By Laura Peterson
We stroke them, pick them up, shake their paw and wrestle with them; our pets are certainly no strangers to being touched! But there is a touch that can transform your pet from a Nervous Nellie Nipper, or Boisterous Barking Babykins, to a well-adjusted, confident member of your household. (Pretty Perfect Percy?) Did I say a touch can do that? Well, a TTouch, to be exact.
First developed in the 1970’s by Linda Tellington-Jones, TTouch (short for Tellington Touch) began as a way to further the bond between people and horses through touch and positive training. The technique has evolved since then to become a valuable tool for dogs, cats, and just about any creature on this planet — including us. Through the use of circular touches and lifts of varying pressure and degrees of contact (some touches use the whole hand and some use just finger tips), TTouch awakens the body on a cellular level, promoting heightened awareness, healing and a deep bond between toucher and touchee. The touches and lifts are mostly named after the animals on which Tellington-Jones developed them, (like the Clouded Leopard or Python Lift) or for the way the touch resembles an animal behavior (like the Lick of the Cow’s Tongue or Raccoon Touch).
TTouch also employs movement exercises, utilizing special leashes, obstacles, labyrinths and body wraps to train and challenge pets to become more aware and consider all of the options available to them. This is a wonderful thing for those dogs that are relying on a particular behavior that just ain’t working! (No, Fido, barking all day ISN’T working to bring Mommy home quicker, but here are some acceptable options for how to express yourself…)
The best thing about TTouch is anyone can do it. The practitioners don’t present themselves as “gifted healers” with “powers beyond your comprehension.” When you book a session with a TTouch Practitioner, you’re going to learn some TTouch! Once you learn some basic touches, lifts and exercises, you can start helping your pets with everything from obsessive licking to thunder storm phobia. It’s all fairly easy to learn and with just a little practice, you too can do the Lying Leopard and Tarantula Pulling the Plow on your own special Fuzzy Lumpkin. (Hey, I can make up names, too!)
At a recent TTouch workshop here in New York, I watched an adorable 3 year old Shiba Inu that had been badly abused by her previous person transform from a withdrawn, insecure pooch to a significantly more confident dog with the help of a body wrap. The instructor literally wrapped an ace bandage loosely around the dog like a Christmas bow, and as the dog walked with this new sensation, we could see her renewed body awareness before our very eyes. Her tail, which previously hung limply to the side like a wet noodle, was suddenly upright and wagging, like a Shiba Inu tail should be! I also witnessed a very clingy dog who could barely walk beside her owner without whimpering and jumping to be picked up, start walking on her own four paws while looking at the world around her with curiosity, thanks to the body wrap, some leash work and the labyrinth (a short maze-like trail set up with sticks for the dog to walk through).
After the workshop, I spoke with local TTouch practitioners Mary Cummings-Bruce and Peggy Marino Marks of Mindful Tails. Mary and Peggy work all around the greater tri-state area, going to clients’ homes to work with their pets. Their consultations begin with a phone interview to discuss challenges, goals, etc., and then your first session will be scheduled. Sessions are $85 per hour, with the first session usually running about 90 minutes, at no extra cost. During the sessions, they work on your pets as well as teach you how to do TTouch, so you can continue the work on your own. It generally takes an average of three sessions with the pros to accomplish more permanent results.
TTouch is an incredible gift for both pet and person. Imagine seeing your cat out from under the bed when company comes over and finally proving to your friends that you do, in fact, have a cat. Imagine walking your dog past another dog on the street without dislocating a shoulder or choking your dog. Imagine developing an amazing new way to communicate with your pets about unwanted behavior that brings you closer, rather than damaging your relationship. It’s all possible through TTouch!
For more information about TTouch, please see the TTEAM website at: tteam-ttouch.com
To schedule an appointment with a TTouch Practitioner here in New York, you can contact Mary & Peggy at Mindful Tails at 877-MiTails or through their website at www.mitails.com