By Sam Curkovic, Guide Dog Mobility Instructor, CNIB Guide Dogs
Since 1978, the Tellington Touch (TTouch) Method has become a well-known relaxation method for animals and humans and is now practiced in over 30 countries – even by some pet owners, trainers and vets.
At CNIB Guide Dogs, we encourage our volunteers, staff and graduates at all stages of the program to consider the TTouch method as an additional bonding activity. We hope both you and your dog find these techniques enriching and relaxing, particularly during COVID-19.
The foundation of the TTouch method is based on circular movements of the fingers and hands all over the body to induce relaxation. It is believed that the method activates the function of the cells, improving self-confidence, and speeding up the healing of injuries and ailments.
Regardless of your conviction, the method can be enjoyed by both you and your dog and can be incorporated into grooming routines, or simply help pass the time while you are waiting for the bus!
The techniques are easy to learn, with no prior knowledge of anatomy required. To set yourself up for success, it is best to practise on your dog when they are already feeling relaxed (typically in the evening) and can begin with just a few touches before building up the length of the sessions. Be mindful to work on an area of the dog’s body that they are comfortable with, so be prepared to move back to a previously receptive area if the dog shows any reluctance. It is also worth stopping when things are going well to keep the sessions positive.
The Ear TTouch is one of the most naturally used by dog handlers, without us even considering it to be part of this method. Most dogs enjoy an ear rub, and the base of the ear contains many acupuncture points that have beneficial relaxation results for stress or car sickness. The ear method can be done in several ways. First, gently stroke from the base to the tip of the ear with your thumbs on the outside and folded fingers on the underside, while supporting the dog’s head with your other hand. Second, make tiny circles between the thumb and forefingers, covering the entire ear in long lines. Last, using the tips of your fingers make tiny circles, one at a time, all around the base of the ear.
If you are interested in learning other techniques – such as the Tail TTouch, the Python Lift, the Clouded Leopard or other bizarrely-named methods, you can find a number of resources at ttouch.com or ttouch.ca.