Author Archives: Adam

fish

Is the pet food industry sustainable?

Spike's World

A comment on Twitter got me thinking about sustainability and how trends in pet food may be impacting the sustainability of the industry.

Sustainability can be thought of on either a global or local scale but in essence it describes the use of an ecosystem in such a way that it provides resources today without compromising its ability to provide resources for future generations.  In my view, the two forms of resources need not be the same for example; a sustainable meat industry must produce meat without harming biodiversity.  Considering biodiversity as a resource may seem strange, but many wild plants and animals provide ‘ecosystem services’ that improve the lives of many people.

Traditionally the pet food industry has been a repository for the waste products of the human food industry and many cheaper pet foods contain meat meals or ‘meat and animal derivatives’. While little research has been conducted into the impact of these ingredients, it might be considered that in using a product that may have been otherwise been wasted, the pet food industry may have been helping to limit the negative impact of the human food industry.  Quantifying this impact is not an easy task, however, a recent trend toward avoiding such ‘by products’ in favour of ‘human grade’ ingredients means that in many cases the pet food industry now competes directly with the human food industry for its raw ingredients.

The production of livestock for meat has been criticized for its inefficient production of protein – in essence with every step up the food chain 90% of the energy put in is lost (known as the 10% law); so it takes a huge amount more energy to produce a kilo of beef than it does a kilo of wheat.   If sustainability was our only consideration then a vegan diet for ourselves and our pets would certainly be the most sustainable, but while our pets may technically be able to survive on such a diet (aside from the fact that cats need the amino acid taurine) they may not thrive on such a species inappropriate diet.

The 10% law says that as we move up the food chain (known as trophic level) only 10% of the energy is transferred.

A move toward using more energy efficient animals as food for our own pets may provide a more sustainable option for conscious pet parents, and the growth of aquaculture may hold the key. Fish are inherently more efficient at converting food in to flesh than birds or mammals. As cold blooded creatures they do not waste energy producing heat and they do not have to grow a big skeleton either.

While aquaculture has the potential for some environmental damage through the leaching of waste products into the environment, this is strictly regulated in the UK and schemes such as the Marine Stewardship Council serve to ensure production is as sustainable as possible.  However, there is thought that moving forward the any waste products of aquaculture may be used to fertilise the growth of aquatic plant products that may in turn be used to feed back to the fish themselves or for human consumption.  Should the plants be used to feed back to the fish, only the very minimum about of nutrients will need to be added to the system, producing a highly efficient and sustainable system.

Sustainability is a concern that is bound to continually arise in the pet food industry, and unless we are all prepared to forgo dog and cat ownership in favour of keeping vegetarian animals such as rabbits, we must all be prepared consider the environmental impact of our choice of pet and the food we feed it.

 

 

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The story of a lost duckling

Having studied zoology I have been lucky enough to explore some beautiful landscapes. I have observed the amazing bird migration that occurs in Cyprus twice a year and have conversed with porcupines in South Africa. Much of the beauty of these landscapes is observing the intricate web that connects all the plant and animal species.

I have been involved in animal rescue for over a decade and have been lucky enough to have been involved in the rescue and rehabilitation of many animals and birds.  Which leaves me in a bit of a dilemma; should we help wildlife in distress or leave it to the ‘circle of life’?

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I nursed Chloe the Muscovy duck back to health in 2003 after she was taken to Bath RSPCA with maggot infected wounds following a dog attack

Recently I was faced with this exact conundrum after I discovered a lost duckling on a local lake here in sunny Cornwall.  A local resident told me she had been observing this duckling all day and had not seen it with a parent bird. The adult ducks had been attacking it and she was shocked to say that the duckling ran to her feet for protection.

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While my zoologist head told me to leave the duck to its fate, my animal loving heart said otherwise and so the duckling came home with me.

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Young ducklings can become very stressed when on their own, so he enjoyed the comfort of a warm blanket and some TTouch therapy. TTouch can help to reduce stress in animals and birds.

After a night of rest and good food I delivered it to the wonderful Mousehole Wild Bird Hospital where it will be cared for until it is old enough to be released. It is currently living with another orphaned duckling and is doing brilliantly.

