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Looking for another way to spend quality time with your beloved canine companion? Then look no further than dog yoga.
Also known as doga, this at-home activity is perfect for chilly winter days or just days when you're cooped up indoors when long outdoor walks and backyard fetch sessions just aren't viable options. It lets you treat your dog to some one-on-one attention infused with range-of-motion movements and nurturing mental connections.
Does this sound like the right fitness regimen for your pup? Let's take a deeper dive into what doga's all about.
What Is Dog Yoga?
Bringing your fur baby to the yoga studio to mingle among the humans practicing their downward-facing dog and sturdy warrior poses is sometimes an option, but it's very passive for your pet. Doga is a form of yoga that humans and pets do together at home, which may help promote you and your dog's physical and mental wellness.
The benefits of dog yoga are numerous: Dogs may experience improved posture, better sleep and a boost in bonding with their favorite human after a good doga workout. Additionally, spending time doing yoga with your dog may help alleviate stress and anxiety for you and make your pet feel important, which may help curb behavioral issues.
"So many behavioral issues come from attention-seeking behaviors,"Danni Shemanski, a veterinarian who teaches doga at the Hilton Vet Hospital in New York, told WHEC, "so this is a great way that both the (pet parent) and the dog can benefit."
Is My Dog a Good Candidate for Yoga?
Suzi Teitelman is hailed as the creator and founder of doga, which she says she brought to fruition in 2001, reported Newsweek. According to her website, Dogadog, doga is for all pups and people and it's never too late to start practicing. The key is to remember that each dog and human are individuals and will have unique needs based on their age and health. So before you start doga or any new physical activity with your dog, consult your vet.
A spike in heart rate or uncommon movements may not be recommended, especially if your pet is on prescription medication or has an active medical condition. But yoga is just the combination of quiet moments, focused breathwork and gentle movements, and it can be made more strenuous or slow to suit almost any dog.
How to Get Your Doga On
Doga can be as simple as you sitting comfortably and doing focused breathing while your dog lays next to you, explained Your Dog, with tiny shoulder lifts or head turns added in to ease muscle tension. You can also make these sessions more advanced by incorporating other positions:
- Easy seated pose, also known as Sukhasana, requires you to sit on the floor, cross-legged with your back straight, and let your pup come to you. In this pose, focus on long inhales and exhales, watching your dog get interested in your breathing and become peaceful with you. They may try to sit on your lap and match your breathing pattern. Or, they might lay on the floor next to you, snuggling with your legs.
- Standing forward bend, or Uttanasana, is a standing pose in which you'll reach toward your toes and extend your hands to your dog, giving them a gentle rub. Stand upright, then fold again, making contact with your pet as you lower to the ground. After a few repetitions, your pet will understand the movement and come to enjoy the loving physical touch, which could be a gentle pet or a more active massaging movement — depending on what they're most comfortable with.
If you're looking for a more hands-on way to move your dog's legs and massage their muscles within a yoga framework, contact a pet rehabilitation clinic or physical therapy provider. These health care professionals can train you to safely move your pet's limbs in a way that strengthens their muscles and increases mobility.
Spending more time with your pet is always beneficial for them and you, too. Dog yoga affords you more one-on-one time with your pup. It's also a fun activity that can be done in the comfort of your home.
Feeling inspired to get on the mat with your pup? Give your vet a call to see if they have any tips for incorporating intentional movements and breathwork into your pet's daily routine.
Angela Tague is a pet mom, writer and yogi living in the Midwest. When she's not making a mess in the kitchen or attending a wellness workshop, she's writing full-time for multiple lifestyle and technology brands. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn @AngelaTague.