By Michelle Sachs of Truessence
I recently met and worked with a very sad, fearful dog. She had lived in a concrete yard for almost two years before being rescued. She had not been
able to place her paws on any grass or natural surfaces, a blanket or anything soft for two years and this had impacted on her very negatively. She had lost
her confidence completely and struggled to cope with anything new from people to environments.
How we walk and move through life impacts on our confidence, our emotional, mental, physical balance and well being, as well as our ability to learn, remain
curious and interested in life. This little girl had lost all of this. She was unbalanced and scared to move forward, understandably frozen to the spot, to wary to move.
After being adopted by an amazing family, we started negotiating the long road to regaining her balance and putting a spring back into her step. This all
started with surfaces.
Dogs, like children and babies, learn about life in a tactile way by feeling everything with their paws and hands and sticking everything they can find in
their mouths. Taste, smell and feel are of vital importance when learning. It creates a tactile learning experience, which builds neural pathways in the
brain opening them up to increased learning, curiosity, co-ordination, balance and flexibility.
By introducing your new puppy or dog to different surfaces you are literally moulding their brains and teaching them how to put their best paw forward in
all situations. This builds balance in three areas, emotional, mental and physical, leading to a well-rounded individual who is able to navigate their way
through life in a sure-footed way. Balanced dogs have confidence and confident dogs build curiosity, they are not fearful of new things which keeps
them on a learning track though out their lives.
Back to our fearful dog, we introduced her to simple surfaces at first, a little patch of grass, a small blanket and some carpeting. Every time she stepped
onto the surfaces she was rewarded with high value treats and praised heartily by her new owners. Positive feedback builds positive associations and
we wanted her to learn that trying new things was really beneficial and fun.
After a few days of the “baby steps” protocol, we started building her “library” of surfaces from noisy surfaces like plastic bags and bubble wrap, to soft
surfaces such as yoga mats and thick blankets to unusual surfaces like shiny tin foil, gravel and slippery wooden floors. These were all things she had
never experienced before. As she began to step onto these surfaces (to much enthusiastic praise from her new owners) and spend time sniffing them,
chewing or licking them, walking around and all over them, engaging her senses, she began to slowly emerge and her true personality began to shine.
She started to get curious, her tail lifted up from its previous stuck between her legs position, her eyes brightened and she appeared more interested in life.
Soon we progressed to more challenging surfaces. Small plastic balls in a kiddies clam shell, big shallow buckets filled with sand and water to wade into.
These all had her nervous initially but with lots of patience and praise eventually she was diving into them with glee and much excitement.
Within a few weeks we had taken a shy, scared dog and through the use of the Tellington TTouch principal of balance, had totally transformed her to a
confident dog that had found a reason to keep moving forward. She had literally found her feet and was making her way though life with more
confidence, a bounce in her step and a wiggle in her walk.
Tellington TTouch is a non-invasive “all systems” approach using bodywork and various groundwork exercises to re-educate an animal’s body at a cellular
level. This positively influences behaviour, well-being, mobility and confidence. TTouch is also very effective when addressing fears, anxiety, pain
and injuries. As a result, animals relax, begin thinking and learn to make better choices.
Our little girl is much more balanced physically, emotionally and mentally. After this a little TTouch to reduce tension, teaching her basic obedience and
some fun party tricks will be easy, as she is engaged and hungry to learn more. She is now learning about walks in the park and is finding the ducks on
the pond absolutely fascinating. Her new level of confidence offers her all she deserves as she walks a path of happiness, love and balance.