Yoga and Animals: Use Yoga for Gentler Training Methods

Yoga and animals have a lot in common. For one thing, both need loving-kindness to be effective. Learn how to incorporate your yoga practice into animal training.

Back in the 1970s, when Paul Owens was living in India and studying yoga, he had an epiphany. As he watched his neighbors struggle to control their new dog’s barking, he realized that their approach—scolding and punishment—was ineffective. That’s when Owens got the idea to incorporate the lessons of his yoga practice into his approach to dog training, in part inspired by Gandhi’s observation that “the greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

See also How To Practice Doga: Yoga with Dogs

Now Owens, “the Original Dog Whisperer,” uses a method he calls Raise with Praise, which emphasizes positive reinforcement and gentleness, rather than intimidation—no prong or choke collars allowed. “I remind people not to do anything to their dog that they wouldn’t do to their children, themselves, or their grandparents,” he says.

Besides offering private training sessions, Owens runs a nonprofit group in Los Angeles that operates Paws for Peace. Inner-city kids learn his gentle methods as they train dogs from animal shelters. The dogs are easier to place in adoptive homes, and the kids learn the power of compassion. Owens encourages the children to focus on their breathing before they begin a session. “If you’re not in control of yourself, you can’t be in control of your dog.”

Learn more about yoga and animals with The Surprising Benefits of Chanting for Stressed Pets