AN animal lover has developed a form of dog yoga to help rehabilitate rescued hounds.

Animal behaviourist, Jo-Rosie Haffenden, 30, who works at School4Dogs which has bases in Brighton, Hailsham and Worthing, started Real Dog Yoga after adopting her own rescued pitbull.

Archie was bred by members of a dog fighting ring who cut off his ears.

Ms Haffenden, from Hailsham, said: “Dogs have certain postures, for example holding a paw up and stretching out in a bow that self-soothes and reduces heart rate and blood pressure.

“They also have expressions they use as appeasement gestures – they lick their noses and blink their eyes.”

Archie’s mistreatment was traumatic and caused him to be nervous around people and other animals. But thanks to the therapy provided by dog yoga, he now lives happily in a household with children and other pets.

Real Dog Yoga differs from Doga, popularised in TV programmes such as Made In Chelsea, which involves holding the animal in positions while the participant does yoga.

Ms Haffenden said: “As a dog behaviourist, and as an industry, we massively frown upon Doga because it’s so forceful.

“The dog doesn't have any option as to what they do, whereas with Real Dog Yoga part of the process of teaching dogs specific postures and expressions is that we do it in a way where there is no force.”

At School4Dogs she runs the yoga classes which include 30 postures, 15 expressions and 10 actions in a half-day course using a method known as clicker training.

The school also runs dog yoga instructor workshops that will often match participants with rescued dogs.

Ms Haffenden said: “It’s much nicer to work with rescued dogs because then you are helping them to get a home as well.”

After being approached by vets to provide a manual, Ms Haffenden decided to write a book, The Real Dog Yoga, which is due to be released this month.


The origins of yoga come from the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India more than 5,000 years ago. The word yoga was first mentioned in the sacred texts, the Rig Veda.

Yoga was refined and developed by the Brahmans and Rishis and they documented their practices and beliefs in a number of different scriptures.

The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word yuj, which means “to unify”.

Yoga is now popular all over the world. In 2012 a study indicated 8.7% of adults in the US alone practice yoga.