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He soon settled in with his new friend at the bird hospital (thanks to Mousehole wild bird hospital for this photo)

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With the lovely warm weather here in Cornwall he was soon able to have a swim with his new friend (thanks to Mousehole wild bird hospital for this photo)

It is very important that you seek professional advice from a local wildlife charity or the RSPCA if you find a wild animal in distress. While it can be tempting to try to care for a wild animal on your own, it is imperative that you take it to a wildlife rescue centre and never place yourself in harm’s way to save a wild animal. Remember, animals can attack when threatened or in pain.

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Omega 3 – the super oil for brainy dogs

Omega 3 oils are the new trendy supplement in both the pet food and human market, but unlike many dietary fads, Omega 3 oils are a true ‘super supplement’.

Dogs are facultative carnivores and evolved from wolves (in fact they now share the same name, Canis lupus). Their wild ancestors would have thrived on a diet of wild game that had in turn lived on a diet of wild grasses. Omega 3 oils are made by grasses and algae and therefore, such grass fed animals are a rich source of the Omega 3 oil which dogs cannot manufacture on their own.

Fast-forward to today and sadly many of our farmed animals do not have access to pasture and therefore their own level of Omega 3 is limited.

What are Omega 3 oils?

Omega 3 oils are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid and come in many forms.  Of these forms, ALA, EPA and DHA are the most talked about. People can convert the form known as ALA to the healthful EPA and DHA but dogs are not as proficient at this process and ideally need to consume EPA and DHA directly for optimum health.

Why are they so important?

Omega 3 oils have a host of health benefits but of key importance is its role in reducing inflammation, maintaining a healthy skin and coat and aiding brain function.

Many dogs suffer from the pain and of arthritis and a study of omega 3 supplementation found that arthritic dogs were better able to weight bare (Roush et al. 2010).

Many dogs, particularly Labrador retrievers can suffer from the uncomfortable skin condition, atopic dermatitis.  Studies show that enriching the diet with omega 3 oil can be beneficial in managing this condition (Gueck et al. 2004).

Omega 3 oils are great for brain development and can give a puppy a head start in life – it has been shown that puppies with high DHA levels were more readily trainable than those with low levels.  We all want a well behaved dog and it seems supplementation can be a simple way to make those formative months more productive (Kelley et al. 2004).

I was lucky enough to get my hands on some Sea Treats cold pressed salmon oil which contains both Omega 3 and Omega 6. The ever enthusiastic Roxy was chosen as a taste tester.

While most would mix this oil in with their pet’s food, I opted to see if it was tasty enough to be eaten from a spoon.

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I think this picture speaks for itself!

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For more information about Sea Treats Cold pressed Salmon oil, please visit, www.seatreats.co.uk

References

Gueck T., Seidel A., Baumann D., Meister A. & Fuhrmann H. (2004). Alterations of mast cell mediator production and release by gamma-linolenic and docosahexaenoic acid. Veterinary dermatology, 15, 309-14.

Kelley R., Lepine A., Burr J., Shyan-Norwalt M. & Reinhart G. (2004). Effect of dietary fish oil on puppy trainability. In: Proceedings.

Roush J.K., Cross A.R., Renberg W.C., Dodd C.E., Sixby K.A., Fritsch D.A., Allen T.A., Jewell D.E., Richardson D.C., Leventhal P.S. & Hahn K.A. (2010). Evaluation of the effects of dietary supplementation with fish oil omega-3 fatty acids on weight bearing in dogs with osteoarthritis. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 236, 67-73.

 

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Sea Treats – Making waves in the dog treat market

As facultative or scavenging carnivores, our canine companions have evolved to eat a diet of primarily meat and choosing a wholesome, species appropriate food for your pet can be one of the best ways to keep them fit and healthy.  But what about treats?

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There are many treats on the market that contain unhealthy ingredients and while as people we have the choice to consume unhealthy treats, our dogs do not.  Luckily for them there are also some incredibly wholesome treats that are both tasty and healthy and I was recently thrilled to learn about the Sea Treats range of fish based dog treats.

Having a background in zoology and conservation, I was extremely pleased to learn that the Sea Treats products have full Marine Stewardship Council Certification. This certification guarantees the fish used to make these treats comes from sustainable fisheries.

