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What is Doga?

The New Fad of Dog Yoga Explained

By Lauren Leonardi. June 19, 2013 | See Comments

What is Doga?

A new fad is making it's way through the country - dog yoga, or doga. What exactly does this practice entail? Would your dog enjoy it? Find out what doga is and what a doga class means.

Doga combines two wonderful things: dogs and yoga. Yoga puts an emphasis on union with all things in nature, and doga extends that basic philosophy to your dog. Doga is a whole lot like regular old yoga, with slight modifications to allow your dog to participate in your routine. The end game is including your dog in your yoga routine for the purposes of more bonding and becoming closer with them. Read on to learn more about this dog yoga.

Can a Dog Really do Yoga?

We see our dogs stretch naturally all the time. Are they already doing yoga without knowing it? People might wonder, doesn’t yoga incorporate mental and spiritual components that doggie brains -- complex and impressive as they are -- might not be capable of?

The good news is, no one’s asking dogs to meditate, per se.

What are Doga’s benefits to people?

Doga provides people with all the same benefits of yoga that we’re used to, with the special added bonus of bonding time with your pet.

Having a dog is an overall enriching and rewarding experience. Dog people, by and large, will agree: life with dogs is better! Doga takes the positive associations we already have for our pets, and brings them into the holistic experience -- the whole body and mind experience -- of yoga.

Doga is great for people new to yoga, who might be a bit shy about starting classes. Classes are slightly less formal, involve a bit more laughter, and are a good intro to the practice.

Additional benefits include some training byproducts. Doga will help your dog get used to being touched all over their body. This can help with grooming, or sensitive areas where your dog may prefer to not be touched. Your pet may also become more in tune with you in general, which can help with focus and the inclination to listen to your commands outside of class.

What are Doga’s Benefits to Dogs?

Most dogs love a good petting session. Doga is like petting times ten. It’s an hour of constant contact and engagement with your pet.

We all send text messages while we’re walking our dogs, or flip channels while we’re snuggled together on the couch. Dogs don’t often get our full, undivided attention. Doga creates a space for an unusual type of contact.

Fans of doga say that the practice enhances the feeling of connectedness between you and your dog. Whether upping the ante on establishing you as a pack, or driving home your connection as a family, doga is about bonding more than anything; and what do dogs love more than one-on-one time with their people?

What Happens in a Doga Class?

Some doga classes simply incorporate your dog’s body into your routine. Sometimes your dog is used like a prop. You may reach over them to extend a stretch. Or, the instructor might place your smaller dog here and there on your body for extra weight. As you lift and bend and stretch, you’ll touch your dog.

Other classes engage dogs more directly. Instructors may ask you to incorporate a doggie massage into a pose. Some claim these massages improve digestion and even heart function for the dog.

Sometimes, you may be asked to encourage your dog into a certain pose. Something like standing on hind legs, while you support their front paws. Treats are used to help.

Over time, your dog will learn the routine with you and it will become more natural.

What are the downsides to Doga?

Dogs are unpredictable, so if you’re a die hard yogi, you may not wish to have your attention divided during your routine. Doga classes will likely include some amount of barking, whining, treat chewing, and various other distractions.

There’s less structure to a doga class than you might expect in a traditional yoga class. For some, this is a benefit. For others, not so much.

Finally, not all dogs will be suited to doga. Some are too hyper. Some are too young to stay focused. Some dogs might be freaked out by the strangeness of it. (So many people! All on the floor!) If you plan to bring your dog to a doga class, be sure to exercise them first. Be sure they’re house trained. And most importantly, go with an open mind.

More on Exercising with Dogs

Hiking with Dogs
7 Easy Ways to Exercise Your Dog in Cold Weather
A Joint Health Exercise Routine for Dogs

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