Tellington TTouch Bodywork uses a combination of circles, slides and lifts to increase awareness and sensation, reduce stress and relax tension held in the body.
This promotes a sense of well being that allows the body to function to it’s full potential in the healing process.
While bodywork may look like massage, it is usually gentler, with a softer touch and works on the nervous system rather than the muscles. By clearing blockages cause by tension and stress, we can send messages to the brain, allowing the animals to make conscious choices in behaviour.
As the body comes into balance via touches and groundwork exercise, the mind and emotions also find their balance!
TTouch uses non-habitual movements to activate unused neurological pathways to the brain. This indeed turns uncooperative animals into willing partners. While TTouch is used to alleviate many problems, it is also just a great way to connect and bond with your pet.
Look at the image below to see how touching different parts of the body might affect your pet.
How to do the TTouches
Scan the Body
Getting a general feel for where your pet is holding his tension and stress.
We know from science that we hold emotional issues in the cellular receptors of our body. Animals do the same! Try an experiment with your pet and see if you can tell where he/she is holding his tension and issues.
Do some long steady strokes over every part of your pet’s body. Start at the top of the head and run your hand down to the tip of the tail, the bottom of the feet. Is there any area where you can’t touch? Or that your pet gives an indication that he might be concerned or uncomfortable?
The signs you might get include:
- Moving away
- Sitting: especially when you get to the tail and hindquarter area
- Turning around to look at what you’re doing
- A calming signal [see Turid Rugaas’ book] such as yawning, licking of lips, scratching, chewing sniffing, etc.
- Fooling around! He’s trying to distract you!
- Growl or try to bite! Please be careful and pay attention to the information your pet is giving you.
And what does this tell you? It could be several things:
- Your animal could have pain in that part of his body. I.e. if he has arthritis or HD
- He might have a memory of pain. Ever clipped a toenail too short and tried to go back again later? Or have a pet that was injured in the past but is still wary of that part of his body?
- Your pet could be holding emotional issues in this part of the body.
Make sure you work from the mouth [including inside], to the ears, down the legs into the feet and toes and go all the way back to the butt and the length of the tail. If you know how to do the circles then try that as well! If you’re getting reaction in a certain area, try a softer pressure or a flatter touch.
See the Basic Circular Touch below. Sometimes the reaction will be very subtle and sometimes quite dramatic. Just know that this is the area where your pet feels unsafe and what we want to do is give him a NEW experience of this part of his body. You might gently try going into these areas more frequently until he is more comfortable with touch. Good luck and let us know how you do!
Doing the Tellington TTouch
Although the descriptions often refer to dogs, all touches can be used on any animal, including horses.
The TTouch pressures range on a scale from one to nine. To learn the scale, begin with the “one pressure” as a guideline. To establish this criterion, place your thumb against your cheek. With the tip of your middle finger push the skin on your eyelid in a circle and a quarter with the lightest possible contact. Make sure you move the skin, not just sliding over it. Take your finger away and repeat this movement on your forearm, to get a sense of the pressure. Observe how little of an indentation you make in the skin. This is what we call a “one pressure” TTOUCH.
To discover a “three pressure,” make several circles on your eyelid as firm as feels safe and comfortable. Repeat the circles on your forearm, noting the depth and pressure of the indentation. It should still be very light. This is a “three pressure.”
To discover a “six pressure” press twice as deep. We rarely use more than a “six pressure” on dogs and cats. On horses (and humans), we occasionally go as high as nine. Instead of pressing three times deeper than the “three pressure,” we tip the first joints of the fingers so that the fingernails are pointing directly into the muscle and apply three times the pressure. (See the Bear and Tiger TTouch cards.) This TTouch is more comfortable for the person doing the touch, and the animal or human gets a much deeper connection than simply applying pressure.
Experiment with the pressure until you click into the one that is “right” for the animal you are working on. Small creatures call only for the lightest pressures. Larger or heavily muscled animals may be more responsive to the deeper pressures, but not always. If there is pain or inflammation in the body, you may have to begin the touch with a two or three pressure, and then establish the right level to work at.
