by Kathy Cascade
The Tellington TTouch Method is a unique approach to animal training and care developed by internationally known author and teacher, Linda Tellington-Jones. The foundation of this method is a specific form of body work known as TTouch®, which induces a state of relaxation and increased body awareness in animals and people alike. The TTouch Method is based on a philosophy of mutual respect and cooperation and serves as a unique system of nonverbal communication with animals.
The Goals of TTouch Include:
- Influencing positive behavioral changes
- Promoting well-being through reduction of stress
- Deepening the relationship and fostering clear communication between people and animals
There are three basic components of the TTouch Method:
- TTouch Bodywork
- TTouch Tools
- The TTouch Confidence Course®
TTouch consists of a variety of light pressure touches and strokes performed at the skin surface with mindfulness and focused attention. When doing TTouch we give the dog new information (experiences) by engaging the sensory aspect of the nervous system.
Types of TTouches
Circular: The foundation of the TTouch Technique is a circular pattern of touch performed on the dog’s body. The fingers or hand actually move the dog’s skin gently one circle and a quarter in a clockwise direction.
Lifts: In this movement, the hand gently lifts and supports the tissue of the body, then slowly releases it to the resting position. This often assists an animal to release muscle tension around a specific joint or body part.
Strokes or Connected TTouches: Long strokes from one part of the body to another distant part. These reinforce the animal’s spatial awareness
The TTouches are performed with a very light pressure and range on a subjective scale from 1-5. Many factors play a role in an animal’s acceptance of a specific pressure so changing the pressure slightly may make the sensory experience more acceptable.
The duration of touch is another important factor in TTouch. The circular TTouches can be performed in one, two, or three second time segments. Slower circles tend to be more relaxing, however it is sometimes necessary to initially start a session with faster one second circles.
A simple elastic bandage applied to the dog’s torso, the body wrap promotes body awareness and a sense of security. The wrap may also influence coordination and balance.
The calming band is a stretchy piece of material that rests over the dog’s muzzle and fastens around the dog’s head without restricting movement. The calming band is useful in reducing barking, and other habitual behaviors involving the mouth. It is also used in preparation for fitting a head collar (halter).
Used to stroke an animal, the wand allows a person to make contact and still maintain a safe distance from the animal. It is also used to orient and give signals during the leading exercises.
Harness and Double Snap Leash
A seven foot leash with two snaps on either end. This allows us to attach the leash to the dog with two points of contact. Used with various harness and head collar configurations.
Paint Brushes, Sheep Skin Mits, Jelly Scrubbers
These tools are simply variations on ways to touch animals with objects rather than with our hand or fingers. These tools employ soft textures and may be perceived as less threatening to an animal than touching with the hands or fingers.
The TTouch Confidence Course®
The TTouch Confidence Course is a collection of leading exercises used to engage the dog’s attention and focus. Done with purposeful slower movements and frequent stops to allow the dog to experience being in a state of physical balance, these exercises help to increase body awareness, and enhance communication between the handler and the dog. Simple objects such as boards, poles, cones, and low agility equipment are often used. The centerpiece of the TTouch Confidence Course is a Labyrinth, which is a specific configuration of poles or boards that require the handler and dog to make several turns in both directions when walking through it. It looks like 2 Fs, facing each other with one upside down and fitted.together.
© Kathy Cascade 2006
Cascade Animal Connection www.spiritdog.com