Monday, May 14, 2012

TTouch Tension Tamer

Besides my guilt over shortchanging Lamar on attention, another motivation for our recent TTouch session was to get some more ideas on how to help Lamar relax at night, when Florian and I are reading or watching movies in bed and both dogs want to be with us. 

Two years of giving Lamar treats as soon as Fozzie comes close, and he's still no less likely to snarl and lunge even though Fozzie is approaching with a meek expression and a little wag.

I've been giving both Lamar and Fozzie treats as Fozzie approaches the bed, my reasoning being that maybe I can countercondition Lamar a bit to Fozzie's approach, and keep Fozzie from developing aggression toward Lamar. 

It hasn't worked, and I've realized that maybe I need to just let go of the desire to modify behavior through training and just manage things better, by asking Fozzie to go sleep somewhere else

Certainly the smartest, most effective solution and one that I would tell anyone else who asked. 

But because the old adage "do as I say and not as I do" is the best thing my Mom ever taught me, we need another strategy for those times when Fozzie absolutely needs to be near us--alright, alright: when we absolutely need to be near Fozzie. 

For those moments, we have been taking refuge in TTouch. Far more effective than a cheesy or freeze-dried meaty snack is a really good, relaxing TTouch session around the head of both dogs. Those little circles in front of Lamar's ears can sometimes make him breathe a big sigh of relief, and then smile in relaxation, even when Fozzie is right next to his head. 

On Fozzie, Pam told me that lots and lots of mouth/muzzle work is the ticket. For mouthy, barky, high-strung dogs, releasing the tension around the nose and mouth can make a big difference. Lots of little circles all around the base of the muzzle, under the eyes, also release endorphins. At least in theory, this gives our little wild man a blast of peaceful sensation. 

Yes, management is the best strategy for many dog behavior conundrums and definitely for Fozzie and Lamar's bedtime territory guarding tensions. On the other hand, is there anything more wonderful than having both my boys right next to me, relaxing as I do circles on their noses? I think not. 


  1. I love reading about your TTouch work. The closest person to me that does TTouch sessions is a couple hours away so its books for me. I admit to not being great at using it but I'm trying. I try to do them at Agility class or when Kobi is up on the couch. I do also try the mouth TTouches but Kobi is still not very impressed by them, he would much rather mouth at my hand then just enjoy then gentle rubbing. We'll get there!

  2. Hi Kirsten, tracing little circles on their noses sounds very nice. Perhaps it's alternative therapies that'll do the trick as opposed to a freeze dried "whatchamacallit".

  3. I've heard great things about TTouch, and also love to read about it!

  4. Kirsten, your post inspired me tonight. :-) I'm glad are finding something that works for Lamar.

    I wanted to share with you that I've been doing TTouch on Delilah without even knowing I was doing it! Probably two to three times per day, I take my hands and rub (in a circular motion) right at the base of her ears which usually results in a deep sigh with an expulsion of breath. A sign I take as her relaxing just a bit.

    Until I read (and saw) how you were doing the TTouch to Lamar I had no idea! I just tried rubbing on her muzzle and under her eyes but she didn't seem to like that at all. :-(

    Thanks for sharing this! I went to the TTouch website and it looks like there is a seminar not too far from you in June.

  5. Your TTouch work sounds like it has amazing results!

  6. My dog absolutely loves it when I stroke her cheeks and nose. It seems to do a lot to relax her, especially at night. Often she will now even seek it out by shoving her nose under my hand. The one bonus of a high-strung dog: they know what they want and are very clear when they dislike something. :-P

    I am so glad you are finding more things that work for Lamar and Fozzie, and for you. I am sure the relief is immense.

  7. TTouch and holistic approached do get such good results.

    Lucky kids getting onto the bed!

    Big Nose Pokes
    The Thugletsx

  8. I'm just wondering what breed the lighter dog is? I know nothing about dogs but I'm currently writing a travel writing piece for my coursework and I've chosen Malaysia, where there was a local dog that looked very similar to the sandy coloured one. I don't think that they're the same breed but this was the closest I could find... If anyone happens to know the actual breed though I'd really appreciate it!

    Thanks :)

    1. Hard to say...I think Lamar is an Anatolian shepherd mix but the dog in your photos looks like a lot of street old Australian cattle dog, or red heeler, was similar.


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