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Fri, Sept. 20

Powers: Tellington TTouch Method - A Gentle Approach to Dog Training

Sage Lewis demonstrates the TTouch Half Wrap on her very patient pup, Rhonda. (Christy Powers/Courtesy)

Sage Lewis demonstrates the TTouch Half Wrap on her very patient pup, Rhonda. (Christy Powers/Courtesy)

Sage Lewis is a Tellington TTouch Advanced Practitioner for companion animals and people.

Lewis presented a daylong session featuring the many and magical benefits of the Tellington TTouch Method for addressing behavior, well-being, relationships and performance. Twenty five people and 19 dogs sat in a large circle eager to learn about and apply the Tellington TTouch method. We were all ready to learn how to improve our communication and relationship with our dogs.

“Tellington TTouch can help you understand and influence your animal with your heart and hands in a way that develops trust, creates a harmonious relationship and changes unwanted behaviors,” writes Sage.

Tellington TTouch was developed in the 1960s by Linda Tellington Jones as she learned a gentler and more meaningful way to work with young horses, “gentling” them rather than “breaking” them. From that early work with horses, she went on to develop this method that is now used in several countries. The Tellington TTouch Method is based on cooperation and respect for all animals and their people. No fear and no force.

This was not a normal and easy environment for our dogs, being in close quarters with strange dogs and unknown people, while being encouraged to learn to relax. Being next to their very own person, the dogs and people did amazingly well. While discussing the signs of stress in the dogs, we were told to watch for yawning, licking, blinking and scratching as well as tension patterns in the body.

Sitting in our circle, we practiced the circular TTouches on ourselves and on our dogs. Using a gentle, versus vigorous, touch on our own arm, we were encouraged to feel the reaction throughout our body. And we watched while our dogs relaxed as we applied the TTouches on various parts of their bodies.

There are a variety of methods for using the “TTouch”. The basic TTouch is created by gently pushing or moving the skin in a small 1 1/4 clockwise or counter clockwise circle. Depending on the part of the hand or fingers used and the path, some specific touches are the Abalone, Llama, Lying Leopard and the Clouded Leopard.

The Ear TTouch is beneficial for reducing many types of stress. Sage taught us to “stroke the ears like they are a feather or a butterfly”. Mouth TTouches are beneficial for reducing fear and aggressive behavior. By slowly and gently doing the circular TTouches around the muzzle, eventually and without distress, one can work the fingers under the lips and around the gums.

While petting the dog, it is easy to incorporate these gentle TTouches. Sage calls it “Petting with intention”. TTouch is a great way to relieve stress in both animals and humans. Stress can be caused by mental, physical, emotional or environmental imbalances. It can be caused by losing a loved one, moving to a new home, travel or a change in the routine. It can occur through hearing, seeing, smell or taste. It is our responsibility to pay attention, be observant and be a better partner, to be aware of the stress and help relieve it.

Besides the basic TTouches, there are TTouch Body Wraps made with elastic bandages and used on the bodies of dogs. These wraps can be very comforting and relieve tension for dogs in a variety of uncomfortable situations, such as a thunderstorm, a visit to the vet or flying in an airplane. They can help with mobility issues and bring the body into better balance and grounding resulting in better behavior. The basic wrap is the TTouch Half Wrap where the elastic bandage is wrapped loosely around the dog in a figure 8 pattern.

“This gentle touch, Tellington TTouch Method, is currently being used by animal guardians, trainers, breeders, veterinarians, zoo personnel and shelter workers on four continents.” Lewis stressed.

Visit Sage’s website at

Christy Powers is a freelance writer whose passion is studying and writing about pet health, nutrition and training. She can be reached at

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