By Missy Parker, Veterinary Nurse
"One of the most beneficial things I've seen in a long time for building trust and calming is the Tellington "TTouch" therapy system, developed by Linda Tellington-Jones.
"In my capacity as a Registered Veterinary Nurse, I have used TTouch to prevent dogs from going into shock (yes, it really does work!) until the vet could get there to help the dog. In my capacity as an obedience instructor, I have used portions of it in my greeting (and subsequent handling) behaviors with scared dogs (as well as with aggressive ones) to build up their trust in me while calming them in a class situation. I have also used portions of it when I'm wearing my "mom" and "wife" hats to "create an atmosphere more conducive to cooperation."
"I've never told the humans I've used it on that it was developed for animals.However, Baylor Hospital of Dallas, Texas (which is a teaching hospital) is now using it on their human patients - and telling them it was developed for animals - so maybe it's time for me to come out of the closet!
"I've seen TTouch work wonders in every case in which it has been used properly. Four particular cases come to mind. The first is a Shiba Inu who would "short-circuit" in my obedience classes when the stimulation level got at all elevated. With just five to ten minutes of TTouch from his owner before each class, the dog did so much better!
"The second: my client, a very competent middle-aged woman, had never owned a dog before she adopted a female GSD stray. My best guess as to this dog's story is that she was either from Schutzhund lines or a washout from a police dog program, then neglected severely for quite a while afterward. She had heartworms and callouses on every pressure point from, I believe, lying in a concrete-bottom kennel.
"Heidi (the dog) was the most accomplished kennel escape artist I've ever dealt with ... she escaped mine five different ways before I figured out how to keep her in - she had both removed the gate from its hinges and bitten the gate lock in half. I just love this dog because I have learned so much from her! When she first started coming to my classes, Heidi would roar in dragging Cathy (the owner) as though she were an embarrassing ball-and-chain to be completely ignored. Now, after a few months of class, TTouch, and good management, Cathy has a much nicer dog - who adores her. Like many other dogs I've seen on TTouch regularly, Heidi can be gently reversed when she goes into overdrive, and quickly, by the application of as little as two minutes of TTouch touches.
"The third: Silver is a toy poodle who was genetically predetermined to be a yappy, snappy, shaky mess. She is now a fabulous therapy dog, solid at CD-level obedience, a joy to her owner and to everyone else with whom she comes in contact. TTouch is used in Silver's daily life in general and, specifically, before and after therapy sessions with challenging clients. By the will of her owner, with a little help from me, this dog has gone from "sow's ear to silk purse." By the way, Silver has only 20% vision in one eye and about 40% in the other; she will eventually go totally blind.
"The fourth case is my husband, who has back trouble - the pain sometimes makes him very "crabby." TTouch helps him feel better and consequently elevates his mood, which has the effect of making everyone in my house feel better!
"In classes, I begin with the Tarantula/Plow techniques. Even “extreme” dogs seem to enjoy it so much and/or are so curious about what I'm doing that they momentarily interrupt their agenda to ... eat the people, eat the other dogs, die of fright, whatever. Then, when I have their interested attention, I move to Noah's March. If all's still well, I use the Lying Leopard. All of this is done while toning.
"Years ago, when I was in hard labor, a female Labor Attendant did it on me - and it worked then, too - although she had no idea that what she was doing would years later be called the TTouch. Her technique was a super light touch, Clouded Leopard all over my straining belly while she softly sang “Rock of Ages” to me! It was incredibly helpful at a very stressful and painful time.
"The effect of regular TTouch use seems to be cumulative if these techniques are used with a subject regularly, his or her body’s autonomic responses seem to take over faster and faster each subsequent time.
"So, from my experience, I heartily recommend TTouch as a great addition to your instructor’s toolbox...and thanks to Terry Ryan for the term!
"Next time you have a bad headache, try it on yourself - it works that way too!"
- Missy Parker email@example.com
"Tellington TTouch was born out of Linda's extraordinary lifetime of work with horses, and has now been adapted to many species other than equine, including dogs, cats, hamsters, and many exotic animals. Linda's four years of study with Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, originator of the Feldenkrais method for horses, led her to the development of TTouch.
"Although TTouch is not technically a type of massage therapy, that would start to describe it. Actually, massage is done with the intent of affecting the muscular system - the intent of TTouch is the reorganizing of the nervous system and activating the function of the cells. I can describe it best by saying that it is a way of laying your fingers gently on the skin and moving them, as well as the skin they are touching, in a circular fashion, making repeating one-and-a-quarter circles clockwise. During this touch, the practitioner breathes rhythmically - in for the first half of the slow circle and out for the second half.
"According to Linda Tellington-Jones, TTouch is so simple to learn that a person having had less than one hour of instruction might make major changes in the behavior and personality of animals, and might considerably speed up the healing of wounds, injury or stiffness.
"Anna Wise, of the Evolving Institute of Boulder, Colorado, did a biofeedback study of TTouch practitioners which showed that both the brain waves of the practitioner, as well as those of the patient, were dramatically affected during the sessions. The brain waves registered what is known as "an awakened state" typical of healers, swamis, advanced meditators, and yogis as measured in a study by Maxwell Cate at the Institute for Psychobiological Research in London, England.
"There are several variations of TTouch hand positions; the amount of pressure used in the touch itself and where the touch is applied on the animal's body can vary, too. For instance, to prevent shock in injured animals of many species, as well as to calm the thunderstorm-phobic dog, T-Touch is applied to the ears.
"To make it easier to remember many of the hand/finger positions, they have been assigned the names of various animals: "Tarantula,” "Clouded Leopard,” "Flick of the Bear's Paw." With the TTouch, a practitioner may use "toning," a type of soothing vocalization.
"The Tellington TTouch Guidebook for Dogs describes the intended results of TTouch: to activate neural pathways to the brain, increasing an animal's self image and awareness, thereby improving its self-confidence and coordination. It adds: one need not know anatomy to be successful with this therapy, since using the TTouch anywhere on the body can improve health and awareness. Through the activation of its unused brain cells, an animal becomes more willing and able to learn. The TTouch develops a "cell-to-cell" between animal and human, a oneness which is a very special inter species, non-verbal communication."