Tellington TTouch : down the rabbit hole


This article is a review of “The Tellington TTouch” by Linda Tellington-Jones copyrighted 1992.

TTouch is a system devised by the author to assist in the training of animals. It relies on surface manipulation of muscle and connective tissue. It works, according to the author, on various birds, dogs, cats (both large zoo creatures and house cats), and humans. The author claims her system is effective in treating a very wide variety of maladies, including but not limited to:

The system works (according to the author) by using physical stimulation to create new neural pathways, and as such is distinct from massage.


How does one approach literature as perfect (in it's own way) as “English as She is Spoke”? It would be difficult to find a better example of printed snake oil than this book. The astonishing array of maladies the author claims to have helped cure without pharmacological intervention are legion. The techniques are so powerful that in one place of the book the author claims to have healed not only the animal she was administering the technique to, but also it's litter mate – simply by thinking of the litter mate during the administration of techniques. The litter mate was not even present during the administration.

There is an utter lack of scientific evidence and (unsurprisingly, I suppose) no citations to any respectable peer-reviewed publications. The assertion that Tellington's techniques create new neural pathways is repeated numerous times in the book, and in fact is emphasized as distinguishing it from massage, but at no point does the author explain how she knows this to be the case.

In the interest of full disclosure I will admit I did not read the entire book. After reading the first 125 pages I skipped to page 237, which is where the practical portion of the book begins. By page 125 I had decided the author had failed to present any convincing information about her system distinct from massage although the claimed benefits far outstripped anything that could be offered by a reputable massage therapist. With the complete dearth of disinterested validation of her theories I decided my time was being wasted.


I have (of course) heard of Tellington TTouch since I am quite involved in the world of dogs. When I discovered that someone from one of my email lists whom I greatly respect was a certified TTouch practitioner I decided I had to find out more and found this book at my public library. I personally find it very upsetting that anyone intelligent could be taken in by this transparent hokum.

Does TTouch do any good? Very possibly. There are vast amounts of scientific literature documenting the importance of touch to primates and (presumably) other mammals. Had TTouch presented itself as a high-powered massage manual and restricted it's claims to advantages that can be gained by using massage to help induce relaxation I might have become a supporter. My objection to TTouch is that it is presented as something quite distinct from massage without any scientific basis for that distinction, and claims success in healing far greater than massage. If her techniques are as effective at diminishing the ravages of arthritis as she claims, surely one of the independent (human) arthritis research foundations would have supplied a small grant for establishing legitimacy. Where are the MRIs, the CAT scans, or the post-mortems showing the creation of new neural pathways?On what basis was that conclusion founded? She might as well claim that the changes in behavior are the result of the blessings of Thomas the Tank Engine. There is an equal amount of proof.

I did not read much of the practical portion of the book. It seemed ridiculous, insisting (for example) that a particular circle traced on the skin needed to be drawn clockwise rather than anticlockwise (counter-clockwise) because anticlockwise would induce tension in the animal. Her basis for that advice was founded in accupressure, and the book did not report any attempts at scientific validation for that advice.

My objection to Tellington TTouch is that it is claiming a connection to science (by claiming its techniques modify neural pathways) without subjecting itself to the intellectual rigor such a connection would require, and is claiming unqualified success over an unbelievably broad spectrum of disorders. TTouch makes extraordinary claims for it's efficacy; nowhere do I see the accompanying extraordinary proof. I am saddened that so many well meaning people have been hoodwinked by this modern Rasputin.