Visionary Magazine Article

Guide Dog Training and the Benefits of using the Tellington TTouch Method

dog magazineAt June’s International Federation of Guide Dog Schools Conference in London, Elizabeth Roe and Jane Madigan gave a presentation on exploring the use of the Tellington TTouch method within a guide dog training program.
 
The presentation was a collaboration between two schools:
Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind, Guide Dog Services and Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind. 
 
Jane and Liz are both guild registered Tellington TTouch practitioners, and have worked together on exploring how the TT method and techniques can be applied in a Guide Dog Program.
 
Although the work being undertaken in this area by both Guide Dog Schools is in the initial stages, sufficient positive results have been seen to warrant further discussion and investigation into the use of these techniques, and how the TTouch method may impact on the dog’s sensory system.
 
The commencement of training is a significant time for a young dog. The change can impact on a dog resulting in increased anxiety, reduced concentration and influence their ability to learn. Incorporating a variety of methods, can help to identify and meet the individual needs of each dog.
 
The Tellington TTouch method can provide a variety of tools which help to make this transition from puppy scheme to training a less stressful time for the dog.
 
Tellington TTouch was developed by Linda Tellington Jones. It evolved from Linda’s extensive range of experience with animals, combined with her study of the Feldenkrais method, which is an approach designed to improve human functioning by increasing self awareness through movement.
 
The primary focus of TTouch is to help the dog to become more relaxed, which can influence a dog’s receptiveness to learn. The techniques may help a guide dog to develop skills that will enhance its body movement, balance and body awareness. There is also potential to broaden the trainers understanding of the dog’s ability and temperament.
 
We believe that by using these techniques geared towards the individual dog, we may be able to influence the quality of guide dog produced.

TTouch Method

There are two main areas in the TTouch method - body work and ground work.

dog training
The Balance leash helps the dog to learn to hold its own balance. This can influence the dogs confidence and self control.


Body Work

dog wrapThis consists of (1) body wraps, which are used to enhance a dog’s senseof its own body and influence its confidence in movements and behaviour, and (2) specific touches, which are based on specific circular movements, slides and lifts which can be applied all over the body. These can be used for a variety of reasons including helping to relax the dog and identifying tension patterns in the body.  

Wraps can enhance a dog’s sense of its own body and influence their confidence. They can be used to help improve movement, posture and balance and help to calm an excitable or fearful dog.

Ground Work

Includes leading exercises, which can help the dog to gain more self control by bringing them back into physical balance. A confidence course can be made from various props to create a stimulating course. These exercises can help to improve the dog’s coordination and confidence.

Dog groundwork trainingGroundwork course, with the use of various props you can create a stimulating obstacle course which can help to improve a dog’s co-ordination, focus and confidence. Leading exercises through a confidence course can help the dog to experience and explore different ways to move, influencing their self carriage and balance.

Through these exercises we are looking to give the dog different experiences and move the dog in non habitual ways. It is important to remember that each dog will only develop as far as its own potential and this is very specific and varied for each dog.

 

A common question asked about the Tellington Touch method is
“What is the difference between TTouch and massage?”
 

TTouch is working just below the level of the skin, with the intent of giving sensory (tactile) input to the nervous system and enhancing body awareness.  Using a light pressure touch, TTouch enhances sensory processing and integration.  Massage has many different forms, but typically the emphasis is on the deeper tissues of the body including muscles and tendons.  Both approaches encourage relaxation and release of bracing patterns, however the intent of TTouch is to achieve a level of engaged focus, (better to learn new behaviours), rather than deeper states of relaxation.”

Kathy Cascade TTouch Instructor

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