Even the most established behaviour problems can be resolved through the Tellington TTouch, which helps in releasing tension from the body…thereby diminishing the behaviour problems. Come let’s know more about this wonder touch.
Did you know a dog who carries tension through the hindquarters is more likely to be sensitive to noise and lack of confidence than a dog who has free movement through the hind quarters. Tension in the lower back triggers the flight/fight reflex and tension through the neck can result in dog who is collar shy or overly reactive to other animals and people. TTouch on Monty helps him become more confident with people – his owner Jo did some bodywork first and now Monty is happy to be handled by a different person.
The Tellington TTouch…
The Tellington TTouch Method looks at the link between an animal’s posture and his behaviour. It used to be one of the best-kept secrets in the world but fortunately awareness is increasing and there are now over one thousand practitioners working in 27 different countries. Developed by animal expert Linda Tellington Jones more than thirty years ago, it is used by trainers who work with dogs in all spheres including service, competition and family dogs. It is now also used by veterinarians, dog walkers, groomers, shelter helpers, behaviour counselors, veterinary nurses and dog lovers worldwide.
How it works…
By using a combination of TTouch bodywork and on leash ground exercises, tension can be released from the body and as a result associated behaviours naturally diminish. TTouch combines well with other positive techniques such as Clicker Training and can produce some truly outstanding results in even the most established behaviours. TTouch helps educate the dog and encourage him make appropriate choices that enable him to adapt to life with their human companions.
Types of TTouches…
The three basic TTouches that are probably used most commonly include Clouded Leopard, Llama, and Chimp TTouch. The TTouches are all named after animals who inspired the work and help create a visual image of the different movements or hand positions used.
Clouded Leopard TTouch: The Clouded Leopard is the foundation for all the circular TTouches. Visualise a watch face on the dog’s body approximately half an inch in diameter with six being the lowest point. With one hand lightly holding the lead, supporting the collar, or resting on the dog’s body, place the fingers of your other hand at six on your imaginary watch face. With your fingers in a softly curved position, like a paw, push the skin around the clock in a clockwise circle. Maintain an even pressure all the way round, on past six until you reach eight. At eight, pause for a few seconds and if the dog is relaxed, move to another spot and repeat the movement.
Handy tips for Clouded Leopard TTouch:
- It is important to make only one-and-a-quarter circles each time on any one spot and to ensure that your fingers are pushing the skin in a circle rather than sliding over the hair.
- When you make a circle rest your thumb lightly against the body to steady the hand.
- Move your first, second and third fingers as one to ensure that the little finger ‘goes along for the ride’.
- If you tense the joints in your fingers or wrist, the whole movement will become stiff.
- Allow your fingers to relax and move in the rotation.
- Practice doing the circular movements on the back of your hand to help soften your hands and give you a sense of how the TTouch differs from other body work.
- It is important to make sure your circles are really round and that they are made in one smooth, flowing movement. As you work, remember to breathe.
- Concentration can cause us to hold our breath, which stiffens our body and affects the TTouch.
- You can do the Clouded Leopard TTouch over the whole dog altering your hand position where necessary around the contours of the body to ensure the movement remains fluid and relaxed.
The Llama TTouch: Nervous dogs or those who are protective about being touched on certain parts of their body may find contact with the back of the hand less threatening. Keep your fingers soft and gently stroke the dog’s muzzle and body with the back of your fingers. You can also try the one a quarter circular movements with this TTouch.
Chimp TTouch: This TTouch is particularly useful for nervous dogs. Make a soft open fist and use the area between the first and second joints on the back of the fingers to move the skin. Keep the fingers together and the hand soft.
The TTouches break down into three groups: circles, slides and lifts. They can be used on any dog regardless of his age and can help older dogs by improving mobility, thus reducing the effects of old age upon his body.
My dog does not like circular movements: If your dog doesn’t settle with the circular TTouches:
- Lighten the pressure. Most people are amazed at how light this work is once they experience it on themselves.
- Move in an anti-clockwise direction.
- Lightly brush your fingertips over the dog as though you were flicking dust from his face or body. If he settles, add the occasional circle.
- Slow down the movement.
- Cover your hand with a sheepskin mitt.
Ear Slides: Ear Slides is really a useful tool that every dog owner should learn. Besides helping to release tension around the base of the ears, the forehead, and upper part of the neck, ear slides can help dogs overcome a variety of issues and can even save lives.
Holding the ear gently but firmly, stroke the ear from the base right out to the tip. If the ear hangs down you work from the base down, and if the dog has upright ears, you work from the base up to the tip. Move the position of your hand each time to ensure that the whole ear is covered with the strokes. Work gently but with intent. If you are too tentative, you may make your dog nervous, particularly if he is ear shy. Working the shock point by making circular movements on the tip of the ear with the finger and thumb is beneficial for dogs who have had a traumatic experience, have cold tips to their ears and/or are habitually nervous.
The speed with which you work will vary on the dog’s response and situation. To calm a nervous or hyperactive dog and to promote relaxation, work quite slowly. If your dog is unsure, start by working more quickly initially and then gradually slow the movements as the dog settles. If you are working with a dog who is fatigued, or wanting to help bring a dog round from sedation, work a little more quickly.
It reduces stress, initiates the parasympathetic nervous system, lowers the heart rate and respiration, promotes deep, rhythmical breathing which boosts the immune system, and can stabilize a dog who is fatigued, stressed or going into or already in a state of shock. It promotes relaxation and can be done during training and before and after competitions to calm and settle the dog. It can be used during whelping if the female dog becomes distressed and can be used to help warm a cold and exhausted pup.
If your dog doesn’t like Ear Slides:
- Stroke the ear gently against the dog’s neck. Some dogs find having the ear touch their own body initially more acceptable.
- Cover your hand with a glove, or sheepskin buff.
- Hold the ear near the base and very gently take the ear slightly out to the side, pause for a moment and then slowly guide it back.
- Try other exercises and also exercises for the neck and mouth.
- TTouch gives beneficial information to the nervous system and is particularly useful for puppies and the simple bodywork exercises help develop a unique and lasting bond between dogs and their handlers.
- It also works well alongside appropriate veterinary care to help dogs suffering from health related issues such as arthritis, hip dysplasia, reluctance to eat and so on.
- The groundwork and bodywork exercises add variety to training and improve balance, co-ordination and self-control.
- TTouch can be used to help dogs overcome a fear of contact, to reduce stress, timidity and over excitability, to help a dog overcome a fear of loud noises and to improve traveling issues.
- It also helps reduce leash pulling, excessive barking, and separation anxiety and so on.
In fact, there is no situation that cannot be helped by TTouch.