Have your child try “doga,” a style of yoga done with a pet dog. She’ll have fun, exercise, and get to relax a little bit, as will your pup! Yoga is an easy introduction to exercise, and doing yoga with a trusted pet is a great way to get kids who aren't into sports interested in health and fitness.
Explain to your child that yoga is a system of postures and breathing that helps people stretch, exercise and relax. Dog yoga, or “doga,” is regular yoga but with the addition of stretches and petting for your dog. Since dogs are pack animals, they enjoy doing doga with “their” humans!
Your child should do doga with her own dog or another calm, very familiar dog. Have your child set up a yoga mat for herself in a comfortable area.
Your child can help her dog warm up with massage. Dog massage and petting is part of doga.
Doga focuses on petting, which is relaxing for both humans and dogs, but it is also about helping a dog stretch. Have your child do some traditional yoga poses and stretches while petting the dog or helping the dog stretch too. For example, your child can sit or kneel and bend over the dog and gently helping the dog stretch out. Make sure she moves slowly and never pulls the dog into an uncomfortable position.
Here are some other doga poses and ideas for your child:
Do a “warrior” yoga pose: Stand with one leg bent and the other leg straight, while balancing a small dog on her thigh.
Sit or kneel behind the dog and lift the dog onto its back legs, with front paws stretched into the air. Some call this the “upward paw pose.”
Do a “downward-facing dog” pose: Have your child make an upside-down V shape with her hands and feet on the mat and bottom in the air, with the dog underneath her.
Once she’s mastered all the different poses, she can let her creativity flow and come up with doga poses of her own! Dogs like the petting and bonding of doga, and kids get fun and relaxation—a win-win activity!
Beth Levin has an M.A. in Curriculum and Education from Columbia University Teachers College. She has written educational activities for Macmillan/McGraw-Hill and Renaissance Learning publishers. She has a substitute teaching credential for grades K-12 in Oregon, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.