Sarah Fisher is a TTouch Instructor and behaviour counsellor. She organises TTouch trainings for the UK and teaches staff workshops for many of the UK’s top animal shelters. Sarah also fosters challenging puppies for Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and assesses dogs for court cases.
Sarah works with private clients, and lectures around the UK and internationally and has given talks and demonstrations on dog and horse handling and behaviour for a variety of organisations.
Do we always need to be actively doing something to be able to help our arthritic dogs?
No, we can have a positive influence on the posture of our canine friends throughout the day without having to find much extra time. One of the things we can do is to be mindful of the way we offer treats and/or interact with them.
Are there any dogs this applies to more?
Little dogs in particular may spend a significant amount of time looking up at us which can have a detrimental impact on their posture. Note the difference between the two photographs of the beautiful Sheltie. Which postural pattern do you think is more beneficial to the dog both in the short term and the long term?
Is it just offering treats from a hand that is a problem?
Even if you don’t repeatedly offer a treat from a hand that is too high you may still be accidently reinforcing a crooked posture. It is worth remembering to offer treats at a height appropriate for your dog on and off throughout the day to help improve their balance and lengthen their top line whilst observing how they organise their body.
Are there any specific things to look for when offering a treat?
Make sure they aren’t over stretching, struggling to balance, having to snatch the treat due to tension through the neck, or constantly tilting their head one way to access the treat. If your dog has developed the habit of tilting his/her head one way, try offering a treat from your other hand or experiment with slight alterations to the position of your hand.
Is there anything specific you do to stop these problems?
I use a variety of different ways when working with dogs using treats to ensure I am not reinforcing a physical habit that may have a detrimental impact on their posture and balance. You may be amazed at how quickly this small adaptation to the daily management of the dogs in your care can improve their posture and reduce associated problems such as increased noise or touch sensitivity, concern about wearing a collar or harness, a lack of interest or difficulty in using their nose, and so on. Postural habits are learned very quickly but when we change our own habits we enable our companions to change theirs.
Find out more about Sarah Fisher and TTouch at http://tilleyfarm.co.uk/index.shtml