In fact, I was hosting a Tellington TTouch workshop for Give A Dog A Home Fosterers conducted by Ttouch Practitioner Toni Shelbourne and we were learning about the merits of ‘body wraps’ (more about this later).
Tellington TTouch is a unique way of working with animals to help them overcome health and behavioural issues. It comprises both Body Work and Ground Work, the former involving touches such as Circles, Slides and Lifts (a type of doggy massage to the uninitiated!), the latter leading dogs through patterns of poles laid on the ground; over low raised boards and see saws and over different textures to help to improve proprioception* (yes I had to look that one up too!), focus and balance. As torrential rain had descended that day, we focused on the Body Work and a whole arsenal of tools and techniques aimed at reducing anxiety in nervous and fearful dogs in particular.
The circular Ttouches are the foundation of the Ttouch technique and are referred to rather mysteriously as the ‘Clouded Leopard’ Ttouch; it transpires that the majority of the Ttouches have been given names of various animals so as the day passed we became familiar with Noah’s March, Zebra, Raccoon and the aforementioned Clouded Leopard plus the more straightforwardly named Ear, Mouth and Tail Ttouches.
Ttouch recognizes there is an inextricable link between posture and behaviour and by identifying and releasing tension held in the body can enable dogs to enter a learning state and has been used extensively in the rehabilitation of rescue animals. Ttouch uses a variety of specialist tools including the aforementioned ‘Body wrap’. Body wraps are being used on dogs to bring awareness to their body and away from the source of any fear they experience which could be fireworks or thunder for example. The sense of security given by the wrap also brings confidence, allowing them to release habitual responses and behavioural patterns, allowing them to observe the world around them and respond rather than react to stimuli.
For me, one of the most insightful parts of the workshop was the introduction of different textures for Ttouch i.e. fluffy make up / paint brush, sponges, mittens etc which nervous dogs will often accept ahead of any human touch and can be an extension of ones hand in preparation for a dog to be petted or handled. I will never forget the look on the face of one of the attending dogs when he felt the soft bristles of the brush on his face; his taut anxious expression immediately dropped and gave way to the most beautiful expression, one of utter contentment.
A very worthwhile day for anyone interested in, owns or works with dogs and highly beneficial for Give A Dog A Home UK.
*Proprioception, for those that want to know, is the sense of the relative position of neighbouring parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement.
For more information on Ttouch and available workshops near to you, please see the following links, the first is a general link and the latter are specifically for Toni Shelbourne and references Ttouch plus her experience and book working with Wolves!
Web Address: http://www.ttouchtteam.org.uk (General)
Web Address: http://www.tellingtontouch.co.uk (Toni Shelbourne)
Facebook: The Truth about Wolves & Dogs
YouTube: The Truth about Wolves & Dogs
Toni’s book The Truth about Wolves & Dogs is available direct from www.hubbleandhattie.com or all good online book stores
Web Address: www.tonishelbourneandkarenbush.jimdo.com
(Co authors Toni Shelbourne and Karen Bush)