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puppy yoga investigation

Underage puppies, no water and deprived of sleep: Harmful practices of puppy yoga exposed

In some instances, puppies were taken away from their mother weeks before the recommended limit

With the spike in popularity of wellness influencers on social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram comes the rise of wellness fads. 10 years ago it was tanks of bottom-feeding fish nibbling away at the dead skin between your toes, now it’s mushroom tea and puppy yoga.

Despite the name, not much actual yoga happens in these sessions. Instead, attendees lay back and allow the puppies to wreak havoc, climbing and playing all over the team – all in the name of de-stressing. All participants leave the room relaxed and with a glow only spending an hour with adorable, fluffy puppies could give you. All participants, except one: the puppies.

A new investigation has found that the exercise trend which has continuously risen in popularity since its conception could actually be causing harm to the animals involved. Undercover footage taken by ITV at three different classes across the country saw puppies being deprived of water and sleep whilst being made to work up to three hours a day, leading to both the RSPCA and Kennel Club calling for the practice to be banned stating it is in breach of the Animal Welfare Act.

“No, no. It might make them pee more,” a yoga instructor in Essex responds when questioned why the puppies don’t have access to water during an hour long session, to which she is met with amused agreements from attendees.

The RSPCA’s Esme Wheeler tells ITV: “Dogs need constant access to water otherwise health [risks], and potentially fatalities, can occur quickly.

“We are really concerned by what we are seeing, especially in terms of health and welfare. There is a really high risk that these animals are experiencing distress and frustration.

“This is not the type of experience you want any young dog to be having.”

A man who is the breeder of one of the litters ITV saw admits the puppies have been working since they were six and a half weeks old. In England, breeders are required to keep dogs with their mother until a minimum of eight weeks of age.

Not only does separating the animals before this time cause destress to both the puppies and the mother but also highly increases the chance of the puppies contracting diseases.

Not only does separating the animals before this time cause destress to both the puppies and the mother but also highly increases the chance of the puppies contracting diseases.

The footage also saw puppies curled up asleep, desperately trying to seek refuge in the corner of the room. But with attendees paying up to £40 an hour for these classes, the puppies are often woken up and dragged back into the centre of the room to be interacted with, whether they like it or not.

Wheeler likened the practice to “torture” outlining how sleep deprivation could be extremely “damaging” to these animals, especially at such a young age, potentially leading to behavioural issues later in life.

“Puppies need huge amounts of sleep, they’re growing. Sleep deprivation is a form of torture and there’s no reason [not] to assume this is as damaging to these dogs.” Vets4Pets estimates that a puppy of eight weeks of age needs on average between 18-20 hours of sleep everyday.

But with the craze being so new and no sanctions in place to patrol it, its currently uncertain whether any laws are being broken. Either way, RSCPA and Kennel Club are agreed the practice should be banned, with animal rights activists branding it “damaging and irresponsible”.

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