Tag Archives: TTouch

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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.

Belly lifts

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.


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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!