“Quiet, Gentle and Respectful handling is what we should all be aiming for” – Sarah Fisher, Tellington T-Touch.
This is my take home message from the recent practitioners T-Touch weekend I attended. As always I learnt a huge amount about how we can help to develop an animal’s self -confidence, self-control and their ability to choose alternative strategies when fearful. All the methods are based around listening to the animal and giving them the ability to make their own decisions, which is such a refreshing concept in a world dominated by control.
For those not familiar with Tellington T-Touch, it is a kind and respectful way of working with animals to help them overcome a variety of health and behavioural issues. T-Touch recognises an inextricable link between posture and behaviour. Through my training I have learnt how to use ground work exercises, body work and specific equipment that helps to release any tension in the animal and promote well-being.
One of the most simple, yet effective touches for stressed or reactive animals is the ear t-touch (see picture of Holly). Working the ears has been found to have positive effects on the entire body and in particular can help animals who have undergone surgery or been through a recent shock/accident.
To do the touch it is important to ensure that the animal is comfortable and willing to participate. It is therefore best to call the animal to you, or gently stroke their chest and wait a moment to ensure that they are happy for the interaction. Signs that they are not comfortable include moving or leaning away, freezing, staring at you or lip smacking.
If they are comfortable, support their head and using the palm of your hand under the ear and thumb across the top, gently stroke the ear from the base to the tip. This can be repeated several times until the whole ear has been stroked. It is important that the ear is not pulled and is stroked in the direction of its natural carriage. If the animal finds this too difficult, go back to a few gentle strokes to its chest. The key is to go slowly and ensure that you also remain relaxed and continue to breathe.
Each individual animal will have a preference of where they liked to be touched and areas where they are not so happy. This may be a learnt behaviour from a previous injury, or signs of current discomfort due to tension or pain. Start to observe your pets in a variety of situations and see if you notice a pattern of behaviour. This can help to identify areas of the body that may benefit from body and ground work exercises.
For more information about Holly and the treatment she received please visit http://www.ttouchtteam.co.uk/TTouchDogs.shtml
You can contact me directly to arrange a t-touch session by visiting www.dogbehaviourconsultant.co.uk.
Or to find out more about practitioners in your area, talks, demonstrations or how to become a t-touch practitioner, please visit http://www.ttouchtteam.co.uk/TTouchHistoryof.shtml.