The Tellington TTouch® method is a series of gentle moves that can help relieve tension in your pet’s muscles and joints.
In addition to the physical benefits, there are also mental benefits such as reducing fearfulness around other dogs or people. As an added bonus, this technique often results in improved cognitive function which means an overall increase in your pet’s quality of life!
I spoke with Rachel Jackson, Senior Tellington TTouch® Training Practitioner for Companion Animals and Equines who’s going to explain what Tellington TTouch® is and how it can help your pets whether they are cats, dogs, parrots, tortoises, horses or other small furry companions.
The Tellington TTouch® Method
The Tellington TTouch® Method was developed forty years ago by internationally recognised teacher, author and animal expert Linda Tellington Jones. It is now widely used around the world by shelter staff, veterinarians, behaviourists, physiotherapists, dog trainers, vet nurses, groomers and dog guardians to benefit the animals in their care.
What are the benefits of TTouch?
The benefits of TTouch are many and varied. Each animal is a unique, special individual and we can influence their lives in many ways by using the Tellington TTouch® Method.
- TTouch can enhance our relationships with our animals, creating better understanding and communication
- Reduce stress and stress responses
- Improve physical, emotional and mental balance
- Develop trust
- Improve behaviour
- Help animals make better choices
- Change an animal’s feelings about human contact
What is Tellington TTouch® Training?
TTouch is a unique, gentle and respectful approach to how we handle, rehabilitate and live with our dogs and other species. It is based on a philosophy of mutual respect, cooperation and understanding between ourselves and our animals, creating a two way communication between us and the animals we are blessed to share our lives with. The Tellington TTouch Method is successfully used with horses, dogs, cats and any species with a nervous system. The name is a little misleading, as many people think it is primarily about bodywork, but it is much, much more.
The Tellington TTouch® Method looks at the connection between physical, mental, and emotional balance and uses the TTouch techniques to improve an animal’s posture and balance. This helps the animal feel safer and more confident, thus achieving mental balance. When an animal feels more confident, they have improved self control and make better choices, they can think and then act rather than immediately reacting. In this way, the Tellington TTouch Method is not training a specific behaviour, or changing a behaviour, it provides the animal with the ability to be relaxed and more confident in the many situations that our busy lives today mean they are often expected to be comfortable in.
Which animals can benefit from the Tellington TTouch® Method?
All animals can benefit from TTouch, due to its aim being to improve posture, balance and body awareness (proprioception), to reduce stress and tension in the body and help the animal make better choices. Although the main species people associate with TTouch are dogs and horses, any animal can benefit.
Dogs live with us and we have very close bonds with our dogs. However, because we walk them on leads, we often inadvertently help create imbalance by the equipment we use and how we expect our dogs to walk with us. This creates tension in the dog’s bodies and creates unhelpful habitual patterns of posture and movement, which TTouch can alter.
Which type of dog can benefit from TTouch?
- Puppies – helping them to settle in, foster a good bond with their new guardian and set them up for a life in balance.
- Adult dogs – for rehabilitation of problems
- Rescue dogs – a wonderful way to help build trust with your new family member
- Sports dogs – who need great balance and body awareness to be fast and accurate
- Senior dogs – who may start to lose body awareness or need a change in focus from lots of physical exercise to a more mindful and slower more structured activities
- Therapy dogs – as a great way of giving something back to dogs who work hard for us
What does TTouch comprise of?
TTouch can benefit our animals in many ways; it improves behaviour, enhances well being and health, it develops an animal’s ability to learn, creates focus and encourages calmness. It comprises of:
- TTouch bodywork
- TTouch leading exercises
- Tellington Training equipment
Using TTouch techniques it is possible to release tension and improve posture by influencing these habitual patterns by giving the nervous system new information using slow, mindful movements. A physically balanced dog tends to feel safer in their environment, they can think and act rather than react.
Philosophy and Observations Working With Dogs
The core principles and philosophy of the Tellington TTouch® Method are at the centre of how a practitioner will work with a dog and their guardian. As dog guardians we often believe that a dog’s behaviour comes from their personality or attitude. However, if we change our perspective and recognise that any behaviour we observe is a means of communication then it also makes a shift in how we view the behaviour and alters our attitude.
Dogs are often given labels, which do not help us see what the reason for the behaviour may be. For example, a dog may be described as stubborn, but when you observe their behaviour and break it down to what we see, they are, in fact, reacting to stimuli in their environment. They have stopped and can’t move because they do not wish to approach the dog walking towards them, they have gone into a freeze.
The TTouches, as they are often referred to, are the light, gentle movements we use on the dog’s body. These can be circular, long slow strokes, slides and gentle lifts to increase body awareness and create a more relaxed dog. It may look similar to massage, however it is much lighter, we are not manipulating the musculo-skeletal system, we are giving the body information via the nervous system. Many aspects of the bodywork were inspired by the Feldenkrais Method.
When combined with the unique Tellington TTouch® leading and movement techniques, there is improved focus and attention, which allows learning to take place. The combination of techniques also increases self confidence which helps the dog in situations that they have previously found frightening.
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TTouch Leading Exercises
Exercises on the lead are an important aspect of the TTouch technique. Helping a dog to become more balanced on the lead, using the leading exercises, reduces reactivity, lead pulling and confidence when out on walks.
Exercises on the lead include the Confidence Course, by using a number of different elements, such as poles, surfaces and the labyrinth, we are able to improve self control, self awareness, balance and co-operation.
TTouch Training Equipment
There are many different pieces of equipment used in the TTouch method to enhance balance, body awareness and self control.
Harnesses and leads that allow for ‘two points of contact’ are key pieces of equipment we use during the leading exercises and enable dogs to find their own balance and coordination.
Body wraps are used to increase body awareness and confidence. These are not put on the dog in a tight manner and they do not restrict the dog in any way. They give the body feedback about how it is holding itself, areas of tension and bracing and allows the dog to bring their body back into balance.
How easy is TTouch to learn?
The Tellington TTouch Method comprises over thirty TTouches, observations, many leading exercises, elements of the Confidence Course as well as equipment. Despite this, it is easy to learn some TTouch techniques that will enhance your dog’s well being, help eliminate behaviour issues and deepen the bond between dog and guardian.
One way to learn the techniques that will be most beneficial for your dog is to work with a qualified Tellington TTouch Practitioner. In a one-to-one appointment, tension and postural changes can be identified and the most appropriate TTouches and equipment chosen to benefit your dog.
Learning a few TTouch Techniques can benefit the animals in your care in so many ways as well as enhancing your understanding of each other.So why not find a local practitioner or look at the online courses available to find out more information about the Tellington TTouch Method and find the easiest way for you to learn more.
- Read Next:10 Powerful Benefits Of Reiki Healing Therapy For Dogs [And How To Do It]
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About Rachel Jackson
Rachel Jackson a senior TTouch Training Practitioner for Companion Animals and Equines in the UK. She is fully insured and qualified to provide animal physiotherapy services to both large and small animals at my clinic, your home or yard. Rachel lives in the North West of England with her husband, a lurcher and two greyhounds. She is an experienced dog trainer, has competed in dog sports and loves to ride.
Website: Well Balanced Animals
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