Are dog gyms the answer to canine obesity?
Ever walked your dog for more than an hour and his energy seems to be just as high as if he just woke up?
Maybe your Labrador needs to go to the gym for a more intense exercise program.
Bob Thompson works out with his dog, Ginger, twice a week in Chicago. Ginger, an eight year-old Labrador-Golden Retriever mix, is always up for the gym. And Bob is sure the gym sessions are better exercise than a walk.
“She’s toned up and lost a few pounds over the last two years,” he says.
The exercise classes at the club are designed to give both dogs and their owners a cardio workout and strength training.
“You have to do it together, so you strengthen the human-animal bond,” says Tricia Montgomery, K9 Fit Club’s founder and president. “We as the pet owner must be the one to get our dogs motivated and moving by working out with them.”
K9 Fit recently started an online certification program for people who want to become human-canine fitness trainers. They currently have eight gyms across the US and about 200 have passed the course so far.
Canine gyms range from family-owned businesses to franchise operations. The quality of the staff and the courses offered vary from place to place. Some have monthly membership fees and specific classes may require a $100 fee.
Some of these new canine sports gyms are quite impressive. Frolick Dogs has a new 5,000 square foot facility in Alexandria, Virginia. They also have doggie treadmills, balance platforms and lots of colorful rubber peanuts, which are stability balls designed for dogs that help build their core and leg muscles.
The gym also has a large space for agility training. All their obstacles are regulation-size, for those who plan to enter their dogs in competition.
“People come in the first time and they don’t know what to do or the dog is a little bit shy. And the next time they come back the dog is pulling them in here. That’s fun to see,” Kevin Gilliam, a professional trainer, says.
“We’re feeding them too many calories each day and they’re not getting enough physical exercise,” says veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward.
“This is the number one health threat our pets face today and it’s completely preventable.”
Obesity can lead to various health problems and fatal diseases including diabetes, joint problems, heart diseases, and even cancer.
Images: Frolick Dogs