The Tellington TTouch started as a training technique for horses and Linda recognised a link between posture, behaviour and performance over 30 years ago. As she was working with the light skin movements Linda noticed that the 'problem' horses that she was working with were not only more consistent in their performance but also became easier to handle in their day to day life as tension was released from their bodies. Unwanted behaviours such as bucking, biting, napping, and bolting diminished without the need to 'train' each behaviour out of the horse. When these techniques were then applied to other animals including dogs, the same results were noted albeit on a clinical and not a scientific level.
The groundwork exercises improve co-ordination and self carriage and are an excellent way of starting to work with animals that are fearful of contact on their body. When used in re-homing centres the ground work helps the dogs to relax more quickly and are an excellent way of improving focus and giving the dog much needed physical and mental stimulation without increasing hyperactivity and over excitement. Dogs and horses worked over and through patterns of poles laid on the ground in many re-homing centres around the UK have settled more readily once back in the kennel, stable or field and show an increased willingness to be handled and trained. These results were often noted after just one session.
For animals that cannot tolerate a human being in close proximity, long dressage schooling sticks can be used to initiate contact. This approach has been extremely beneficial for helping countless cats, dogs and horses overcome their fears. It is not about flooding. The contact should be minimal at first with plenty of breaks in between the sessions allowing the animal time to process the information without being in a constant state of fear and the animal must always be given the space to move. The way we approach, handle and interact with any animal will have a direct influence on his behaviour and ability to learn. TTouch can build confidence in both the animal and the handler.
TTouch is not just about the bodywork or the groundwork however. It is a way of looking at the animal as a whole and teaching carers to look at the animal with new eyes through observations of that animal in terms of posture, coat changes, muscle development, body language, body temperature and so on which will all have a direct link with how the animal behaves. It can form an important part of the assessment process and make grooming, hoof trimming, dental work, microchipping, injections and health checks less traumatic for all concerned. It can also help an animal settle more quickly in the new environment.
TTouch helps to remove the labels that are often incorrectly applied to animals and is used by many of the UK’s top re-homing centres and smaller charities with great success. Handling issues, resource guarding, kennel stress, scratching and clawing, a reluctance to eat, fear based behaviours, excitability, pulling on the leash, timidity, excessive vocalisation, reactivity towards people and/or animals, and an inability to settle are just some of the problems that TTouch can help to address.
And perhaps more importantly a little TTouch can go a long, long way. The techniques can be incorporated into the daily care of the animal and simple tools such as the Balance Leash can have a positive and often immediate influence on dogs that pull. TTouch has been proven to help many long-stay or ‘sticky’ animals move forward and progress with training whilst coping better with the unavoidable stress that may be triggered by the confinement and noise experienced in a cattery or kennel. The body wraps and Thundershirts can have an often miraculous effect on calming an anxious or excitable animal and can help them to overcome a variety of behaviours.
TTouch is not only rewarding for the animals awaiting a new home. Re-homing centre staff and volunteers enjoy learning the specific skills which also provide a consistency for the animals whether they are going on to new homes, coming into the centre or being handled by a variety of trainers/handlers and many vets, veterinary nurses, volunteers, re-homing centre staff, trainers, and behaviour counsellors enjoy the benefits that TTouch brings to the animals in their care.
Many of our Practitioners offer their services to re-homing centres free of charge. Welfare and education go hand in hand and organising a TTouch talk for staff and members of the public can help to increase awareness and raise vital funds.
If you would like to arrange a talk or workshop for your re-homing centre please contact your nearest Practitioner qualified to Level 1 and above or contact this office.
Feedback from a behaviourist at a re-homing centre
'Just thought I'd send a quick email to let you all know how we are getting on!
I've recently raided a skip, and found practically enough gear to create my own confidence course including drain pipes for a labyrinth!!
I can’t begin to tell you what I'm learning from using this, and what I'm seeing in response to the dogs that we usually can’t help. I'm not seeing gradual changes. I'm seeing rapid changes!!
There is no doubt I am evolving into something new as a behaviourist, and I'm loving that so much!!
Really looking forward to seeing you all again soon '