Tellington TTouch Training Canada

TTouch Tips

The Tellington TTouch® Method combines decades of experience working with animals of all species, in an intuitive but logical and empathetic way.

With this wealth of experience and knowledge comes a lot of very practical and effective techniques and tips for making our relationship with animals more cooperative and enjoyable, for all parties involved.

Please enjoy this ever expanding collection of information, articles, and ideas from some of our many teachers, 2 and 4 legged!


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General Training & Behaviour

The Tellington TTouch is a great modality for any mindful animal guardian, one that can be easily integrated into everyday handling. But did you know that it is also an incredible asset to reducing fear and stress and improving overall well-being and husbandry in the Veterinarian practice as well?

Over the decades we have had countless veterinarians incorporate and endorse the Tellington TTouch Method into their practices, helping animals, staff members and guardians have an easier, less stressful and more successful visit to the clinic. In fact, several of our Instructors and Practitioners from around the world are practicing veterinarians.

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As humans, it is often our nature to “micro-manage” every moment we are handling an animal, in an effort to feel safer. Restriction and tension is often a reflexive reaction to feeling unsafe or nervous but unfortunately it often has the opposite effect on our animals – making them feel less safe and more “trapped” which continue the cycle we were trying to interrupt in the first place! The cycle of bracing between handler and animal is not always an easy one to override, especially if the handler has underlying fear of “what if”.

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For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, one of Newton’s three laws of motion.  Who knew that 10th grade physics class would be applicable to training and handling animals?   

When an animal is “resistant” whether it’s;  pulling on the leash, leaning on the reins,  barging forward, or any number of behaviors that are considered less than ideal by human standards, it is often simply the result of the ‘opposition reflex”,  the consequence of Newton’s third law of motion. 

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Part of any TTouch workshop is the initial introductions. What’s your name? Where are you from? What is your primary interest in animals? Do you have a life outside of animals? (Maybe/maybe not):) What are you goals? – all pretty standard questions that you would expect when getting to know a group.

There is one question we ask that is not necessarily present in most “get to know you” chatter – “Do you need any slack?”.

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Zebra TTouch drinkMaking contact with an animal is instinctual for many of us.  There is something truly therapeutic about the feeling of soft fur against our skin.  For me it is important that this positive feeling is reciprocated by the animal we are making contact with.  

Becoming mindful of HOW we touch an animal is as important as the specific technique itself.  As is observing our 4 legged friend’s subtle feedback during and after contact.

A wonderfully simple way to make positive, mindful contact with nearly any species is the “Zebra” TTouch.

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Does your dog always wear a collarI don’t know about you but I find great relief in the simple act of taking off my bra and socks, or any restrictive clothing item, at the end of the day. Multiply this times 10 if moving hay was part of the day’s activities!

Maybe I am the odd one here but I have to believe that most animals would find a similar reprieve in having their own “garments” removed after a day of wear however it has been my observation that many people do not consider this with their animals.

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Pause between music notesIt seems as though most of us are in a constant rush. We want things to happen now and are impatient if this fails to occur.

By slowing down and acknowledging the importance of spaces in time, we may actually achieve what we desire more quickly.The pause allows us a moment to reflect, exhale, become neutral, integrate, be mindful and listen.

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Stressed out dogHow do you cope with stress?

We all have different coping mechanisms.  Some of us eat, some of us yell, some of us sleep, some of us shut down.  No one is the same and no one has the same stress threshold and each one of us displays or copes with stress differently.   Our animals are no different.

By slowing down and acknowledging the importance of spaces in time, we may actually achieve what we desire more quickly.The pause allows us a moment to reflect, exhale, become neutral, integrate, be mindful and listen.

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This TTouch is a “Slide” type of TTouch. Using your finger tips, or the back of your nails for a sensitive animal, you gently slide up from the belly mid-line, to the middle of the ribs as you spin your hand around in a sweeping motion to lead with your finger tips to up and over the spine.

