What is TTouch and how does it work?
Tellington TTouch is an easily learnt technique that can have a dramatic effect on your animal’s wellbeing. Tension within your dog’s body can cause them to react in a fearful or anxious way to situations (such as loud noises or trips to the vet); removing this tension using light circular TTouches and reconnecting their brains with their bodies allows them to think and cope better in potentially frightening situations.
The premise is that tension within the body (physical) creates an imbalance that manifests in behaviour, confidence, and/or health. This implies that by resolving the bodily tension, other issues can be relieved. Tension, or tightness, can be held within the body long after the cause has stopped, whether it’s from injury, anxiety/stress, or just the day-to-day rough and tumble that our dogs get up to from the day they are born.
Using TTouch for Firework Fears in Dogs
Tension associated with sound sensitivity may be found around the ears, back of the neck and top of the head, and it’s wonderful to watch a dog relax into TTouch Ear-Work. The following video demonstrates how to do it:-
I advise practicing this every day, whenever you can. Relaxation has a cumulative effect, and the more we do it (plural) the more it sticks and becomes the new habit to hold within the body.
Checklist for Tellington TTouch
- Make contact with both hands
- Mindful strokes over the dog’s body
- Imagine a clock face, where 6 is towards the ground, and 12 is towards the sky
- Create tiny one and a quarter clockwise circles using just enough pressure to move the skin. If you find your fingers slipping over the fur, you are either using too little pressure, or doing too large circles (aim for 1/4” to start)
- Focus on keeping the circle round and even
- Take between 1 and 3 seconds per circle
- Move your fingers along and create another circle and a quarter
- Observe your dog’s responses. You are aiming for them to be calm, relaxed and relatively still. Any movement and return to an area where they were still for you. Return to the spot which elicited a movement and see if they move again. If they do, make a mental note that there may be tension there and work your way back gradually.
- Try different speeds and pressures to find if your dog has a preference.
- Support the ear with one hand, and work the circles or slides with the other.
- Remember to breathe and be mindful. Place your focus on what you are feeling in your hands, with light attention on the dog’s response.
- Did I say breathe?
- If you are able to do circular movements on the gums, you may need a dish of water to moisten your fingers if the gums are dry.
- Try a soft brush (like a blusher brush) on the face, or a soft cloth to make the circles with if your dog is particularly sensitive.
- Finish the session with more mindful strokes.
If you are unsure about what you are doing, which is completely natural when you start, watch the video again, then practice the circles on your arm; play around with the pressure, and the speed to experience how they feel. Work on your own ears and face.
If you are still unsure and would like to know more, go to http://ttouchtteam.co.uk/Prac_search.shtml to find a local practitioner. Many run workshops to help with firework fright too.
When to do it and frequency –
Now, it’s time to call your dog to you, to get them comfortable and to give it a go. Start with a couple of circles, then give them a short break to process them. Do a couple more with a short break and just see where you end up. I recommend starting to use Ear Work as soon as you can, do it at least daily, and then, during fireworks season, get yourselves comfortable around dusk and have a session before the noises start. If anything goes “bang” while you are working on them, just exhale, look away, and soften your shoulders. If your dog is happy to stay with you, carry on with the TTouches, if not, just let them go to their dens.