I was lucky enough to get my hands on three of their products  – Premium fish skin and kelp seaweed treats, Salmon, whitefish, potato and seaweed biscuits and Small fish skin cubes.

Firstly, I was extremely impressed to see each product contained very few ingredients:

The Salmon, whitefish, potato and seaweed biscuits contain (as the name suggests) just salmon, whitefish and  potato.

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The Fish skin and Kelp seaweed treats also contain just whitefish skins and Irish kelp seaweed.

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The Fish skin cubes contain just fish skin!

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It is a wonderfully refreshing change to discover a range with such wholesome ingredients and the fish skins in particular and perfect for those who choose to raw feed their pets.  Knowing the protein source we feed our pets is very important, particularly if a pet is on an exclusion diet or if a pet is on a protein rotation diet.  Many pet parents choose to rotate protein sources, for example, feeding fish for a few months and then turkey for a few months. There is a train of thought that feeding the same food for an extended period of time can cause food sensitivity, therefore, changing proteins regularly can be helpful.

But the key question is, how do they taste?

Today’s taste tester is the beautifully quirky Roxy. A Cornish dog through and through, she knows her seafood (it’s hard to avoid it when your daily walk includes running on beautiful beaches and exploring rock pools!).

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All three treats went down a treat (excuse the pun) but Roxy’s favourite was the Salmon, whitefish, potato and seaweed biscuits.  All three have a satisfying crunch that can be tricky to perfect if using a home dehydrator to make homemade treats.

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All three have a wonderfully fishy smell which for many dogs makes them super high value. Many training scenarios, such as recall require super high value treats and the fish skins in particular may be perfect for persuading wayward canines that coming when called is far more rewarding than chasing squirrels!

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Not only are these treats tasty, they also contain Omega 3 and 6. Omega 3 has been shown to have a host of health benefits, from being anti-inflammatory in older animals, to aiding in puppy brain development. Puppies fed Omega 3 were even found to be more easily trained (Kelley et al. 2004).

With all these benefits, there’s nothing fishy about these treats and it’s clear that Sea Treats are making waves in the vast ocean of unhealthy pet products.

For more information and to order online, please visit www.seatreats.co.uk

References

Kelley R., Lepine A., Burr J., Shyan-Norwalt M. & Reinhart G. (2004). Effect of dietary fish oil on puppy trainability. In: Proceedings.

 

Guinea pig wrapped in towel

Stress free handling for rabbits & small critters

Our small pets are naturally nervous creatures and it is very important that you learn to handle them in as gentle and as confident a way as possible. Rough and inappropriate handling is one of the most likely
causes of being bitten. This is a totally understandable reaction for our pets, as if they believe they are in danger and feel they cannot run away, then they have nothing to lose by attacking with tooth and claw.

When you first start to handle your pet, it is important that this is done at ground level, as nervous pets can jump in fear. Even a seemingly small fall can cause fatal injuries. It is best to place your pet’s cage on the floor and handle your pet over a container such as a washing up bowl with a towel inside. The towel will help to cushion your pet’s fall and the bowl will help to prevent your pet from escaping.

If you need to handle your pet before it has learned to accept being handled then it is important to make this as stress free as possible. Using a cardboard toilet roll tube, most pets need little encouragement to scuttle inside. Once inside the tube, you can then easily transport them from one location to another. If you need to examine your pet or give them some essential treatment, you can attach a sock to one end
of the tube with some holes cut in it. It is likely your small pet will run from the tube into the darkness of the sock, where you can then examine or medicate your pet through the holes cut into the sides.

You can build a larger version of this set up for guinea pigs and rats using a piece of pipe and the sleeve from a jumper or a tea towel sewed on the end of the pipe. Guinea pigs especially are renowned for their nervous nature and any device that reduces the stress of handling can only be a good thing.

Rats can be in handled in much the same way as mice but extra care needs to be taken to avoid being bitten. Although all animals can bite, rats have very large teeth that can inflict a very deep wound. Most rats would never dream of biting and you are far more likely to be bitten by a grumpy hamster than a rat but care should still be taken.