Generally animals LOVE this. As long as you start out with as little pressure and with the “right” speed for the individual, it can be a wonderful way to connect the belly to the back and increase overall awareness and circulation.

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Think you’re too busy for TTouch? Think again!

Here’s how to change your horse or dog’s attitude, behavior and performance in 10 minutes a day, or less.

Most of us lead very busy lives. Horses and dogs may be a form of stress release for us, good friends, a hobby or even a career.

One of the unique aspects of Tellington TTouch is that you can focus on one area of the horse or dog for a few minutes, and in this brief time often make significant changes in your their overall behavior, health and/or performance that go far beyond the area worked.

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 A continuation of simple TTouch exercises to enhance trust and relaxation.

 Discover Octopus and Hair slides for your horses and dogs.

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Frederic Pignon and Linda Tellington Jones work with a horseDeciding to send your horse (or dog) to a trainer is a big decision.  Once your horse is off property, you have no way of knowing what is really happening to them or how they are being treated.

With social media it is easier to find a wide selection of potential trainers but it is not without its limitations.  Word-of-mouth can be a good way to get leads.

Find a trainer who is interested in you and your horse and hopefully knowledgeable about your breed and/or discipline.

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For years, Tellington TTouch  Practitioners have been using body wraps to influence an animal’s posture, movement, and behavior.  Sometimes the result is subtle, as when a horse picks up a foot to step into a trailer when he couldn’t do it previously, and sometimes the result is seemingly miraculous, as when a dog that is terrified of thunder storms is able to calmly lie down and sleep through the noise.

Here is a Physiotherapist’s perspective on how and why TTouch Body Wraps are so effective.

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Giraffe wearing a Tellington TTouch Body WrapA fascinating case study about how the Oakland Zoo incorporated TTouch techniques.

Keepers use a combination of traditional operant conditioning techniques and the Tellington Touch Equine Awareness Method (a training system for horses) to achieve sophisticated behavioral goals. Under this comprehensive system, calves are trained to participate in halter and leading exercises, trailer loading, target training, radiograph training, recall and name recognition. They learn to tolerate voluntary blood draws, farrier work, full physical examinations, and grooming.

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It’s commonly accepted by Tellington TTouch® practitioners that when horses show resistance there’s always a reason – or several reasons. These reasons can be such things as misunderstanding what the human wants, tension or discomfort, and fear – all of which affect how our horses go, and influence their behaviour. It behooves us, if our horse is resistant, to take the time to investigate what’s going on – in his body and relationship to his environment – and to find out what’s behind the problem, rather than jump in to try to correct it.

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Horse Articles

The use of whips and whip-like tools with horses is nothing new. Whips have likely been employed in working with horses for nearly as long as they’ve been domesticated, and the vast majority of their usage has undoubtedly been dubious in ethics and empathy. Since the early 1970s, Linda Tellington-Jones has been utilizing a 4-foot-long dressage whip as a key component for working with horses using the Tellington Method. To dispel its negative connotations, we have always referred to it as a “Wand,” not only because it can work like MAGIC!

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Bodywork for your horse is awesome.  What’s even MORE awesome is when you address the postural habits and tension patterns that create the acute need for Bodywork in the first place!

If you find that your horse is in constant need of bodywork to address discomfort and tension, it is probably time to put your detective hat on!

Postural habits and patterns of compensation, whether from injury, training, hoof imbalances, or other discomfort can remain ingrained even when the issue that caused the habit in the first place has been resolved! 

The Tellington TTouch Method includes specific body work designed to promote well-being but also employs exercises from the ground and the saddle to shift habitual patterns of movement and posture bringing about a more permanent change that requires less maintenance.

Over the years, I have observed how many standard practices of handling horses inadvertently influence their behavior and performance. Most people consider that training only occurs when you are on the horse or specifically doing groundwork.

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Canter with Libert lariat neck ringFor over 3 decades, Robyn Hood edited a quarterly publication “TTEAM Connections”. This information rich newsletter was full of articles, case studies and interesting stories about all aspects of the Tellington TTouch Method and complementary topics. Here is a “Q&A” that was published in one of the last issues.

