Touch Therapy Can Calm Nervous Pets

By Shawn Messonnier DVM
A resource from Pet-Togethers

In 1978, Linda Tellington-Jones created TTeam as a gentle approach to help horses with behavioral problems. Later, she refined the technique and created a series of touches using small, circular hand movements on the body. The technique has shown effectiveness when used on people and a variety of animals.

TTouch helps bring about awareness to various parts of the body. Unlike massage, which activates deeper body tissues, TTouch only manipulates the skin and stimulates the nervous system rather than the deeper muscular system. Also, TTouch can be used on small areas of the body, whereas massage usually focuses on larger areas of the body or in some cases the entire body.

Biofeedback machines have been used to measure brainwaves on patients treated with TTouch, and showed that brain waves were activated.

TTouch has been used on dogs and cats for its calming effects. For example, many frightened dogs who may bite (fear biters) and cats that are too nervous to be handled have shown positive response to TTouch exercises, either with direct touching by the hands or a wand or feather. The TTouch approach helps perfect communication between pet owners and pets: people learn new non-threatening methods of handling pets and the animals can relax and learn a new understanding of their owner's expectations.

In dogs and cats, in addition to calming fearful animals, TTouch may be used postoperatively to relieve discomfort or pain. TTouch may be used to help calm animals that resist having their nails trimmed. Animals in shock or with serious injuries may also benefit from TTouch applied to the ears.

Owners or veterinary staff to calm animals and allow for improved relationships between people and animals can use the TTouch technique. People learn positive interaction technique with pets, and the animals learn how to relax and not fear people but rather work with them in this approach that can serve as an adjunctive therapy. People interested in learning the TTouch technique can take classes that show the proper techniques and their applications.

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