Sunday, 22 October 2017

Tellington T-Touch Training

We attended a workshop to introduce us to touches and methods using Tellington T-Touch Training delivered by Caroline Still of Stylish Fido ( 

T Touch is not massage but involves a variety of touches manipulating the skin rather than the muscles below. Although the touches are light pressure, they can be very relaxing and powerful. However, like massage, the aim is to help resolve health and behaviour. 

As well as bodywork, there are also a number of groundwork routines designed to aid flexibility, movement and increase confidence. 

The touches themselves are named after animals, such as the Leopard, Chimpanzee, Racoon and Llama. These involve different placement of the fingers on the skin. As with massage therapy, the touches slide from one to another meaning the dog always has at least one hand on their body maintaining contact. 

The groundwork is used to engage the dog’s attention and focus and involve slow and purposeful movements around objects or poles with frequent stops allowing the dog to experience their balance. 

Another component is body wraps. This is similar to swaddling a baby giving the body security and a big hug. The aim is to provide comfort by making the dog aware of all the areas that the wraps touch. It is a great tool for nervous dogs and can be beneficial for Halloween and November 5th fireworks. 

It’s always good to learn new principles and touches which can be adapted to add to our existing massage routines. We’ve never wanted to stop at just using the same few techniques but rather to constantly learn new moves to adapt and add. On Friday Chris went on a massage course designed for expectant Mums. He came back saying “Oooo…I’ve got a great move we can add to the AchyPaw routine”. As expectant Mums tend to prefer massage on their sides, this is similar to working on a dog lying down. We’ve adapted one of the moves to give a good myofascial release of the dog’s pectorals. That’ll go in our toolkit. Then there was the time Chris took a Hands-free massage course. Again, one of those moves we adapted into our exclusive Angel technique which gives the dog a huge long stretch along their entire body and most adore. 

We’re going to need a bigger toolbelt soon. 

Friday, 20 October 2017

Complementing complementary therapies

We met Caroline Still of Stylish Fido some time ago at a dog event we were doing. She is professional Tellington T Touch practitioner ( As she says on her webpage “Tellington T Touch is a holistic respectful method of training, handling and learning. Using a combination of specific touches, lifts, and movement exercises, T Touch helps to release tension and increase body awareness. This allows the animal to be handled without provoking typical fear responses. The animal can then more easily learn new and more appropriate behaviours. It is not about ‘quick fixes’, it is about working with that animal to bring a new awareness, offering another experience and giving new information, so the animal can be more flexible and adaptive, often having profound positive behaviour changes.” 

She now has a young Poodle, Bill, and wanted me to check him out to make sure everything is OK physically. In return, I asked if she could do the same on our Sarah to give me some more ideas to help her. 

 The two different complementary therapies are, in fact, very similar. Most of the physical therapy massage moves I was demonstrating on Bill, were the same as T Touch moves, only with different names and different intensities. But despite the names, they had the same aims and benefits. 

When it came to working with our Sarah, Caroline showed me small circular moves over her thigh muscles, called The Raccoon, which targeted them far more precisely. Within a short time, both the muscles we were working on, plus the other side, started to warm up. She also sent me some lifting moves which also target the thighs. 

We’re attending one of Caroline’s workshops this weekend giving us even more tools in our Therapeutic Toolkit as you can never have too many options. That gives us massage techniques, advice, exercise routines, education, acupressure, Reiki and energy healing plus all the experience gained over the past 6 years added to the human massage techniques from the past 15 years and now T Touch. The AchyPaw Toolkit is getting bigger. And in the New Year we hope to have a new qualified and insured Canine Myotherapist joining the team. 

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Meet Lord Nelson

Meet Lord Nelson 

No…not that one. That one is in Trafalgar Square. This one is a Sam and Sarah lookey likey living in Hove. He is a stunningly regal Welsh Springer Spaniel (like the Mum of ours hence him being a bit stockier than a Springer) who is now 8 years old. He has a brother, called Mr Darcy who is more of a Springer Spaniel in looks and behaviour. And yes, I fell in love with them both instantly. 

Lord Nelson was rescued a year ago to be a companion for his also rescued brother Mr Darcy. Lord Nelson was rehomed from Spaniel Aid after his previous owner could no longer keep him. It’s likely he had been crated or kept in a single room for a while before he was rehomed. His new Dads said he did not seem to know how to walk when outside. His legs were like jelly and soft. He was also quite heavy at 32 kg, although he has now slimmed down to 25 kg. 

When he was first taken to their groomer, Caroline Still who is also a TTouch practitioner, she said his spine just didn’t look right, almost curved. He was then taken to their vets who performed manipulations but decided against an X-Ray or further intervention as they could not find anything untoward. 

He sleeps hunched up and still struggles to move first thing in the morning when his back half looks curved and his tail comes in. After a while though, he straightens out. “It is like he needs a warm up” his Dad said. He also hesitates sometimes when climbing on a sofa. He puts his fronts legs up first, stops and thinks then clambers up with his rear legs. And when walking he often bunny hops rather than the traditional one leg, next, leg, other leg etc gait of a dog. Exercise-wise, he has a lot. At least 4 times a week he and his brother go on 2 to 3 hour walks over the fields and Downs where he can now keep up with his brother. 

But his hunched back and stiffness was concerning his Dads and, after getting the appropriate vet consent, I was invited over to meet the family. 

On initial palpation it was clear to feel that his back was certainly tighter and stiffer from half way down to two thirds – just where his hunch was. He had probably developed this as a chronic issue from the time he had been kept confined without a lot of exercise. But the good news was that shoulder and thigh muscles felt splendid, just the way they should in an 8 year old. 

Hopefully, easing out his stiff back should restore his balance and gait. He had lots and lots of myofascial release massage over his back to stretch him out as well as a series of Canine Pilates exercises with the same effect. 

He responded so well to everything, sighing, yawning and with a very dribbly nose as his body eliminated the built up waste. 

His Dads were left fully armed with a massage routine, warm-up Locomotion routine, cool-down and exercises to perform on him daily with a repeat visit from me in a few weeks to monitor the improvement. That was a good Saturday morning.