TTouch – “Walking In balance” DVD
December 24, 2013 at 9:25 pm
The only Black Friday Sale I took advantage of last month was the one offered by Tawzer Dog. I got Lori Steven’s TTouch Walking In Balance DVD and last week I finished watching all 3 discs. Lori Stevens is fantastic and the seminar was so interesting and enlightening that now I wish I had ordered the first TTouch DVD too!
Last year I had tried to read Linda Tellington-Jones’s TTouch book after Boogie’s intro TTouch session with Cynde. To be honest, it was hard to take in and retain all this information from the book without having more tangible experiences. I am the sort of person who needs to see and feel how something is done (vs only reading about it) – and watching Lori Stevens’ DVD has rekindled my desire to learn more about TTouch. Also – the fact that TTouch was developed by Linda Tellington-Jones from Feldenkrais is something that I find really exciting. I have been obsessed with Feldenkrais all year and have been doing ATM lessons (ATM =”awareness through movement”) at home, a few times a week.
If anyone is interested, here is the Frank Wildman ATM lesson (45 minutes) you can check out – ‘Folding Your Body With Ease ‘ https://www.dropbox.com/s/52hs6ip3cdhotpq/Vol1_lesson_one.mp3
To quote Lori Stevens, TTouch and Feldenkrais are both “neuromuscular retraining programs”.
In using non-habitual movements and body work, we reduce tension patterns in our bodies, we gain awareness, we loosen our joints, experience improvement in posture and gait, which in turn, lead to emotional well being, greater confidence and better physical performance. All these things influence behavior, which is why TTouch is also categorized as a “dog training method” that is humane and force-free.
I totally get the emotional benefits of better posture and gait, and the force-free aspect of this sort of training, based on my own experiences with Feldenkrais. I still relish the ‘magical’ DIY results even though there is a scientific explanation as to why this all works. It’s amazing to me that I can eliminate pain from my own body and expand my range of movement just by attentively, doing a series of gentle movements on a yoga mat that do NOT in any way involve physical effort or discomfort. No stretching, no muscle manipulations, no “holding” of poses… I always feel amazing afterwards – taller, more stable, more flexible, more alert, pain-free etc. and I feel more motivated to work out and do physical things.
To quote Feldenkrais practitioners: We are learning to use our bodies more effectively to move effortlessly. We are training skill, not will. The skill is proprioception.
I keep all this in mind when I think of what I can do for Boogie with TTouch.
The focus of the Walking In Balance DVD is really ‘leash walking’ techniques and how to stay connected to your dog. In the first disc, there is an overview and intro including a Feldenkrais ATM lesson for humans to do (yes I did this! It was cool) so that we know how ‘improved proprioception’ feels. Then Lori demonstrated some important TTouches on fake and real dogs: Noah’s March, Zig Zag, Python Lifts, & Tail Work. I loved that she shared details on the amount of pressure to use, how slow the movements should be, where to pause, how to move to the next spot, how not to go over the same areas… etc.
As I was watching, I practiced on Boogie and took notes. Boogie LOVED the TTouches so much that he left his bed and snuggled up to me on the couch for more. Some rough sketches:
According to Lori, senior dogs tend to lose “back end proprioception”. *edit* Dogs naturally put 60% of their weight on their front end so that as they get older their back ends atrophy. When dogs pull on the leash, this is not only damaging to the thyroid and trachea, the dog can also develop unhealthy patterns of “leaning”, making things worse. And so in using TTouches and Wraps we can sensitize dogs to more “hind-end awareness” and in so doing, correct gait issues.
Likewise for dogs who do agility and reactive dogs. The DVD showed some footage of an agility dog whose jumping movements improved after experiencing a Wrap.
“We usually see a change in behavior when there are changes in the way a dog moves.”
Boogie had experienced a half-wrap last summer but I am not sure if it made any difference. Perhaps this is because he is usually always wearing some sort of harness so he is used to having “stuff” wrapped around his body so perhaps the Wrap didn’t feel “non-habitual” enough? Or perhaps it wasn’t helpful to be wearing a Wrap on such a hot day. Now that we are in winter, I will try this again. I have some bandages lying around somewhere.
Another TTouch method demo-ed on the DVD is the Balance Leash with 2 points of contact- which to me, looks quite complicated. I had to sketch it out to memorize what goes where.
The purpose of having 2 points of contact is for clearer communication or clearer leash cues. With 2 points, the dog can sense much earlier when we want to change direction than if we had one point of leash contact. In the DVD, Lori demo-ed this with humans on leash. With one point of contact, when we turn, the dog would feel more like he was being pulled. “It takes two to pull”. We pull, the dog pulls.
Quote Lori: In an ideal world, dogs would be wearing harnesses with front and back attachments, not collars.
In TTouch, we “stroke the leash” to let our dog know when we want to slow down, turn around, or stop. Now I know where the “mime pulling” in BAT comes from! 🙂
Boogie has not worn a collar in years… he wears a Freedom harness and these days, only using the back attachment and a one-clip leash. I could in fact configure a Balance Leash using the back ring only, by having the leash go around his chest…
Note: A good harness should not restrict shoulder or front leg movements nor be too tight. On the DVD, Lori went through different types of harnesses and a few different two-ring configurations for harnesses, some including side rings. I will need to revisit the DVD to remember what these different kinds of harnesses are.
There was so much more information on the DVD (“Labyrinth”, Walking on different surfaces, how to work with reactive dogs etc) that I can’t summarize everything in this one blog post. I definitely need to go back and watch segments again and refer also to the DogRead Yahoo Group postings which had more detailed discussions and examples. (See postings from Dec 1-15, “Tellington TTouch Techniques: Walking in Balance With Your Dog” Lori Stevens)
A final memo: Before taking our dog out the door for a walk (when he is usually all hyped from being cooped up indoors all day), it is a good idea to have 5 minutes of Calm Connectedness. TTouch is a good way to stay connected and bond with your dog before venturing out.
Thank you, Lori!
DISCLAIMER: The sketches in this blog post are rough visual notes that I created after watching the DVD. I did these sketches for fun/for myself because I remember and process concepts better when I draw them. You are welcome to use and share them but please note that they are NOT official TTouch handouts. – Lili 🙂
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