This topic is common one when scrolling through the many horse training groups and forums on the internet; “my horse doesn’t canter easily” or “my horse doesn’t like to canter”. The answers will vary greatly from the benign but basic to downright abusive.

From a Tellington Method perspective, difficulty cantering under saddle requires the person to put on their “detective’s cap” and look into several potentially smaller issues or indicators before dealing with the canter itself.

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Linda TEllington-Jones rides a horse with a neck ringIn 1975, Linda introduced the concept of bridle-less riding to Europe at Equitana in Germany. Three riders jumped a course bareback and bridle-less. Europeans were incredulous, and the major German horse magazine wrote an article stating how impossible and dangerous this was, and adding that there must be a special secret. However, in the ensuing five decades, thousands of riders in Europe, and around the world, have discovered the joy and advantages of deepening their relationship with their horse with this Pegasus-like feeling. 

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TTOuch Belly Lifts on a horse with digestitve upset

There is nothing worse than finding your horse colicking, calling the vet, and then having to wait helplessly while your horse is in obvious distress or at least discomfort.

Over the past 40 years Linda Tellington-Jones, world renowned horse person, and founder of the Tellington TTouch Method or TTEAM, has used a few simple techniques that can relieve a horses discomfort, and ease symptoms,  in a case of colic or any severe physical distress.

Here are some helpful TTouch tips and techniques for what you can do to help your equine partner while you are waiting for veterinarian care.

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The Tellington TTouch Balance Rein is a deceptively simple but effective tool that helps horse and rider softly achieve harmony and Balance.   The Balance Rein can be used with any bridle and acts like a second rein except that it lies around the base of the horse’s neck instead of coming from the bridle.  A light pressure at the base of the neck helps remind the horse to shift weight up and back through the withers while maintaining length through their neck.  It is one of our favorite tools for helping horses and riders work in balance and harmony.

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Discover how the Tellington TTouch Method and SUREFOOT® Equine Stability Program pair together to enhance horses’ well-being, balance, performance and comfort.

Long time Tellington TTouch teacher, Centered Riding Instructor, Feldenkrais Practitioner and lifelong student, Wendy Murdoch has always been interested in new and novel concepts.

In 2013 Wendy conducted a simple experiment. She placed a balance pad  under a horse’s hoof. She had no preconceived notion as to what might happen, but  was curious to find out. The results were so astounding that she has spent the past several years experimenting, exploring and refining what is now call the SURE FOOT® Equine Stability Program.

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Do you ride your horse with or without a bit?  For many, this issue has become very polarizing and one about ethics, safety and/or classical ideals.  In our opinion there are many ways that work and what you choose should be about what works well for your and your horse physically, mentally and emotionally.

Discover how this horse friendly bridle can encourage relaxation, responsiveness and trust.


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The approach to the Icelandic Horse Farm.What if I told you there was a place that was totally focused on the physical, mental and emotional well-being of the animal (and human) inhabitants and visitors?  Where you would not be scoffed at for being “too nice to your animal” and will not feel judged for thinking you could be friends with your animal and still have safe, reasonable boundaries and expectations of behaviour?  Look not further!

Attend a training at Robyn Hood’s home base.

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If you’ve spent any time around riding horses, you have probably come across a horse who could be described as “girthy” or “cinchy”. However a horse displays their concern, in a mild or extreme manner, this behaviour is COMMUNICATION about how the horse is feeling about the situation. Take a look at the Tellington Method approach for helping horses become more comfortable with the saddling process.

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During the summer, this can mean some stretches of time when it is just too hot to comfortably ride.  While this can seem like limitation it can actually be an opportunity to make a different kind of connection with your horse and gain a deeper awareness of their physical and mental balance.  Obviously HOT weather is not the only time you can seize this opportunity. When the temperatures get too high to comfortably ride, take the opportunity to make other kinds of meaningful connections with your horse.

