The RSPCA has expressed its approval as the Netherlands progresses towards banning puppy yoga, a practice the charity has long criticised for compromising dog welfare.

Puppy yoga, a trend where litters of puppies are brought into human yoga classes, has faced scrutiny from animal welfare groups. While organisers claim the practice helps socialise the puppies, the RSPCA argues it negatively impacts their welfare. Following Italy’s ban last month, the Netherlands appears poised to follow suit due to similar concerns.

Pieter Adema, the Netherlands’ Agriculture Minister, stated to Dutch newspaper Provinciale Zeeuwse Courant, “It serves no purpose. Puppies are at an early stage of their development, it is important for their behaviour later that they can now rest and sleep a lot. I want to say to people who signed up for these kinds of crazy practices: think again. Do you really want this?”

The RSPCA welcomed this development, hoping it would inspire other countries to also take action against practices detrimental to puppy welfare.

RSPCA’s Stand on Puppy Yoga

Esme Wheeler, dog welfare expert at the RSPCA, remarked, “We agree with Mr Adema that puppy yoga serves no purpose. If the Netherlands is to ban it, especially so soon after Italy’s ban, then it sends a strong message across the continent and the wider world that puppy yoga is not an acceptable activity for the dogs. Sadly, puppy yoga has gained more traction as time has gone on, with people thinking that it is ‘cute’ – but the puppies – sometimes younger than eight weeks – can be overwhelmed and frightened. It can have such a detrimental effect on their welfare, and we’re really worried the popularity of this trend is being fuelled by social media.”

Wheeler emphasised that true socialisation for puppies should be gradual and controlled, not the chaotic environment presented by puppy yoga. The RSPCA maintains that the practice does more harm than good to the young dogs, who may be underage as well as potentially unvaccinated.

UK Parliamentary Concerns and Public Appeal

In April, a UK parliamentary committee report raised concerns about puppy yoga, highlighting the potential health and wellbeing risks to underage and possibly unvaccinated puppies in such settings.

“Think again” is the message Esme Wheeler hopes to convey to those considering attending puppy yoga classes. “If you are invited to go to a puppy yoga class, think about the stress it will cause the puppies. We would say to anyone who wants to go to a puppy yoga class to give it a miss. A puppy-free yoga class will be much more relaxing, and you’ll be safe in the knowledge that no puppies are getting stressed out. If you really want to stroke some puppies, get in touch with your local RSPCA branch as they may need volunteers to help with animals!”

The RSPCA continues to advocate for animal welfare and hopes the actions taken by countries like Italy and the Netherlands will set a precedent for others. The charity also encourages the public to consider the impact of trends like puppy yoga on animal welfare and to support more ethical interactions with animals.