Canine Capers: TTouch for Pets

There are many ways to demonstrate our love for our companion animals. One of my favorites is a technique called Tellington Touch (TTouch®), which I used on my devoted senior dog Ollie during a recent stressful period. With the addition of an inquisitive teenage puppy to our family, Ollie’s confidence was tested and he was unsure of how he fit. Having seen foster dogs come and go, I think he thought the puppy was there to stay, and he was next to go. I wanted to minimize his stress and the resulting negative emotions and behaviors.

I had read a few books, and seen a video by TTouch’s originator, Linda Tellington Jones (available at the public library), and thought it was time I put the techniques into practice! My goal was to reduce Ollie’s anxiety levels by applying what I had learned as part of a holistic approach. It helped significantly, but in the first few days I thought I should bring in a professional practitioner to work directly with us to ensure my techniques were correct, and to speed the process. I booked three sessions with Harriet Cowan, a Certified TTouch practitioner who has experience working with both horses and companion animals. She came to our home and gave me a review of the basic touches, movements and body wraps to relax Ollie and increase his confidence. She also told me that everyone in the house could benefit from treatment, and that TTouch is useful not only for emotional and behavioral issues, but also physical, training, and even aging issues. She added that for performance animals, it can be a great help as it improves their focus and overall co-ordination and teaches them to think about finer body movements. Within three weeks, Ollie was comfortable in his role in the family again.

Harriet defines TTouch as "… a gentle and holistic approach to working with animals based on co-operation and respect… used to support veterinary care, training and behaviour modification.” She also says: "One benefit is a deeper rapport between humans and animals through increased communication.” TTouch involves specific circular touches, lifts, and movement exercises used on animals, including humans, and is used by progressive animal owners, trainers, breeders, veterinarians, zoo personnel and shelter workers worldwide. The .com website explains that "TTouch is not difficult to learn and brings quick rewards.” I agree! It continues: "You can build communication, trust, respect and most importantly, JOY with your animal.” The method wakes up individual cells to new learning and offers a positive approach to training. I recommend adding TTouch to your no force training tool kit.

Donna Hill B.Sc (zoology) B.Ed. teaches owners games to play with their dogs.