Rabbits require even more careful handling than the animals already covered. Due to their large size and power, the potential for them to injure you and themselves is great. Rabbits are bottom heavy creatures and are known to have a weak point at the base of their spine. This weak area can be easily damaged if your rabbit kicks too violently. Rabbits should only be handled if absolutely necessary as they find handling very stressful. It has been shown that rabbits become far more confident and trusting when all interaction is mindful and as much at ground level as possible. In this way they don’t learn to associate people with fear. Life isn’t all a bed of roses and there are times when you will need to handle your pet;
routine health checks and vaccinations are essential. Using a large towel, cover your pet completely, including its head. Wrap the towel under your pet so that it is enveloped in the towel completely. Pick up the bundle, hold it to your chest securely and transfer it to a fi rm but soft surface such as a large cushion. You can now medicate or check your pet’s health in as stress free a way as possible.

When placing your pet back in its enclosure, keep it wrapped up and place it down, hind feet first. It is important to place them down in this manner in order to minimize any potential for damage to the spine.

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Sneezing staffie not angry staffie!

Spike's World

 

 

 

Following on from my earlier post about breed specific legislation, I read the interesting truth about one of the most familiar ‘dangerous dog’ photos used by the press.

This photo of a beautiful staffie is often reported to be a ‘dangerous’ dog, but look a little closer and the truth is much less threatening.

This photo was taken at a dog show and the dog in question is about to do a huge SNEEZE!

Doesn’t seem so angry now does it?  It just goes to show you should never believe what you read, apart from my posts of course!

 

 

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Breed not deed

Spike's World

An interesting story hit the papers yesterday of a 6 year old girl that was bitten on the face by her neighbour’s cocker spaniel cross poodle (often known as a cockapoo).

While the details of this particular story are certainly interesting (the child wandered unaccompanied on to her neighbour’s property where the bite occurred), of equal interest is the public and police response.

It has become usual practice for a statement to appear in the press from the police after such incidents mentioning ‘ascertaining the breed of dog involved’.   For example, this dog bite that occurred in Liverpool mentions the breed of dog several times:

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/girl-attacked-dog-waterloo—9143691

However, in the case of the cocker/poodle mix, there seemed to be no urgency from the police and no mention of banned breeds. The criteria for being a banned ‘pit-bull type’ is based on a set of phenotypic measurements and has no genetic basis. This leads many of us to question, does one bite incident deserve greater police investigation, simply because of the potential measurements of the dog involved?

The readers comments following the bite by this ‘fluffy’ dog seems to be very much in support of the dog. Most agreed that the child should not have been on the property and that the dog must not be blamed. I wonder if the comments would have been the same if this was a banned breed-type?

Breed specific legislation is outdated and not fit for purpose and this story shows that any dog breed or cross breed can cause injury in the wrong circumstances.

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Do you really know what’s in your pet’s food?

Spike's World

 

 

 

 

Deciding what to feed your pet is one of the most important decisions pet parents can make. As humans, we have the freedom to choose what we put in our bodies, and as such, food labeling is strictly controlled to ensure we have all the information we need to make informed choices. Our pets on the other hand, rely on us to make this decision for them, and thankfully there is a huge array of pet foods on the market to choose from.

Dog food

Do you know what goes into your own dog food? Every pet parent should read the ingredients list to see exactly what they’re feeding their pet

However, it would appear pet food labeling may not be as transparent as its human counterparts, as was highlighted on a recent episode of BBC’s ‘Rip Off Britain – Food‘.

This show reported the difficulty many pet parents have with identifying exactly what ingredients go into the pet foods we see on the shelves. For example, a food may be advertised as ‘chicken and rice’ but in fact, may contain just a minimum of 4% chicken.  That leaves a whopping 96% of the food that can be composed of any number of animal and plant proteins.

This flexibility helps to keep costs down for the manufacturer and potentially the customer, by allowing the recipe to be changed depending on which meat and meat meals are cheapest at that time. However, for diligent pet parents that want to control the protein source they give their pet, such foods may be totally unsuitable.

Pets with a range of conditions, may need to be placed on an elimination diet to discover if they are sensitive to consuming a particular substance, and such foods may be purchased in all good faith, without the knowledge that ‘chicken and rice’ doesn’t necessarily mean the food is composed of just those two ingredients.

