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Puppies are banned from yoga classes

  

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ITALIAN animal welfare groups have welcomed a move by the country’s Ministry of Health to ban the inclusion of puppies in yoga classes.

 
A woman meditating beside her dog (Photo: cottonbro studio on Pexels)
   (Photo: cottonbro studio on Pexels)

To protect the health and safety of both animals and attendees, now only adult dogs will be allowed.

An article in The Guardian last year described the craze of puppy yoga as rising due to promotion by celebrities, who were “oblivious to the impact that it has on these incredibly young dogs.”

Whole litters of puppies were borrowed from breeders and brought in to join classes, roaming around while participants moved through poses. They were then picked up, petted, cuddled and passed around.

The classes are said to provide stress-relief for humans while improving the pups’ socialising skills.

RSPCA dog welfare specialist Esme Wheeler urged people not to take part, citing risks to the puppies, which might be as young as six weeks.

Esme added, “The very existence of these classes tells us a lot about British society’s commodification of animals.”

In some cases, kittens, rabbits and even goats have been used to engage with yoga participants.

In Italy, campaigners claimed that if puppy yoga “improves wellbeing,” it should be considered a type of “animal-assisted therapy,” which by law can only be carried out by fully-grown animals.

The health ministry tasked regional authorities with making checks to ensure classes involving puppies do not take place.

In a statement, Italy’s National Board for Animal Protection welcomed the decision.

It quoted dog expert Giusy D’Angelo as saying that puppy yoga was a “physically and mentally stressful experience” for puppies.

She also warned that participants risked becoming attached, leading them to adopt the animals.

“People are overtaken by a wave of emotion after experiencing sensations of wellbeing from the close proximity to the puppies...” (Photo: Karolina Kaboompics)
“People are overtaken by a wave of emotion
after experiencing sensations of wellbeing from
the close proximity to the puppies...”  
(Photo: Karolina Kaboompics)
   

“People are overtaken by a wave of emotion after experiencing sensations of wellbeing from the close proximity to the puppies,” Ms D’Angelo added.

“This can lead them to make a decision without really thinking through the implications and consequences.”

Ms D’Angelo said puppies were often not cared for properly during transit to and from classes, and might not be given water to drink.

Amity Neumeister, who runs the Zem yoga studio in Rome, tried hosting one session with pups.

“It was too chaotic,” she said. “We spent a lot of time chasing after them, cleaning up pee and poo.”

Francesco Di Turi, a manager at Puppy Yoga Official, which organised sessions at studios across Italy, defended the practice.

As well as claiming it was beneficial to those taking part, he warned that the jobs of 80 employees were at risk.

“There are many reasons why people do puppy yoga,” said Francesco. “Some might simply want contact with an animal because they don’t have one at home while there are others suffering from illnesses who find that one hour of practice really helps them to relax.”

Since the ban came into force three months ago, Puppy Yoga Official cancelled its full booking schedule. Working with adult dogs was “much more complex,” Francesco commented.

 
  In some cases, kittens, rabbits and even goats have been used to engage with yoga participants. (Photo: Erik Drost on Flickr)
   In some cases, kittens, rabbits and even goats
have been used to engage with yoga participants.
(Photo: Erik Drost on Flickr)

Animal rights groups demanded a ban after reports in the Italian media revealed alleged mistreatment of the puppies.

“This type of activity is detrimental to the dogs’ wellbeing and only brings financial advantages to those who run the classes,” Ms D’Angelo stated.

Piera Rosati, the President of Italy’s dog defence charity LNDC Animal Protection, said puppies were exploited for commercial purposes.

“Yoga, at least in theory, should not be just a practice of physical exercise, but also a spiritual one in search of harmony with the universe,” she said.

“This harmony and wellbeing are not granted to puppies who are used as objects to do business.”

The RSPCA agreed, stating “there is nothing in the environment which we would consider to be beneficial to these animals.”

Also known as “doga,” puppy yoga has become increasingly popular around the world. Supporters say that the presence of the animals enhances the feeling of calm which comes with the exercise.

The puppies roam free around studios and are there to provide cuddles rather than perform any yoga moves.

 


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