Yoga with Dogs, aka “Doga,” Isn’t Just Trendy. One New York Vet Says It Can Also Inspire Better Behavior.

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There’s little dispute regarding the health benefits of yoga – not only can regular practice boost your flexibility and physical stamina, regular practice also benefits your mood.

And though it’s been practiced for centuries – perhaps, because it’s been practiced for centuries — yoga’s popularity has manifested itself in some creative ways over the years. There’s laughter yoga, during which the class strikes a pose while sharing a collective belly chuckle, and beer yoga, during which yogis stretch while balancing bottles on their heads. Other classes incorporate surfboards, ceiling harnesses and even goats, which stand on your back while you strike a pose.

Within this context, Doga, or practicing yoga with your dog, doesn’t seem strange at all – what’s more, it offers important benefits for both you and your pooch. Not only is this a great low-impact way to get the blood flowing, the exercise offers particular benefit for older, arthritic dogs, while helping hyperactive dogs find a healthy way to channel their energy. And while dogs do love stretching — they’ve already inspired one of yoga’s trademark poses, the Downward dog — Doga isn’t for every canine. Some won’t manage to sit still through a session, but others will find the stretches relaxing and calming, which can be a huge boon for anxious animals.

Now, besides improving health and posture, one NY-based vet and Doga practicioner swears that classes can improve your animal’s behavior, namely by offering needy pets an opportunity for bonding, which is often an underlying issue at play with poorly-behaved pets. The classes also offer an interesting opportunity for socializing with other animals, because there’s always other dogs class.

Regardless of why you and Fido have decided to partake, Doga also offers an important opportunity for you and your animal to bond, because a number of poses demand that you work together as a team. For instance, the “heart-to-hound Mundra” demands the pet-owner sits cross-legged on the floor with one hand on both her, and her animal’s, heart. The “chair pose” asks the human to help the dog sit back on its hind paws, then gently massage its front legs. Each class ends with a Savasana, just like it does in dog-free yoga, but Doga encourages your pet to snuggle on top of your stomach as you relax in the pose.

At the end of the day, doga is just fun – while offering important physical and mental health benefits for you and you pooch. After all, nowadays you can work, travel and overnight in hotels with your dogs. It only makes sense someone would find a way to incorporate pets into your yoga routine, too.

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J. Swanson is a writer, traveler, and animal-enthusiast based in Seattle, an appropriately pet-crazed city where dog or cat ownership even outweighs the number of kids. When the weather permits, she likes to get outside and explore the rest of the Pacific Northwest, always with a coffee in hand.
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