While one can easily point out the benefits of yoga to a person it’s a lot harder to convince a dog that sitting still and letting you stretch out their muscles is a good idea. If you think your dog can benefit from reaching into his inner dogi here’s an easy way to incorporate stretches into your dog’s exercise routine.
Catch your dog during a lull in activity. Whether your dog is big or small, most love cuddling up in your lap and taking a nice snooze. Encourage your dog to get on your lap (for those who don’t normally encourage this you may have to make it clear that this is only appropriate during doga time) and start massaging out those dog-tired muscles. Help your dog relax and become comfortable with you touching him all over his body, including the feet, tail, head, and muzzle.
After a few days of regular nap/lap time start slowly attempting stretching your dog out. While massaging a shoulder or foot start stretching your dog’s leg out. If your dog jerks it back or starts to protest stop stretching but keep your hand on the leg and massage again to calm your dog down.
For tail stretches, which can help increase blood stimulation and feel good chemicals flowing through the brain, massage your dogs lower back and rear while gently massaging down the tail and stretching it, one bone at a time. Don’t just pull out; try pulling the tail up and down, side to side, making it feel more natural to your dog, especially if tail touching is iffy to your dog.
If you feel that your dog would be comfortable with it gently grab your dogs head or muzzle and stretch out your dog’s neck. Do not pull out! While this may feel good on other body parts remember that if you think it would hurt to suddenly have your head pulled up while you were relaxing it’d probably hurt or surprise your dog. Instead slowly bend her neck up and down or side to side.
While this can be trickier try playing a game of Simon Says with your dog. Incorporate some of your own yoga moves into your dog’s routine. Much like you would teach your dog how to sit and stay you can teach her how to do Downward Facing Dog or a dog/human version of Sun Salute. You can get in the position to show your dog, especially if it looks similar to a position that initiates play in your dog’s mind (tail and butt up, face and front paws down = play time!) because this will make this a desirable activity in your dog’s mind. Try it out, see how your dog reacts to doing yoga with you and you may just have a new workout buddy!
Since this is a new trend you’ll likely find doga classes in many big cities. Try to find one in your community if you want to make exercise time into social time too.
Ask your vet if your dog is a senior or has a health problem. Certain positions may hurt your dog, although if your dog is young this is a good way to tune into your dog’s body. Many people are able to find cancerous lumps or the beginnings of arthritis before it becomes dangerous or deadly by knowing their dog’s body intimately.