The Ministry of Health of Italy has banned the use of puppies in yoga classes due to animal welfare concerns. Puppy yoga involves puppies being around the yoga room, sometimes freely or sometimes involved in certain poses, but investigations have exposed several problems. In consequence, the ministry placed the use of animals for yoga, as well as other exercise classes, under the Animal Assisted Interventions Act, meaning they are considered “animal-assisted therapy” animals, and therefore only adult dogs are allowed.

The animal rights charity LNDC (National League for the Defence of Dogs) pointed out that the puppies were taken from breeders for a few hours and then returned. LNDC filed a complaint with the Health Ministry saying the dogs were often transported in small boxes or even plastic bags and were not given food or water for several hours before to prevent them defecate or urinating in the room.

Giusy D’Angelo, an expert on Italy’s National Board for Animal Protection, said that besides the classes being a “physically and mentally stressful experience” for the dogs, “people are overtaken by a wave of emotion after experiencing sensations of well-being from the proximity to the puppies. This would lead to rushed adoptions without careful consideration of what looking after a dog entails, in turn leading to an increased abandonment rate.

Puppy yoga is a growing trend in several countries. Recently, the animal protection group Husky Rescue Ireland raised concerns over a new Puppy Yoga trend that has arrived in Ireland and says they are worried about the welfare of the dogs. A spokeswoman for the Husky Rescue Ireland wrote on social media, “Apparently, Doggy Yoga is coming to Dublin, with puppies from ethical breeders. Please know this is not right, puppies should not be used as a marketing tool or a piece of equipment. Not to mention the fallout of this issue will put more pressure on pounds and rescues who are already full and struggling to stay open. Please remember to adopt, don’t shop, avoid this if it does come, spread the word, and make sure to read the responses in the photos.”

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.