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Dog Walking in Corsham, Box, Bathford, and surrounding area

Tellington Touch

TTouch is a gentle and effective method based on the holistic principle that behaviour and posture are inextricably linked. Physical imbalances can manifest in many ways creating an underlying sense of vulnerability and lack of confidence. Through simple body work techniques and exercises TTouch can help to alleviate physical and emotional tension and negative postural habits.

For more detailed information on how TTouch helps your dog please read the following articles:

How TTouch Can Help You and Your Dog

All creatures experience the world via information from the sensory nervous system. One of the key differences between us, humans, and dogs is that we are able to observe ourselves objectively and thus find it easier to make choices about our behaviour. For a dog, his behaviour is completely determined by his emotional state which is inextricably linked to his physical state.

Most of us view our emotions as somehow separate from our physical senses. But a closer examination shows that our emotional responses are also physiological responses, it is not possible to experience an emotion without experiencing a physical sensation. For example, when we are afraid we release chemicals that will raise our heart rate, shunt our blood to different areas and tense up our muscles. These and other sensations are what we call fear, without these changes we wouldn't actually be afraid. Although these are internal changes they are also very apparent externally as it is often possible to tell what someone is feeling just by observing their posture and body movements.

The same also applies to our dogs, one external change that we all recognise in a fearful dog is the clamping of it's tail under it's body.

Viewed in this manner it is possible to see that if an emotional sensation is also physical sensation then a physical sensation can also create an emotion sensation. In the case of the fearful dog, fear will cause it to automatically tense it's hindquarters so as to clamp it's tail. For the dog the sensation and the action are the same thing therefore it follows that a dog carrying a permanent sensation of tension in it's hindquarters will have a permanent low level sense of fearfulness.

The same principle can be applied to humans , for example a person with chronic high blood pressure (a natural physiological response to stress) will tend to feel constantly slightly anxious. Our ability to reason and view ourselves objectively means that we can over ride our sensations and therefore modify our behaviours. So, although a sufferer of high blood pressure may feel anxious he can reduce this sensation by reasoning that there is nothing in his environment to cause this. A dog doesn't have this option and will be at the mercy of his physical and emotional sensations and responses.

Proprioception is the ability to know where our body is in space. The brain receives this information via the sensory nervous system from receptor cells in our muscles and joints. This constant stream of information enables us to coordinate our movements and gives us our sense of balance. Any impairment within this system will result in a loss of body awareness in the affected area and thus a lack of effective motor control. Muscular tension or injury can disrupt the proprioceptive messages reaching the brain, which then creates a negative cycle whereby the lack of sensory information means a loss of body awareness which means uncoordinated movement which exacerbates the injury or original tension.

To go back to the example of the fearful dog with tension in his hindquarters, we can imagine that one reason for the tension may be a minor injury to his leg or his foot, this injury would have damaged some of his sensory cells sending proprioceptive information to the brain. This disrupts his sense of where his body is in space causing him to move in an unbalanced manner. Left unchecked this distorted body awareness and loss of coordination becomes his norm and a chronic state of tension in the muscles of the hindquarters would develop. This then can effect his emotional state and hence his behaviour.

Through observation to identify areas of tension and postural imbalances Tellington Touch uses specific body and ground work exercises to release muscular tension, change postural habits and stimulate the sensory nervous system enhancing propreoception and thus increasing body awareness. An animal with increased body awareness is more coordinated and more balanced.

And a balanced body = a balanced mind.

Sharon Rich

Why Do We Do Groundwork?

These are simple exercises created to encourage the body to explore a wide range of movements. It is important that they are performed slowly and without stress. To understand how this can help our animals we must look in more detail at an aspect of our nervous system concerned with proprioception.

Proprioception could also be called body awareness as it is the body''s ability to sense where its various parts are in space. Every part of the body has an area of the brain dedicated to the movement and sensations of that part. Every movement we make is registered by the brain. The more that a particular body part is used the more information it sends to the corresponding area of the brain and larger that area becomes.

The joints and muscles have an enormous range of movement possibilities, but repetitive movement patterns lead to limited information being stored in the brain and therefore limited movement choices being available.

In terms of our animals this can be observed in a number of ways:

  • Poor co-ordination (often dismissed as clumsiness).
  • Inflexibility/stiffness.
  • Physical discomfort leading to a tendency to be less active.
  • A sense of physical insecurity leading to a lack of confidence and anxiety when asked to try new things.

The Ttouch groundwork exercises give the brain more detailed information about the range of movement possibilities available, this increases body awareness which gives the animal more choices and thus more physical confidence.

So why is it important to perform these exercises slowly ?

When a movement is performed quickly it is very difficult to have any real awareness of how controlled it was. If there is any discomfort it's very difficult to pinpoint at what stage the discomfort began and at what stage it stopped.

If we want to increase the amount of detailed information in the brain then moving slowly enables the muscular and skeletal sensations to be experienced with greater clarity, the movement can then be performed with greater control.

As an animal with poor body awareness is often unconfident and uncoordinated, moving slowly gives the brain time to experience the movement choices available which will improve body awareness and increases it's sense of control and builds confidence.

An additional benefit of TTouch exercises is that stimulating the brain through new physical experiences not only enhances physical potential it increases capacity for mental learning as well.

TTouch exercises are beneficial in all circumstances:

A fit and healthy dog will find the experience mentally stimulating and incorporating different routines on a regular basis will enhance general performance and maintain good coordination and flexibility.

For a dog presenting a state of physical imbalance the exercises will give the brain more information about the range of movement possibilities which increases the animals ability to make different movement choices, this helps break negative habitual patterns and creates a more balanced physical state.

In the case of an injury, the protective mechanisms of stiffness/pain/weakness are all responses to impaired or disrupted sensory information from the affected limb. By moving slowly and gently the body has the opportunity to discover small movements which are safe, this information is fed to the central nervous system which then responds by reducing the protective mechanisms. This translates as reduced healing time and less overcompensating pressure on the rest of the body.

Sharon Rich

Ttouch can help with many conditions including:

  • Reactivity towards animals and people,
  • Pining,
  • Travel Sickness,
  • Lead Pulling,
  • Pushiness,
  • Anxiety,
  • Lack of confidence,
  • Hyperactivty,
  • Arthritis,
  • Excessive barking,
  • Fear of fireworks/thunder,
  • Body defensiveness after injury.
  • Jumping up,
  • Fear of traffic,
  • And more.......