by Jodi Frediani
We are all familiar with the old adage that,"A dog is mans' best friend"; or today we might say "a person's best friend." Certainly, dogs are noted for their devotion, companionship and their unconditional love. Interestingly enough, many of the training methods currently employed to deal with this "best friend" are based on the concept of the dog owner assuming the role of "alpha" dog. This means that we have to show the dog who is boss, and obedience is obtained through aggressive means based on dominance and sometimes fear. Is this how we treat our human 'best friends"? Unfortunately, we do sometimes boss our friends around. And other times we let them walk all over us. But as we become more self-aware and inwardly balanced, we realize that true friendship is based on mutual trust, cooperation, equality and clear and honest communication.
Can we learn to give our dogs the trust and respect we ourselves would like to receive, while still enabling them to be well-adjusted members of our families and households? Most certainly, yes. The TTOUCH or TTEAM method of training, developed by Linda Tellington-Jones, works to build trust, communication, effective learning, enhanced self-esteem and a joyous partnership between handler and animal.
Trained as a Feldenkreis Practitioner, Linda has combined the underlying principles of the Feldenkreis work for people with her tremendous knowledge of animals gained from a life-time of training horses and other animals. (Feldenkreis is a system of physical therapy based upon the use of pain free, gentle, non-habitual movements and/or manipulations.)
Through body work consisting of a series of specific, non-invasive touches performed all over the animal's body and ground exercises similar to those developed in agility training, a wide variety of health issues and behavioral problems can be addressed by the TTOUCH method. Does your dog pull on the leash, chew the furniture, bark excessively or act too aggressively toward other dogs or people? Does your dog have health problems such as arthritis, car sickness, lameness, dysplasia or stress from surgery or aging? Is nail clipping a nightmare or is your dog afraid of loud noises, strange people or places or vets? All of these issues can be helped through the TTOUCH.
The TTouches give the dog a new body experience on a cellular level, releasing old pains and unproductive habit patterns. The ground exercises build confidence, enhance coordination and increase the ability to learn. Health problems are addressed by stimulating the immune system and increasing the animal's own body awareness. Dogs learn to obey through developing self-control rather than out of fear. Self-confidence is fostered lessening the need for aggressive or fearful behavior.
These techniques, first developed for use with horses, work equally well with cats, bunnies and other pets, as well as dogs. The animals learn to enjoy the TTouch, making it a perfect gift to give back to them for their companionship, friendship and unconditional love.
Jodi Frediani is TTEAM Instructor. She has been involved with the work since 1985 and has a lifetime of experience with animals.
If you wish to organize a clinic in your area or to get on her mailing list for one and two day clinics for dogs, cats or horses, phone (408) 426-1697 or write: 1015 Smith Grade, Santa Cruz, CA 95060. She is also available for private consultations.
For a list of practitioners in your area or to order books and videos, contact the TTEAM office in Santa Fe, NM at 1-800-854-TEAM.