Canine Bowen Technique (CBT) is a soft-tissue remedial therapy involving ‘light-touch’ moves of fingers or thumbs over muscle, ligament, tendon and/or fascia at specific points of the dog’s body. The work is very subtle and involves no hard or prolonged pressure. It offers dogs a gentle, non-invasive and effective hands-on technique that aims to promote healing, pain-relief and body/energy rebalancing.
We work by Veterinary Surgeon Referral and will need your Vet to complete and sign a form before we start treatment.
What Is Canine Bowen Technique ?
Canine Bowen Technique (CBT) is based on the principles of the Bowen Technique, a successful human therapy named after its developer, Tom Bowen (1916-1982), which was developed in Australia during the 1950’s, and brought to the UK in the early 1990’s. Its adaptation in the UK for use on dogs was started in 2001 by Bowen therapists and dog trainers/behaviourists Sally and Ron Askew, who started on their own dogs, and then, with the cooperation and support of their local vets, integrated their findings into their canine behavioural and rehabilitation work with great success.
A key feature of Canine Bowen Technique is that the treatment is never forced on the dog - in fact provoking the body into a fearful or defensive reaction is very much counter-productive to maximising the effects of the treatment.
One of the major principles of Canine Bowen Technique - indeed any complementary therapy, human or animal - is that it is holistic. In other words, it “treats the body as a whole, without referral to named disease”.We do not treat the veterinary-diagnosed disease or condition per se, but treat the dog, as they see it, on the day.
For example, although a dog may be brought with a condition such as rear-leg lameness, we may well treat other parts of the body as well, including the back, neck, and front-legs, in order to address other possible problem areas caused as a result of the dog compensating for the presenting condition. In this case the dog may well have tried to shift its weight forward in order to relieve the pain in the rear-legs, but this, in turn, will affect the carriage of the head and neck, and require the front-legs to carry more load. By addressing these other areas, we are maximising the dog’s attempts to return its body to proper balance.
What happens in a Canine Bowen Technique session ?
Using fingers and thumbs on precise points on the dog’s body, we apply gentle rolling movements over soft tissue (muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia, and skin). The move is not a flick, but done slowly and with very gentle pressure so as to just disturb the underlying tissue and create a focus for the brain to work on.
There is no hard manipulation, no pulling or cracking of joints, no insertion of needles, no massaging with oils.
Although a typical consultation will last up to about an hour, while the therapist gets to know more about you and your dog, and your dog can get accustomed to and relaxed with the therapist, the actual hands-on part of the session will usually last no more than about 20 minutes. Over the following 3-4 days the dog may experience reactions as its body continues to assimilate the effects of the Canine Bowen Technique moves and realigns/rebalances itself. This healing process continues for about 7 days until treatment is continued.
During the treatment session, there are short intervals -determined either by the dog or by the therapist - which allow the dog to absorb the information given by the gentle moves, and allow fine adjustments to take place within its body. Dogs are much more in tune with their bodies than humans, and generally know for themselves when to “take a break”, and when to come back for more. Often, after just a few moves, they will wander off and just stare blankly into space, or go somewhere for a short lie-down.
Therapy is never forced on the dog - this will only serve to make the dog less receptive and will be counter-productive to the outcome. So an important part of Canine Bowen Technique is recognising and respecting when the dog indicates it has received what it needs.
At the start of a Canine Bowen Technique session, there will need to be time to allow the dog to accept and trust the therapist. For very nervous dogs, most of the time of a first Canine Bowen Technique session may well be spent solely on developing this relationship and very little Bowen work may be done. However, after getting accustomed to Canine Bowen Technique, most dogs will want it more and more, and many will come over and position themselves to indicate where they’d like the work doing.
Why Use Canine Bowen Technique ?
Canine Bowen Technique aims to promote and support the body’s own powers of self-healing and as a result may be very useful for dogs with problems in the following areas :
Acute injury eg sprains and strains.
Chronic conditions and degenerative disease - helping to improve the dog’s quality of life.
Rescue/re-homed dogs - relaxation of tension caused by earlier stress and trauma.
Pre– and post-operative surgery - assisting recovery times.
Fear-based anxiety - such as fireworks and thunderstorms.
However, we will not claim to be able to “cure” a problem. Our aim instead is to facilitate the marshalling and channelling of the dog’s own resources so that it can determine how to heal itself. In this respect, therefore, Canine Bowen Technique can be almost all-embracing in its coverage.
Although generally regarded as a ‘remedial’ therapy, Canine Bowen Technique can also be used to good effect as a maintenance and prevention therapy, helping to keep the body in optimum balance. To this end, it may be very beneficial for active, hard-working dogs or dogs used for competitions in obedience, agility, or trialling.
Common conditions which are often presented at Canine Bowen Technique sessions include :
Allergies and Skin conditions
Arthritis and Muscular Sprains & Strains
Lameness and other Gait problems
Hip & Elbow Dysplasia
Working or Competition dogs
Dogs that pull on the lead
Aggression and other Behavioural problems
Stress & Anxiety disorders
Cystitis & Urinary disorders
Recurrent Ear problems
A Bowen treatment is a partnership. When treating humans it is a two-way partnership - between therapist and client. With dogs it is a three-way partnership - between therapist, dog, and owner.
We will give you some post-session advice with regard to your dog and how it should be looked after over the following few days. Carrying out these aftercare recommendations is just as much a part of the treatment as the hands-on session. If the owner is unwilling to abide by these instructions then the effect of the session will be wasted.
For instance, after a Canine Bowen Technique session, most dogs will probably feel tired and want to go off somewhere quiet and have a nap. This is very good news, since sleep is the time when most of the body’s repair actions take place, and the dog’s apparent tiredness shows it is accepting the Bowen work. If, however, the owner insists that their dog accompany them on a long walk on the beach, then the dog will not get the time it needs to repair itself, and may well reinjure itself as well.
Please see the European Guild of Canine Bowen Therapists for more details