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What is Doga? A Brief Introduction to Dog Yoga

dog yoga

One day, a smart yogi woke up and said, “Let’s add animals to our yoga classes.” Good move, yogi, good move. One of these animal-based yogas is dog yoga. The incredibly reductionist version of dog yoga is yoga with dogs. It is the dog equivalent of goat yoga, where you do your usual yoga routine in a roomful of animals that can interrupt you in a number of hilarious ways. Some studios may allow you to bring your dog to yoga class, too. 

But the real dog yoga is called doga. Doga is just as beneficial for dogs as it is for humans and is a great way to start and stick with the practice. It’s easy to set up at home and it’s never too late to start. Let’s learn more about this twist on the traditional practice.

Why You Need Doga (doe-guh)

Doga involves you and your dog and engages both of you in a way that improves your relationship, eases stress, and still gives you a complete yoga workout. The hope of doga is that it helps resolve any dog behavioral issues stemming from stress and anxiety (eating the couch, jumping, barking, etc.). Typically speaking, if your dog is healthy enough to introduce a new form of exercise, isn’t on any prescription medication, or suffering from an ongoing disease, they are a good candidate for this form of doga. All you need is an open space, a mat, and a dog!

The Benefits of Doga

When you practice doga, you want to consider the benefits to your dog first. Fortunately, there are potentially several benefits for your dog even in doga’s simplest form.

  • Relaxation
  • Can improve physical and mental health
  • Bonding and socialization
  • Allows you to see how your dog is moving (a health check-in)

Doga Positions

The yoga positions for doga aren’t as varied as they are for human forms of yoga, as you will need to be your dog’s yoga partner. However, this may be a great way to enter into the practice with your animal yoga partner. Start small with the following poses and then see what else you can do. With better training techniques involved in your routine, you could have them doing downwards facing dog with you!

Seated Positions

If you’re in a seated yoga position, encourage your dog to come and sit beside you. Focus on your breathing, taking visible deep breaths and gracefully exhaling. Of course, you don’t have to exaggerate. Remain peaceful and watch as your pup becomes interested in what you’re doing. This may encourage your dog to reach a peaceful place, too–they may end up laying down in front of you.

Child’s Pose

Enter into a traditional child’s pose, toes touching and arms reaching over and in front of your head. Have your pup lay down facing you. Lower your face towards them and gently touch your nose against theirs. Just a note, be careful that your dog is comfortable with close contact–you don’t want any accidental bites to the nose.

Happy Baby

This doga pose is definitely more for your dog’s entertainment–and maybe they’ll even start to mimic you! Start in a ball on the floor with knees pulled up to your shoulders (you don’t have to bring them up that far, but keep them in line with your shoulders. Now reach to your feet and pull your legs apart. You can gently rock side to side for a back massage or enjoy stretch as you press down on your tailbone.

For your dog, they could do one of many things:

  • Rollover on their back
  • Sit and watch you
  • Walk away uninterested in what you are doing
  • Attempt to play with you, making you break the pose and show your pet a little love


The Uttanasana is another easy move that easily engages your dog. Bend down as to touch your toes and reach out to your dog. They will eventually understand that you bending down is their time to receive the loving pets they want. 

Downward Facing Dog Yoga is on the Way Up

Dogs provide a special kind of chaos in that their innocent charm, high energy, and need to interact pleasantly disrupt our practice with laughter, smiles, and cuddly sunshine. In other words, dogs help us live in the moment and they don’t judge us if we stumble at the simplest of yoga poses.