Why You Should Be Doing Yoga With Your Dog
Dog yoga (or “doga”) is, as the name suggests, the practice of doing yoga with your dogs.
The practice started in 2003 in the US and by 2011, it had become popular around the world. While the idea of doga might seem a little silly at first, the truth is that there are many benefits to engaging in exercise with your dog. “Doing yoga with dogs can be beneficial to both pets and people since any shared positive experience will reinforce the human-animal bond,” says Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, an advisor for Pet Life Today.
What to Expect from a Class
Doga classes are all different, although they are usually just 30 minutes long. Some classes require direct interaction, where human participants help their dogs stretch into specific positions; others are more about helping the furry participants to relax along with their owners through calming massages. Some classes offer a social element in which dogs can interact with each other at the beginning of the class to help them release some of their energy.
Dog yoga can take many forms and it’s important to find the right option for you and your dog, according to Coates. “Social dogs who lack time spent with members of their own species would probably love a class where they’re allowed to run around and interact with other dogs while the human participants do most of the yoga,” says Coates. “On the other hand, people-centric dogs might appreciate a class where they participate more with their humans.”
One of the most important things to keep in mind when practicing doga is to never force your dog into a position or a situation that is uncomfortable. “Dog yoga should always be fun for everyone involved,” according to Coates. If it leads to more stress for either you or your dog, Coates suggests find another activity that you can share and enjoy.
Benefits of Doga
The practice of doga requires a lot of touching and manipulating your dog’s legs, body, and head into unusual positions—all of them safe, but also requiring lots of trust from your dog. And while it might seem weird at first, being touched and moved into abnormal positions has a lot of benefits, according to Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM, a small animal and exotic veterinarian in Texas and a veterinary consultant for doglab.com.
“This helps your dog be okay with getting their nails trimmed or having to be touched for any kind of grooming, according to Ochoa. “This will also help make your veterinarian’s job easier as sometimes they have to put your dog in a weird position for certain exams.”
And if the dog class also includes a form of massage, the benefits are even bigger. “Getting a massage helps decrease stress and help increase mood and behavior,” Ochoa says. And unless your dog has an injury that requires expert attention and perhaps some supplements for a stronger immune system, a soft, basic massage given by a loving pet owner will be just as appreciated by your pooch as a professional one.