by: Samantha Randell of Top Dog Tips
Yoga is one of the best things you can do for your body and your mind. It’s been proven to have numerous health benefits received through it's breathing exercises, meditation practices, strength exercises and stretching components. Yoga has it all. Studies have demonstrated how it also helps with depression, pain, addiction, and much more.
But have you ever considered doing yoga with your dog? There’s even a name for that – Doga. And it turns out there are good reasons for pet owners to try it.
What is Doga?
Doga is the emerging trend that combines yoga and dogs. It is a great way to get some exercise for you and your pooch, and it can be much more fun than doing yoga by yourself. The concept of Doga was created by Suzi Teitelman, a Jacksonville yoga teacher.
Even though dogs can’t actually do the majority of the normal yoga poses, they will enjoy the stretching, some aspects of pet massage and soothing energy for which yoga sessions are famous for. However, Doga shouldn’t be forced upon a dog. Instead, owners should be mindful and try to listen to their dog’s body language. If your dog doesn’t really seem interested, or if your pooch is trying to pull away or starts squirming, it’s time to stop and wait for another day.
Otherwise, there are several benefits of getting yourself and your Fido into Doga. After having educated myself on the subject, I’ve also had one of the well-known Doga practitioners on my podcast, Anne Appleby, discussing all the benefits of this practice, and how every pet owner can start. Here are some of the reasons you may want to look into Doga yourself.
1. Bonding with Your Dog
While yoga's benefits for humans have been proven by scientific studies, there isn’t much research about Doga's benefits for dogs. Except for this one.
Doga is a fantastic way to bond with your dog, especially when you do assisted poses in which you and your canine work together, as partners. This can help your dog learn how to trust you and strengthen your relationship. When you improve the bond you have with your dog, you also improve the potential for their behavior correction and training.
Doga requires relaxation and deep focus from both parties which can only help the bond grow, which becomes deeper and more authentic over time.
2. Physical Health Benefits
Even though Doga's health benefits are not backed by research, Doga is still a form of exercise for both you and your pup.
If your dog is out of shape or overweight, Doga can be a good way to get a bit of much-needed exercise. It can help them build muscle and lose fat if you practice it regularly. Any type of physical activity helps with blood circulation, and Doga is not an exception.
Doga usually appeals to a dog’s natural instinct to stretch, which can help them improve their flexibility and range of motion. Regulary exercise and massage can also help your Fido in prevention of arthritis and ACL injuries when he becomes older. Doga can also be beneficial to dogs that have hip dysplasia or similar pain issues that occur with aging.
Injured dogs (depending on the type of injury) can also benefit from Doga. Dogs who are recovering from an injury or accident can get significant pain relief through gentle stretching, which relieves muscle tension. It can also help them rebuild their strength, whether they lost it due to aging or an injury.
Relaxation and breathing exercises are the cornerstone of Doga and make up for a huge chunk of the entire program. It can work wonders for hyperactive dogs as it can calm them down and mellow them out. The exercise portion of Doga can help burn off some of your dog’s energy, while stretching and massage will make them mentally calmer.
Of course, the best shared benefit of Doga is that it can help you deal with stress and anxiety as well. In fact, mental stability is without a doubt one of the biggest benefit of yoga. There are plenty of other activities out there that probably do more for your physical health, but when you include the mental health benefit that comes from mediation and massage, yoga (or Doga), is the best there is.
Doga is also great for dogs with behavioral issues. Yappy and anxious dogs will learn how to become still and relaxed thanks to Doga, but you shouldn’t expect any visible results right away. It takes time for them to achieve this, so try to make Doga a regular part of you and your dog’s schedule for at least a month.
Yoga can be a very fun activity on its own, then adding dogs to the mix is the best way to make it even more enjoyable! For most dog lovers out there, everything is more enjoyable when your pooch joins you, and yoga is not an exception. Even though dogs can sometimes be a distraction for people when doing yoga, it is only because they are curious and not included in the fun, which is exactly what Doga does for them.
As far as dogs go, they will certainly have some fun of their own. First of all, there are other dogs involved in Doga classes, and that alone is enough to get your furry BFF more open to attending the classes with you. In addition to this, they most likely will also enjoy almost every aspect of class, from the exercises and massage to socializing and bonding with their owners.
Doga is a great way for you to meet some new people, to hang out with other dog owners and socialize. This is especially true if you are not a big fan of crowded, loud dog parks. It will give you a great reason to get out of the house and maybe make some new friends.
For your pup, being surrounded by other dogs as well as people in such a controlled and soothing environment can be the best way to get him or her used to strangers. Some dogs are shy and anxious and they don’t react well in social situations. For those dogs, Doga can do wonders to help them with their social skills, which means that they will become easier to handle on walks or anywhere else in public.
Considering that there aren’t many places for dog owners to socialize outside of dog parks, Doga truly offers a unique and new experience for you and your dog. And let’s be honest, the next time you see your pooch get extremely excited when you tell them “You ready to go to Doga?” it will help you get off the couch yourself and get to the class instead of skipping it!