Posts tagged ‘ttouch’

TTouch – “Walking In balance” DVD

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 ‘

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:


TTouchnotes-ZigZagTTOUCH notes-PythonLiftsAccording 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.” 

TTOUCH notes-HalfWrap

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.

*edited 12/31/2013

*edited 12/31/2013

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!

Related links:

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 🙂

December 24, 2013 at 9:25 pm 3 comments

Boogie’s first TTouch Experience

I first heard about TTouch several years ago. At the time, there were no YouTube videos on the subject, no TTouch practitioners anywhere near me, and the only information that I could get my hands on was in a book with very few pictures. It wasn’t until recently when I got a hold of the new edition of Getting In TTouch With Your Dog (which has very clear photos and diagrams) that my curiosity was rekindled.

What I know now is that TTouch is not simply a type of massage, but a method of bodywork that also incorporates “behavior training”. The premise is that if your dog feels right in his body and is able to release tension, he more able to learn new things. Physical health, emotional health and performance are all related.

Whole Dog Journal article: The Tellington TTouch For Dogs

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Patricia Tirrell (a TTouch Practitioner who also moderates the DogRead Yahoo group) on Facebook and she referred me to Cynde Van Vleet of IC Paws Abilites, who is based in California. Cynde is our closest TTouch Practitioner – and she very kindly offered to drive 70 miles from San Clemente to meet with Boogie.

Sarah and I organized a session with Cynde at Sarah’s place where our two dog-reactive dogs were kept in separate areas. Boogie was outdoors, Zoe was indoors.

Cynde and Boogie

What I learnt yesterday:

TTouch looks like massage but it is actually works on the nervous system rather than on the muscles. The touches are very light circular motions on the skin, so gentle that the animal physically relaxes while his brain and nervous system are activated at the same time. The thumb is anchored while the fingers do a one-and-a-quarter circle on the skin. There are many different TTouch touches classified by different parts of the fingers coming in contact with the skin.

It was quite a challenge to have to think about these finger/hand motions and be mindful of how gentle the pressure should be. (Cynde: On a scale of 0 to 10, the pressure is a 3) The one-and-a-quarter-circle motion is not as easy to do as it looks 🙂

From the book: “Getting In TTouch With Your Dog”

Interestingly too, TTouch was adapted by Linda Tellington Jones from the Feldenkrais method, when she first started working with horses and zoo animals (hence the names like “Clouded Leopard TTouch” and “Python TTouch”). I find this influence exciting because many years ago, in the early 90’s, I attended Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement classes in Sydney, and have done “Functional Intergration” sessions for back pain. To be honest, at the time I didn’t have a clue how it all worked and why I felt so amazing after each session.  The movements were all extremely slow, precise, gentle and repetitive. This was like the opposite of getting a deep tissue massage or doing yoga postures. I remember always going home feeling super flexible,  light and rejuvenated with all my physical pain and tension gone.

When Cynde worked on Boogie, she noted that he had a lot of heat in his head (heat = stress)… which eventually cooled down after a few Racoon touches. Boogie also had a lot of tension in his tail – it was pulled in super tight.

NEVER before had I ever done anything with Boogie’s tail (except one time when he had a hotspot underneath that I had to clean) so this was quite a weird and new sensation. Boogie’s tail is like a tiny nub in the shape of a comma… almost bald because he has been chewing and scooting on it. Until yesterday when Cynde pointed it out to me, I had no idea that there were TWO joints in that teeny weeny tail. Cynde demonstrated how to hold the base of the tail and move it around to loosen the tension. Boogie LOVED the Tail Touches. His tongue was flicking in and out of his mouth like in the very last drawing of this poster.

Here’s a video snippet of Cynde doing Tail TTouch with Zoe, who has a real tail.

Boogie also loved having his ears worked on – the Ear TTouches are supposed to be very calming. Cynde did slides and circular movements. I am thinking that these touches might help Boogie relax before I clean his ears….

I tried out some Racoon ( fingertip) touches on Boogie’s body but I might have been doing it wrong or with too much pressure… Boogie got restless and walked away. He relaxed again when I tried the more soothing and less concentrated Lying Leopard (full palm) touches. Blissful Boogie face.

An essential part of TTouch is paying attention to and getting feedback from the dog and doing what feels right for him.

Cynde had also done these same touches on Sarah’s and my backs so that we knew what they felt like.

Body Wrap

Setting up the Labyrinth.

The Body Wrap, Labyrinth and Cones
The Body Wrap works like a Thundershirt and is supposed to be calming. I am not too sure if the stretchy elastic wrap made much difference to Boogie’s energy level … It was hard for me to tell.  Cynde had set up a Labyrinth and series of Cones for the Boogs to walk through but he was so distracted by Zoe’s presence in the backyard at the time, and perhaps also by the uncomfortable heat outdoors, that he was whimpering, pulling on the leash and stepping over the lines like a totally untrained dog. He also vomited up some hot dog… which he immediately ate up again. :/

Eventually, we successfully made it through the Labyrinth and Cones when we slowed everything down and I praised Boogie very exuberantly for every single step…

Cynde suggests that I take Boogie on different surfaces (high and low) and spend more time walking not in a straight line but around objects, a bit like walking around cones and in the labyrinth, while we are out on our walks. Boogie and I actually already do a lot of walking around objects (like parked cars) to avoid scary people and dogs, but I need to be doing this with focus – perhaps more slowly and make it like a fun game.

Touches we covered today. The animal names remind me of Kung Fu moves! 🙂

Noah’s March
Lying Leopard Touch
Clouded Leopard Touch
Racoon Touch
Bear Touch
Turtle Touch
Ear Touch
Tail Touch
Zig Zag Touch

Check out more photos and videos in this flickr set: Boogie and Zoe – TTouch Session

So…. was Boogie calmer? More relaxed? It was hard to tell because it was hot and we were in a new distracting environment. To me, Boogie seemed quite restless when he wasn’t getting the TTouches. He wanted to play, he wanted to meet Zoe and Maya, he wanted to drink from the mini pool, check out Sarah’s rabbits etc.   He was also dying to go indoors with us and didn’t like being left outside.

So far, I like everything that I have learned about TTouch, and it makes perfect sense that a dog who who feels good physically is going to be a more relaxed and confident dog in general. I can see how this would help with training. I love touching/petting/massaging Boogie anyway, and it’s nice to know that I can from now on, stop doing a sloppy job of it and actually have some ‘technique’ to use. 🙂

Thank you, Cynde!

Today’s little buzz: Boogie hopped into the bathtub when I turned the water on. We’d just come in from the 100 degree heat outside. Boogie jumped into the tub BY HIMSELF which is something he has never done before. He stood in there while I splashed some water on his belly; jumped out again, shook off, ran off to grab his toy. Usually when I turn the water on, I find Boogie hiding under a table or inside his crate and I have to lure him out with treats and carry him into the tub.

September 9, 2012 at 11:21 pm 7 comments

A gallery of Boogie Art

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