by Eugenie Chopin
Working with animals has got to be one of the best jobs in the world! And doing it with the Tellington TTouch Method is an added bonus. TTouch is a combination of bodywork, groundwork exercises and communication that is based on respect and individuality rather than traditional methods of dominance.
There are many aspects to the TTouch way of working with animals but a few ideas come to mind:
Meet Them Where They Are
What a concept! No labelling of bad, stubborn, head strong, hard to train, etc. But rather, accept that the animal is behaving in a certain way for a reason. If a dog is aggressive (We prefer the word reactive), there’s a 95% chance that it’s out of fear. So let’s find a way to make it safe for the dog to change it’s behaviour. Let’s honour the fear, be respectful and work with the animal in a way that allows it to start to trust again.
For many people this is the first step in learning to meet people where they are! While we often hear people say they would rather work with animals than people, the truth is that the animals are our teachers in helping us overcome our prejudices and inhibitions around humans.
Imagine working with a human without judgement, but only with Compassion and understanding. This is the ultimate goal in the TTouch work with Animals!
Influence Rather Than Control
When did we learn that we had to dominate our animals? That we had to be the boss? That if a dog didn’t sit when ordered, it should be rolled & pinned it on it’s back? If a horse wouldn’t walk into the trailer, we should whip it until it does? These examples produce the result only with fear. We want our animals to first understand what we want of them through respectful communication and then to comply through co-operation. This can be done gently, but firmly with the right skills. With TTouch techniques & equipment we have many tools to use to influence a dogs behaviour or direction without using force.
Give Direction Rather Than Correction
TTouch helps to change people’s ideas about our relationship with animals. Traditionally people have used Punishment (which includes an aversive to the animal) to correct mistakes. With TTouch we try to reward or reinforce behaviours that we like rather than punish those we don’t. This leads to a more relaxed and happy pet as well as an increase in trust and a better relationship with your animal.
Contain Rather Than Restrain
Learning to soften our own bodies when working with an unruly animal can help the animal relax and accept containment. Energy and tension always translate directly from human to animal, so by meeting them where they are and gently melding with the animal, he can relax and not feel threatened or need to escape.
When Would I Use TTouch?
We work with all behavioural problems from aggression to fear of strangers; fear of thunder to leash pulling; and many health issues such as arthritis/aging, mobility problems, pre & post-operative care, general stress, car sickness & many more.
Linda Tellington Jones, creator of the Tellington TTouch, describes the circular touches as waking up the cells to their natural potential for healing. These touches have also been measured in brain activity where they amazingly stimulate all levels from Theta to Beta. As a result, not only can we relax and de-stress animals, but we can also get them thinking and making conscious choices.
So whether you have a dog that is hyper, a cat that doesn’t like to be touched or a horse that you consider stubborn, this might make a difference to you!
The Tellington TTouch Practitioner Training Program will be starting a new three-year Training in 2007 for those who want to learn how to work with animals. For more information on that, private consultations, weekend workshops or Clicker Training, go to http://www.ttouch.co.za