Yes, really! You should be doing yoga with your dog! At least try it – at home 🙂
Doga is taking off and John Delvin of Dogsbarn takes us through 5 Reasons You Should Be Doing Yoga with Your Dog…
Source:Flickr (image credit istolethetv)
The Pet Industry continues to grow and there are always new trends that dog lovers are keen to embrace. Over the last few years Doga (Dog Yoga) has become popular and while this may seem a strange fad to some, many dog owners are using this ancient practice of stretching, breathing, and meditation to build a greater bond with their canine companions. While we understand the benefits of Yoga for those with two legs, strength of mind and body, relaxation, balance, etc. What benefits does this increasingly popular activity have for our four-legged friends?
What is Doga?
Let’s be clear Doga is; doing yoga with your dog not dogs contorting themselves into Yoga positions, while they may perform a great “downward dog” the “handstand scorpion” is another matter. The dog is included in various poses in a non-invasive manner which may involve them lying on your lap, some gentle stretching and massage, which both calms and soothes them. Like children, our pooches pick up and copy our breathing so if we are calm then it is more than likely they will follow suit. Here we take a look at 5 benefits of doing Yoga with your dog.
- Relieves anxiety
Both people and dogs benefit from the release of stress which occurs during yoga, the repetitive movement and gentle massage help to relieve tension and create a soothing ambiance. Many dogs suffer from anxiety and stress which can lead to health issues including cardiovascular problems, stomach issues which can lead to vomiting and diarrhea and a suppressed immune system meaning they are more susceptible to other illnesses so helping them with this can also be beneficial to their health by improving both metabolism and respiration.
- Strengthens bond between dog and owner
One of the best ways to build a bond with your canine companion is to spend quality one-on-one time together. Doga combines gentle massage, meditation and stretching in a calm and tranquil atmosphere. Dogs also mimic their owners breathing patterns and after around 20 minutes of a session their parasympathetic nervous system kicks in and you will find your pooch in tune with your breathing, which reduces their heart-rate, builds the dog’s confidence and strengthens the bond between owner and dog.
- Provides exercise for elderly or obese dogs
It can be difficult to give elderly and obese dogs enough exercise both of whom struggle to walk very far and are not able or reluctant to give chase to a ball. The gentle stretching involved in Doga is good for the joints, meaning it is an excellent form of exercise for older dogs which suffer from arthritis or muscle pain, puts no pressure on the heart and is thought to increase the levels of oxytocin, which has the added bonus of decreasing appetite and speeding up metabolism.
- Can help to resolve behavioral issues
Children with behavioral issues respond well to yoga mainly because it focuses their mind and requires them to be still and this works with dogs too. Many of the positions involve the dog being submissive for example laying down or being massaged in a calm relaxed way which builds trust and confidence in their owner. Many behavioral issues in dogs are due to anxiety and it has been proven that Doga can reduce anxiety in your four-legged friend. It does take time though, like us humans it can take between 4-6 weeks to the classes to have an effect and during that time you and your canine companion will be spending quality time together socializing with other dogs and their owners.
- It can increase lifespan
A huge benefit of introducing your dog to Doga is that it can increase life expectancy. I know it sounds crazy, right? However, experts believe that including your dog in this ancient form of exercise reduces their heart-rate, lowers blood pressure, can influence digestion and sleep, regulate the adrenal glands and reduce stress. As all these things can have an effect on your best friend’s health as they get older it could be that spending some time each week meditating and stretching with your dog will result in them living longer.
All dogs can do Doga; smaller breeds are easier to incorporate into the moves but even larger dogs will enjoy the closeness and stretching. While it may be considered a fad, Doga has so many benefits that it will probably stick around. The practice is very popular in California, New York, and Florida but many cities now offer Doga and if you don’t live near to a studio there are some great online resources and ebooks showing you how to incorporate Fido into many poses. The important thing to remember is that this should be enjoyable for both parties so don’t try and force the issue if your canine companion doesn’t want to join in. For those who do, Doga can be a fantastic bonding experience for both owner and dog and who wouldn’t want that?
John Devlin, owner of Dogsbarn.com, husband, father and avid dog lover. Currently the proud owner of George a pedigree Golden Retriever that barely leaves his side. “However cute this sounds, a little break from the dog hairs every now and then would be nice!”