Why Canine Fitness University Was Created
I am out of shape. Like, ridiculously out of shape. I needed some motivation to get back out there, shed some pounds and put on some muscle. Why not do that with my dog?! Better still, maybe I could motivate other dog owners to get in shape as well. Thus, Canine Fitness University was born.
Importance of Accountability
When left to my own devices, I can always find an excuse not to get out there and tackle my personal fitness. While it is true my body is much more broken than most, that is even more reason to get out there and chip away at it! My spine is going to hurt a helluva lot more if I am carrying around all this extra weight!
But how to accomplish this and not simply fall back into old habits?!
What if I were to work with a group where I was accountable to helping them be and stay motivated? Maybe then I would be more apt to stick to my own goals. But, how to accomplish this?
That is when I started the Facebook Group, Canine Fitness U - Let's Get Fit. It was originally named, Get Fit With Valor after my late boy, Valor, who was incredibly fit and loved going on adventures. So, I would post when we would go for hikes or walks, and invited a few dog-friends to join in. Soon, people were regularly posting about the fun they were having with their dogs too! It was great! I found myself getting sore and soon the couch and tubs of ice cream were calling my name. Yet, after seeing other people getting out there even if they were incredibly busy, or tired or dealing with crummy weather, it motivated me to get off my giant butt and do more fun stuff with my boy!
That is the power of accountability. Those other people in the group were making time to go on their fitness adventures. Therefore, I could too!
Unfortunately, everything fell apart when my boy was diagnosed with terminal cancer. It was heartbreaking and I fell hard into those ugly old habits: binging on ice cream, not moving much, wallowing in sadness.
He still wanted to do stuff though, he didn't know he was sick! So, I would drag myself out of bed and we would do stuff: go to the beach, visit his favorite pet boutique. go for a really short hike, play some agility in the backyard. The point being, my boy still wanted to have fun. It was my job to rise to the occasion and do that for him.
Valor recently passed away and I slipped into a very deep depression. The joy and light was gone from my life. It was awful. I didn't care one bit about my fitness or overall health, and it showed.
Then, after a few weeks, I welcomed a new puppy into the house. Archer. Suddenly there was joy and light and happiness again. And moving, so much moving! Puppy parenting is hard work!
It has been less than a week, but I am already down several pounds simply by keeping up with Archer! Sure, I am sore, but it is a good kind of sore. I am looking forward to getting more involved in the Facebook Group again, chronicling what Archer and I do daily. He is only 16-weeks old, so we will not be doing any crazy 1.5 hour hikes for a while yet. However, we will still go on plenty of adventures. Posting to the Facebook Group about them may motivate others to do the same with their pups and further motivate me when those old urges to sit and vegetate start bubbling up again.
But Why Start a Formal Program?
Simply put, there are right and wrongs ways of tackling fitness, especially when we are talking about our dogs.
In seeing how well the Facebook Group was going, I thought it would be wonderful to provide dog owners with some real and tangible resources on how to be fit with their dogs. For myself, I wanted to cover hiking and walking safety, things to consider when you are adventuring with your dog, training techniques to incorporate into your routine and so on.
But what if someone wasn't interested in hiking or walking their dog? They should be able to benefit from a program as well! That is where the germ of Canine Fitness University was born.
Being that I already had three online dog training platforms focused on helping dog owners achieve their training goals, creating one more was not that alien of a concept.
I was beyond fortunate to already be working with two colleagues who are experts in fitness:
Renea Dahms is the creator and director of the Get Fit With Fido Program. This is a program where dog owners can do specific fitness exercises ALONG WITH their dogs. Not simply just dragging the dog around the room, rather truly partnership-driven exercises that will help both human and canine get fit and have fun doing it!
Kathy Childers is a FitPAWS Master Trainer and the creator and director of the Dog Sport Fitness Program. Regardless of the type of dog sport you are involved in - agility, barn hunt, competition obedience, disc dog, flyball, parkour, scent work, tracking, treibball, you name it - your dog needs to be fit to be successful. You also want to ensure they are injury-free as best as you can. That is where Kathy's program comes into play. She has put together exercises that are designed to ensure your dog is fit and ready to tackle whatever physical challenges their chosen dog sport throws at them. Better still, Kathy takes the time to cover proper form and to ensure you as your dog's advocate are completing the exercises with their safety and well-being in mind.
I'm really excited about the future and what Canine Fitness University will offer dogs and dog owners alike. I know I will be applying these concepts for myself and Special Agent Archer for the months and years to come!
Dianna has been training dogs professionally since 2011. She has done everything from teaching group training classes and private lessons, to specializing in working with fearful, reactive and aggressive dogs, to being a trial official and competition organization staff member.
Following a serious neck and back injury, Dianna was forced to retire from in-person dog training. But she was not ready to give up her passion! So, she created Canine Fitness University, Family Dog University, Dog Sport University and Scent Work University to provide outstanding online dog training to as many dog handlers, owners and trainers possible…regardless of where they live! Dianna is incredibly grateful to the amazingly talented group of instructors who have joined CFU, FDU, DSU and SWU, and she looks forward to the continued growth of CFU, FDU, DSU and SWU and increased learning opportunities all of these online dog training platforms can provide.