The Primal Blog

YES! YOUR DOGS NEEDS TRAINING & NO! YOU SHOULDN'T WAIT.

All to often we come across people contemplating the need of training for their dog(s). The truth is YES! Your dog needs training and yes! You definitely need to find training from a professional dog trainer (not Google, YouTube or your uncle that has big dogs and watches Cesar Millan). The matter of training for your dog should not depend on the thought process of if you think your dog needs training or not, but thought about more in the context of where they're going to go for training. Just as you would research which school to send your children to, you should do the same with your dog. Your dogs need to have both mental and physical exercise everyday and in a way that fits them best. 

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E-collar, Prong Collars & Muzzles

E-collars are such a taboo topic among many animal lovers, along with prong collars and muzzles. My stance is that it is your job as your dog’s owner to know what tools and methods are best for you and your dog. Every tool can be abused and misused. Dogs have sustained injuries from the improper use of e-collars, prong collars, nylon collars, leather collars, harnesses, head halters and the list goes on. Realize that abuse with training tools occurs when an owner decides to be neglectful and abusive. Lobster does in fact wear an e-collar, he is the only one of my dogs who does and he is by far the best behaved and best trained dog I have. And honestly, I have a better relationship with him because of the e-collar. So here is the story of how I have arrived at e-collar training with Lobster and why I refuse to let anyone tell me what is best for my dog just because they do not understand or it makes them feel uncomfortable.  

 

When I first adopted Lobster it was clear that either in his previous home or in his time at the shelter, he was the boss. Don’t get me wrong, Lobster was and always has been very affectionate and sweet and playful, but, when it came time to be crated or told to not chew on this, or get down from there – basically any effort by me to deviate his behavior away from something he was not supposed to be doing, he would snap at me. His issue appeared to be only with establishing dominance with me, with my dogs and my cats he is a total push over and constantly submissive and avoidant at the first sign of conflict. Of course, I was surprised when I first tried to crate him by putting his food in his crate then slowly trying to guide him in with his collar, as soon as I would touch his collar and attempt to navigate him he would snap at my hand/arm/wrist. So naturally being taken a bit back by the situation, I backed down and backed away from him, figuring he was probably stressed out from everything that had transpired in the last few days. Going from the rescue in New York, to being transported from NY to Philly by one person, then from Philly to Michigan by another person, then driven from Michigan to Minnesota with me. In the following weeks I began to realize that Lobster had some deeper issues with aggression in relation to feeling any form of dominance from a person. To be put plainly; Lobster thought he was tough shit and in charge.

 

Over the next few weeks it was clear some proactive steps would have to be taken to ensure I was going to be able to manage Lobster and be safe in the process. I refuse to have a dog in my home that thinks he can do whatever he wants, that is not behavior I support and it is also behavior I cannot have with four bully breed dogs. As Mike (head trainer of Primal Canine) has put it, dogs quickly and easily pick up bad habits and bad behavior from other dogs. Adding Lobster to my pack has added another dimension of dynamic, making it even more essential that I establish rules and boundries – crate rotation, crating when I am not home, crating my dogs while I sleep, not allowing them on furniture etc. Initially I said I did not want to do e-collar training with Lobster, I wanted to try everything else possible and spend some more time forming a bond with him in hopes he would be more responsive to direction from me when we had a solid relationship. So we tried multiple things to ease then tension of crating like treats, and kongs and chew dogs and lots of praise, and instead grabbing his collar to direct him or pull him off the couch I tried having him use a drag leash so I could direct him that way. Lobster eventually became wise to bribery with treats, toys, food and would persist with whatever undesirable thing he was doing. Same with the drag leash, at first it helped to not directly grab him by his collar but then if I was across the room, coming over and grabbing the leash became as tense. He started becoming more confident in trying to bite me and small snaps at my hand eventually manifested into harder bites, and even a few attempts to get at my face that thankfully I was able to move away from in time. But I wasn’t ready to give up and knew no matter what I was going to keep Lobster and find a way to make this work.

