If you look puppy yoga up online, you’ll find tons of articles from studios offering classes you can take with your dog. These are fun, and if you’re into fitness, they’re definitely something you should try. At Dog Friendly Living, Puppy Yoga means something a little bit different.
So what is Puppy Yoga? And should you try it with your dog? Stick with us to learn about Puppy Yoga, and if our new course is the right fit for your dog.
What Is Puppy Yoga?
When people do yoga, it’s about more than the moves. It’s meant to help you focus on your body and mind and ignore outside distractions. That’s exactly what Puppy Yoga is designed to do. Puppy Yoga is for helping your dog control their impulses and ignore outside triggers. Puppy Yoga trains your dog to relax on cue to redirect reactive behaviors.
While your dog might not be able to truly meditate, Puppy Yoga helps calm your dog and settle them in stressful situations. Puppy Yoga is 5 levels of relaxation training that will take your dog from jumpy and stressed… to calm and poised. The levels build on each other, so there’s no skipping ahead.
Puppy Yoga Lessons
The first step of Puppy Yoga is learning the Relaxed Position. This is the position they need to be in to settle down and disengage. Relaxed Position is the foundation all the stages of Puppy Yoga are built on. Your pup will work on this skill until they have mastered it. You’ll know they have mastered Relaxed Position when they can reliably go into the position when you give the command.
Next, your dog will learn Duration. You will slowly increase the time your dog stays in Relaxed Position. The goal is for your dog to be able to hold this position and truly relax instead of being alert and at attention. Once your dog can maintain Relaxed Position until released they will begin to learn the third level.
The third level is Disengagement. You will work with your dog to ignore outside distractions. This is where your dog will start to learn impulse control and keep their focus on you. The goal is for your pooch to be able to redirect their focus and keep it on you while maintaining that Relaxed Position.
For the fourth step, you need to start to add Distance. The goal is for you to be able to walk away and for your dog to be able to stay in Relaxed Position until you release them. As you work on this skill, you will slowly increase the distance between you and your dog. This is tricky, but with practice and consistency, your dog will learn to stay relaxed while you leave.
The final step is Distractions. This last stage focuses on teaching your dog how to ignore all the chatter and scents going on in the background. Once they have mastered this level, you will be able to get your dog to stay relaxed instead of getting overly excited in chaotic situations.
Remember: Your dog will master some skills more quickly than others. If they seem to be struggling, just go back to the previous skill for a few days until they seem ready to move forward.
Helping Your Dog Master Puppy Yoga
Like any training, there are some things you can do to help your dog succeed.
Exercise your dog first. Don’t work your dog to the point of exhaustion, but a quick walk or game of catch will reduce your dog’s pent-up energy enough to help them focus on training.
Work with your dog’s attention span. Once your dog’s attention starts to wander, it's time to end the session. If you try to keep going, you’ll get frustrated, and your dog won’t get any benefit from training.
Stay calm. Your dog will pick up on your frustration, and if you’re worked up, your dog will have a hard time learning how to be calm.
Remember that all dogs learn at different paces. Don’t get discouraged if your dog isn’t a high-achiever. Stay consistent, and eventually, even the most stubborn dog will start to figure things out.
As your dog gets better at each stage, try moving training into new environments. Practicing Puppy Yoga in a variety of places prepares your dog for situations that might happen if you’re out and about.
Stay consistent. Your dog won’t absorb the lessons if you’re constantly starting and stopping. If you can’t train in small sessions throughout the day, which many experts recommend, then have a set time for one session every day and make it a part of your daily routine.
Should You Sign Your Dog Up For Puppy Yoga?
The answer to this is a resounding yes! Every dog can benefit from Puppy Yoga. They don’t even need to be a puppy. Dogs of every age benefit from Puppy Yoga and relaxation training. It gives them tools to use when they get overwhelmed living in a human-centered world.
Puppy Yoga is great for all dogs, but there are some dogs who get extra benefits from it. If you have a reactive or anxious dog, Puppy Yoga gives them a new behavior to focus on and teaches them to ignore the distractions that usually trigger their reactive or anxious behaviors.
If you have a young adult dog, around 8 months to 2 years old (sometimes slightly older depending on the breed) they may be going through their “teenage” phase. This means they may be overly hyper and exhibit some puppy-like behaviors such as nipping. They may be testing boundaries and ignoring any training you have been attempting to do. Puppy Yoga redirects their behavior, teaches them how to calm themselves, and helps make this stage more bearable for everyone.