What is Canine Bowen Technique?
Canine Bowen Technique (CBT) is based on the principles of the Bowen Technique, a successful human therapy developed in the 1950's by Australian Tom Bowen. It was brought to the UK in the early 1990’s where its adaptation in the UK for use on dogs was started in 2001 by practitioners and dog trainers/behaviourists Sally and Ron Askew. They started on their own dogs; then, with the cooperation and support of their local vets, they integrated their findings into their canine behavioural and rehabilitation work with great success.
Canine Bowen Technique is a holistic system of bodywork. By "holistic" we mean that it “treats the body as a whole, without referral to named disease”. So CBTA practitioners do not concentrate on the veterinary-diagnosed disease or condition per se, but work with 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, a CBTA practitioner may well work with 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.
Why use Canine Bowen Technique?
Canine Bowen Technique aims to promote and support the body’s own powers of relaxation and 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, CBTA practitioners 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’ technique, Canine Bowen Technique can also be used for maintenance and prevention of injury, helping to keep the body in optimum balance. To this end, it may be very beneficial for elderly dogs, 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
• Back problems
• 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
Obviously, veterinary-diagnosed conditions such as joint dysplasia will not be ‘cured’ by Canine Bowen Technique. Nevertheless Canine Bowen Technique may be very beneficial for dogs with these sorts of conditions, because the rebalancing/optimising effects both locally and elsewhere in its body may help to improve its quality of life.
A Canine Bowen Technique session is a partnership. When working with humans it is a two-way partnership - between practitioner and client. With dogs it is a three-way partnership - between practitioner, dog, and owner.
Your CBTA practitioner 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 contributes greatly to the outcome of the session and, if the owner is unwilling to abide by these instructions, then the effect of the session may 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 Canine Bowen work. If, however, the owner insists that their dog accompany them on a long walk
then the dog will not get the time it needs to repair itself, and may well reinjure itself as well.
So be prepared to listen to and accept the advice of your practitioner.
Applying the Bowen Technique to dogs involves more than just doing some Bowen “moves” on the animal. Obviously the anatomy and biomechanics of the dog are different from that of a human and need to be taken into account when determining where the “moves” should be made. But dogs are different in many other ways as well. Two fairly obvious ones :-
• Dogs cannot use speech to tell us their problems and how they are feeling in the way humans do. However dogs do use various subtle body language and postural signals to try and give you this information. Working with animals therefore necessitates an increased level of observational skill on the part of the practitioner in order to enable them to recognise and react appropriately to such signs, changing preconceived treatment plans as a result.
• Humans usually come voluntarily for treatment; the treatment of dogs is usually instigated by their owners. Most dogs know the difference between casual stroking and being touched with intent. Whilst happily accepting the former, many dogs may have developed bad associations with the latter (e.g. grooming or clipping nails or visiting the vets). So, as well as the discomfort and stress from their presenting condition, the dog may well also be feeling a bit stressed from the occasi. Any heightened stress will be counterproductive to the outcome of the treatment. EGCBT trained practitioners are taught to recognise the signals dogs give off when stressed and how to respond and adapt their approach and/or treatment accordingly in order to reduce the stress as much as possible.
The relationship which develops between dog practitioner can have a huge effect on the outcome of the treatment. We believe that treatments must be conducted as a “partnership” rather than as a “doctor-patient” relationship; treatment must never be forced on a dog against its wishes. Different dogs prefer the treatments to progress at different speeds; depending on the healing resources available in their body, different dogs will accept different amounts of treatment.
Dogs themselves are great observers and have a sensitivity and awareness much greater than humans. If the dog realises it is being “listened” to, it will feel able to relax and take on the treatment more easily. When done in the right way, such that the dog feels in control, dogs tend to respond quicker to Bowen than humans and generally require less treatment. When the dog has become accustomed to and knows it can trust the practitioner, many dogs will even help in their treatment by presenting the practitioner with the area of its body it would next like some work done on.