 

The day before Thanksgiving, Lobster was perched up on the gate leading into my kitchen because he was super anxious to get into the car and head to my parent’s house for the holiday. I attempted to lead him away from the gate so I could continue to get things packed in the car but he refused to get down. I was finally able to push him off the gate so I could get into my living but as soon as I got on the other side of the gate I was frustrated and was going to crate him so I could finish packing in peace but tensions rose and he wound up biting me a handful of times on both hands and arms and on my left leg. Thankfully I was wearing a winter coat and mid-calf height boots so the physical damage was minimal but it was at that point I decided that if I was going to keep Lobster, we were doing e-collar training.

 

Over the next few weeks, Lobster did a board and train with Primal Canine and we started him on e-collar. Three weeks later, Lobster had transformed from a dog that had reached a point of being unmanageable for me, to a dog that I now have such an amazing relationship with. His recall is amazing, his off leash training and his ability to listen and focus on me is something I never thought was possible. Everything has been great with Lobster since December, we have had no incidents and I barely even think about or remember the issues him and I first had. He was meant to be here with me and I am so glad I never gave up on him. Gone is the tension between him and I, there is no longer a vying for dominance, there is no more frustration of trying to crate him or direct him away from chewing up a dog bed or climbing on things he is not supposed to. Because of his training I can now take him anywhere, around anyone and anything with confidence knowing that he understands that he needs to listen to me. Above all, I now have a dog that I trust, and a dog that trusts me.

 

We get dirty looks when we are out walking because people assume that Lobster is some unhinged, wild animal and that’s why he has the e-collar. It bothered me at first, worrying about what people thought of him especially because of his breed and what people thought of me…probably assuming that I am some monster torturing her dog with an e-collar. But the now I just laugh when people act judgmental about it. Usually the people who are giving me dirty looks are the people who have a dog hauling them down the street, barking and lunging at other dogs, while the owner is tugging on them yelling the same command over and over as their dog doesn’t listen with this growing look of frustration on their face. If you don’t want to have control over your dog, that’s fine. If you want to use other tools or methods to train and manage your dog, that’s great. Just respect what each person has decided what is best for their dog and realize that one method of training and one tool is not going to work for every dog. If someone has to muzzle their dog to keep you and others and their dog safe, let them. Because if a muzzle, or e-collar or prong collar is the reason that owner can control that dog and keep others safe – that’s sure a hell of a lot better than an incident occurring, and the price being paid by that dog because that owner was more concerned about what others think. I would rather see a dog with a prong collar being controlled by an owner, than a wild dog wearing a nylon harness. 

Why Dog Parks Are a Bad Idea and Why Off Leash Dogs Suck Part Two

This post actually applies to dog parks and any place where people decide to let their dog be off leash despite the fact that their dog is supposed to be leashed. A very small percentage of dogs have been trained to the extent that their off leash skills are impeccable and worthy of actually being off leash. For the other 99% of dogs this is not the case, but that does not stop the vast majority of owners from letting their dogs run wild all the while not knowing how to truly gauge the temperament of their dog. The excuses are vast when dogs are growling, snarling, snapping, pinning other dogs to the ground or even attacking other dogs. We all hear it all the time, people will say how friendly their dog is and how great they are with all dogs, but usually it is that people are overall unable to come to terms with the idea that their dog might not be as friendly with people, dogs, or social situations as they thought. I have spoke to Mike Jones (the owner and head trainer of Primal Canine) about many times; it is not that people are bad owners, it is simply just that people are not in touch with or have a legitimate understanding of dog behavior, body language and basic training/dog manners.

 

Something I hear often is the term “socialization.” Many people perceive dog parks as a necessary step in the socialization of their dog while believing that socialization comes from a dog experiencing many unknown people, places, dogs and stimuli all at once, and over and over again. As this surely counts as life experience and definitely counts as placing a dog under environmental stress…this is NOT proper socialization. Expecting that your dog will get along with all other dogs is like expecting a human being to love all other human beings. This is unrealistic and in this situation dogs are no different. I find it troublesome when people bring dogs to public places who are clearly uncomfortable with the entire situation as they are flanked with strange dogs and people. This brings me to the next thing I commonly hear from owners, “oh he/she is just nervous, he/she just needs to get used to people/dogs/the park etc.” Well, thrusting your dog into an awkward and uncomfortable social situation is a sure fire way to set the stage for a disaster. If your dog is aggressive or nervous around other people and dogs, what you need is training – THEN structured socialization, not forced, unstructured discomfort in hopes that your dog just works through their issues on their own. Dog parks and public parks are NOT the place to socialize your dog, or bring a dog that an owner can otherwise not control on leash, so it is the last resort for this dog to have exercise.