Many pet parents prefer to give their pet a varied diet by rotating the protein source they feed to their pets. In doing so, it is believed that the development of food sensitivities can be avoided.  There is a train of thought that if an animal is fed one food for a long time, the body can become sensitised to those ingredients and therefore by offering for example, chicken for a few weeks, and then fish for a few weeks, and so forth, food sensitivities can be avoided.

Thankfully there is hope, and I was so pleased to come across two foods that totally buck this trend.

AATU dog foods contain a single animal protein source, either free run duck, chicken or fish and an amazing 80% meat. As facultive carnivores, this high meat content is evolutionarily appropriate for our canine companions.  It also contains some great herbs and botanicals.        

Challenge pet foods have a great range of single protein salmon based dog foods that allow pet parents to be confident in the source of their dog’s nutrition. Their sister company, Sea Treats offers MSC certified fish treats so even your pet’s treats are free of unknown ingredients.

That both of these companies have such clear, transparent labeling is a sign that the pet food market is changing and I hope that pet parents will start to demand clearer pet food labeling information.  In the meantime, I believe we should all show our support by voting with our pockets!

 

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Grounding your puppy the fun way!

Spike's World

The Tellington TTouch is a unique and rewarding way of working with all animals, however its name can be a little deceiving.  Many people believe the TTouch to be a form of massage; however this is not the case.  As well as the specific ‘TTouches’ there is also a whole array of ground exercises or ground work as it is known which can have a dramatic effect on mind and body.

Developed over 30 years ago by Linda Tellington Jones, TTouch offers ways to help animals overcome a wide variety of behavioural problems without the use of dominance, fear or force.  Using a combination of bodywork and ground exercises the TTouch aims to improve the physical balance of the animal, as physical balance is achieved so mental and emotional balance follows.  The behaviour of an animal can be linked to its posture in many ways, animals with tension through the hindquarters can often be afraid of loud noises such as fireworks, they may be reluctant to being picked up and placed on a veterinarians table and may be badly behaved in the car.  With the use of TTouch these patterns of tension can be removed along with the unwanted behaviour.

What is ground work and what does it do?

Ground work can be used for many species of animal to improve confidence, coordination, focus and physical, emotional and mental balance.  With the use of various, gentle obstacles which are taken at a slow pace, very often even the most hyperactive animals can be calmed and gain a willingness to learn and cooperate.

How does this work?

Every animal and person uses a sense known as proprioception; this sense gives them and us knowledge of where our bodies are in space.  For example if we close our eyes it is still possible to place your finger on your nose without having to look, for you know where both are.  The sensors for proprioception are located throughout the body, mainly in the joints, muscles and tendons.  By the use of slow, concentrated movements, these receptors are stimulated giving feedback to the body.  With this feedback comes a greater knowledge of the animals own body.  As they say, knowledge is power, and with this knowledge the puppy is able to choose a balanced posture and is far more aware of how it relates to its surroundings.  The body posture of growing puppies is seemingly ever changing, especially in the larger breeds.  Different body parts are growing at different rates, leaving the dog not knowing how it is supposed to walk and having to move in all number of ways.   It is also known that this proprioceptive input actually releases Serotonin, one of the happy hormones as they are known which in turns brings about a calm mental state.  The Ground exercises help in the stimulation of both brain hemispheres, which is so useful for a growing pup and can help to bring about a very well balanced individual.

Walking at whose speed?

Puppies and dogs in general, have a faster walking speed than we do; to walk with a loose lead is in fact very hard for dogs.  If you try walking very slowly, you will find yourself having to think much more about the placement of your feet.  Dogs are just the same except they have four feet to coordinate not just two!  With the use of various exercises it is possible to teach the puppy how to coordinate its legs and to move them independently and mindfully. Often a puppy’s challenging growth can cause areas of tension to appear as the puppy needs to weight its limbs differently, this in turn can cause anxious behaviour from the puppy often resulting in more tension, often around the jaw.  This tension will usually be shown with mouthing and chewing which the puppy is often scolded for, again causing anxiety and more tension.  When you look at this vicious circle as a whole, you can see that the puppy in fact had very little choice in what it was doing and that their can be a relationship between a growth spurt in one area of the body and a seemingly unrelated behavioural problem.

Here are two simple exercises to try with your puppy.

