I have covered the first six elements of TTouch in the last couple of posts. They are: 1) The basic circle (and a quarter), 2) Pressure, 3) Tempo, 4) A mindful pause, 5) Connecting TTouches, and; 6) Body Position.
On to the final three –
7) Mindful breathing. When we are learning something new and concentrating on proper form, etc. we have a tendency to hold our breath. However, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through pursed lips will keep you calm and focused. It will also help your dog stay calm and relaxed. This calmness allows the mind and body to be open to the possibilities. Learning can begin.
8) Intention. When we are working with a dog that has problems we concentrate on the problems. What we should be concentrating on instead is holding an image of what we want our dog to be – and that intention can influence the behavior you want to see. Keep a picture of your perfect dog in your heart and in your mind. Intention is a powerful tool.
9) Feedback. Since your dog cannot speak English as his first language you must become an expert observer. Using TTouch, look for any sign of calming behavior. I love looking at the eyes and seeing them soften as the dogs come into their bodies and look at you with growing trust. Observations can also include diminishing restlessness, greater focus, less sensitivity, less fearfulness and decreased tension in the body. Please acknowledge the feedback with your own attentiveness and offer additional touches that communicate that you are in tune with your dog.
One word about what I’ve written about the 9 elements. I have presumed that the dog you are working with is your companion and that you know how to read his body language. If you are working with shelter dogs or are fostering animals while they wait for their forever home, you will have to spend some time observing them first and then determining which touches to use and developing a plan to guide the dog through whatever issues he might have. Be aware that some dogs don’t like to be touched, perhaps because they have been abused and there are ways to teach a dog to accept touching without endangering either the dog or you. If you want information about this, let me know. I can only repeat that safety is word one.
I have introduced you to the tip of the iceberg – barely. TTouch is deceptively simple but there are many, many combinations of touches and connecting slides to create a program specific to each dog and its needs. More about that later.
Have a wonderful weekend with your canine companion!