 

It is exhausting and scary for those of us who are being responsible and leashing our dogs to watch all of the dog fights and scuffles that occur and wonder if next it will be our dog that is attacked or approached by a poorly mannered dog whose owner is none the wiser. This brings me to the next concern I have; I have four “Pit Bulls” and if there is a conflict even if my dog is licensed, well trained, leashed and the victim defending itself – my dog will be blamed. While walking on what is supposed to be a leashed dog area in a wildlife reserve park yesterday, my leashed American Bully was mounted and humped on three separate occasions by different dogs. Each time the owners not only did nothing, but they stood there and laughed as their dog humped my dog because to them it was funny. My dog, as most dogs, tried to get away and after about 15 seconds began trying to nip at the other dog – suddenly the owners cared about the situation and pulled their unleashed dog off of my dog. The most ridiculous part of each instance where this happened (all three times) the owners only cared about controlling their dog when they thought their dog was in danger of being bitten by a “Pit Bull.” Allowing your unleashed dog to run free out of your sight, knowing that your dog loves to be the dog park rapist is a great way for your dog to get bitten. The lack of manners on the part of owners and dogs alike does not even stop there. I have issues walking my dogs in my neighborhood where people constantly allow their off leash dog to run up to my dog and from dozens of yards away yell about how friendly their dog is. Well, that’s great but what if my dog was not? Once again suddenly my dog would be the aggressor because of their breed and the other dog would be labeled the victim because it was just a friendly Lab, Spaniel, Shih Tzu or whatever just strolling up to say hello. That situation would never be acceptable if it was reversed.

 

Overall, public places are supposed to be safe places where people and dogs can enjoy their outing and not have to worry if their dog is going to be safe or not. Leash laws are there to protect your dog and others dogs. Not leashing your dog is ruining the experience of the owners who are actually being responsible. Please remember to be competent about your dog’s likes and dislikes and ability to be in social situations, and always leash your dog. 

Belgian Malinois will be the next Pit Bulls

            Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherds have recently exploded in popularity. The problem is that both of these breeds (especially the ones from specific working bloodlines) are not intended to solely be pets or companion animals. Mals and Dutches are working line dogs, they require serious, experienced dog owners who truly have the knowledge of the breed, and the extensive time for consistent, on going training and exercise. Novice and first time dog owners are as a whole are likely to be unfit and unable to provide the amount of mental and physical stimulation necessary to prevent the dog from developing serious behavioral issues. Acquiring any breed of dog because they are trendy, “badass,” or “manly” is ridiculous and the wrong reason to get any animal. Adding a dog to your life should be a decision made with careful consideration, and selected based upon an owner’s competence, experience, and amount of time available for dedication to training and exercise. Not based upon “cool factor.”

 

            If any of you are unaware of what a Malinois or Dutch Shepherd is, I am sure you have seen one before and mistaken it for a German Shepherd. Mals and Dutches are commonly used as multipurpose military dogs, police dogs, and personal protection dogs. Their alertness in conjunction with their drive and energy level makes them excellent dogs for protection and apprehension. Dogs with such drive require structure, training and exercise to properly contain their drive and disperse their energy. As we all know as dog owners, all dogs especially working dogs, who are deprived of dedicated owners will suffer. When working dogs have careless, negligent owners their dogs become highly predisposed to destructive behaviors, aggression towards people and other dogs, and are all around unmanageable. This is in no way stating that Mals and Dutches are inherently dangerous or vicious, because anyone that owns a dog knows that bad dog ownership can cause any dog to become unruly and difficult to manage. Therefore it is simple to understand that the way a high energy dog become dangerous is through the negligence on the part of human beings.

