Episode 26: Why You and Your Dog will Love DOGA with Barbara Rogina

Corey McCusker  00:03
Hello dog lovers, and welcome to Muttz with Mannerz™ Canine Training Academy Podcast, where we’ll share dog training tips and educational information to help you raise your pup, young or old, so they can be a loving part of your family and your community for life. I’m your host, Corey McCusker, Canine Coach and today I’m thrilled to have with me my good friend, Barbara Rogina, Canine Coach and also one of our team members at Muttz with Mannerz™. So let me tell you a bit about Barbara. Barbara brings another dynamic to our team as she is a teacher and a trainer of both humans and canines. Barbara has been teaching dog obedience classes for the past 10 years with Muttz with Mannerz™, with a focus on puppy manners, and some fun classes – which you’ll hear about one today. So, Fun with Scenting and Fun with Agility, are two of the classes that she teaches. She is also a yoga instructor, qualified to teach various types of yoga, and Barbara has expanded her knowledge of pet care in her role as a part-time receptionist at the Stouffille Vet Clinic. Barbara, like so many of the Muttz with Mannerz™ team, believes in giving back and is a member of the St. John Ambulance Dog Therapy Program, where she dedicates many hours visiting hospitals, retirement homes and high schools with her Hunter, her four-legged son. Hunter’s calm, kind, enthusiastic personality brings joy to all he meets. Barb just adopted another boy from Speaking of Dogs, Baxter, who is an adorable miniature poodle with a feisty personality, who we know will be a future star on our team. Barbara continues educating herself by taking courses and training in pet care. Barbara, you have taken so many courses. And she’s taken an introduction to acupressure for small animals and just completed a dog massage course to expand her knowledge on what she delivers. We are excited that she offers the programs such as Fun with Scent Detection, and Doga – where that is yoga with your dog. And that is what we want to share with you today, the benefits and the fun you can have with your dog while you do yoga. At Muttz with Mannerz™,  our goal is to enrich the lives at both ends of the leash. And today, we want to share a class that we know will do that. So hello, Barbara.

Barbara Rogina  02:26
Hi there.

Corey McCusker  02:29
So let’s talk about what Doga is. And actually we just finished a class this Saturday just passed. So we introduced the Doga a couple of years ago. And I’m not sure if someone founded it or just came about for those dog lovers that like to do yoga too and they want it to combine the two. For those that aren’t familiar with yoga, and maybe you’re interested but if they’re not interested, we definitely will get them interested. Can you share how you created your program? 

Barbara Rogina  02:59
Certainly. So actually, Doga means yoga with your dog. It was started in 2001, or it might be 2002, by a yoga teacher named Suzi Teitelman, and has grown in popularity. So dog owners who have attended Doga classes see it as a fun way to participate in a yoga class, while also spending time with their dog and enjoying one another’s presence. The Doga itself has been taught in so many different ways. Sometimes the dog is used as an accessory in various yoga poses. And in other classes, the focus is actually on practicing yoga while your dog is watching. And then sometimes hopefully, your dog chooses to participate in the same yoga pose that you are working on. So if you’re already a yoga student, and you watch your dog stretch, you may have noticed that there are similarities between various yoga poses and the stretches that your dog does automatically. So things like, think about it, the bow, the arching of the back, stretching of the back legs, the front legs. So they do a lot of poses that we are familiar with. So what we’ve done in our Doga classes is we do a combination of very gentle yoga poses, breathing exercises for yourself and your dog, as well as gentle massage work on your dog. My focus as a yoga instructor is to assist the owner in gentle stretching exercises based on their flexibility and body awareness. I also like to focus on guiding them in breathing exercises to keep them in the moment. Too many times we find that we’re doing something but mentally we’re somewhere else. So we want to do some breathing exercises to help guide them to stay in the moment. To assist the dog in relaxing, we also offer some massage moves that are demonstrated and then the owner performs them on their own dog.

Corey McCusker  05:04
Yeah, that’s great. I know that when Skye and I take the Doga class, Skye is very high energy, I’ve talked about her in many different podcasts. But she’s like, an agility super dog, and she’s at the daycare. It’s amazing when you talk about, you know, getting the dog to kind of just relax and the massage, she totally just relaxes. So a question, is Doga for everyone? What if someone isn’t that flexible or hasn’t done yoga before? Can anyone do it? And what about the dogs? Won’t they be barking and be too excited?

Barbara Rogina  05:40
Yes. So when you think about it, everybody’s body is different from one another. And even if the owner has never done yoga in the past, the poses are so gentle and slow, they should have no difficulty in following. The person does the pose in a fashion that matches their body needs and their capability. For every station, the owner is offered a choice of either a yoga mat, so they can practice right directly on the floor, or they can have a small stool, or a chair, whatever is most comfortable for the owner. And often owners will transition from one thing to another, a chair or a stool, or the floor, depending on the pose and their flexibility. So the focus is really on the owner, the individual, as opposed to what are the rest of the people doing in the class. The dogs are kept on leash all the time. So they don’t really venture that far. And of course, dogs are dogs. So yes, they do bark. But after a while, they do settle down and chill beside their owner. 

Corey McCusker  06:49
Yeah, and you mentioned that, or I mentioned that you’re part of the Therapy Dog Program. And we know that dogs can really pick up on the energy. And I think that when the owners start to relax, when we’re doing the breathing and everything else, that’s where the dog does really settle down and chill right beside their owner because our energies really change. So let’s talk about benefits. So what are the benefits of Doga?