Different surfaces

This puppy is being led slowly over a variety of different surfaces, in this case the laminate surface of the desk, carpet tiles, and white plastic sheeting.  The non-habitual feeling of the new surfaces gives the puppy new sensations through its feet (which are more sensitive than you would expect) the more grounded the puppy is on its feet the greater confidence it will have in life, especially when it comes to new or unusual situations.  Notice how the puppy walks tentatively over the surfaces, placing each foot very carefully.  These exercises should be fun and he is being encouraged with toy, to him this is one big game!

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Walk over poles

The use of walk over poles encourages greater coordination and proprioceptive input, it is essential that they are step over poles and NEVER raised into jumps, for this could damage a puppy’s delicate bone structure.  What you use us is up to you, pieces of dowel, rolled up tea towels, cardboard tubes anything, just use your imagination but keep it safe.

We are all familiar with the mental experiences we need to give puppies in order to encourage them to become well balanced adult dogs, however with the use of the TTouch a whole new avenue of physical stimulation is being opened up.  By using the exercises shown, your puppy can be helped to mature quicker and with less of the issues so commonly experienced.

The walk over poles being used here are a piece of TTouch equipment known as a wand (though you can use almost anything as long as it is safe)  The puppy here is learning to carefully place each foot in turn.  As puppies have very short attention spans, it is important to make sessions short so as not to overexert them.

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Many people are amazed at the differences the TTouch can make to adult dogs; indeed it is proving invaluable to many rescue centres across the country.  If puppies can be offered this simply and revolutionary work from a young age, the possibilities are endless.  Breeders and rescue centres with newborn young can make huge changes to puppies and their future development.  In rescue centres, where socialisation of puppies can be hard to the risk of catching diseases, the TTouch work offers an opportunity to safely develop their minds.  Above all TTouch should be a fun and enjoyable way for every one of us to positively affect the dogs of the future.

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Giving your puppy the Magic TTouch

Spike's World

Everybody loves puppies!  With their playful ways and cute appearance you can’t help but want to wrap them in cotton wool with many of the maternal feelings we have for our own children.  However in all too short a length of time they grow to become adult dogs and it is our duty to give them as good a start as we can.  In addition to puppy classes the Tellington TTouch can be extremely helpful in raising a well adjusted adult dog.

The Tellington TTouch is a unique and rewarding way of working with all animals. Developed over 30 years ago by Linda Tellington Jones, TTouch offers ways to help animals overcome a wide variety of behavioural problems without the use of dominance, fear or force.  Using a combination of bodywork and ground exercises the TTouch aims to improve the physical balance of the animal, as physical balance is achieved so mental and emotion balance follows.  The behaviour of an animal can be linked to its posture in many ways, animals with tension through the hindquarters can often be afraid of loud noises such as fireworks, they may be reluctant to being picked up and placed on a veterinarians table and may be badly behaved in the car.  With the use of TTouch these patterns of tension can be removed along with the unwanted behaviour.

Puppy brains are like sponges yet are beginning to show adult brain waves by the age of 8 weeks. Socialisation not only helps to influence emotional responses but also has been shown to increase the numbers of neural connections made within the brain, thus increasing the dog’s potential for learning.  A study was carried out with horses whereby their brain wave pattern were measured whilst being TTouched, consistently it was shown that all four brain waves (alpha, beta theta and delta) were produced when being TTouched.  Petting, stroking and brushing produced no change, only the circular TTouched produced this amazing change in the animal’s brain waves.  It has been proven that puppies raised in a stimulating environment have an increased ability to cope with stress in later life, so if we are able to stimulate our puppy’s brains with TTouch then the potential to increase their ability to learn is enormous!

Just like children, puppies have little idea of what the world expects of them and how to behave, ‘bad’ puppies are often showing signs of worry or anxiety or possibly reacting to pain or discomfort in their own bodies.  These behaviours are reactive and instinctive; nature governs how each animal will respond to the situation.  Some puppies will roll over in a submissive type gesture others will run away while others will mouth or bite.  By using TTouch it is possible to bring animals into a state of awareness whereby the animal is brought into a thinking state rather than the instinctive reactive mode normally seen.  This ‘thinking’ state does away with the need for the harsh, negative behaviour modification methods we are all trying to move away from.

