Italy Has Banned ‘Puppy Yoga’

Investigations have revealed mistreatment of puppies in some yoga studios


3 Minutes Read

Puppy yoga Italy has banned puppy yoga to protect puppies' welfare (stock image) - Media Credit: frederic REGLAIN / Alamy Stock Photo

Italy has banned the use of puppies in yoga classes on animal welfare grounds. 

The country’s health ministry introduced the ban after an investigation in March by Italian news show Striscia la Notizia. It alleged that several yoga studios were mistreating puppies and keeping them in pens in between classes.

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Following the investigation, Italian animal rights group LNDC filed a complaint with authorities, saying that puppies were treated “as if they were gymnastics tools.” Boxes and plastic bags were reportedly used for transporting puppies, who were made to spend hours at a time in multiple yoga sessions. LNDC alleges they were also deprived of food and water to prevent them “doing their business” in studios.

Under the new law, adult dogs can still be used in yoga classes and other “animal assisted” activities.

A growing trend

Sleeping puppy
demanescale – Puppies need up to 20 hours of sleep a day

Doing yoga with dogs has been around for a while, with “doga” – doing yoga with your own dog – becoming popular throughout the 2010s. Puppy yoga is a newer trend that is supposed to boost the sense of well-being of the human participants. Puppies roam around the studio and can be played with or cuddled by yogis.

Some yoga venues donate some of the proceeds from classes to animal shelters or use them as adoption events.

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But LNDC’s President Piera Rosati described puppy yoga as “exploitation” of the animals “for commercial purposes.” She said it “takes no account of the well-being and psychophysical health of creatures who are still too fragile to be treated in this way.”

Giusy D’Angelo from Italy’s national board for animal protection said the practice could also lead to people impulsively buying puppies. “It can lead them to make a decision without really considering the implications,” she said.

A widespread problem

Italy is not the only place where puppy yoga has been revealed as unethical. In 2023, an ITV investigation documented puppies at UK yoga studios as young as six weeks old being worked for hours at a time with no access to water or sleep.

Puppy yoga organizers said the classes are good for the puppies’ socialization. The RSPCA disputed this, saying there was nothing in the environment that would benefit the health, welfare, or behavioral development of the puppies. Though MPs heard evidence about why puppy yoga should be banned, it is still legal in the UK.

Other animals including kittens, baby goats, and rabbits have been used in yoga classes.

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