 

          Pit Bulls (the term being used loosely), like Rottweilers, and Dobermans (and many other working breeds) are stubborn, loyal, high energy, alert dogs with a high prey drive, which many people acquire for their “cool factor.” After decades and decades of idiots thinking its really cool to get a dog, never train it, never socialize it, never exercise it, and then be proud of the dog’s unbridled aggression – Pits became labeled as unstable and unmanageable dogs dumped off at shelters with issue after issue that their owners created. Suddenly these issues were branded to breed as if it was the dog’s fault that nobody cared about the commitment of owning a dog. I say that Mals and Dutches are the next Pit Bulls because the rate at which Mals and Dutches are growing in popularity, combined with their drive and human stupidity – they will be filling up the shelters quickly. This can happen a number of ways; people can recognize the growth of demand for the breed and somehow acquire a couple Mals and begin breeding them. Start using the dogs as cash cows, caring only for the profit and not the proper breeding, nor caring about who or where the puppies go. People see cute Mal and Dutch puppies online, think, “oh they’re so cute!” or “babe lets get one they look just like a German Shepherd!” The problem perpetuates from there as these homes and owners were not properly vetted, educated or prepared for this puppy. As time goes on, the owners realize the dog does not do well being crated 8-10 hours a day while they’re at work, and that 20-minute walk around the block doesn’t wear the dog out. The owners become frustrated as the dog tears everything up, barks constantly, pulls like crazy on walks and starts to nip at other dogs because he wasn’t manageable in public and is therefore unsocialized. That dog is destined for the shelter because it’s no longer a cute puppy from Instagram, it’s a 75 pound adult Malinois that cannot be controlled by the owner, he is dog aggressive, has a high prey drive and separation anxiety from being sequestered in a crate all day and night. I can only hope that the solution lies first with breeders being vigilant about where their dogs go, to who and for what purpose they will be used for. Secondly, it is of the utmost importance that owners understand that Mals and Dutches should not be gotten as companion animals. There are so many breeds of dog that are better suited strictly as pets that will of course still require training, care and exercise but not to the high standard which Mals and Dutches require.

Ask Primal Canine | Episode 8

Ask Primal Canine is your chance to ask head trainers and affiliate associations of Primal Canine your questions about your dogs.

Every Thursday we will air questions from you! Feel free to leave your comments or questions below or email primalcanine@gmail.com

www.PrimalCanine.com #primalcanine
Filmed by Jeff Knapp and Mackswell
B.Co Creative Agency #BCoCA

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Advocacy Transcends All Breeds of Dogs

Inspired by something a friend of mine Kat (@_t_y_s_o_n_) wrote on Instagram I wanted to write about putting down other breeds of dogs. As a Pit Bull owner times four, I am well aware of the discrimination my dogs face and how hard it can be for those of us who love the breed to hear the nasty and inaccurate things people can say. Stereotypes and myths about Pit Bulls are one of the reasons they are being killed at an accelerated rate in shelters. The assumption is that they are all assumed to be dangerous and if space is hard to come by, Pits are the easy choice to put to sleep so more room can be made for less murderous, more desirable dogs. We all despise the discrimination against the breed that is killing dogs in shelters and causing people to make assumptions about our pets. So the question is, if we hate this judgmental discrimination of Pit Bulls, why do we do this to other breeds that are not Pit Bulls?

 

I hate hearing terms like “if it ain’t Pit, it ain’t shit.” Pit Bulls are not the only dogs causing shelters to overflow. Since when does the breed of dog matter? We don’t like when people discount our dogs because of the breed they are, so why should we turn our backs on other breeds and pretend as if that type of inclusivity isn’t incredibly hypocritical? Everyone wants to act like an advocate, but advocacy isn’t very genuine while putting down other breeds of dogs like Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, Jack Russel Terriers, and Shih Tzus, knowing they too are being stereotyped as aggressive, vicious, stubborn, yappy, untrainable, and far from being “manly” or “cool.” I hear just as many myths and stereotypes about small dogs as I do about Pit Bulls, and I hear just as many people that have Pit Bulls say they “absolutely hate small dogs.” Well, that’s fine if you do not desire their looks or size, but consistent shit talking about a breed of dog only spreads the ideal that they are bad dogs and likely decreases their chances of being adopted from a shelter, same as Pit Bulls.