As you become familiar with the various TTouches, you will intuitively know which to use. If your animal friend is not comfortable with one TTouch, choose another. With practice, you will find both you and your animal will benefit from this experience.
There are many different touches, but numerous ones are based on a clockwise circular motion. The Clouded Leopard is the first one we teach because the techniques and principles used are basic to all TTouches.
The Clouded Leopard Touch
- The hand is held in a slightly curved position. The fingers are together.
- Rest your hand gently on the body.
- Place the other hand on the animal for support and balance and use the first hand to make the circle.
- The tips of the fingers should be at about a 45% angle to what you’re touching. This is about halfway onto the tips of the fingers.
- Now visualize the face of the clock.
- We want to make a circle and a quarter ONLY, in a clockwise movement.
- With your hand resting lightly on the animal, place your thumb a few centimetres from your fingers for support, and start your fingers at the 6 o’clock position, move around the clock by pushing (or pulling) the skin in a clockwise motion until you’ve done one complete circle and a quarter, which will land you up at 9 o’clock.
- As the dog is usually below you, you’ll start by pulling the skin up towards your wrist.
- Remember to move the skin and not slide over it and always start your 6 o’clock from the ground upwards. It really feels different to end in upward motion rather than down! The idea is to move the skin in the direction is moves easiest, which is usually against gravity!
- Do ONLY ONE circle in a spot, and then move on to another.
- Keep your fingers and knuckles soft and flexible. If there is tension in your hand or wrist, that tension will go directly into the animal.
- Keep your pressure very light until you know how comfortable the animal is with the touch. Remember that you’re activating the nervous system, so you don’t need to go into muscle.
- Keep your hand as an extension on your arm to avoid getting into an awkward position.
- While you concentrate, don’t forget to Breathe!
- Try doing connected circles down the body, keeping them small. This means circle, pause, slide down to the next spot, circle, pause, etc.
- Afterwards do a long steady stroke to integrate the circles.
Try these circles on yourself and friends and see how they feel!!! Attempt to keep the circles even and with the same pressure.
Do this anywhere on the body of your pet. You might do some randomly or work your way down the body. There is no right or wrong way. Just pay attention to the reaction you get. GOOD LUCK!!
Cats really enjoy that spot on the nose just below the eyes! There is actually a pressure point there for feeling good! I like to do a circle and a slide up between the eyes to the forehead. It’s the fastest way to get a cat settled that I know.
Why do mouth work?
It’s true that most of us never look into our dog’s mouths! We learn to do a quick inspection at puppy class to help facilitate later Vet needs, but seldom go there again. WELL I WOULD LIKE TO TELL YOU HOW GOOD IT IS FOR YOUR PET TO HAVE MOUTHWORK! Why? You may ask. The mouth connects with the limbic portion of the brain, which is the seat of emotions. The limbic system controls stress, anxiety and all of the related emotions that allow your animal to think rather than slip into “reaction”. By working in the mouth we can relieve a great deal of stress as well as induce feelings of “well-being”.
When would you use mouth work?
I must admit that I would use it on any dog or cat, but some of the main uses are for dogs who bite, chew, bark or whinetoo much. I would certainly use mouth work on any aggressive dog and often for fearful animals. The tightness of the mouth area will give you an indication of how concerned your dog is about you going there. I have previously discussed how to see if your animal will let you work in all areas of the body. For the mouth it might be a little trickier as most pets NEVER get touched there.
What to do:
Start by doing long and gentle strokes on the muzzle from the nose backwards being careful of the whiskers. You might even continue to the ears if your dog likes it. [For ease, I will refer to a dog, but this is also true for cats] Then try doing small circles on the muzzle of the dog. [Refer to the basic circular touch] Remember that the circles will be small and if your pet is very small you might have to use one or two fingers instead of all four.
If your dog wants to pull away you might support the head under the jaw and if he moves – GO WITH HIM! This is not about “holding” or forcing. Try doing circles from under and/or on top of the nose. Different dogs react differently to how they are held. Now try lifting the lip and see how tight it is and if your dog will allow you in the mouth easily. If so, do small circles on the gums all over the mouth. Be careful if the mouth is dry! It can indicate some nervousness and you’ll need to wet your finger in a bit of water. I can also often find saliva towards the back teeth even when the front of the mouth is dry.