As well as learning all about the world around them, puppies are also on a voyage of self discovery, if one considers how long a human baby has to learn how to coordinate its limbs of it’s own will it is amazing that a puppy can do all it can in such a shot space of time.  It is no wonder therefore ,that in the process some body parts get left behind of forgotten about, resulting in rather bumbling gangly puppies!  With the use of TTouch bodywork we can give the body feedback as to what is where allowing the animal to achieve a much more balanced posture and mind from day one.

Ear TTouch

Taking the ear in the direction it grows (Upwards for pointy eared dogs or horizontal for floppy eared dogs) and gently stroking from base to tip, with each stroke covering a different part of the ear you can soon help to calm an excitable or nervous puppy.  This is especially useful when you first take your puppy home to calm it without promoting an unhealthy attachment which will prove hard to rectify later in life.

Ear TTouch

Notice how this puppy is being settled with another hand, the use of the second hand helps to give a feeling of containment.  It is very important not to hold the puppy down at any time as it should always have the opportunity to move if it wishes.

Mouth TTouch

Many puppies will be mouthy or licky and most will go through a chewing stage.  Licking and mouthing are often emotional responses to fear or anxiety as can chewing objects. Mouth TTouches involve making small, light circular movements of the outside of the dogs mouth, with persistence you should soon be able to make the same light, circular movements on the INSIDE of the puppy’s mouth on the gums (Your fingers may need to be moistened with a little water first) This helps to calm to anxious, emotional behaviour commonly seen in new puppies.  The mouth TTouch also helps reduce the irritation caused during teething, reducing the puppy’s wish to chew every hard object you own!

Mouth work

This puppy is lying down enjoying the Mouth TTouch; however she still finds it rather unusual.  The Mouth TTouch is very light and not uncomfortable; dogs will often push you away to start with simply because it’s a strange sensation.  The Mouth TTouch is all the more important for puppies to learn to accept having their mouths handled for tooth brushing and vet visits.

Tail TTouch

As I sad puppies have to learn about their bodies in a relatively short space of time, often they are still unsure where they start and where they end!  By using the Tail TTouch we can give a puppy information as to where it is in space not only helping the puppy to balance but helping to prevent the usual clumsiness so common in adolescent dogs.

The tail TTouch involves very gently moving each vertebra from the base to the tip. I can’t stress enough how gentle these movements are as the tail is very delicate.  The Tail may also be gently circled at the base.  The aim isn’t to see how far the tail can be moved but to gently give the body information as to where its tail is and what it does!  It is also said that certain endorphins, or ‘happy hormones’ are released when the tail is moved in this way, helping to calm a puppy.

An overly anxious puppy with a continually wagging tail can be calmed by gently holding the tail, causing the dog to stop wagging, rather like a hysterical person made to sit to calm down, stopping the movement of the tail often results in an instantly calm puppy.

Tail TTouch

After an initial confusion, most puppies love the Tail TTouch, this puppy has become totally relaxed at the gentle movements.  When the Tail TTouches is being done, it is useful to feel for kinks and bumps as these can indicate levels of tension in other places.

Belly lifts

Have you ever noticed how you get ‘butterflies in your stomach’ when you feel worried? Puppies can suffer the same, often holding a great deal of tension in their abdomen often resulting in vomiting especially in the car.  Ideally we would like a puppy’s experience of the car to be as positive as possible to prevent problems in later life.  By using a small towel or your clasped hands to make slow, gentle lifting movements, you can work to reduce the tension through the abdomen.


Belly liftsBelly lifts

This puppy is having gentle Belly lifts with a piece of kitchen towel, the lifting movement is tiny, only 10mm of so.  Notice how, in picture two, the puppy has relaxed his spine allowing his back to be much more flexible, also he is now standing more squarely with both hind feet being level, as apposed to having one foot behind him as in picture one.

The TTouch offers a fun opportunity for the whole family to have a positive influence of the life of their new family member.  Children take to the TTouch movements with ease and it can be a fantastic way to teach a young child to interact with a puppy, counteracting their instinctive need to grab and cuddle!  Each TTouch movement is complete and every TTouch will make a difference.

Above all remembering that your puppy is often behaving instinctively and knows no other way,  with guidance, a lot of patience and the power of TTouch we can work to make the puppy phase run as smoothly and be as fun as possible, with a well adjusted adult dog at the end of it!