Tellington Touch Therapy or TTouch is a massage program designed by Linda Tellington-Jones. Unlike most massage therapies, Tellington Touch Therapy is intended for animals, particularly cats and dogs. Tellington-Jones claims that the therapy helps to calm problem behaviors in animals and may even promote better overall health. While the therapy is mainly supported by anecdotal evidence, rather than hard science, it is certainly unlikely to harm animals, and many pet owners rave about its efficacy.
The goal of Tellington Touch Therapy is to calm the animal and redirect its behavior through a series of circular touches. It is essentially petting with a purpose and in a very specific way. Tellington-Jones’ theories are interesting because they do stand in opposition to some trainers and the way they practice behavior modification. Some animal trainers recommend petting an animal only occasionally as a reward, and especially not petting animals if they are misbehaving. Tellington Touch Therapy differs because it advocates using its massage program not just when an animal is behaving but also especially when it is misbehaving.
There are numerous massage methods in TTouch. Practitioners lightly or with slight pressure may do circular massage or slides. As animals grow more used to the practice, feet, gums, and ears are massaged. Even skilled practitioners don’t immediately start massaging the gums of an animal, particularly if it has aggressive tendencies. If you have a dog that nips, you may want to accustom it to other TTouch massage in less sensitive areas first.
Proponents of Tellington Touch Therapy say it can do away with negative training methods, and that it changes brain wave patterns in methods different than the changes resulting from petting. There have been brain studies that evaluate animals undergoing TTouch and this claim is true. The follow up to these studies earns a bit more skepticism. Changes in brain patterns are called an “awakened” mind state, and are used as proof that the massage method will change behavior.
Again there is only anecdotal evidence to support a relationship between TTouch and behavior or health changes. Some people also believe that TTouch is a better alternative that traditional veterinary medicine. Others recommend the therapy as a complementary therapy to traditional medicine.
Tellington-Jones has written several books on the practice, which are available on her website and from sites like Amazon.com. She also has videos and DVDs demonstrating TTouch on dogs, cats and horses. Even if all claims about Tellington Touch Therapy can’t be verified, most people who have learned the method claim improved relationships with their animals, and also that the animals really seem to enjoy the practice. After all, even Fido, Garfield or Mr. Ed probably deserve a nice massage as much as do their owners.