of 5 workshops: “Trust and Relationship-Building with Dogs,” “Canine Massage Fundamentals,” “Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy,” “Lymphatic Massage: The Common Denominator,” and “Orthopedic Friction for Tendon & Ligament Healing.” This program has been approved for 120 hours of continuing education credit in jurisdictions that recognize RACE approval. All five workshops must be taken in order to earn the 120 CE hours.

What is your cancellation and refund policy?

If Canis Bodyworks Cancels a Workshop…

Workshops are subject to cancellation by Canis Bodyworks LLC due to limited enrollment one week prior to the start date. If a workshop is cancelled by Canis Bodyworks LLC, students are subject to a full refund or can enroll in a future workshop.

Canis Bodyworks LLC reserves the right to cancel a workshop up to 24 hours before the start date due to act of nature, natural disasters, act of war, contagious pathological outbreaks (both human and canine), or other if deemed appropriate by the Canis Bodyworks LLC administration.

If a Student Cannot Attend Their Registered Workshop…

Students unable to attend the workshop for which they have registered may apply their payment to a future workshop if they notify Canis Bodyworks of the cancellation before the first day of class. Failure to contact Canis Bodyworks for cancellation before the first day of class, or failure to show up to the workshop, will result in forfeiture of payment.

Students who prefer a refund rather than applying a workshop payment to a future workshop can be refunded the full payment, minus a 5% administration fee, if the workshop curriculum has not already been sent out to students. Once the workshop curriculum has been sent to students, the workshop fee is non-refundable.


What qualifications do I need if I want to become a canine massage therapist?  Do I need a license?

The primary qualification is to be trained in all aspects of the discipline, such as animal behavior, anatomy and physiology, massage techniques, and more. You do not need any qualifications to start taking the Canis Bodyworks workshops.  

A license is not required to practice canine massage. However, if you'd like to become certified in canine massage therapy, we recommend that you earn your certification through the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage (NBCAAM.org). Earning this certification is an important way to demonstrate to pet parents and the veterinary community that you’re a qualified therapist who has achieved a high level of education and expertise, and that you have the necessary skill to work effectively and safely with dogs. With 200 hours of education and training, you can sit for the NBCAAM national certification exam. 

What workshops should I take to become certified in canine massage?

The following Canis Bodyworks workshops make up our Canine Massage Therapy Certification program:  

  • Trust and Relationship-Building with Dogs (Prerequisite for all other workshops - must be taken first) - 24 hours

  • Canine Massage Fundamentals - 24 hours

  • The Physical Dog - 24 hours

  • Lymphatic Massage: The Common Denominator - 24 hours

  • Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy - 24 hours

  • Orthopedic Friction for Tendon & Ligament Healing - 24 hours

  • Canine Anatomy and Physiology for the Pet Care Professional (Home Study) - 30 hours

  • Canine First Aid Concepts & Pathology (Home Study) - 12 hours

  • Case Studies Practicum (Home Study) - 30 hours

  • The Business of Canine Massage and Bodywork - 8 hours

This approach will provide you with more than the required 200 hours of education and training. Additionally, these workshops will help prepare you to take the national exam, and most importantly, prepare you to work competently in the field.

This particular series of workshops has been approved as an appropriate Canine Massage Therapy Certification Program by the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage (NBCAAM). Additionally, all of our workshops (excluding the Case Studies Practicum) have been approved by NBCAAM for continuing education hours for animal bodyworkers.

I already have lots of experience working with dogs. Am I still required to take the “Trust and Relationship-Building with Dogs” workshop?

“Trust and Relationship-Building with Dogs” is the cornerstone of our curriculum. We require this class regardless of a person’s prior experience or education because the content is at the heart of all of our other workshops. In this workshop, we teach a variety of techniques that allow us to earn a dog's trust so that touch is possible and welcome, which is essential for our work as massage therapists. People with all levels of experience with dogs must take this class because it's not like other types of training out there -- we've had pet parents, shelter staff and volunteers, dog trainers and handlers, and veterinary professionals take this workshop and find great value in it.

I am a vet rehab specialist or massage therapist. Will I be adequately challenged by the workshops?

Yes. Although some of the material in our workshops may be familiar, most of the content will be different and have a different application.  

Can I bring my dog to class?

We recommend that your dogs stay at home.  Participants will be provided with a wide variety of dogs to work with during the workshops.  For Virginia-based workshops, dogs may be able to come to class with you, but certain requirements must be met first.  Contact info@canisbodyworks.com for more details. 

When can I start working on animals?

Unless you are working on your own pets, we recommend that you achieve national certification through NBCAAM before venturing out and providing canine massage therapy services professionally. Participants must have had 200 hours of coursework before they are eligible to take the national certification exam.