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Through acts of dog training, human yoga, meditation, gentle massage, and stretching, Doga practitioners seek to achieve a positive attachment and a greater harmony with their dogs. Canine acupuncture and chanting are also known to take place within the occasional Doga routine.
There are generally two doga philosophies: the dog is used as an object or the dog is a partner. The former approach originates from the USA and the latter from Canada. In Doga, owners and their pet dogs work as one unit - the owners help their dogs facilitate different poses and, in some cases, the pets are used as props or instruments while the masters perfect their poses. This is seen to be a unique way of practising non-traditional yoga and training, while exploring power play dynamics.
The second Doga philosophy places the dog as a yoga partner in which routines are simultaneously accomplished by human and dog. The person does downward dog and so too does their canine partner. Asanas unravel in a synchronised choreography. The Doga practice serves to create a secure attachment between owner and dog, facilitate training, develop impulse control, relaxation, and meditation. The Canadian version of Doga explores and develops social learning through imitation and cognition. This philosophy sees the dog as an integral partner to the routine.
Doga has received some criticism from the yoga community. Doga classes have been labelled inappropriate for trivializing the sacred practice by turning it into a "fad", for their lax policies on teacher certification, and for the dogs' interference in participants' concentration and relaxation when they are not properly trained to cooperate.
The UK charity Dogs Trust have also warned that unsupervised Doga may impact the welfare of the dogs, stating: "It is important to remember that dogs can't tell us when they have had enough. Doga, and any variation of it, should always be carried out under the watchful eye of trained professionals".
Doga enthusiasts have argued that the practice emphasizes yoga's focus on union between beings, helps establish a pack mentality, strengthens the bond between owner and pet, and can provide additional weight resistance thereby intensifying one's yoga ritual. Doga can purportedly also provide a great source of entertainment for dog-friendly class members.
Benefits to Doga:
- it can be relaxing for the dog and the owner
- can be helpful to injured dogs
- provides a good exercise for obese or elderly dogs
- build a better bond between owner and pet
- allows owners to teach their dogs impulse control
- teach humans patience and consistency
- allows people to disconnect and relax
- allows people to laugh and enjoy their dog
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