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DVD Review: Fit Dogs Pilates for Pooches

Review by Brenna Fender

Fit Dogs Pilates for Pooches, A Core Strengthening and Conditioning Program by Sarah Johnson, M.A. Exercise Physiology and Andrew Sams, D.V.M., M.S., Diplomate ACVS

Many competitors are concerned about keeping their dogs in ideal shape for agility.  This 64 minute DVD, produced by Agility in Motion, provides a thorough explanation of how to increase a dog's fitness level using a unique program that strengthens and stretches muscles by teaching a dog to move from his core. 

The "meat" of this video is in three main chapters: Conditioning for Healthy Dogs, Modes of Cardiovascular Exercise, and Core Strengthening & Conditioning.  The DVD offers a bonus chapter called Getting started with a Puppy, and also includes an introduction by Dr. Sams(a well-known veterinarian specializing in orthopedic care), biographies of the human and canine participants in the video, and credits. 

Johnson, who narrates and teaches all the exercises on screen, discusses following common sense rules when using this training program.  She starts by examining various modes of exercise, from hiking off-leash to super slow leash walking to swimming in pools and more.  She says that it's important to consider the risks of a particular type of exercise before using it.  Johnson explains how to evaluate the risks and benefits of different forms of exercise and gives examples.

She also talks about how to reduce or eliminate the risks involved in a few modes of exercise.  She gives explicit instructions  and demonstrates the proper way for a dog to use a treadmill.  This section is in depth and may make the video a "must have" for those who are considering using human or canine treadmills for exercising their dogs.

The main focus of the DVD is the core strengthening and conditioning program. Johnson shows how to use boxes to begin the exercises and then shows how the program advances to using "air cushions."  While the boxes are easy-to-obtain and inexpensive (Johnson shows how to make them from household items), the air cushions present an additional expense in this program.  Fortunately, Johnson shows how to use a homemade wobble board for a similar effect.  While it's not a perfect option, it's a low-cost, easily available alternative.  This section of the DVD shows you everything you need to know to implement this program.  It is straightforward and thorough, making use of slow motion in some demonstrations.

The bonus "puppy chapter" shows Johnson working with a 13-week-old puppy on similar exercises, using smaller equipment and more casual training criteria.

This DVD is largely aimed toward the agility competitor, although other sports are mentioned.  This is helpful since Johnson, herself a successful agility competitor, uses agility examples and warns about doing new exercises shortly before an agility trial. 

My only concern with the video is simply the fact that "props" are necessary that viewers will need to purchase or make before embarking on the program.  Fortunately, inexpensive alternatives are offered, so that cost doesn't need to be a reason to avoid this fitness program.

I like the fact that safety is a major factor in the video and also that Johnson can and does make the program flexible to work for competitors in nearly every dog sport.  If you are willing to take the time to train your dog to do the proper moves, this DVD may be very helpful in not only increasing your dog's strength and fitness but also in teaching your dog awareness of his body and how to control his movement.

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Brenna Fender is the editor for the USDAA's subscriber services portion of the website.  She is also a freelance writer, wife, and parent of two dogs, a cat, and two children.  Please contact Brenna at with comments, questions, or submissions.



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