Natural Health Corner: TTouch Techniques for Fearful and Nervous Dogs
Dogs who are fearful of new places and people often go through life in a
constant state of panic...everything is a traumatic experience. Owners of
these dogs are reluctant to continue to take the dog new places because
they just can't seem to relax the dog at all and make him comfortable.
This lack of ability to calm themselves is not good for dogs for the same
reasons it isn't good for people. For some dogs it is a matter of genetics
but for others it is a combination of unfortunate experience and a lack of
Regardless of the reason, there may be some things that you can do
to help make your dog more comfortable, especially for grooming purposes.
Some of this confidence can be trained through various confidence building
exercises- like teaching your dog to target hands for clicks and treats-
but there are also some Tellington Touch techniques that you can add to
your training program, which may help you get where you are going faster.
The easiest one to start with for really nervous fearful dogs is a
technique called a hair slide. This technique involves grasping the dog's
fur at the root and gently sliding it through your fingers. You should
leave your fingers flat and use your thumb to grasp the hair; starting at
the root, slowly slide your dog's hair through your fingers. If you have a
long coated dog: go slowly to absorb the entire effect of the slide, and
slide your fingers upward to the end of the fur. If your dog's fur is
short: you can actually lift the skin with your thumb and fingers, and
slowly release it as you slide your fingers up the fur. For shy or nervous
dogs, it is thought that starting on the head between the dog's ears is a
good place to begin, since most dog's enjoy being petted there anyway.
This technique is recommended for dogs that panic at the groomers,
or at home when you try to brush them. The hair slide technique will help
build their trust and confidence that grooming is not something to be
feared, and after a while they may even start to enjoy it.
Using this technique on the shoulder of the dog is thought to help
dogs that tend to be hyperactive,high-strung, and tend to pull on their
leash. When using this technique on the shoulder area it is recommended
that you use your other hand to support the opposite shoulder: this way you
will feel balanced, and pull with an even amount of pressure.
Using the hair slide technique on the back of the dog gives you a
large area to experiment with to see if there is a particular spot your dog
enjoys more than another. Working this area is supposed to help increase
your dog's flexibility (a good technique if your dog competes in agility or
other doggie sports), and increases your dog's awareness of his body (an
excellent thing for a nervous dog to learn).
If yours is the type of dog that hates to be groomed, and/or shakes
and quakes whenever you hold him still to examine some part of his body,
why not start with this technique almost in a casual way as though you were
petting him. Do a few hair slides at the vets office, show your groomer
how to do them and see if in time they help to build his confidence around
All of the Tellington Touch techniques are designed to help build a
stronger bond of trust between you and your dog. It helps to try these
techniques when you yourself are relaxed and ready to interact with your
dog. Avoid working with your dog when you've had a long day and are
feeling somewhat stressed and aggravated yourself. Introducing your dog to
anything new takes time... setting aside a few minutes a day to get this
started may give you the jump start you need to help your dog be a more
confident and enjoyable companion.
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