 

Small dogs, just like any other dog, are not born inherently vicious, yappy, mean, untrainable, and aggressive. They become that way because people are ignorant, negligent, and think getting a small dog means they don’t need to be trained, socialized or exercised. Many small breed dogs are working dogs, they require exercise that is both mentally and physically stimulating. Just like large breed dogs that have domineering personalities and high drives, without training, exercise and socialization large breed dogs become unmanageable. From there, unruly dogs, regardless of breed and size are surrendered to shelters where most are killed due to overcrowding or behavioral issues that shelter staff are unable to correct. Putting down any breed of dog, big or small, is helping no one and it is in fact killing animals who have been placed in a position in life that we humans have created. Be responsible, train and properly care for your dog and don’t forget that love transcends breeds of dogs and they all need our help. 

Why Dog Parks Are a Bad Idea

A lot of people love taking their dogs to a dog park because they believe this is the best way to socialize a dog and just allow their dog to let loose, get some energy out and have some fun with other dogs. But there are major issues with showing up to a crowded dog park, and just letting your dog loose. I have not taken my dogs to a dog park in years. As much as we would like to think that every dog present in the park is well behaved, and universally friendly with all dogs and people, that thought is naïve. The majority of people who own dogs are not aware of what their dog’s true temperament is because we tend to be biased with our own dogs. For the most part, almost everyone will say their dog is friendly, great with people, super social etc., and this is likely to be said because we have either only observed our dogs in limited interactions and scenarios, or because often people will make excuses for and defend their dog’s behavior because of the inability that a novice person has to recognize fear, anxiety, people/dog/food/toy aggression in their dog. From there, signs of behavior that needs to be addressed and corrected are ignored and people persist to place their dogs in situations where they can either fail or their dog can be the victim of another dog’s owner failing to be mindful of the fact that their dog should not be at a park and not be off leash with other dogs.

 

When dogs are thrown into unknown situations, with unknown factors like the stimulation/commotion that is a dog park, with random people/children, tennis balls, treats, and the greatest factor of all, other dogs- there is no precise or predictable outcome. With this being said it is our job as responsible owners to minimize the likelihood that our dogs are placed in an environment or situation where we have so little control of who and what our pets come come into contact with. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen people bring their children into the dog park and allow them to ride bikes, people whom allow their dogs to hump other dogs and people, and dogs that are clearly dog aggressive freely running around nipping at other dogs...the list goes on. The tension and uncertainly within a crowded dog park is like that of a prison yard. I say this not because dogs share a likeness to criminals but the factors that are unknown in the given environment make it as such. At a moment’s notice tempers can flare, fights can break out, and the vast majority of people escalate the situation by yelling and screaming while they hit and kick their dog or someone else’s. Interestingly enough, this does not even discourage most from staying at the dog park, or returning the next day. As a smart person once said in regards to defining insanity, it is “doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.”

 

I guess my point is that the only thing we can do is know our dogs the absolute best we can, train them as best we can and in this process become aware of any issues our dogs may have that could at some point endanger themselves or others and lastly address those. I would steer clear of dog parks. The majority of people are not competent enough to know that even the best behaved and trained dogs can become reactive dogs if placed under the right amount of stress. Incidents at dog parks can create aggression, fear and anxiety within your dog, even if those issues may have not existed before. There is no sense in setting our dogs up for a potentially volatile outcome if we can prevent it. Of course this does not mean that we shouldn’t socialize our dogs with other dogs, or walk them in public ever again. The point I stress is knowing your dog and socializing your dog with others who are competent and educated about their dog as well.

 

New Episodes From Raising Hell, Ask Primal Canine & The 2016 LA Pet Expo

Just in case you haven't been keeping up with the latest from our web series, here you go!! 

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Our Dogs Are Not Perfect and That's Okay

I will be a bully breed fanatic until the end without a doubt, and promoting this breed in a positive light will always be a priority for me. I realize as pit bull/ bully breed owners we will defend and protect our dogs to no end because of the already unfair and ridiculous myths and stereotypes that exist about them. We feel the need to shield them from these accusations and at all costs promote the best breed image possible. I have noticed that while in the midst of this noble effort, there are many people (non-bully breed owners as well) who deny…even lie to themselves, that their dog is in dire need of training.

