The Tellington Touch or TTouch as it is more often known was founded by Canadian Linda Tellington Jones. In the summer of 1975 Linda was studying with Dr Moshe Feldenkrais using his theory that learning in humans could be enhanced by activating new neural pathways to the brain using non-habitual movements called "Awareness through Movement".



Feldenkrais stated that "non-habitual movements" could shorten learning time dramatically. Linda was immediately inspired to attempt to adapt this theory for horses and began experimenting by moving horse's bodies in ways that they would not normally move. She was amazed to find that the horses did indeed learn much faster than using the normal repetitive methods used for centuries.


Tellington TTouch emerged. Development of Linda's work continued over a number of years. Inclusions of simple one and a quarter circular movements, using the fingers and hands on the skin were introduced. Combined with lifts and slides this part of the Tellington TTouch is known as body work. The non-habitual movements have evolved in to what is known as "The Playground for Higher Learning" or "Confidence Course".


The TTouch work has been used on an amazing number of species and has been shown to be successful in improving performance, eliminating undesirable behaviour, reducing stress and enhancing the healing process. It improves self confidence, self control, improves balance and deepens the communication and understanding between owner and animal. This gentle method is being used around the world by animal owners, trainers, vets, zoo and shelter workers.



It is not necessary to adopt the whole of the Tellington TTouch philosophy in order to make a difference to you dog. Learning just a few of the bodywork TTouches can help make your dogs life a TTouch Easier. The Tellington TTouch offers a way to work with many different aspects of your daily life with your dog from modifying many behaviour issues to helping where there is fear provoked responses, assisting with recovery from illness or injury or just to enhance the quality of your dogs daily life.



Stress in dogs has been well documented over recent years, what makes dogs stressed and the symptoms of stress are very similar to those that affect us as human beings. But we have the ability to reduce amounts of stress for ourselves if we so wish, where as our dogs are really relying on us to help them out in this situation.



TTouch is a tool that offers ways to reduce the levels of stress within our dogs and at the same time activates the potential for enhanced learning so situations that were once stressful no longer have that effect.


When was the last time you looked at your dog?…….no, I mean really looked at your dog? Spending a little time observing your dog before you start to do any TTouch work gives you a base line to work from and to refer back too.



I thought I knew my dogs before I trained as a TTouch practitioner, but I can tell a whole lot more now just from observing them. Using the back of your hand gently stroke your dog all over, notice if there are any differences in temperature, feel your dogs coat, you may find that the texture of the coat changes here and there. Look at the coat does it lye in the same direction or is there a change. Watch closely as you move your hands over your dog, sometimes you may see muscle twitches or your dog reacting in any way. This could possibly indicate areas of tension.


Now look at your dog when he stands, is the head carriage high or low, do the eyes seem hard or soft? Some dogs often look like they are in a total state of surprise with constantly raised eyebrows; again this could indicate tension in this area.


The mouth is a really good indicator to how your dog is feeling, dogs that carry tension in the mouth often look like they are sucking the sides of their mouths in and may be dry inside through lack of saliva production.



Feel your dogs ears are there any temperature changes? Dogs that have cold ear tips can indicate that anxiety/stress levels may be high. Dogs with high ear set are often linked to reactive behaviour.


Next watch your dog walking, look at how they use their bodies does any part of their gait look stiff or choppy do they place even weight through all four paws as they move, notice the claws are they worn down more so on one particular paw to another? Some dogs may appear to be walking on tiptoes.


Then look at the tail. Is the tail carried high or tightly tucked, when the dog wags his tail does it seem to wag more to one side than the other?

All of the above observations can also be linked to why a dog behaves in the way they do. Look at the fantastic article by Sarah Fisher called "Looking at dogs in the Present Tense" on the web site - www.ttouchtteam.co.uk



Make notes of what you observe when you first start as once you start to do some of the TTouches changes to your dog will happen. You may find the temperature becomes more even or your dog is walking in a more fluid way the dog may have lowered his head carriage or he may start to produce more saliva. Making a note of how the dog is when you start will allow you to see how the dog is changing as you practice the TTouches on them



Most of the Tellington TTouches are based around a one and a quarter circle, an easy way to remember this is to imagine a clock face with the start at six o'clock moving all the way round past six and on until you reach about nine o'clock.



Using the pads of your fingers like a gentle curved paw place the hand lightly on your dog, imagine the middle finger is at six o'clock and gently move the skin in a one and a quarter circle. Now slowly slide your fingers a little further along the dogs' body and repeat the one and a quarter circle. This is known as the Clouded Leopard and can be use all over the body. It reduces stress and tension, helps build self confidence and increases circulation.



As with many dog related teaching methods there is probably no exact recipe. Each dog is different and will accept the TTouches in varying different degrees, so if you start to do a TTouch and your dog moves away from you be guided by them, as they may be telling you that an area you are working on is a little sore at the moment. Try to start working on your dog in areas that are accepting of TTouch.


One of the magic things about TTouch body work is that you always have everything you need with you, your hands. Doing a little TTouch at the end of the day just to enhance your relationship with your dog, building it in to your training programme or being able to help your dogs if they become stressed no matter where they are is a fantastic tool to have.



About the author of this article -

For more information about TTouch you can contact Maria by email - clothespeg@ntlworld.com

She is running a one day workshop - "An Introduction to TTouch" - in Rugby, Warwickshire on Sunday 16th of October 2005 (10am to 4pm). The workshop will look at ways to influence your dogs, behaviour, performance and well being.


This web site has been written by Sally Hopkins (unless the author of the web page is stated otherwise).


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