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Karen B. London
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The Floor is Common Ground
How has your use of the floor changed?
Stretching on my own is never going to happen!

Recently, I decided to stretch on my living room floor. Naturally, moments later there was a dog right beside me, sniffing my hair, pawing at my leg and generally expressing enthusiasm about joining in the fun. Maneuvering through a series of stretches is far more entertaining with a companion, and I never mind the company of dogs, but it did make me ponder how I use and share my floor.

In what ways do we give up on total floor access when we live with dogs? It can be tricky to stretch without wanted or unwanted participation. If you are interested in having your dog join in, then doga (yoga for dogs) may be for you. In doga classes, people and dogs work as partners in the practice of yoga, supporting each other in their poses. Many cities do not have doga classes, but the book Barking Buddha: Simple Soul Stretches for Yogi and Dogi can give human and dogs an introduction to it. Doga is a great example of the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach to sharing the floor with your dog.

There are other activities besides stretching that become more challenging due to the presence of dogs. Playing monopoly is easier on the coffee table than on the floor. Bending over to look under the couch for a lost item is no longer a solo activity, and a dog is bound to show up to participate. And, of course, kids are generally better off snacking at the table rather than taking their food with them while they play on the floor.

In what ways has the use of your own floor been changed by the presence of a dog?

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Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

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Submitted by Ken_Trulock | August 8 2011 |

That's easy. The floor is an invitation to play! No more exercises when the boys are around. They see stretching as a play bow and push ups are just good fun!

Even cleaning the floor becomes a game of chase with the vacuum cleaner or mop or broom.

If nothing else, it's turned our floors from utilitarian to playpen.

Submitted by Ruby C. | August 8 2011 |

My dog loves to try to wiggle under me while I am stretching - I have found that a plank pose is nearly impossible to hold when being wriggled under and licked by a playful pup! But I love the interruption, after all I think laughing has to be as good for me as stretching - why not combine the two?

Submitted by Jewel | August 9 2011 |

I try to go to my home office to stretch after running, but found the stretching to be near impossible with the 2 dogs trying to 'help'. I ended up ceding my exercise mat to them, and I stretch on the floor (luckily it's carpeted). Watching them wrestle on the mat is hysterical, and they seem to think they are getting away with something.

Submitted by eardog | August 10 2011 |

Karen! We love this post! Especially the photo!

And our entire family (including Theodore) got a kick out of it.

Often, I'll help my boyfriend stretch. It can be painful for him and it is NOT his favorite activity. So, Theo comes over and places one paw on his hand or arm to comfort him. It's the sweetest thing!

Usually though, if I have work to do on the floor, Theo cuddles up but gives me my space. But if I LIE DOWN on the floor then he thinks it's family nap hour! And he curls up and takes a snooze!

Submitted by Husky_b | August 11 2011 |

Too sweet! the picture is fun, and i love your article. Especially the mention of dog yoga was appreciated. thank you! Husky_b

Submitted by www.iowadogblog... | August 12 2011 |

My dogs change the use of my floor in many ways. When I'm stretching after a run, two boxer tongues treat me as a salt lick. If I'm doing yoga, Gertie likes to lean on whichever appendage is supporting my weight, making me topple over. Or she'll just treat my stretch as an invitation to sit in my lap. But I guess my dogs are just trying to give me an extra ab workout since these antics always get me laughing.

As far as other uses of the floor, my dogs are not exactly helpers. Wrapping presents in the presence of my canines? Fuggedaboutit! They can't resist walking right over the pristine sheet of paper, puncturing it with their nails so my gift ends up looking like it's been hen-pecked. Spreading out a newspaper on the floor? Same thing. Board games? Better to play these on a table.

Sometimes I get annoyed with my dogs' floor antics, but they just want to be involved in whatever I'm doing. And isn't that one of the reasons we love them?

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