Friday, February 11, 2011

FitPAWS and a Visit from Our Friend Jinx

'Puppy Sit'
   For the past month in both Obedience and Agility our trainers have commented on Cassie's rear end/core weakness, which has resulted in a stubborn tendency toward what I call a 'puppy sit'.  It's probably not something skeletal (we've had x-rays done), but rather a failure on my part to enforce 'proper' sitting.  It wouldn't be that big of a deal to me, but it's a sign of her overall fitness.  So we've been working on it with exercises of various
kinds and I'm now considering buying a device from the FitPAWS series.

   FitPAWS are basically just oddly shaped exercise balls that you inflate (like my $10 one from Target), except that they are designed to work your dog's muscle groups in a manner that's easy and safe.  The other main difference is that the plasticky material is much thicker than that of an ordinary exercise ball and, therefore, is able to stand up better against trimmed dog nails.

   FitPAWS are a bit expensive for the average canine enthusiast (coming in between $30 - $110 depending on the size and product), but I've heard of many people having real success with them.   They are targeted at two main audiences: owners who need to rehab injured or older dogs and owners who do any sort of sport with their dogs.  I'm not sure they are a must have for everyone, but there are many of us who could find them helpful either to fix an existing problem or to prevent damage to our pets' joints through total body strengthening.  We exercise to prevent damage to ourselves, so it only makes sense to do the same when we are asking a lot of our dogs!  Personally, I have dogs on both ends of the spectrum (Cassie needs strength for agility/obedience, Lilly needs rehab for her arthritis and coordination), so it's worth a try.

   Because even I like to 'try before I buy', my friend Tracey very kindly agreed to visit with her dog Jinx and two of the FitPAWS products she has purchased.  Jinx is already very strong due to the fact that he competes in both agility and flyball.  He also happens to be an Aussie of similar size to Cassie, which helped with figuring out product sizing.  Tracey had never put Jinx on the FitPAWS, so what you see in the video are his first attempts.  Tracey has purchased both the FitPAWS Peanut (size 60 cm) and the Donut (size Large).  Both are intended as the introductory products in the FitPAWS line.

   All three dogs (Jinx, Cassie & Lilly) had a go, but Jinx was the only one we filmed because of a combination of camera angle problems and Lilly not liking other people touching her.  Jinx was also the strongest and the best listener.  He's also quite handsome!

  We put a towel over the FitPAWS initially, because Cassie's nails are a bit long right now and I thought Lilly might need some extra grip...Jinx did fine with the towel and better without it, so I think in future I'll remember to trim Cassie's nails before we have a go!  Cassie also didn't seem so eager to bite the FitPAWS when the towel was on!

   My thoughts:  The FitPAWS took awhile to get inflated (thank goodness Tracey has strong arms), but once it was inflated it seemed very sturdy.  We had a lot of fun with the product and it did seem to tire the dogs, which is a good sign that they were working.   You can see with both products that Jinx is constantly having to readjust his position, meaning that he was constantly working many muscle groups at once!  I liked the Donut best for Cassie & Lilly, because it's both more reasonably priced and I would be able to work both dogs (one at a time, haha) on the Large size by myself.

  The Peanut was also easy to use and made the dogs work harder, though I think if I bought it for Cassie I might step up a size to the 70 cm.  Tracey intends to use the 60 cm for both Jinx and her Jack Russells, so it made more sense for her to have an inbetween size.    The Peanut was a little cumbersome to use with one person and worked better when there was a 'feeder' person at the front and a 'manipulator' at the back.  Though with more practice we might be able to manage alone.  Maybe it was just the natural exuberance of the Aussie, but unlike the dogs on the DVD Jinx and Cassie were very excited about doing something new and needed a extra guidance.  They certainly did not just lie there and allow us to bounce them up and down.

   Do I think they are worth the money?...yes, to some people.   Am I going to buy one myself?...yes!  I'm putting my order in for the Large Donut today!  We're going to fix this 'puppy sit' if it's the last thing I do!  I'll keep you updated on our progress.

Do you think your dogs could benefit from some added fitness?


  1. Thanks! Someone else had posted a clip on the Peanut but didn't answer my question about what it was, so this is great information. I'll ask my physio whether it is appropriate for Penny and her cruciate-operated leg. I'll go to the site and have a look at them.

  2. I'd be interested to hear what your physio thinks of them...I'll keep you updated on Cassie's progress with the Donut...we'll see if I can discern any difference.

  3. This is interesting. I wonder if this is something we'll need to look into more as our dogs age.