Put this in the category of Things Merry Doesn't Get. Right up there with taxes and garlic ice cream.
Regular yoga may well be good for you. The jury is still out on that one. (Translation: I really keep meaning to try yoga, really I will, honest.)
A trendy-looking yoga place in New York describes it thusly:
"Doga is all about bonding with your pet and giving the dog 45 minutes of undivided attention and praise from their favorite person in the world. The dogs do sun salutations and you’ll learn specific massage techniques to calm your dog and aid both circulation and digestion processes."
Maybe I'm biased because my dog would think this a totally bizarre concept. She was raised very strictly, and has Firm Beliefs about how humans and dogs should interact. (She gets upset if I sit next to her on the ground. She'll happily lie at my feet while I'm sitting in a chair, but it's Not Right for humans to sit on the same level as the dog. In other words, she knows her place, and expect me to know mine.) Perhaps that's why I think this is a strange idea.
Instead of yoga with dogs, try picturing yoga with cats. Even the most amenable cat, who doesn't mind being wrapped around your neck like a living fur stole, will look askance if you try wrapping his legs into a meditation pose. He'll probably think you're trying to give him a pill or something suspicious like that. Don't try it. It's not safe.
Loads of people believe that T-touch and giving a dog massage will help the pooch relax. I can see doing these things as therapy. Where I part company with these people is the idea that it is useful to do these yoga poses with your dog as a form of exercise.
One of the many strange things about humans is that we are a species that need to make ourselves exercise. Dogs make it a natural part of their lives.
I realize a statement like that calls for people to write in and leave comments like "My dog Lazybones sits on the couch all day watching t.v." Your dog might be the original couch potato, but if you offered to take Lazybones to the beach, or to a park, or for a good walk, would he say no?
Dogs get overweight because of humans. Dogs don't get out and run around because of humans. Left to their own devices, dogs would do the dog yoga moves when they felt like it, not because exercising daily is a responsibility. Stretching is instinctive. Why should they do it because someone else wants them to?
Humans can be a bit stiff, even wooden.
It strikes me as absurd is that doga is trying to get the dog to conform to this human "hafta" paradigm. What we should be doing instead is trying to adapt to the dog's approach toward exercise: it's spontaneous, it's fun, it's play.
Not that we should imitate dogs in all ways -- I wouldn't mind lazing around all day while someone else brings home the bacon, but I'm not that keen on chasing cats, and the rolling-around-in-something-that-smells-disgusting part is right out thank you very much.
Pookie wrestles with the temptation to roll...
Trying to share your exercise session and use it as a way to bond with your dog is laudable. Because of the constraints and compromises we have to enforce on dogs so they can share their lives with us, they spend most of their time behaving according to our rules. For once, let the dog be a dog and let your hair down and frolic with Fido.
Photo credit: jere-me
As I said, I haven't tried this with my dog. I'm basing my opinion on what I know about dogs, especially mine. Has anyone tried doing yoga with their dog? Was it good exercise for you or for the dog?
(Anyone out there ever contemplated trying yoga with their cat?)