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Doga: How to do yoga with your dog

Woman doing a yoga pose with Pug dog

Have you heard of Doga? Find out how to practise Yoga with your dog

© Yuttana Jaowattana - Shutterstock

Have you heard of Doga before, this practice that comes from the United States? Popularised by a yoga teacher in the early 2000s, this fun experience aims to reduce stress while strengthening ties with your dog.

By Emilie Heyl

Updated on the

Who said that yoga was beneficial to humans only? Doga, or yoga practice with your dog, is a moment of relaxation and bonding between the animal and its owner.

Thanks to its many benefits and its simplicity, this practice has already conquered millions of dog owners in Asia and the United States. By respecting a few basic principles, it is child's play to please your four-legged friend while practicing gentle and fun physical exercise.

Let’s find out more about Doga and how to relax with your dog.

What does Doga mean?

You surely know the soothing virtues of Yoga. If you practice this discipline, it is either alone or in the company of other people in a gym or a Yoga studio. This discipline which helps to re-concentration on oneself and one's body, Yoga can also be practiced with one's dog: Yoga + Dog = DOGA.

Doga was created by Suzi Teitelman in the United States in 2001. This practice quickly spread to Asia and all of the world's major metropolises. It consists of performing Yoga positions with your dog. It is not about pulling your little furball all over the place, but adapting yoga positions to your dog so that he can share a relaxing moment with you and you can reinforce your bond with your furry friend.

Yoga position with pug
Practicing Yoga with your dog© Yuttana Jaowattana - Shutterstock

The benefits of Doga: Is Doga good for dogs?

The benefits of Doga are multiple for you as well as for your dog. It should be noted that just like yoga, the benefits of Doga are noticed with regular practice. Be indulgent with yourself and your dog, everything may not be perfect the first few sessions, but perseverance will do a lot for you and your dog.

Strengths communication between the owner and his dog 

Doga, if practiced repeatedly, can strengthen the relationship between the owner and his dog. As a handler, you must lead the pace and ensure the comfort of your dog during the performed positions. It is essential to work on your breathing, and ease of movement so that your dog feels reassured. Depending on the size and health of your dog, you may be able to practice certain movements. For example, introduce your pooch to a stretch position with its knees on the floor and its hands forward. It is important to repeat the movements several times, so that your canine companion soaks them up.

Decreases your stress level and that of your dog 

Pets who have dog owners who live in a stressful environment tend to feel it. Even if you try not to communicate your stress to your favourite four-legged friend, he feels your concern on a daily basis. With its slow breathing and stretching methods, Doga is an excellent activity to decompress and "take a break." Practicing this activity with your dog will allow him to relax as well. You should not put any stress on your animal during the activity. There is no particular rule in Doga and your dog should be free to choose whether he wants to participate or just look at you and stick by your side.

How to do a Doga session?

There is no such thing as a typical doga session. The dog's personality, its mood or even the location of the session are all criteria that can rock a session.

First of all, you can, if you wish, put on background music. Before starting your postures, don't forget to do some warm-up exercises. Then comes the time to perform your yoga postures under your pet's eye. If he's interested, he'll come to you. At this stage, you could stroke your pooch between two postures for example. You could also hold your dog against you when the position allows it (well, maybe not if you have a Newfoundland). You will find that some dogs will even go so far as to imitate your body language.

Keep in mind that Doga is not a training class. The aim is to have a good time with your four-legged friend.

What accessories do you use for Doga?

You will need a workout outfit, a yoga mat, some music if you want and your dog.

How to teach Doga to your dog?

Doga is not a training session but a moment of relaxation and sharing. It is not a question of teaching your dog postures, nor encouraging him with a treat, but of including him in your own postures. You really have to let your dog come to you.

You will find that your Doga sessions will quickly turn into a game to the delight of your pooch.

Pug lying while woman doing yoga
Yoga can be tiring! ©Yuttana Jaowattana - Shutterstock

Can all dogs practice Doga?

This activity can be practiced with any type of dog: small, large, calm or restless. However, during collective Doga sessions, you will need to make sure that your dog is not distracted by others. This activity should not be perceived as being educational, but simply a moment of shared complicity. It is not necessary to reward your dog after each Doga session: he must practice this activity because he feels a pleasure to commune with you.

Doga can be very useful for senior or injured dogs. Indeed, this discipline includes stretching, massages and long minutes in complete silence or on soft music to soothe your pooch spiritually and physically. Your dog will surely be able to sleep better after such a session.

Always ensure the comfort of your animal and do not hesitate to ask your veterinarian for advice before starting Doga.

Where to practice Doga?

You can practice Doga in a Yoga studio which offers Doga classes. If not, you can also use your accommodation to do some exercises. Conversely, if your pet is comfortable with this practice, why not try an outdoor session.

Some Doga positions

If you want to get started in Doga, Wamiz proposes some positions to test the experience with your animal.

If your pet is curious and comes to you on its own while you are doing yoga positions, you can start petting your pooch between poses. If you wish, you can attempt the lotus position by placing your dog on your lap.

Girl doing lotus position with pug
The Lotus position © Yuttana Jaowattana - Shutterstock

You could also do the Downward facing dog pose and let your dog lay on the mat underneath you.

If you and your dog are a little more comfortable, it is also possible to wheel position with your dog. Your pooch can be on your stomach or below you.

Girl wheel position with pug
The Wheel position with your dog© Yuttana Jaowattana - Shutterstock

So what are you waiting for? Go grab your yoga mat, your furry friend and start stretching. We hope your dog and yourself will enjoy these sessions. And… Breathe!

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