Making Life a TTouch Easier  in the Whelping Box                     

Whelping is a high point in the life of a breeder, a marker of months or years of planning and working wrapped in hopes and expectations.  We are looking forward to the whelps, and have wishes for them such as: continue with the dam’s wonderful temperament and the good health behind her; add perhaps stronger herding instinct, or a better-laid shoulder, or a bit more pizzazz.  Foremost, we want a complication-free whelping, vigorous pups and a happy, relaxed mom.  Happily, we can encourage the easy whelping, vigorous pups and relaxed mom.  In addition to providing good nutrition with proper exercise, and accessing excellent medical care, we can use Tellington Touch.  

 In most cases the bitches’ hormones and instinct are in ascendance so the miracle of birth proceeds smoothly. Happily, there are many things we can do to support and encourage this with various Tellington Touches.   Gentle belly lifts can ease the pull of gravity, and allow the dam to relax between contractions, saving her energy for when it is needed.   Ear work is another good tool.  Using steady, smooth strokes from the base of the ear to the tip, and doing circles around the base can slow the respiration rate of the heavily panting bitch. If she is anxious, mouth work can help her to focus and calm down.  Very gentle tail work with tiny circles around the base of the tail, pearling, and especially the spinal stretches can ease her tension. For some bitches, rows of connected circles along her side, in the direction the whelps are traveling, seem to encourage her contractions.  Other bitches seem to respond well to slides, either Zig-Zags or Noah’s March, also going from the head towards the tail.  The easy, steady, drawn out syllables of toning as in “ Eeeeeaaasyyyy, giirrrlll,  goooooood giirrrlll” encourage calmness on the part of the bitch, and keep the human breathing easily and slowly as well.  

As a pup is born, after the bitch has stimulated it by licking, or you have cleared the airway and toweled it, doing some ear slides and circles on those teeny ear nubbins can support the general welfare of the pup.  When a pup is slow to come around, in addition to the things you already do, try using the ear work.  Do it a bit more vigorously than normal, applying more pressure at the tip of the ear as you slide off.  We’ve done this and had pups gasp and then begin breathing normally.  Raccoon TTouches around the mouth usually stimulate the sucking reflex. TTouches on the feet bring awareness to the body parts that knead and push during nursing. How much of this you do at any one time depends on how fast the whelps are arriving, how sluggish or not a pup is, and how fast it gets nursing.  Once the pup is breathing easily, the other TTouches just mentioned continue to be helpful, especially over the next week or so.  Very light jellyfish jiggles, done by cupping your hand lightly over the body of a sleeping pup and very softly wiggling your hand as though the pup was the jello-like consistency of a jellyfish that you are jiggling, can bring awareness to much of the developing nervous system.  Abalone TTouches on the whole pup are a good combination of soothing and stimulating for these new beings.  

 For a nervous bitch-- often the case with a first-timer who is anxious about what strange things are happening in her body-- mouth work can help her calm and focus.  Slow, easy slides along the flews, circles on the gums, and rubbing back and forth on the gum at the front of the muzzle give her some unusual, but pleasant, body sensations and help her cope with all else going on.  Often these bitches are calmed by Abalone circles combined with lifts, done on the thighs as close as possible to the vaginal area since the vaginal area is being flooded with unusual feelings.  

  During the times when there are problems, we are all very grateful for our knowledgeable and skilled veterinarians, who have saved the lives of many dams and whelps. If your bitch has had a c-section you can support her recovery and her acceptance of the pups with TTouch.  Ear work can help her come fully awake from the anesthesia.  If she is wondering about, or afraid of, or seemingly hostile to those squirmy new little beings, mouth work can calm her emotions, and Clouded Leopard and Raccoon TTouches around her teats can prepare her for the sensations of pups nursing.  

 We had a bitch who after her caesarian would not stay in the box with the 2 pups.  Mouth and teat work got her to accept them, clean and stimulate them—as long as we were sitting there in the box, too. If we got up, she also wanted to leave. This continued for about 24 hours, during which time she and the pups got most of the Tellington Touches we could think of.  Finally it was as though she decided she had responsibility for these things we had strangely presented her with—or perhaps the anesthesia was all worn off and the hormones kicked in.  In any case, we were able to support her and her pups during the crucial first day.  

 As breeders you are used to being observant of your dogs, and thoughtful and creative as you work with them.  Continue to use and develop these skills when you use the Tellington Touch.  If the bitch moves away, or a TTouch seems overwhelming, try doing it in an area of her body that she is more comfortable about your touching, or try a different TTouch, or a different speed, or a different pressure.  The focused, intentional touch brings a very different awareness from the casual petting she is more used to.  The better you observe, and the more you let your creativity flow, the easier it becomes and the more you are able to support and help.  

 We have 3 generations of bitches at home with us now.  We were just seriously getting into Tellington-TTouch when Drumlin (the 10 year old grandmother) was in whelp.  Drummy got lots of TTouches during pregnancy.  At times when we could feel the movement of the pups we did TTouches on them in utero, mostly Abalone and Jellyfish-jiggles if we could feel a whole pup, Clouded Leopard or Raccoon when we could just feel parts.  It was Drummy’s first litter, and we were very pleased to know TTouch to help her through what was a scary time for her (it had come in very handy for the mating also—both animals being virgins, he overeager and she trying to avoid his enthusiasm).  Pups were TTouched, and introduced to the playground of higher learning (off leash) as soon as they could maneuver.  These pups, as a group, are all eager and confident.  

 We have been breeding for over 40 years, and with this litter got more excited people calling us frequently with happy reports than we had ever gotten before—and we thought we had lots of happy people/dog families previously.  Greyling, the bitch we kept is a delight--intelligent and with a joie-de-vivre that always brings us smiles.  She was an easier breeder and whelper than her mother.  We still did lots of TTouch with her, and with the whole litter.  And their new families are just as delighted with these pups, and we are having lots of fun with Iriana.  Coincidence?  Perhaps.  But we don’t think so, and you can bet we are continuing to TTouch our way through whelpings. 

 The video, “Unleash Your Dog’s Potential, Getting in TTouch With Your Canine Friend” and the book Getting in TTouch with Your Dog: a Gentle Approach to Influencing Behavior, Health, and Performance  give extensive information about how to do the TTouches and exercises mentioned above. 

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© Frances Smith 2012