People often say, “Oh my dog doesn’t like that”! If this is the case, then you have found one of his “stress holding points”. Well done! Remember there is always a reason why an animal doesn’t want you to into a certain area of the body! As in all parts of the body we want to make sure that there is no pain involved, so for puppies, they might be teething or for older dogs, they might have teeth that are giving problems. Just be aware and know that you can help them. WHAT IF YOUR DOG HOLDS HIS BREATH?? He might get anxious and not know how to relax. Mouth work can change that in minutes!
NOTE: If you are working on someone else’s dog be mindful of trying to sit behind the dog and not working with your face in his! Also as the mouth is often a big stress holder for many animals, start your touches somewhere else first and only go to the mouth when you feel the animal is more relaxed. GOOD LUCK!
Why do ear work?
One of the best places to start TTouching your pet is on the ears. You might wonder why and there are several reasons. The first being that they usually really like it! Watch you dog, he spends time every day trying to scratch deep down into his ears! So if you’re prepared to put you finger there, dogs are usually VERY grateful. So it’s always good to start bodywork in an area that your pet is happy with you touching.
The next reason to work the ears is that it holds many pressure points for the immune system. It’s the logical place to go if your pet has any illness. There is also a pressure point for SHOCK near the tip, so if your animal has been hurt and you’re off to the Vet you might actually save his life by doing ear work and helping him not go into shock! Like children, our pets often get into scraps, cut something open in the garden or just have an accident that needs attention.
Whether it’s a dogfight, accident or even a road accident, it’s great to know there is something we can do on the way to the Vet and while waiting to be attended to. EAR WORK! Yes, I’m serious! There are pressure points near the tip of the ears that can keep your pet from going into shock. All of the ear work is good for boosting the immune system so don’t wait for an Emergency!
What to do:
- Start by doing ear slides from deep inside the ear out to the tip. Do this on all points of the ear from the base upwards, both on the outside and inside
- Do small circles in the same direction from the base upwards in lines until you have covered the entire ear. For big eared dogs, you might hold the ear open with one hand and do circles with the other
- Take the whole ear in your hand and do circles in BOTH directions. A great “Non-habitual” touch.
- Do circles around the base of the ears. There is a meridian that runs from the outer edge of the eyes around the ears and down the front legs called the “Triple Heater” Meridian and it works with Digestion, Respiration and Reproduction. So working this part of the ears can help anything connected with these. An example is my golden, Angelique who used to get carsick. I cured her with ear work and a body wrap!
Touch Tips - Tail & Hindquarters
The tail and (or) the hindquarters can often be a challenging place to work on an animal and there are several reasons why this might be so. The first is simply that we so often pet our animals on the head and maybe halfway down the back. How often do we go the whole way down the body and into the buttock area? So it might be that your dog (or cat, etc.) is simply not used to being touched there! But remember that we want animals to be aware of their bodies all over.
It is also possible that this is exactly where dogs and other animals hold their tension and emotional issues. It is often said that dogs hold Fear in their Hindquarters. I have seldom met a dog that was fearful of loud noises, thunderstorms or fireworks that didn’t react is some way to being touched in the tail area or the buttock area. The reaction can vary from simply yawning (calming signal), to turning the head to see what you’re doing, to mouthing you, to actually growling and trying to bite your hand. Dogs will also often try to move away from you. If any of these things occur when you are touching you animal, you might want to do some gentle exercises in this area. Start by doing long strokes down the body of your dog.
They are normally less concerned if they can feel you hand coming! Also by the time they realize that you’re there, you have already finished! Keep it firm and steady, but not too fast. You’ll want to do gentle lying leopard touches around the base of the tail as well as all around the buttocks and thigh area, both outside and inside the leg. For the actual tail, remember that the tail is an extension of the spine and giving a gentle tug is rather like traction. It can be a wonderful way of loosening the spine. BE SURE TO BE GENTLE AND MAKE SURE THAT THE TAIL IS GOING IN THE DIRECTION OF THE SPINE. I.e. if you have a GSD with a sloped back, your tail tug might almost be at a 45-degree angle towards the ground!
