Puppy Love Yoga is putting the dog in downward

Participants in a recent class at Puppy Love Yoga at Greenwood and Gerrard get up close with a German Shepherd puppy. Photo by Jade Acuña.

By Jade Acuña

Six German Shepherd puppies wandered around the yoga mats as the instructor asked the class to move into the Downward Dog position. The class laughed in amusement while the puppies whined for attention and curled up at their feet.

Puppy Love Yoga is a family business run by Chad Barclay and his wife Sarah Carver, which specializes in teaching puppies how to socialize with people while providing a unique yoga experience.

Their son Cooper and daughter Hazel actively participate in each session, passing around the puppies to different individuals in the class to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to spend some time with them.

“I love that it’s a business where everybody wins. The puppies win – they get to socialize, and the people have such a great experience too,” Carver said.

Located at Gerard Street East and Greenwood Avenue, the studio offers three one-hour classes every Sunday.

Each session is made up of 45-50 minutes of yoga exercises while puppies wander around the room and 10-15 minutes at the end of each session to cuddle the puppies.

Barclay said he was inspired to start the studio after his family had attended a puppy yoga class and decided to bring the concept to the east end of Toronto.

Carver said that she felt like she was “floating on cloud nine” for days after attending the class,and thought that it would be beneficial to bring the experience to east Toronto. Since first opening their doors on Feb. 2, 2019, Puppy Love Yoga has been bringing in different breeds of puppies on a weekly basis. The puppies are brought in from local breeders every week, occasionally with the same dogs showcased two weeks in a row.

“There’s a window for puppies when they’re at a good age to come and do this,” Barclay said. “For the puppies it’s about socialization, so we try to get puppies in that are at an age where socialization is good for them.”

For Francine Saliba, Sunday’s class was an opportunity to socialize her seven-week-old German Shepherd puppies with the students. She has been breeding the dogs selectively for more than 23 years.

“I find that German Shepherds are one of the greatest dogs to own, but I mainly breed them to be family pets,” Saliba said. “German Shepherds back in the 1990s had a very bad name for them, and then I made it my dedication that I would breed them to be more gentle.”

Part of the process for Saliba involved training them to be family-oriented and social. As the owner of Eden Acres Kennels, she has been training German Shepherds carefully and breeding selectively to ensure the best possible results.

Bringing the puppies to the studio was an important part of teaching them how to socialize with others.

“We’ve had some classes where none of the puppies are available for adoption, and some of them where some of them are,” Carver said. “In this class all of them were up for adoption.”

In the future, Barclay and Carver hope to have fundraisers to sponsor rescue dogs from the Toronto Humane society.

For more information on Puppy Love Yoga  and to register for classes, please visit https://puppyloveyoga.com or email puppyloveyogatoronto@gmail.com

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