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A horse stands on a surefoot stability program padDeveloped by Wendy Murdoch, this revolutionary way of improving your horse’s balance, confidence, movement and performance shows that the horse is always present and ready to learn if we can only find ways to access his intelligence. This approach allows the horse to experience his own habitual patterns of movement and provides the horse with an opportunity to explore and learn new ways of standing on his feet and utilizing the ground for greater ease, comfort and confidence.


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Dog & Companion Animal Articles

Excessive barking is one of the most common behavioral complaints that I hear from clients about their dogs. Barking to excess takes many forms, from simple attention-seeking barking to alert barking, to compulsive barking due to lack of stimulation or extreme stress. Resolving barking issues can be a simple or complex process depending on the circumstances involved. Regardless of the root cause of the barking issue, there are several techniques from the Tellington TTouch Method that can be helpful in effectively resolving excessive barking. 

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Trim dog toenails with ttouch

Toe nail trimming can be something that people (and their companion animals) dread, both because of how many dogs hate having their toenails cut, and how scared people are of hurting their dogs.
It becomes something to do quickly, just to get it over with, often making the next time that much more difficult.
TTouch can be a great help in making cutting toenails easier and safer for both cats and dogs.

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Have you recently added a puppy to the family?  Here are some simple TTouch tips to help your puppy grow into a happy, well-adjusted, cooperative canine.

In addition to puppy classes the Tellington TTouch can be extremely helpful in raising a well adjusted adult dog.

Kathy Cascade describes Applied TTouch for reactive dogsDealing with fearful, reactive, or aggressive dog behavior is certainly challenging and often a topic of heated debate.

A snarling, lunging dog at the end of a leash can be intimidating and downright dangerous.  Unfortunately, human reactions often worsen the problem, as do training and handling techniques that only serve to intensify the dog’s fear and anxiety.

TTouch Instructor and Reactive Dog Expert, Kathy Cascade offers some valuable perspective on how to help dogs in a reactive state.

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Fireworks, thunder storms, gun shots.  For many animals, these seemingly benign events can be sources of fear, anxiety and terror.  Many people struggle to comfort their dog or cat when he is in the throes of a firework induced panic, you may feel helpless.

Check out these simple Tellington TTouch® techniques to help calm the fear of fireworks. Helping dogs and cats with firework, and other loud noise, phobia using TTouch.

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Kathy Cascade works with a Michael Vik rescue dogOur intention when working with these animals is to help them move beyond the limitations of their past experiences to reach their full potential.

Read on to discover how TTouch can foster the transformation from living in a state of fear to feeling safe in the world with a former Michael Vick dog fighting rescue.

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The Balance Leash is one of the original Tellington TTouch leading tools for dogs and is one of the basic leading exercises taught at all of our workshops and online courses for dogs.

This simple TTouch tip is great to use for any dog on leash when you want to take pressure off of the collar and help improve balance and communication.

Vet techs, shelter workers, rescue organizations, dog walkers and pet sitters will find this invaluable.

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Dog harness and leash ttouchOne of the biggest triggers for leash pulling can be the collar.  This is contrary to the popular but out dated belief that harnesses will “make” your dog pull. 

Pressure on the collar can have physiological and postural implications that are far reaching and usually make the overall cycle of pulling more extreme.

Learn about the benefits of two points of contact and the Tellington TTouch Harmony System.

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Over the four decades of development, we have amassed a huge library of training articles and case studies for a wide range of species, the bulk being specifically for horses and dogs.  While the work is easiest to learn hands-on and in person from someone who is experienced with it, there is a lot to be learned from reading about the concepts and theories surrounding the Tellington TTouch Method.  

When referring to “how-to” articles, please keep in mind that every animals is different and we are always ready to adapt and adjust details, or make steps smaller, to help make the exercise more clear and understandable to the animal.  If you have any questions about what you read or the results you have found at home, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.  We would love to answer your questions.