Barbara Rogina  07:12
You know, there’s so many benefits to Doga, and not just to the owner, but also to the dog. So the first thing is once the owner has relaxed and is not so worried about their dog barking and embarrassing them, then they start enjoying themselves. They can then follow with the yoga poses, they can stretch, relax, and get reacquainted with their dog. And by reacquainted, we spend some time where the owner, once they’ve done some breathing exercises to help them be in the moment – to relax – we then guide the person to actually touch their dog, they can feel all over their dogs, speak softly and quietly to them. It really aids in the bonding experience. And like you’ve said yourself, so dogs really feel the emotion and the emotional state you’re in. So when you can relax, so can they. But apart from that, other benefits, is it does help improve your flexibility and being in the moment. It helps improve the dog’s circulation. It definitely helps in relaxation, and stress relief for both you and your dog. So this is often good for soothing anxious dogs. Because when you’re relaxed, your dog is relaxed. Especially with that bond you build. And one of the things we tend to forget, but happens every class is that it can lead to so much laughter and chuckles especially when the dogs decided that they want to participate in the same yoga pose you’re doing. And they don’t mind stepping on you to show you that they can do the pose.

Corey McCusker  08:47
It’s funny because when we were in the Doga classes, Skye usually is so relaxed, and she is just chilling there. But sometimes she’ll just get this burst of energy and she rolls on her back with her feet in the air. And then she makes these noises and it is really funny. It definitely brings out a smile and some laughter for sure. So you talked about, you adapt. And I think that’s where you say is like you set up each of the stations, we’ll call them that’s where we go to our mat, and you’re adapting the yoga session to their needs. So I can picture the yoga mat, the chair, the stool, and some of that, can you give us a visual of what a Doga class would look like and how long it would be? What does an owner have to bring other than their dog?

Barbara Rogina  09:37
Okay, certainly. So the class is 60 minutes, currently with a maximum class size of five. So there would be five places laid out in the room. All the dogs are required to be both dog and people-friendly, and non-aggressive, as well as be current in their vaccinations as per the requirements by Muttz with Mannerz™. So for your dog, bring a five or six-foot non-retractable leash and treats that they like. We also ask that before you enter the facility that you make sure your dog does its business outside. Sometimes the dogs, if they don’t do their business outside, part way in your class, they’re going to be giving you the look and saying I need to go now. So this will make it easier for both of you. Every space that we have, will have a yoga mat, a small stool, chair, bolster, blanket, yoga blocks and a sandbag. You can bring your own yoga mat if you prefer. You should wear comfortable and loose clothing and socks just in case you get cold. And the reason for that is the room temperature is actually set to make the dogs comfortable. So in the summertime, sometimes it’s a bit cooler because the dogs, we wouldn’t want them to get uncomfortable. So you bring some socks or something warm to keep you warm when you’re doing your poses.

Corey McCusker  10:58
Yeah, that’s great. And yes, because it is all about the dogs. No, it’s about the humans too. So okay, are there any risk of Doga or a reason a dog or owner shouldn’t do it?

Barbara Rogina  11:11
Well, as with any exercises, you should always consult your doctor if you’re concerned for any health reason, or have reasons regarding your ability to participate. We will be asking you to sign a waiver indicating that you are healthy and have no injury that could cause you to be in pain, or that might be aggravated with your yoga poses. As mentioned earlier, your dog must be friendly and non-aggressive to both people and other dogs. Sometimes the dogs may need a few Doga classes before they settle down and understand what’s expected of them. And other dogs, their very first class, are so chill, they just enjoy and fall asleep.

Corey McCusker  11:50
Exactly. And just to make sure that people listening understand too is we are not doing like very advanced yoga poses or anything like that, we’re really doing it at a beginner level. So if you’re unsure, I mean, that’s where Barbara said check with your doctor too, but even if you want to just let us know. If you even have a certain, you know, sore shoulder or something like that just point it out beforehand, because you can adapt that for everyone too. And that’s why I think we use the stool and the chairs because some people just lying on the mat is not an easy thing because you might have, like me, a sore knee or sore hips or whatever too. 

Corey McCusker  12:32
Barbara, I want to thank you for joining me today and sharing your knowledge about Doga. We kind of have given you an idea of what it is about. And I would definitely suggest for anybody that has a dog that you come out and try one of our classes, we usually have one a month. And if you have questions, you can definitely get in touch with us. And I would love to have Barb back on another podcast because I want to dive into the dog massage because she keeps educating herself. So I keep saying, ‘Come back and tell us more’. I think people need to know about the dog massage because I think it’s beneficial for many pups and many ages and  stages of the pups. And so if you’re looking for more information about Barbara and Muttz with Mannerz™ classes, you can visit our website at www.muttzwithmannerz.com. It’s also provided in the show notes. If you are interested in future podcasts or reading our blogs, you can go visit our website. And if we haven’t covered a certain topic that you would like us to cover, you can email us at info@muttzwithmannerz.com. So Barb, I want to thank you for taking the time out of your very busy schedule for joining us and sharing Doga. I think you love teaching it. I love going to it. And I think anyone that has attended has definitely loved it. So thanks, Barb, for sharing that with us today.

Barbara Rogina  13:59
You’re welcome. Have a great day.

Corey McCusker  14:01
Yeah. And just at Muttz our goal is to enrich the lives at both into the leash. And we’re all about you and your dog and really strengthening that bond. So thanks for listening today. And have a great day everyone.

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