Tapping for dogs

In a successful experience with TFT, I was retained to work with a Jack Russell Terrier who was dismissed from the Conformation Ring for growling at the judge and biting him when he examined the dog’s feet.

Could TFT cure this problem? I wondered.

After some basic obedience training using positive reinforcement, I found the pup only 80% reliable. By using TFT, I was able to break through that final 20% and he went on to earn his Championship.

I started with desensitizing handling, then had strangers handle his feet while he was on a table. When he growled at them and showed his teeth to the handler, I started TFT.

At first, the pup was not receptive to the tapping. That is to say, he resisted it. I started by tapping him in the middle of his forehead, a technique I have used for many years (prior to my knowledge of TFT) to calm hyperactive dogs. After getting his attention, I used the eyebrow, under eye, under arm, clavicle, and gamut tapping sequence.

At first he looked surprised, and then calm.

After several treatments, the pup seemed to invite the tapping as though aware it was making him feel better.

I’ve also used TFT with other dogs including, recently, two Labrador Retrievers who were rescued from very abusive homes. Both dogs were fear-aggressive, lunging, barking, snapping, then retreating. After working with the dogs for several days, gaining their confidence, I had a stranger approach the dogs to maximize their trauma. I then applied the treatment, tapping the forehead, under eye, clavicle and sternum. The dogs calmed noticeably.

I have also used TFT many times briefly when working with students in classes. As I approach the pups, I signal them with the calming signals and then tap them on the forehead, under the eye, and on the sternum or clavicle, whichever is easiest to find. The only times I do not feel successful are when the owners interfere with or are not willing to try the treatment.

I believe TFT works when the dog is confident in the person applying the treatment. It should not be tried with a dog who is frightened of everyone and who has no “ally” in the room. In this situation, I find that dogs are not receptive to treatment and it is very difficult to tap the appropriate spots. —Lee Wells

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