Published in Animals & Us, Newsletter of the Human-Animal Bond Association of Canada, Vol. 7, No.2, Spring 1997
TELLINGTON TOUCH ANIMAL COMPANION TRAINING
By Barbara Janelle M.A.
The eleven-year old Collie limped into the room and slowly lay down. The attractive but skittish German Shepherd hid behind its owner when anyone tried to pet it. A Miniature Poodle clung to its owner, while another stood its ground and barked at dogs and people alike. The Doberman was afraid of other dogs, and the second Shepherd whined incessantly and jumped on anyone who walked by. The Airedale and several of the other dogs pulled on the leash when walking. Finally there was the rescued Bichon Frise who bit people, was afraid of other dogs and refused to allow his feet to be touched and nails to be clipped. The owners had come to this TTACT (Tellington Touch Animal Companion Training) workshop to learn how to help their animals be happier and more comfortable.
HISTORY OF TTACT AND TTEAM
In the early 1970’s, Linda Tellington-Jones developed a new way of training horses that combined classical approaches with ideas from Feldenkrais Body Awareness Work for humans, and a unique kind of circular touch work. The results of this remarkable TTEAM (Tellington-Jones Equine Awareness Method) work were amazing. TTouch and ground exercises to build an animal’s self-awareness, coordination, and self-confidence, led to rapid improvement in behaviour, movement, and health. As their owners discovered new ways to help them, difficult horses learned to trust people, and sport horses up to and at Olympic levels excelled in performance. A wide range of health issues from lameness and neurological problems to colic, stress and shock responded quickly to TTEAM work. Today TTEAM training is the most widespread formalised system of training horses in North America.
In the mid-1980’s, Linda and TTEAM Practitioners began applying this work to companion animals (dogs, cats, birds, etc.), llamas, and wild animals in zoos and wildlife rehabilitation centres in North America and Europe. The same remarkable changes in behaviour, movement and health occurred in these species too. Today Tellington TTouch Animal Companion Training (TTACT) offers pet owners valuable ways of helping their animals to learn and be happier and physically more comfortable.
TTACT FOR DOGS
During the first morning session of the TTACT clinic, the owners of Gypsy, the arthritic Collie, quickly learned to do the Cloud Leopard TTouch and started to work on her. Fifteen minutes later, to their delight, Gypsy stood up more gracefully than she had done for months, and walked with greater ease. Gypsy was also noted for barking a lot on her walks. After seeing great improvement in her movement, Gypsy’s owners were very surprised to see her working quietly around the obstacle course on the second day – 20 minutes without barking.
That afternoon the Bichon’s owner was shown how to rest the dog’s paw on the back of her hand and use her knuckles to touch the bottom of his feet. In five minutes she was able to handle both of Boogey’s front feet and do TTouch circles between the pads. That afternoon, another clinic participant – a stranger to the Boogey, worked on his face and mouth. The next day, to his owner’s continued amazement, Boogey approached the shy Shepherd and they touched noses.
Jackson’s,confidence seemed to grow minute by minute through the two days. This initially very shy German Shepherd enjoyed TTouch work from several people on the second day during and after the ground exercises. By the middle of the first afternoon, Vita, the Doberman who was afraid of other dogs, lay quietly while dogs and people walked by within a few inches of her. Aaron, the Airedale, stopped pulling on the leash when the owner switched to the Lupi harness and helped him rebalance and stay centered over his feet.
Quite a bit of work was required to help Heidi, the extremely anxious young German Shepherd. TTouch work over the body, work with the mouth and feet, and leading work through the ground exercises eventually helped her to sit quietly in the room full of dogs and people. She even stayed seated and calm when several people and dogs stood up and walked by her on the second afternoon.
A Lupi helped Julie, the clinging Miniature Poodle, to stop pulling on her leash too. During the ground exercises, Julie stood still at one point and looked around with great wonder – a very different demeanour than on the previous day. And Kaz, the other Miniature Poodle, became more tolerant through the two days. His owner was able to handle his feet, and touch his mouth., and he stopped reacting and barking to sudden movement and noises.
CLOUD LEOPARD TTOUCH
The basic Tellington TTouch is called the Cloud Leopard. The fingertips press the skin lightly and move it in a single circle of about 1/4 to 1 inch in diameter. Then the hand is lifted from the skin and moved to another place to make another circle. TTouch circles are usually made in clockwise direction, starting at 6 o’clock, going around once and ending at 8 o’clock. There are dozens of variations on this basic TTouch, but Cloud Leopard is the one most frequently used.
Tellington TTouch relieves tension, calms anxiety, increases circulation and relieves pain and inflammation. It also addresses the nervous system and increases the animal’s awareness of its body so that movement improves and the animal’s self-confidence increases. Deepening of the relationship between human and animal is the most beautiful result of this extraordinary work.
EAR WORK TO IMPROVE HEALTH
Tellington Touch work with the ears is very effective in improving health, as well as relaxing an animal. Each ear has close to 400 acupressure points, so massaging an animal’s (or human’s) ears supports all of the major systems in the body. Rubbing the point at the tip of the ear will bring an animal out of shock very quickly.
In addition, work on the ears relaxes an animal, and is a very effective tool for helping a dog overcome fear of thunder. After working a dog’s ears through one or two thunderstorms, that fear is usually overcome.
TTACT Ground Exercises give dogs and their owners a difference sense of physical space and relationship. Owners learn how to help their dogs come to a better physical balance. Since physical balance is related to emotional balance, this is critical in addressing fear, aggression or silliness in dogs.
A steady pull on the leash makes both dog and owner tense, and puts both off balance. TTACT offers innovative and gentle ways of helping both owner and animal trust one another more, breath better and stay balanced. Some of the procedures involve using a long line attached to the collar and then looped around the front of the chest, employing the Lupi, and/or using two lines and two people with the animal – all help the dog balance better, listen to the human and breath better. Changes occur quickly, even with the most obstreperous of dogs.
Other ground exercises help improve coordination, increase confidence and deepen the bond between owner and animal. Tellington TTouch on the feet and legs activates neural pathways to the brain and makes the animal more aware of its extremities. Combined with walking over a set of randomly scattered poles on the ground, these procedures quickly improve coordination. Stroking the animal with a long wand as it walks over uneven or unusual surfaces such as large logs or plastic keeps it breathing and reduces its fear about stepping on things like sidewalk grates.
Tellington Touch Animal Companion Training offers owners gentle and effective ways of supporting a dog’s health, confidence, and obedience. The combination of Tellington Touch and Ground Exercises lead to very rapid changes in behaviour and movement. Much of the Tellington Touch body work is applicable to cats, birds, guinea pigs and other companion animals too. As with dogs and horses, it helps animals trust humans more and deepens human-animal relationships.
Barbara Janelle is a TTACT (Tellington Touch Animal Companion Training) Practitioner and a TTEAM (Tellington Touch Equine Awareness Method) Practitioner from London, Ontario, Canada. She offers TTACT and TTEAM workshops throughout eastern North America. In the early summer, she teaches at Camp Gone to the Dogs in Vermont. She is a consultant to the Special Abilities Riding Institute in London and works with the therapeutic riding horses there each week; she has done this for the past 8 years. Barbara writes regularly for TTEAM News International.
Barbara also teaches Therapeutic Touch at the University of Western Ontario in the Faculty of Part-Time and Continuing Education. She offers courses on Therapeutic Touch for Animals, and writes a regular column on Therapeutic Touch for humans and animals for In Touch, the journal of the Therapeutic Touch Network (Ontario). April 1997