We talk with Linda Tellington-Jones about her effective approach for animal healing, training and communication with TTouch.
AW: What is Tellington TTouch?
LTJ: It’s a gentle, respectful method of working with animals that honors the body, mind and spirit of animals and their people. It has four components:
• Body work, called the Tellington TTouch®
• Ground exercises called the Playground for Higher Learning
• Tellington TTouch Training Equipment
• Intention – holding a clear image of the behavior, performance and relationship you desire. “Change your mind and you can change your dog.”
These four components combine to enhance learning, behavior, performance and well-being, deepening the connection between animals and their people. Tellington TTouch takes animals beyond instinct and teaches them to think rather than react.
Underpinning the work is this philosophy:
• To honor the role of animals as our teachers
• To bring awareness to the importance of animals in our lives
• To encourage harmony, cooperation and trust between humans and animals and among humans
• To recognize the individual learning process of every human and animal
• To respect each animal as an individual
• To teach interspecies communication through the TTouch
• To work with animals using understanding rather than dominance.
AW: How and when did you originate this modality?
LTJ: The Tellington Method has evolved over 50 years. In 1960, I began to use a form of equine massage that I learned from my American grandfather, William Caywood. He learned it from Russian gypsies in 1904 while training racehorses in Moscow.
In 1975, I began a four-year study with Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais that led to the development of a completely new way of working with horses based on gentle non-habitual ways of moving the body, resulting in an animal’s willingness and ability to cooperate and learn without force or dominance.
I first applied this concept to dogs in 1981 and discovered it was possible to change behavior by influencing a dog’s posture with gentle work on his body. Today, this is a basic premise of the Tellington Method.
In 1983, while working on a very challenging horse, I intuitively discovered the one-and-a-quarter circles now known as Tellington TTouch.
AW: How and why does it work?
LTJ: My focus shifted from the Feldenkrais Method to the recognition of cellular intelligence inspired by the work of Nobel Laureate, Sir Charles Sherrington. In his book Man On His Nature, Sir Charles stated: “Every cell in the body knows its function in the body.”
In 2006, we did a pilot study with the International Institute of Biophysics with Dr. Fritz Albert Popp. It showed a significant increase in cell function and cell communication when the basic one-and-a-quarter TTouch circle was used.
The gentle circular Tellington TTouches enhance cell communication and function, releasing fear at the cellular level.TTouch gives dogs, horses and other animals a new sense of their bodies, bringing new physical, mental and emotional balance. It creates a shift from control of the sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight/freeze/faint/fool around) to the parasympathetic nervous system, which allows a dog to think rather than react.
New research demonstrates that light touch also releases oxytocin, the “trust” hormone, and enhances healing. This may explain why animals gain trust and improved health and well-being with TTouch.
AW: Can anyone do it? What are the qualifications?
LTJ: For over three decades, thousands of people have reported success using the Tellington TTouch, despite having no previous experience with the method. We have people of all ages who have successfully shifted their dogs’ behavior and relationships.
AW: What can Tellington TTouch do for dogs and cats?
LTJ: Tellington TTouch has helped with typical dog issues such as guarding behaviors; over-enthusiastic greeting behaviors; noise sensitivity; thunder terror; leash pulling; car sickness and reactivity in the car; reactivity to other dogs, people and visitors; general timidity; lack of focus; jumping and spinning behaviors; and barking.
It has also improved the performance of dogs in shows and competitions and has been used to support canines working in animal assisted therapy, search and rescue, and service.
TTouch can also help relieve stiffness or arthritic changes in aging dogs and kitties, as a complement to veterinary care.
Tellington TTouch helps “scaredy cats” become lap cats; gives confidence to nervous felines; socializes feral cats; prepares cats for vet visits; solve litter box and territorial issues in multi-cat households; and helps solve feline/canine issues. It has also improved the performance of show cats.
AW: Can you describe a couple of the most frequently used touches?
LTJ: The mouth, ears and tail are essential areas for emotional balance. Here’s a brief introduction to the TTouches associated with them:
The Mouth TTouch – TTouch on the mouth develops a remarkable sense of trust, focus and willingness to learn. This is a valuable area to work on because of its connection to the limbic system, the part of the brain that controls emotions. It’s wonderful for all dogs, and can change the attitude and behavior of dogs who are unfocused, inattentive, hyperactive, chronic barkers, or resistant. The Mouth TTouch is great preparation for teeth cleaning, vet exams, and for show dogs who must accept mouth examination by a judge. It is very effective for changing the behavior of aggressive dogs.
The Ear TTouch – This one calms and focuses a dog or cat and can reduce pain and prevent shock. It’s one of the most effective TTouches for calming frightened cats or excited, hyperactive dogs, as well as for activating dogs that are too calm or lethargic, or are tired after competition or work. It has been used in thousands of cases for preventing shock, or reducing shock after injury. Ear TTouch can be of great assistance with all types of digestive disorders – nausea, constipation or diarrhea – always in conjunction with veterinary care. It activates the limbic system, affecting the emotions. It also influences all important physical functions, appears to balance the immune system, and supports the body’s ability to heal itself.
The Tail TTouch – This TTouch helps dogs overcome fear, aggression and timidity (including fear of loud noises such as thunder and fireworks). It can also be helpful with dogs that react around other dogs.
To see these TTouches in action, watch the videos at youtube.com/user/TellingtonTTouch.
AW: Can you provide a short case report of a dog that benefited from Tellington TTouch?
LTJ: A combination of Tellington TTouch and TTouch wraps can make a huge difference to dogs who are reactive to thunder, gun shots or fireworks. Emma, a four-year-old Boston terrier, would begin shaking and looking for a place to hide at the approach of a thunderstorm. Practitioner Pam Wanveer showed Emma’s companion how to apply Ear TTouch and a wrap. Now, when a storm comes, Emma’s teeth are quiet, she doesn’t shake, and she remains relaxed. The security of the wrap combined with Ear TTouches has brought relief to hundreds of dogs over the past years.
Tellington TTouch has spread around the world and is used for dogs and cats, horses and exotics, as well as for humans.