Breathe Like a Dog

Bella the Boxer.jpg

Are you breathing right now? Silly question, right? Wrong!

Dogs are always breathing just the way they need to be, taking full, deep and energizing breaths. Humans, on the other hand, take short and shallow chest breaths. This is natural in times of great anxiety or immediate danger, like when your boss is yelling at you or a gang of angry Chihuahuas is chasing you down a dark alley. But on an ongoing basis, shallow and rapid breathing can contribute to chronic stress and fatigue. It can leave you feeling tense and grumpy, which is no fun for anyone (especially your four-legged friends).

A relaxed dog, on the other hand, takes long, deep breaths. Unlike humans, we dogs aren't worried about sucking in our stomachs, either. When you breathe from your diaphragm like you are supposed to, your stomach naturally inflates and deflates…which is another reason to ditch the super-tight skinny jeans. (Besides, how are you going to take your dog on a nice long walk if you don’t have any feeling in your legs? And while I’m on my canine soapbox, stop hunching over your laptops and stop slumping on sofa watching drivel like Real Housewives of New Jersey. Take us out to play instead!).

Okay, okay, I get it. Life is stressful and we need distractions. Yet thanks to modern lifestyles, most humans have forgotten how to breathe properly. Fortunately, ‘breathing like a dog’ is relatively easy to do with a little practice. Here’s an exercise to get started:

  • Close your eyes
  • Inhale from your belly for three seconds and pause briefly
  • Exhale from your belly for three seconds and pause briefly
  • Repeat as necessary

Want to make it a habit? Take a cue from your four-legged friend: Every time he or she lets out a satisfied sigh, straighten your posture and focus on your breathing. Soon it will be a natural part of your daily routine.

So, are you breathing?

By Bella the Boxer, adapted from her book Secrets of a Working Dog: Unleash Your Potential and Create Success. Visit