At the Chienposium, Maryse Perreault from Essence et Alliances gave a short presentation on the T-Touch method. T-Touch stands for Tellington Touch Training, which is a method created more than forty years ago by Linda Tellington-Jones. There are more than twenty different T-Touch manipulations; most of them are based on circular movements of the fingers or the hand on the person’s or the animal’s body.
According to Maryse Perreault, our pets can beneficiate greatly from having T-Touch incorporated into their life. As we know, stress can lead to illnesses and behavioral problems. T-Touch manipulations have a known calming effect, thus reducing our pet’s stress and all its unfortunate consequences. T-Touch also has an impact on the animal nervous system: These manipulations stimulate their nerves differently, in a good way, which makes the animal more receptive to new stimuli and situations. Finally, T-Touch sessions enhance the bond between an animal and his owner. By surrounding calmly to such manipulations, animals learn to trust and spend quiet time with their owner.
Here is an interesting video introducing T-Touch:
To make the T-Touch sessions work, it is important to follow some guidelines:
– Always respect your pet’s adaptation rhythm and monitor his well-being. These sessions are meant to be relaxing to your pet. You absolutely would not want to practice those manipulations on an animal that submissively endure them instead of enjoying them. This would be completely beside the purpose!
– Keep the sessions very short at first, two or three minutes top, and then gradually increase up to ten or fifteen minutes. It is better to have many short sessions than sporadic longer ones. You will also want to vary the content of each session, their duration, as well as the moment they take place. In T-Touch, there is a learning element for your pet that is very important. You want to surprise your animal constantly so that he feels new sensations and increases his body awareness. It should therefore not be the same routine every single time.
– Do not associate T-Touch sessions with anything particular. Of course, T-Touch is something that can be very helpful for your pet if you do it before something stressing like a visit to the veterinarian or a car ride. But if you always – and only – do T-Touch in those situations, your pet will soon associate the manipulations with something stressing going to happen to him soon. This will result in him feeling tense as soon as you begin T-Touch exercises on him – obviously not something you want! So do those sessions when he is feeling stressed, when he is feeling good…whenever, so that he does not guess a pattern.
There are T-Touch training seminars across the province all year long. These one or two days program are the perfect way to learn effectively all the different manipulations and practice them on your pet. Maryse Pelchat however went over those two different manipulations that can easily try at home:
1) The Duster Touch
With your palm up, move your hand slowly, very slowly, on your pet’s body, like a caress in slow motion. At the end of the movement, flip your hand in a duster-like gesture so that your hand faces palm down on his fur. Then start over at another location on his body. You will want to do the first touches on a region that feels normal and comfortable for your animal. Usually, shoulders and chest are good places to begin. The movement is very subtle; do not put a lot of pressure on your hand, you will only want to graze over his fur very slowly. Some animals might find this contact weird at first and start moving a lot to avoid it. If it is the case with your pet, move your hand a little bit faster at first so that it feels more like normal petting and gradually slow down until your pet no longer feels uncomfortable when you practice the same manipulation slowly. Only then will he be able to relax and feel the benefit of that touch!
2) The Ear Touch
If you are familiar with acupuncture, you know that there are numerous acupuncture points in the ears, and that a pressure on some of those points is known to have deep relaxation benefits. If your dog has long or folded ears, seize the ear gently with your hand so that it rests on your palm and that your thumb lays at the top of the ear. Then move your thumb slowly with a small pressure down the ear right to its tip. If your dog or cat has ears that stand-up, you will do the exact same thing, but you will instead have to move up the ear. Start over, but with your thumb on a slightly different location of your dog’s or cat’s ear.
You can do those manipulations with your pet standing up, sitting or laying down. As long as he feels comfortable, he will be able to relax. Make sure that you are also feeling comfortable; otherwise, any discomfort or tension you feel will be transmitted to your pet. Try it at home! You will be surprised to see how relaxing this practice is for you! Happy T-Touch!