Natural Health Corner: Tellington Touch and the Barking Dog
A dog's mouth is often connected to the emotions of fear and anxiety. These emotions lead to over excitement and hyperactivity, which inevitably leads to lots and lots of barking. By using T-Touch techniques on a dog's mouth and muzzle, amazing changes can be accomplished.
Some dogs that bark more than average are set off by outside stimulation, others bark out of habit, but all chronic barkers can benefit from a little mouth work. A barking dog is often full of nervous energy regardless of the amount of exercise it gets. T-Touch may help this dog to learn some self control and give his owners a quieter, more enjoyable pet.
Mouth work involves using a t-touch technique called the lying leopard touch. This touch involves placing your thumb and forefingers on the dogs muzzle and, with your thumb as an anchor, use the pads of your fingers to make small circles all over the dog's muzzle. You'll want to use your other hand to stabilize the dog's head.
Apply light pressure at first and be sure your dog is comfortable with this before doing more. Remember not all dogs will appreciate your efforts at first. T-touch techniques are not about forcing your dog to comply; they are about working as a partner in your dog's overall health and well being. Go slowly and watch your dog carefully for signs of stress. Start with only a brief session (with the help of a partner if necessary) and then gradually build up to several minutes at a time. I think you'll find if you go slowly your dog will like these techniques.
Work your touches on the dogs muzzle at first, lightly moving the skin in a clockwise direction for one and a quarter circles. After you finish the first circle, pick up your hand and do another right next to it. Continue this way all over the dog's muzzle. You can also use your thumb or first and second fingers to make small circles directly on the dog's gums. Take your time with each circle (about 2 seconds) and be sure to breathe evenly as you apply this technique. If you are tense and hold your breath your dog will not relax and continually try to escape.
Another suggestion to help calm a dog that barks too much is to teach your noisy dog to wear a gentle leader head collar. This device is normally used for teaching a dog not to pull, but can work wonders for barking problems as well. A properly fitted gentle leader puts gentle pressure on several accupressure points that help to calm dogs. In some cases having a dog wear a gentle leader can help give him the sense of security he's missing and decrease the barking and hyperactivity.
Gentle Leader is the brand name of the kind of head halter I like best: there are other brands out there but this one fits better than others we've tried. Gentle Leaders can be purchase through Canine Unviersity or in pet stores locally. Feel free to contact us for an introduction sheet to help you make it a positive experience for your dog.
We hope to offer another half day workshop this winter on T-touch techniques to help you with these and other types of problems you have encountered with your dog. Being knowledgeable about various aspects of training and behavior will not only make you a better dog owner, but your dog a better companion as well.