updated - May 19, 2013 Sunday EDT
It’s a sign of the times when a yoga studio opens up on every street corner, but what about a yoga studio aimed toward a different demographic? The Orlando-based company, Woof Gang Bakery and Grooming, which started out as a gourmet pet treat bakery, stumbled onto Doga—that is, dog yoga.
Originally trying to boost profits, the company soon found grooming was a hands-on service that could pay a few more bills. As far as the massages, “we found those by accident,” says Paul Allen, CEO of the 29 unit franchise. According to Allen—and many dog owners and yoga enthusiasts—the idea of doggy wellness isn’t too far fetched. After all, the pet industry is a growing one, with so much of American society treating their animal counterparts like a part of the family. Like humans, dogs deserved to be pampered. A skilled groomer, says Allen, knows how to relax a dog through touch, and he claims the evidence is clear: the dogs enjoy it too. They certainly seem relaxed when you rub them behind the ears.
So can you teach an old dog new tricks? Or rather, do the dogs (and owners) even want to bother to learn? Allen surveyed a nearby yoga studio, asking if owners would be interested in practicing yoga with their dogs—part fitness, part relaxation, part bonding time—and he received a resounding yes. The studio advertised and twenty plus humans showed up, their dogs trailing closely behind.
But how hard is it for a four-legged animal to perform the moves associated with the ancient Japanese art of yoga? Talking with Allen, it sounds like obtaining skills is less of the point. Woof Gang Doga gives owners the chance to spend quality time with their dogs while simultaneously performing a healthy activity.
As Allen described the first session, dogs wandered around during a good portion of the class while their owners practiced yoga. During the last ten minutes, the dogs tried their best to perform a few simple stretches, as in sync with their owners as possible. It might just be a new form of dog babysitting, but either way, at $16 per person, the revenue is worth considering.
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