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Down Dog, Please!

Share your yoga practice with your favorite pooch.

By Bonnie Monte

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."

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."

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Reader Comments


Great articles on pets...however, I was a little taken aback while reading the page to see an ad for Invisible Fence brand security system...? Seriously? I don't think shock collars fit into the value of non-harming...


Paul seems great and Gandhi's quote has always been cherished but I think it should be clarified that positive reinforcement has been one of the main methods of dog training in the US for the last 100 years.

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