Whether this comes from a disproportionate outlook on what behavior is acceptable from a dog, or from our willingness to make excuses for the animals we love so much. Maybe it is because we feel that rescued dogs or pit bulls as a breed have had such a tough life until this point, they should be allowed more freedom. Personally, I have thought maybe this can be my way of saying I was sorry for someone abusing or neglecting my dogs in the past and this will right those past wrongs in some cosmic karma sort of way. That is about as far as I have gotten with my introspection on that topic, but it seems to be applicable to the way that I hear many people speak about their reasoning for managing their dogs in the way that they do. Allowing bad behaviors to manifest for whatever reason is not helping yourself or your dog or the general image of the pit bull breed.

I guess getting back to my point, we as pit bull owners seem to be scared to admit that often our dogs do have issues like food aggression, dog aggression, people aggression. jumping, barking, biting, high prey drive etc. We tend to think if we are open about a pit bull having one or more of these issues, we are supporting the time old traditional stereotypes about pit bulls. But lets not forget that foremost, pit bulls are dogs. Dogs have these issues, whether we have adopted an adult dog or puppy, or even purchased one from a breeder. It is okay to admit that pit bulls will carry some natural “breed” (obviously that word is being used as a loose term before somebody tells me that pit bulls are not technically a breed) traits and characteristics. Some of those being a high prey drive, being highly aware and alert of their surroundings and being sensitive or aggressive towards other dogs if not properly socialized or correctly introduced to another dog.

Another facet to this issue is added by people who lie to themselves and others on social media about their dog(s) being better behaved than they really are in real life. This bothers me to no end because nothing about this is truly helping the breed image. All these people are doing is hiding a problem with their dog, while promoting their dog to be a model citizen of the breed to the public. While on a surface level, yes, cute and well selected photos of a pit bull will look good for everybody to see, but what’s the point of that if off camera this dog is at the dog park attacking other dogs, yanking you around while on leash and barking non-stop at your neighbors? Good breed image, bully breed advocacy and legitimate responsible dog ownership transcends social media posts and cute, well posed photos. Anybody on Instagram and Facebook can pose their dogs for pictures and talk about what it means to be a responsible pit bull owner. That only means something to me if in real life you are open to truly assessing your dog’s behavior; good and bad. It is simple to focus on all the positive things our dogs do. What I truly respect is if somebody can admit that they are dealing with issues with their dog, especially a pit bull. Because deep down we all know that announcing the good all over social media takes no effort, but to announce the at times ugly side of dog ownership is hard.

My dogs are not perfect and I am still learning everyday about what it takes to be a better dog owner. All in all, being a responsible dog owner and pit bull advocate starts with being able to realize our dogs are not perfect, neither are we, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is trying to save face with your family, friends, followers or even yourself when it comes to assessing and dealing with a dog’s behavioral issues. We all want people to love pit bulls as much as we all do, and see them for the sweet, loving babies we know they are. This starts with accepting that there is a constant need for proper structure, management and training, especially being under the microscope as a pit bull owner and lover. 

 

-@Murdapolis

#ThrowbackThursday Playtime and Obedience w/Marilyn & Mike

Marilyn was my first rescue, she came with A LOT of health problems as well as a ton of behavior problems. She was extremely scared and insecure about everything (she couldn't even walk at night). We worked with her and over time she became comfortable with all situations and all of her behavior (aggression) issues faded away.

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Service Dogs: Helping Those Who Served Our Country

Did you know that less than 40% of veterans ever seek treatment? Service dogs are increasingly becoming a form of therapy and assistance for veterans. Service dogs help veterans manage their stress, risk of violence and suicidal thoughts. This graphic dives into the benefits of having a service dog, their duties and basic etiquette.

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"Getting Down with Doga"

While yoga is fantastic for humans and our health, there’s a new trend that’s increasing the health of our four-legged friends, too: Doga. fix.com has created a graphic entitled "Getting Down withDoga", dishing all the details on getting yourself and your dog healthier, happier, and more connected. Whether you currently take yoga or not, this infographic can help you incorporate some fantastic Doga into your life. Doga can help build trust, help hyperactive dogs calm down, improve circulation, and foster the bond between pup and owner. With easy to follow instructions and an image guide, it’s easy to start getting your Doga on at home!Feel free to like, comment, and share this graphic from fix.com entitled "Getting Down with Doga".

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