Chicago Canine Massage

Canine Behavior and Touch for Training

July 6-7, 2013

Chicago School of Canine Massage is a leading training center for healing arts professionals and provider of canine massage services and pet parent classes in canine massage, low stress handling, and touch training. 


In order to handle, work with, communicate with, and/or train a dog, you must understand what that dog is telling you. For the most part, dogs communicate with non-verbal communication. It is imperative to understand and use non-verbal communication with dogs if we are to speak their language, build trust, and foster reciprocal, enriching relationships. We all know that not being able to communicate or understand the world we live in can be very stressful, frustrating, and downright scary. This reactivity to stress is the number one cause of behavior problems and aggression in dogs.


This workshop focuses on teaching dog handlers the ins and outs of communicating with dogs through non-verbal communication, learning theory, and touch. Focus on the physiology of stress and the scientific basis for the development of fear, anxiety, and reactivity will prepare students for understanding that HOW we touch a dog can either make or break their ability to trust, focus, learn, and build relationships.  Moving on, the focus is concentrated on using positive reinforcement learning theories along with various forms of touch to desensitize and counter condition dogs that do not like to be touched, who are under-socialized to humans, or who have physical challenges creating a learned aversion to touch. Understanding the physical dog and recognizing a dog with physical pain and discomfort are covered along with how this physical pain and discomfort affects a dog's personality and behavior.


You will not only learn how to understand and communicate with dogs, but also how to touch a dog and the physiology behind that touch. Beyond that touch acceptance, students will learn basic tried and true massage techniques that work with different personalities, ages, conditions, etc. The absolute dos and don'ts of communicating through touch will be presented and practiced.


This workshop will dramatically change how you communicate with and handle the dogs with whom you work.


Canine Behavior and Touch for Training is taught by an elite team using all of the above concepts in their work: Denise Theobald, LMT, NCCMT; Sara L. Bennett, DVM, MS, Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists; and Nancy Reyes, CNWI.


Date: Saturday, July 6th and Sunday, July 7th, 2013

Time: 9am - 5pm

Location: For Your K9, 1975 Cornell Ave., Melrose Park, IL 60160

Cost: $300       

Rescue and Shelter Discount: $150

We believe this work is so valuable in the rescue environment and our passion is to get this information into the hands of the wonderful people who work with dogs in shelters and rescues. This is why we are making this class affordable for all who dedicate their time to helping dogs in need. Canine Behavior and Touch for Training Workshop will be 50% off for all rescue and shelter staff, volunteers and foster homes. To get the rescue/shelter/foster discount, please email

For more information or to enroll, click here.


Instructor Bios

Denise Theobald, LMT, NCCMT  

Chicago Canine Massage (CMC) was created by Denise Theobald, a licensed massage therapist. Denise wanted to bring the service and benefits of therapeutic massage to four-legged family members. Recognizing the need for comprehensive training in the field of pet massage is why CMC began. Denise has been a licensed human massage therapist for over 24 years and has been working with animals for over 14 years.  Denise is a pioneer in the field of canine massage where she founded her canine massage business, Pet-ri-ssage Ltd in 1998.  Petrissage provided massage therapy services in the Chicago area, as well as educational seminars and weekend workshops for various organizational and veterinary clinics. Denise is a graduate of the Animal Sense Academy of dog training and is on staff as an assistant trainer and canine massage instructor.  Denise also serves as staff instructor at Integrative Pet Care, a state of the art canine rehabilitation center in Chicago. Denise is nationally certified in human massage through NCBTMB, and a nationally certified canine massage therapist through NBCAAM (National Board of Certification of Animal Acupressure and Massage).  She is a member of AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association), IAAMB (International Association of Animal Massage and Bodywork), IAAOR (Illinois Alliance for Animal Owners Rights) and ABMP (Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals). She is an NBCAAM board member and certified in Canine Medical Massage. Denise's background in athletic training, personal training and sports massage adds a level of preciseness when working with the canine athlete.  Her areas of advanced training and expertise include trigger point therapy (Janet Travell), neuromuscular therapy (Paul St. John), orthopedic massage (Dr. Ben Benjamin) and Sports Massage. Denise is a Canine First Aid Instructor and First Aid and CPR instructor with the American Red Cross. She is a graduate of Chicago School of Massage Therapy, holding expertise in trigger point therapy and rehabilitative massage.


Sara L. Bennett, DVM, MS, Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists

Dr. Bennett received her DVM degree in 2006 from Purdue University.  She spent 3 years as an associate veterinarian in general practice in Evansville, IN before returning to Purdue to complete a residency in Animal Behavior and Master's of Science. She obtained certification as a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists in 2012. Dr. Bennett addresses a variety of behavior problems and behavioral disorders including aggression, inappropriate elimination, compulsive disorder, fears and phobias and behavior problems associated with aging across a wide range of species. She particularly enjoys addressing problem behavior in shelter animals, helping to make these pets more adoptable, strengthen the budding human-animal bond and to keep these animals in their new homes. Dr. Bennett can be found outside the clinic spending time with her husband, dogs, cats, horse or practicing yoga.


Nancy Reyes, CNWI

Nancy Reyes has been a professional dog trainer for the past 20 years. She began her love affair with animals when she was 5 years old. Nancy would spend countless hours on her grandmother's farm in Puerto Rico watching and communicating with the animals. Over the years she found that she enjoyed training and competing in agility and rally. 


During this time she discovered another passion, working with shelter and rescue dogs. For the past 13 years Nancy has donated much of her time to working with various rescues in the Midwest. She has provided training and evaluation assistance as well as fostering in her home. She has even rescued a dog or two or six. Nancy has recently conducted training workshops for volunteers from As Good As Gold at various locations in the Chicago suburbs. These workshops are geared toward education rescue volunteers on reading dogs and handling techniques.


In 2004 Nancy decided it was time to venture out on her own and opened For Your K9 Inc. Melrose Park, IL.  For Your Canine offers a wide variety of classes including Obedience, Agility, Rally-O and Conformation. Nancy's training philosophy is focused on developing and strengthening the bond between people and their dogs. She believes that good communication and mutual respect are key for the success of any relationship.  Her approach is based on her mentor and teacher, Suzanne Clothier's Relationship Centered Training.


Her working relationship with Suzanne has expanded over the years into working on the temperament program Suzanne developed for Guiding Eyes for the Blind. This program provides a way to test dogs in order to determine their individual characteristics. While working on this project, Nancy has conducted temperament testing for a variety of breeders and rescues in the Midwest. She is also working on the longitudinal comparisons for the dogs previously tested. 


Nancy received her B.S. from Park College in 1990 while serving her country in the United States Air Force. During her time in the service she worked in Washington, D.C. as an International Liaison Specialist.


Nancy lives in Chicago with her husband, Gonzalo, and their 7 dogs which range from Miniature Pinscher's to a German Shepherd.  She trains and competes her dogs in agility, rally and K9 nose work.


Further Information

Career Training: Chicago School of Canine Massage 

Canine Massage Therapy & Services: Canine Massage Chicago


Questions? Contact Denise Theobald:


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