TTouch for Companion Animals
The Tellington TTouch Method is a unique approach to animal training and care developed by internationally known trainer, teacher and author, Linda Tellington-Jones. Based on understanding and respect for our animal friends, this gentle method promotes well-being and adaptive behaviour through an integrated approach that helps to reduce stress and build confidence. This method is comprised of several different components which can be adapted for all companion animal species including farm animals and exotic species.
TTouch is more than a form of bodywork, it is an entire way of training, handling, and understanding animals in a positive, non-threatening way.
Attitude & Philosophy
One of the most important pieces that you will walk away with from a workshop is this tenant: “Change your mind, change your animal”, how much our perception and labels affect how we deal with a specific animal or behaviour. We look at behaviour as a means of communication rather than being the animal's innate personality or attitude. It is up to us to find the root cause of behaviour, because there is always a reason!
The Tellington TTouch Method looks at the connection between physical, mental and emotional well-being and uses the variety of exercises and techniques to improve posture and balance, which helps an animal feel safer resulting in an increase in self-confidence. When an animal is self-confident they have better self-control, emotional and mental balance. They can make better choices, acting rather than strictly reacting. This means that the Tellington TTouch Method is not simply “training” a specific behaviour, but actually providing the animal with the education to adapt cooperatively to different situations.
Observation & Awareness
Sometimes combined with the heading “Attitude & Philosophy”, observation has been a key piece to the Method since its inception. As a way to understand behaviour we use our powers of observation, visually and with our hands, to become “detectives” and work to understand underlying issues of behaviour from habitual patterns of tension and dysfunctional posture or limitations due to injury or loss of function.
This piece is not meant to label or judge the animal, it simply provides feedback to what is being observed in that context and at that moment in time. Observation is not limited to our animals but is used for ourselves as well as a road to self-awareness.
The foundation of the Tellington TTouch Method is a specific form of light circular touches and strokes known as TTouch®. Mindful and gentle, this form of touch induces a state of relaxation and increased body awareness in animals and people alike. The combination of the TTouch body work with unique movement exercises improves focus and attention, allowing optimal learning to take place. By using a variety of other tools that also assist the animal to experience a sense of confidence in previously frightening or challenging situations, even the most difficult problems are often eliminated with just a few sessions. The Tellington TTouch Method also provides people with a wonderful means of deepening the bond they share with their animal companions.
Many techniques may resemble massage but the intention is not to directly manipulate the muscular-skeletal system. TTouch works with the nervous system to change physical patterns at some of the deepest levels through gentle, non-habitual movement. Many aspects of these techniques were inspired by the Feldenkrais Method.
Working on lead is one of the most important aspects of the Tellington TTouch work for dogs. Mindful work on the lead enables an animal to override habitual patterns of posture and movement and to learn without fear or force. Helping a dog come more into balance on lead reduces reactivity, lead pulling and many other “issues” without force. Many of the lead work exercises are unique to the Tellington TTouch method and help create consistent, comfortable, loose-lead walking without corrections or distractions.
Changing postural patterns through movement helps retain the effectiveness of bodywork as well as change behavioural patterns associated with pain or tension. Tellington TTouch exercises in the “Confidence Course”, using a variety of elements (including labyrinth, ground poles and surfaces) result in improved self-control, focus, self-confidence, cooperation, balance and coordination.
Many different pieces of equipment are used to help enhance an animal’s balance and overall body awareness. These are used in exercises to support and encourage a functional posture and healthy way of going – without force or restraint.
One of these tools are “Body Wraps”. Contrary to many people’s first thought, these are in no way restrictive or tight. They do not force the body into any position, rather they remind the nervous system about where it is in space and seems to “reset” or at least reveal habitual patterns or tension and bracing.
What is covered in a TTouch Training for Companion Animals?
Philosophy and principles of the Tellington TTouch Method, as developed by Linda Tellington-Jones.
Physiology of stress and the relationship to behaviour.
Observational skill building: posture, balance, conformation, gait, and interaction with the environment using objectivity.
Skill building in the techniques of TTouch bodywork.
Use of the TTouch Tools & Equipment.
Skill building in the Tellington TTouch Method of leading and groundwork.
Application of the Tellington TTouch Method to specific behavioural issues.
Strategies for successfully working with clients.
You can use the Tellington TTouch Method with many species, including cats, birds, small critters, and reptiles.
How can the Tellington TTouch Method help my dog?
TTouch offers positive solutions to common behavioural and well-being related issues, including: inappropriate aggression, car sickness, separation anxiety, excessive vocalisation, chewing, jumping up and leash-pulling in dogs, resistance to grooming, nervousness, shyness, thunder phobia etc.
It compliments other types of training, especially positive reinforcement and can enhance performance in agility, showing and other performance activities, improves general well-being and offers support of veterinary care.
In addition to all of the behavioural and physical benefits, TTouch also deepens the bond and understanding between people and animals.
Who uses the Tellington TTouch Method?
The Tellington TTouch Method is used by many animal professionals. The list includes groomers, dog walkers, trainers, animal behaviourists, shelter and rescue workers, breeders, vets, veterinary nurses and competitors in agility, obedience, tracking and many more.
Tellington TTouch Practitioners work with individual clients and teach one or two day workshops.
Of course, anyone who shares their life with animals can use the Tellington TTouch Method!