Then do a few circles with the tail in both directions. (Non-habitual movement for those who know about Feldenkrais) Then slide your hand down the tail a couple of inches and do again until you finally reach the bottom. For dogs with cropped tails, most have at least a stub that can be tugged and circled. And the probability of there being old trauma there from the amputation is high! Also, ever hear of phantom limbs? Many dogs react when you touch the air where the tail should have been! We actually know from modern instruments that measure energy fields that there is still an energy field where these limbs used to be so it’s not the imagination!
Also just do basic circles right down the length of the tail and remember to do Noah’s March afterwards. Or just a long steady stroke to consolidate. If your dog has a major problem in the tail or hindquarter areas, be respectful of his concern, but know that by helping him release tension in this area, you can make a major contribution to his overall confidence level and well-being.
Tips For Arthritis
While cold weather can make arthritis worse, TTouch can be useful anytime of year. For those of you who know a bit about how TTouch works, there are a few things that you can do to help. And for those who know nothing I’ll talk a bit about lifts. We have a touch that we use on the leg of an animal called a “Python Lift”, which relaxes and stimulates circulation. Use the whole flat of the hand (the palm as well as the fingers) and lift the skin in an upward direction, hold for a couple of seconds, then holding the skin with the same pressure, return the skin to the starting point.
Do this slowly and gently; if you use twice as much time in the release, you’ll get a greater degree of relaxation. This is normally used on legs and is great to do when the dog (meaning all animals) is standing, but for older dogs it’s also possible to do lying down. With any touch we like to use our second hand to support, balance or even hold a collar. When lying down, you will find it necessary to hold the foot while lifting the skin on the leg so that the whole leg doesn’t lift with you! Be sure to start at the top and work your way down the leg.
If your dog is lying down, you might then like to gently rotate the leg in circles going in both directions, keeping the circles small until it’s clear what your animal is comfortable with. If your dog is standing and you want to try leg circles, be sure to keep the foot directly under the body and the circles small. IF YOUR DOG HAS HD, OR TROUBLE STANDING DUE TO AGE OR INFIRMITY, PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS STANDING, as you might be putting more weight on 3 legs than is good for your dog. If in any doubt, only do lying down and then gently, carefully and SMALL!
Now having done python lifts on the legs, it is also possible to do lifts on the body. Sometimes lifts starting at the top of the spine and working your way down can release much tension. Again, keep your pressure very light to begin with. Your dog will tell you how much you can do. Just watch his reactions.
In general, do less; be gentle and very alert to your dog’s comfort. None of this should hurt or cause any pain. If your dog has trouble getting up in the morning, do 5 minutes of touches including some Zigzags or Tarantulas to wake up the body. Respect your animals need to have a warm place, preferably in the sun! And make sure that wherever your animal is sleeping, it’s warm and cosy with bedding!
If you want to try circles, try doing connected circles from the top of the head, down either side of the spine, and ending either at the tip of the tail or down the legs into the toes. We do a circle, then a slide to the next spot, circle, slide, etc. This has the effect of connecting the nervous system of the body. It takes information from one end of the body to the other and can go so far as to open unused neural pathways. You can do this down various parts of the body.
Remember that animals who are out of balance because of pain in one part of the body always hold tension and stress in another area, so be sure to work the whole body, not just those areas that you “think” are affected! I nearly always find that animals who have mobility problems hold a lot of tension in the NECK area, so have a good feel and if your pet is tight, help him release tension with circles or just plain massage in the neck area! And don’t forget Ear Work! This is always good for the immune system and seems to stimulate the whole body.
There are of course many other things you can do for your pet. For Danilo, who is now almost 17, we use something I originally received from Dr Gary Eckersley called “Joint Support”. It has many wonderful natural ingredients for arthritis. You can get it delivered to your door by phoning Di at 011 789 1348011 789 1348 or in other parts of the country by calling 011 789 1348011 789 1348 to find the rep in your area. This is a Human product that can be used by anyone in the family! I also recommend Homeopathic remedies that can be effective. Please go to a homeopathic Vet to be sure your animal receives what is needed as an individual.