Sabrina J. Martin


So maybe you hear the word ‘yoga’ and you are already interested, or you hear ‘puppy’ and you can straight away imagine the furry cuteness running around wildly, climbing on your back, chewing on your ponytail and sneaking in between your legs as you do a ‘cat/cow’ posture.

It may be that your social media algorithm has launched the trend in your face as you peacefully browse the web and suddenly find yourself signing up for a class to experience that dopamine release that you get in presence of puppies… and here is my cue to tell you what it felt like for me as I joined a class in one of the two centers offering it in Oslo.

First the price: you will have to dig in your pockets as a one hour session cost between 499kr and 599kr, including 30 minutes of the most basic yoga poses and stretches ( and as having taught yoga for children, I guarantee it is even more basic than that), followed by 30 minutes of petting, picture taking and staring at some fluffs of balls old enough to leave their mothers.

Second, the websites assure you of the well-being of the dogs, a moderator or two are in the class to monitor the pupps. Sadly, no answer was received to my demand in interviewing the owners so I could not enquire on which kennel the dogs were from or how stress free was their journey back and forth to the centers on the weekends. I was told that the dogs at that particular center were there only for two consecutive days; a turnover of breeds taking place each weekend. 

The classes are on the weekend only, the puppies were to the amount of 7 for around 20 practicing adults, the classroom was full and warm, the music was relaxing as in usual use in yoga classes and encens was filling up the air. On the launch weekend of the classes, only 3 per days were set up but their success brought them to 5 sessions a day.

So here is the hick, the classes start at 10h30 and finish at 17h30, a minimum of 7 hours for that batch of puppies, swimming through around a hundred persons per day. I will let you do the maths but how can we justify the commercial use of those adorable creatures? 

The websites advertise the well being of the practice, no doubt, the joy of practicing with dogs and the benefits of socializing for our furry friends. During my session which was third of the day, the dogs were sleeping the entire hour in a corner of the room where there was less interaction, water and food and a blanket for them to snuggle on, and a slightly opened French door to get that much need encens free air. I did not pet any of them, how could I? They were sleeping and understandably so being so young. 

And there it is: as the trend started a year ago (2023), peaking thanks to social media, (if you are like me and practice yoga or pilates with YouTube, you have surely noticed the amount of PT* with their own cats and dogs running around ), I am sure that our pets being pets, due to us domesticating them many moons ago, have no issue whatsoever being around people, small or large groups, as long as they get their safe haven to retreat to.

But what happens when strangers enter your safe haven and from what I have witnessed in that class, petting relentlessly, as lovingly talking as they were to the weary small creatures, creating a shadow over them, monopolizing the space so no other yogis could even sit around to even just watch them?

Metaphorically speaking imagine a stranger or even a friend stroking your hair as you are in a much needed nap. I think you get my drift.

I have experienced the circuses back in the days, and petted wild animals as a child that surely didn’t need to be. I couldn’t help but question what drove us humans to such physical and emotional inputs. Here, we are talking of common pets, everyone present in that class had surely seen and petted a dog at least once before. So why the craze? And why commercialized under all the pretenses listed above? I am left puzzled on how long this trend will last and why does it feel like it benefits a few humans rather than our furry friends? 

No doubt our pets are fantastic stress relievers in our homes, but why not focus on what they already achieve, by being incredible herders, therapeutic in nursing homes and hospitals, helping the blinds and handicaps or as part of the police and military forces. Or in the least, seize the opportunity of that yoga hour to teach people how to respect their boundaries or that some of the money goes to a charity protecting them.

*PT: Personal trainer.