puppy yoga – is it good for the dogs?

Girl lying on yoga mat has puppy sitting near face

The short answer is YES because of the incredible socialization they receive and the confidence they gain from being around a positive and calm environment like a yoga studio.

Like anything else where humans are involved, there is the potential for exploitation and harm coming to the puppies. iTV in the UK recently investigated.

Woman lying on yoga mat with puppy sitting near her face
Puppy doing what puppies do at a Yoga class

Excerpts from their investigation here:

In a world where influencers are continually looking for the latest social media trend to jump on it seemed that puppy yoga, the practice where young dogs roam around your yoga class, was a perfect fit.

On the face of it, the events provide an enticing mix of cute animals in a relaxing environment, creating images that are perfect for sharing on social media.

But an ITV News investigation offers a glimpse into a differing reality than those filtered Instagram videos might lead you to believe.

From Made in Chelsea to The Only Way is Essex, some of the top reality shows have attended these types of classes – with customers paying up to £40 a session. However there’s no suggestion anyone involved with those shows was aware of the potential impacts puppy yoga may have on the dogs taking part.

After months of going undercover at a number of puppy yoga studios, we found an array of basic welfare requirements, deemed necessary by animal welfare experts, were not being met.

Participants are sold the mental health benefits of these classes, whilst for the puppies they’re described as “really really good” for socialisation.

et having been shown evidence from our investigation, leading animal experts have slammed these classes as ‘incredibly concerning and worrying’ environments for puppies.

As many dog owners know the socialisation period of a puppy’s life is essential to how a puppy acts as it grows into adulthood. 

It’s one of puppy yoga’s biggest marketing techniques that the classes benefit the customers but also benefit the puppies. 

Classes vary depending on the location but most we attended started with ‘puppy time’ where the dogs would run around the room whilst interacting with customers.

But “this is the opposite to socialisation” the RSPCA told us.  

As part of our investigation, we were told repeatedly that it was good for a puppy’s socialisation to attend a class – claiming it helped with their “confidence” – the RSPCA disagree.

Esme Wheeler, science and policy officer for dog welfare and behaviour at the RSPCA said “this is entertainment, in my view, which is operating under the guise of socialisation. But this is not to the benefit of the dogs.” 

“There is nothing in that environment which I would consider to be beneficial to the health, the welfare or the behavioural lifelong development of these animals.” 

“Socialisation is about introducing a young animal to something in a way which is gradual calm, and they have the freedom to move away” 

Bill Lambert, Health, Welfare and Breeder Services Executive at the Kennel Club said “there’s no benefit to repeating the same scenario that perhaps a dog is never going to encounter again through the rest of its life.”

The classes we experienced varied greatly in terms of the environment the puppies were set to experience. 

We attended a ‘Puppy Yoga Essex’ class hosted by ‘The Bully Barn’ in Wickford with just a yoga teacher present in the room.

Staff only came in to clean up any mess the puppies had inevitably made.

The class in Essex was taking place in a small room – and it was hot to the point where they opened a window to cool the room down, so we questioned if the puppies had water. 

The yoga teacher taking the class responded with “oh no no, [it] might make them pee more”. 

Esme noted that not providing water is “a significant risk to dogs.”

“Dogs don’t have the capacity to store water in the same way that we do […] so they need constant access, otherwise health and potentially fatality can occur quite quickly.” 

We showed the RSPCA another class we attended organised by Puppy Yoga Liverpool where punters appeared in a studio alongside tiny cockerpoo puppies whilst music played in the background.

It’s pretty clear to Esme that “on an environmental level it’s incredibly loud, it’s incredibly bright. This is not a situation in which young animals are going to learn anything positive.” 

Whilst the puppies started out energetic, they quickly tired and began to fall asleep cornering themselves in one area of the studio – but staff at the class would persistently pick the pups up, leaving them unable to rest as they moved them around the room. 

We saw the same behaviour at a ‘Puppy Yoga Nottingham’ class where sleepy puppies were often woken.

“Sleep deprivation is a form of torture, and there’s no reason to assume that this won’t be as damaging to these dogs.” 

Esme noted that “this looks like an environment which has the potential to be incredibly distressing for these animals.”

“They’re constantly picked up, they don’t have the ability to exercise any choice or control in that situation.” 

The Kennel Club agreed that puppies “shouldn’t be moved and picked up at will and that this is really, really quite damaging for puppies, to actually deprive them from what is a completely natural behaviour”.

“They have to be able to make their own choices and sleep when they want to sleep and not be woken up and essentially forced to participate in an activity that’s completely unnatural for them.”

What to ask for

  1. How old are the puppies? The first 8 weeks of development are crucial to puppies development and they probably shouldn’t be separated away from their mother
  2. Do they have access to water? The studios can get warm and dogs don’t have a way to cool down so fresh water is needed by all dogs.
  3. How long are they at the studio? One session for an hour wouldn’t hurt but puppies who are in numerous classes throughout the day without enough food and water will be stressed.
  4. Do the puppies have a place to retreat if they want to? A class of puppies napping may not be what the studio wants but constantly being woke up isn’t what the puppies want and their needs should come first.

Ultimately, puppy yoga as a concept has incredible potential for socialization and building their confidence but care needs to be taken to avoid causing some long term issues when they get to their forever homes.

Shopping Cart
Register for our newsletter

Sign-up for Our Monthly Newsletter