Playing with puppies is a cute idea, but have you ever thought about the reality behind the romance of puppy yoga?
In a fast paced stress driven world we are all looking to indulge in some self care and to feel more relaxed. We search enthusiastically for whichever trend will give us that release, by combining the traditional with something a little bit different.
It’s no secret that being around dogs or pets has so many health benefits, including slowing our heart rate and decreasing cortisol. And don’t even get me started on puppies and all that delicious oxytocin release we get, just by looking at them!
I can totally understand how someone came up with the following brainwave:
Puppies = feeling good
Yoga = feeling great
Puppies + Yoga = Amazing!
I mean it’s every person's dream to chill out and relax with puppies all over the floor in a romanticised vision of bliss! But let’s just take a second to look at the reality. The practice of puppy yoga was always a bit concerning for me and here’s why:
Not everyone is skilled at reading canine body language or skilled in handling dogs in the right way to give the dog confidence.
Where is mum? These puppies seem very young!
How many classes are they used in per day?
Where do they get all the puppies from as each litter gets too big?
Who’s cleaning up the poo and mopping the wee? Puppies do a lot of that.
Puppies bite, how are the attendees coping with that?
Are they generally scared and also exhausted?
I had so many questions, and was not surprised to see ITV News run a segment on it where so many concerns were answered and backed up with video footage. The head of the British Veterinary Association along with the PDSA was so disturbed by it that they were present in talks with the government to ban these classes.
In the footage taken of several classes, puppies at only six weeks old were taken from their mother for up to three hours or more. They were shown tired and desperately trying to get space from the people to sleep with their siblings in the corner of the room. Sadly hands still came and grabbed at them as though they were gym equipment, they were then carried off to be mauled and played with, sometimes being dropped as they wriggled to get away. They were also refused water, and when the undercover reporter asked why they didn’t have any, they were told the puppies would wee more. They were also told the puppies were used from 6 weeks until they got too big, and only away from mum for three hours. I’m sorry, what!? I literally have no words for this and am relieved that there is ongoing further investigation.
It’s no different to seeing baby tigers taken away from their mum to entertain the public. Puppies need their mums for as long as possible to grow, develop and learn from her, but above all the safeness they feel encourages long term confidence. Being taken away at 6 weeks to go to work for hours is not socialisation, it's trauma.
I don’t know what the breeding criteria is for this industry, but for the puppies themselves Puppy Yoga is definitely not Zen!
That being said, yoga with your own dog, highly recommended. There is nothing I love more than playing some gentle meditation music and practising yoga while my three hairy hounds lie in slumbering bliss around the room. If you can take your dog to a specialised yoga or meditation class then definitely give it a try.