'Not only is punishment risky, but it also fails to teach the dog an acceptable alternate behaviour. The dog does not learn what to do the next time he is in the same situation. He only learns to fear the situation.' Emma Parsons, Click to Calm p73

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Tellington TTouches.

Photo from May 2010.

Right now, I'm reading Sarah Fisher and Marie Miller's 100 Ways to Train the Perfect Dog. There's a section in it on something I've never heard of before--the Tellington TTouch (or just TTouch):

"TTouch is a training system in its own right; it also blends well with other techniques. The groundwork and bodywork exercises add variety to training and improve balance, co-ordination and self-control.

The benefits of TTouch are many. It helps to reduce unwanted behaviours including leash pulling, noise sensitivity and phobia, excessive barking and reactive behaviour towards humans and other animals. It reduces strss in dogs that live in kennels. Dogs that experience TTouch show a marked improvement in concentration and an increased willingness and ability to learn.

TTouches work on the nervous system and therefore require relatively little pressure to be effective. To convey a sense of the amount of pressure that is appropriate when doing them, we use a system of numbers from one to ten. Place your thumb lightly on your cheek and rest your fingertips on your cheekbone. As lightly as possible, move the skin over your cheekbone without rubbing so that you can barely feel the bone. This is a one pressure. Repeat on your forearm, making sure there is no indentation on the skin. Moving the skin over the cheekbone with a little more pressure so that you can just feel the bone gives you a three pressure. When using a three pressure on the forearm you should notice a slight indentation.

Ear Work
1. With your dog sitting or standing calmly by your side hold his ear gently but firmly and stroke it from the base right out ot the tip.
2. Move the position of your hand each time you stroke to ensure that the whole ear is covered. Work gently but with intent. If you are too tentative you may make your dog nervous, particularly if he is a little ear-shy.
3. There is a 'shock point' on the tip of the ear, which can be worked by making circular movements with the finger and thumb. This is beneficial for dogs that have had a traumatic experience, have cold tips to their ears and/or are habitually nervous.

Clouded Leopard
The Clouded Leopard is the foundation for all the circular TTouches. . . . Clouded Leopard TTouches are most commonly used with a pressure ranging from two to three, depending on the preference of the dog and the area on which you are working.
1. Visualize a watch face on your dog's body, make it about 1cm (1/2in) in diameter with six o'clock being the lowest point. With one hand lightly holding the leash, supporting the collar, or resting on your dog's body, place the fingers of your other hand at six on your imaginary watch face.
2. With your fingers in a softly curved position, like a paw, push the skin around the clock clockwise, until you have made just one-and-a-quarter circles. Maintain an even pressure all the way round, on past six until you reach eight. At eight, pause for a second and then move to another spot and repeat.
3. Ensure your fingers are gently pushing the skin rather than sliding over the hair. Check the dog is relaxed before moving on to another spot. You can do the Clouded Leopard TTouch over the whole dog, altering your hand position where necessary around the contours of the body.
4. Remember to breathe. Holding your breath stiffens your body and affecs the TTouch.

Mouth Work
Working around your dog's muzzle is an excellent way of helping him to learn. Mouth work helps to reduce excessive barking and oversensitivity and improves focus.
1. Stand beside your dog's shoulder or sit on a chair with your dog sitting down or standing, but importantly facing away from you. If he turns round to face you, stop immediately.
2. Support your dog's head with one hand and stroke his muzzle and sides of the face with the back of your other hand.
3. If your dog is nervous you can start by using a different texture such as a soft paintburhs or sheepskin mitt.
4. If your dog is happy, continue with a Clouded Leopard TTouch. Work around the jaw muscles and move the upper lip in a circular motion.
5. You can then slide a fingertip under the lip and rub it gently along the gum. Wet your fingers if the dog is dry in the mouth.
6. If your dog is happy, work both gums. Switch hands and work the other side of the mouth.

Zigzags
This is a great TTouch for warming up and cooling down your dog before and after energetic or competitive work. It can also be used for accessing areas on your dog's body that may be overly sensitive to contact.
1. Stand to the side of your dog - he can be standing or sitting. Rest your fingers on his shoulders and zigzag your hand along his back, spreading your fingers apart as you move your hand away from you and drawing your fingers back together as your hand moves back toward you.
2. Keep the contact light but with enough pressure to ensure that you are not tickling.
3. Switch sides and repeat the exercise."

> The above is taken from various sections of pages 35 to 38 of 100 Ways to Train the Perfect Dog by Sarah Fisher & Marie Miller (David & Charles Limited, 2008).

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