Does the thought of trudging through the mud and damp with your dog not appeal? As the weather gets colder, who can blame us for cringing at the thought of a dog walk.
To make it worse, the cold can make our joints feel a bit stiff, even in our canine friends.
Try these easy tips inside to get a good stretch and bond with your dog, taken to the next level of fun!
While visiting the vet is always your first port of call if your dog has unexplained stiffness or pain, complementary therapies can be a great way to spend some quality time with your fur friend.
In Dog Yoga, aka ‘Doga’, you and your dog take turns gently stretching in various positions, with a bit of doggy massage added in for a truly pawsome treat!
But seriously, spending time holding and stroking your dog has great benefits for you both, stimulating the bonding hormone oxytocin and calming the fight or flight response. Who wouldn’t benefit from some more chill time? And when you’re more ‘chill’, your dog feels it too. So, grab a yoga mat, comfy rug or blanket, and let’s get some good vibes rolling…
1. Easy seated breathing with your dog:
Sitting cross-legged on the floor, with your dog either on your lap or next to you, place one hand on your solar plexus (that’s a fancy word for the centre space just below your ribs) or resting on your leg and one hand on your dog.
Close your eyes, and with your mouth closed, breathe in for 3 counts, hold for 3 and exhale for 4. The trick is to exhale longer than you inhale. Repeat three more times. Ahhh, that’s better, much calmer. And your dog is too. Keep calm and doga on…
2. Squat and dog legs up/down:
Find your way up to your feet, pointing your feet & knees outward to right and left and squat as far down as you can without experiencing any pain. Too much? Put a couple of pillows or rolled up towel under your bum for support or sit on a chair with your dog between your legs, giving them a little stroke around the neck or placing your hands with palms together pushing your arms against your legs if in squat. Release and come back to your knees on the ground. Place your dog between your legs with their back facing you. Gently hold their body with both hands, then just under their front arms around the chest, lift them just a bit so they are standing fairly tall. Then release and hold gently around their stomach with both hands and lift them so they’re standing on their front legs. You’re getting there! That’s doga for your dog 😊. Bigger dogs may need to be ‘four paws on the floor’ though, and just get a scratch instead…always practice ahimsa = gentle movements in doga, no pain or suffering.
3. Tree pose with small dog in arm or larger seated next to you:
Find your way back up to standing tall, legs together. If you have a small dog, pick them up and gently hug them with both arms on your chest area, supporting their bottom (always make sure they are secure). Now, find a focal point ahead of you, and slowly bring up one leg (this takes balance) and turn your knee outwards so that you can rest the bottom of your foot against your opposite leg inside calf or inside thigh (not on knee). Stay for as long as you can while taking nice, relaxed breaths. Large dog? Have them sit next to your standing tall leg and give them a cuddle with one hand during the pose and raise your opposite arm to the sky for balance.
Great job! Now that you’ve used your muscles and your dog has too, it’s time to wind down for some mutt massage time…
Find your way back to seated or kneeling position and get your dog to lay on your lap or in front of you.
Start massaging your dog by using both of your hands with flat palms, stroking from the top of the head down the back a few times, never fully removing hands at any one time (keep the movements smooth and flowing). Appy light pressure always; no more than a half kilo of pressure for a little dog and 1-2 kilos for medium or large breeds. You can practice this level of pressure by pressing both your hands palms down on a scale.
Now, take one hand with flat fingers and palms and stroke from the top of the nose across the top of the head. Repeat three times.
Next, with flat palms rub in little circles gently at the place where their neck joins their shoulder (not an easy place for a dog to reach on their own) and follow this with flat palm strokes down the front legs. Now take a few moments to rub with flat palms little circles on the tops of the feet (you can do one toe at a time) and then stroke long flat palm movements back up the leg towards the heart.
Repeat on back legs and paws, taking care if there is any arthritis or pain to avoid this area. If this is new pain, see your vet for a check-up.
Finally, place your flat palms so that your thumb nails are touching making a ‘V’ shape, and make little circles with each thumb down each side of the spine (refrain from putting any pressure on the spine or any bony joints) from the neck down to the pelvis. First do the right side next to the spine from neck down and then left.
Finish with gentle flat palm strokes from the top of the head all the way down the back.