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Raindrops: A gentle percussion massage stroke

Original Publication Date: March 31, 2014
By C. Sue Furman, Ph.D.

Swedish massage strokes in the percussion category were originally known as tapotement from the French verb tapoter, which means to rap, drum or pat. The soothing and, at the same time, stimulating percussion stroke called raindrops does not at all seem to rap or drum on the dog.

The next time you have an opportunity, listen to the whisper-soft landing of very gentle rain against your windowpane. This is reminiscent of the raindrops stroke and should serve as an inspiration for you to learn the technique and use it to relax your dog.

It is a soothing and, at the same time, mildly stimulating move in which one finger after another gently and very lightly makes contact with your pet. The calming rhythm of raindrops relaxes, yet its soft touch leaves your dog tingling. This move conveys a quite unique and very pleasant sensation that is great for relief of tension.

Most people enjoy practicing the raindrops technique on themselves to better understand what their dog is experiencing.

To try it, relax and sit quietly in a chair. Hold one hand over your head. Starting with the pad of the little finger of your raised hand, tap your head very lightly.

Follow this touch with contact from the next four fingers in a rhythmic succession.

There should be no hesitation between the tap of the thumb and the second tap by the little finger.

The continuous movement of alternating finger-falls should create a rhythmic pattern that mimics gentle raindrops falling on your head. Do you feel the tingle? Move your hand around your head and enjoy.

Many dogs also seem to take pleasure from raindrops, especially on their face and head. To see what your dog thinks, hold one hand over your dog's head and place the other hand nearby. Gently begin the raindrops technique near his nose.

Each fingertip should touch the dog lightly at a slightly different time.

Work your way along the muzzle toward the cheek, over the head and around the ear. The movement should be slow and uninterrupted.

The continuous movement of alternating fingerfalls should create a rhythmic pattern that mimics gentle raindrops falling on his head.

Repeat the pattern on the other side of the face and head.

Raindrops is a very gentle stroke that imparts light but excitatory stimulation virtually anywhere on the body.

It can be used on the trunk, abdomen or legs.

In other words, the move can be performed anywhere that pleases your dog.

Seniors often enjoy the gentle touch of raindrops on arthritic joints or sore muscles.

Raindrops is a percussion stroke, but it doesn't really rap or drum on your pet's body. It gently soothes with a tingling sensation that is very enjoyable. Try it. I think your dog will approve.

Sue Furman, Ph.D, has published two books and a DVD on canine massage and teaches classes in pet massage, acupressure, first aid and CPR. See her schedule and submit questions at