Doga: Dog Yoga And How To Practice With Your Dog
What is dog yoga, and how can you practice it with your dog? Doga continues to increase in popularity, and Finn has more about what makes it so beneficial.
You’ve probably tried and failed to work out with your dog more times than you can count if you're anything like us. Our dogs love us and want to be around us, so it’s only natural for them to want to do what we’re doing.
Unfortunately, if you’re determined to get a good quality workout in, your dog laying on their back and licking your face while you are trying to do a plank can be pretty distracting. Luckily, there are ways to include your dog in your workout more successfully — like dog yoga (or doga)!
Why Your Dog Can’t Leave You Alone
Most dogs love to be our little shadows. They’re curious about what we’re doing and always want to be around, whether we’re cooking dinner or going to the bathroom.
While experts may vary when it comes to agreeing on the biological urge that drives them to that behavior (if there is one), it mostly speaks for itself.
However, in certain situations, your dog’s need to be around you can go from a healthy, loving representation of the bond you two share to more of a behavioral issue. If your dog is constantly staring at you or following you from room to room, they may be experiencing a health issue that you should explore further.
What Is Doga?
You’ve probably heard of the downward-facing dog pose if you've practiced yoga before, as it’s a common part of most yoga flows and routines. However, doga offers you a way to get your dog to do it with you!
If your dog loves to be around when you do yoga, and you notice that they tend to attempt the same poses that you’re doing, this may be an excellent way to bond even further!
Essentially doga is precisely that — an organized way to do some gentle stretching that benefits both you and your dog.
How Can I Start Doing Dog Yoga?
Are you interested in trying it out for yourself with your furry friend?
There are two ways to give dog yoga a shot — by trying it out at home or seeing if there are any local doga classes available.
What Are the Benefits of Practicing Dog Yoga at Home?
Practicing dog yoga at home has multiple benefits.
You may have a wonderful and loving dog at home that you know will be a terror to manage in a class full of other people and dogs. While various factors are at play, like dog aggression and your dog’s socialization status, it’s often best to avoid situations you know may upset your dog.
In addition, many people have trouble focusing on themselves when they take yoga classes. One of the benefits of yoga is its ability to help us look inward and calm the mind. If you’re unable to do that because you’re self-conscious or worried about how your dog may react, it takes you out of the moment and ultimately wastes your time and money.
There may even be virtual classes available, where you can enjoy the benefits of having an instructor-led practice without having to leave your home. Just open your browser, log in, and practice doga with your pet on your schedule.
What Are the Benefits of Taking Doga Classes?
For some of us, heading out to let an instructor show you the ropes may be the way to go! Going to a physical class with Fido can be especially helpful for people who have never practiced yoga before. There is always the potential for injury with any new activity, and doga teachers can help.
Having a trained dog yoga teacher (or “dogi”) teach you how to do each yoga pose appropriately can reduce the risk so that you can appreciate how profound doga can be instead of worrying about getting hurt.
Dog yoga is also a great place for socializing your dog with other like-minded dog owners. When you allow your dog to be around other dogs (as long as they are appropriately socialized beforehand), your doggy gets to enjoy some exercise and mental stimulation. The result is a tired dog who will likely sleep much better that night.
How Can Dog Yoga Improve My Relationship With My Dog?
If you’re here, you likely have a reasonably close relationship with your dog already. For most of us, our pets are just like any other family member, and we want to find ways to improve their lives while improving our bond with them. Having a special time set aside to practice dog yoga with them can help you do just that and bring you even closer together.
After all, the dog-human bond is one of the most unique and essential bonds we can have. It benefits both of you in different ways, from improving your mental health to positively impacting your physical health (via lower blood pressure and stress levels).
What Are the Benefits of Doga for My Dog’s Body?
One of the best parts about a dog doing yoga with its owner is that it benefits your dog just as much as it benefits you. Some of those benefits may even surprise you.
For example, did you know that doing yoga with your dog can help them get over their fear of being touched in certain places?
Dogs who experience anxiety about having their feet or ears touched may slowly start to tolerate it more, making nail trims, vet visits, and ear cleaning easier for both of you.
Also, being closer to your dog in a way that feels more like playing can help you do more regular health checks. Lumps, bumps, and other growths may be found earlier, potentially improving your dog’s chance of recovery if there is anything wrong.
A dog doing yoga with their owner may also experience temporary relief from stiffness and soreness related to arthritis or hip dysplasia, an improvement in their range of motion, or slightly less anxiety. Yoga is like a lower-impact walk or hike; it encourages your dog to move and get the blood flowing without being too hard on their body. This may be especially beneficial for older dogs or dogs with mobility issues.
How Can You Practice Dog Yoga at Home?
If you’ve considered your options and are ready to start doga practice, we have a few tips for making it as successful as possible.
Start by deciding where you’re going to set up your practice in your home. We recommend a relatively closed space where there are as few distractions as possible for both you and your dog.
All you need other than that space is a yoga mat (more specifically, one that you don’t mind getting hairy).
You’ll need to consider both your and your dog’s flexibility levels when first starting. Neither one of you should be pushing too hard, as that could cause injuries (and make your dog less likely to want to do it with you again). Although yoga is definitely a workout, it should also be a fun activity to do with your dog.
Here are a few basic dog yoga poses to start with:
“Heart to Hound”
Because dog yoga is all about the bond you share with your pet, we wanted to start with a pose that can help connect your energy together. Sit in a comfortable position and place your left hand over your heart. Have your dog sit in front of you and place your right hand over their heart.
Breathe slowly, close your eyes if possible, and feel the calming energy wash over both of you during this quality time.
Although traditionally done at the end of yoga practice, you can use this pose whenever you do dog yoga at home — or whenever you want! Lay on your back with your arms out to your sides and breathe.
Your dog may lie next to you at this point or continue to walk around, but take your own time to enjoy the moment. When you’re ready, have your dog lay on their back and give them a nice, gentle belly massage.
While doing dog yoga with your dog, why not take the time to learn from the best? The downward dog pose is a natural pose for dogs when they want to play with another dog. Try it for yourself by starting on your hands and knees, then straightening your legs until you form a V with your body.
Don’t be surprised if your pup gets underneath you and tries to lick your face, because this is also a sign that you want to play with them, too.
Dog yoga continues to increase in popularity, and we hope this trend will stick around for a while.
Including your pup in your yoga practice can help improve your bond and keep both of you healthy while also being a fun way to spend time with your furry BFF. Stick with Finn for more pet-related tips and tricks!