Canine Fitness Program with Bite

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Interview with Krista Wickens

Jasper_KristaI recently spent some time with entrepreneur Krista Wickens, the Founder and CEO of PetZen Products and President of Ball Dynamics. Krista has been in the fitness industry for many years and is an innovator in the canine fitness space. As always, it was nice catching up with her and I was excited to learn more about the new Master Trainer Program that Krista had recently developed.


SlimDoggy: What is your current title/position?

Krista Wickens: President, Ball Dynamics International (FitPAWS and FitBALL) and CEO/Founder, PetZen Products (DogTread)


SD: Tell me about your fitness background and how you ended up in the Canine fitness space?

KW: Sports and fitness have always been a part of my life. I played women’s basketball in college and started my career in the human fitness industry with industry leader ICON. My first project was helping to create a program that would generate a treadmill workout based on the user’s fitness goals. It was ahead of its time, I think. As a dog lover, I found that there was a need to keep dogs fit, the same trends that plague people were showing up in the dogs. However, there were no products made specifically for dogs to help them stay fit. Our first product was a dog treadmill that was designed to work with a dog’s four legged body. As a result, I took the plunge and launched my company and our first product, the DogTread canine treadmill was created.


SD: We have used many of your canine fitness products with your own dogs. Which of your products is the most popular with dog owners? Why do you think that is?

KW: The most popular is the K9Fitbone, followed by the agility kits. The K9FITbone is so popular because it is low to the ground, easy to use and we added exercise cards to help people get started with it at home. I think the reason that the agility kits are so popular is because the sport of agility is gaining in popularity and our kit makes it easy to set up a multifunctional (e.g. change of direction, over, under, etc.) environment in your own back yard, at a very reasonable price.


SD: I recently heard a little about your new Master Training Program that you are launching. It sounded pretty awesome. Tell us a little about this course and why it is quickly selling out?

KW: We are focused 100% on the dogs. Our course is meant to teach participants how to safely exercise a dog and to use a varied set of equipment and modalities to do so. Strength, balance, mobility, cardio and more are all covered. We teach our students how to create and implement effective workouts for dogs.


SD: It sounds like your students learn to design real workouts that will provide real benefit to their overall strength and fitness?

KW: Yes. Real workouts that are multifaceted and focus on safety and proper form. Proper form and engagement is crucial in attaining a higher level of fitness for dogs. Dogs need to be consistently challenged mentally and physically. Some dogs can run for 5 miles and still be destructive. Why? Because they are not engaging their brain too. Once you learn how to put together a fitness program safely to exercise a dog, then you can incorporate this into a duel workout- human and dog- that will be effective for both parties.


SD: What are the prerequisites for someone to enroll in the Master Training Course?

KW: We require that attendees have dog handling experience. Dog training skills and an understanding of how to get dogs to perform basic cues is also important for shaping a fitness program that helps the dog use its body for fitness.


SD: Can you tell us more about your partnership with the College of Veterinarian Medicine at the University of Tennessee?

KW: We have just finalized a partnership with UoT where we will combine our Master Trainer program with their online classroom studies. The new certificate program – Certified Canine Fitness Trainer (CCFT) is the first of its kind through a University. Half of the course will be online, approx. 25+ hours, and will focus on anatomy, biomechanics, injury prevention and other relevant topics. The other half is a hands on lab portion (previously known as our FitPAWS Master Trainer) that will be offered at our training facility in Longmont, CO. Attendees must complete both sections to achieve the credentialed title of CCFT. We are extremely excited about the standards of excellence this will bring to Canine Fitness.
SD: What are the dates and locations for the next round of programs?

KW: Sep 9-11 and Sep 23-25, in Colorado. We are working on future dates and locations


SD: Where can people learn more about the course?

KW: Master Trainer Program- FitPaws

The UofT – CCFT program has just been confirmed and we will provide more information on how to complete the entire program in the coming weeks. Those that have completed and passed the Master Trainer program can then qualify for the online course to complete the CCFT.


SD: What is your biggest frustration about the canine fitness industry right now? Do you think that it is an impediment to growing the industry?

KW: My biggest frustration is that fitness is often treated as an afterthought. So much can be prevented through exercise – disease, behavior issues, and injuries. My hope is that more of us can spread the message of a proactive lifestyle, not a reactive lifestyle. Secondly, is that there is a right way and a wrong way to think about fitness. Knowledge does not always equal understanding. Our goal is to help more people understand the building blocks of effective form and safe ways to keep dogs fit and healthy. Just because a dog can jump over an obstacle doesn’t mean he/she is engaging the right muscles required, often there are compensations because the dog has not been conditioned properly. The more we can educate on the right methods the better connections we will have with our dogs and the longer they will compete, work, or live with us.

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  1. Gives a new meaning to the term “Dog Trainer”!
    Kari recently posted…Freedom FridayMy Profile

  2. This is interesting!
    Earl Lover recently posted…Canine SwimmingMy Profile

  3. Wow, that is pretty great having the program at a university! I think K9 fitness is a growing field, and an important one as well.
    Emma recently posted…How I Earned My NW1 TitleMy Profile

  4. what a awesome interview and great program she is doing. Thanks for sharing.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Puppy Fitness With Kong Tunnel~FitDog FridayMy Profile

  5. Hi Y’all!

    Great interview! Maybe that program will spread.

    Trainin’ dogs is a lot like trainin’ performance horses. Gentle and consistent and start easy and build fitness before trying more difficult or longer exercises. Horses are a lot bigger and stronger than humans; you aren’t going to force them to do something they fear or don’t want to do. You have to make them want to do it.

    A lot of injuries would be prevented if people just used common sense!

    Y’all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…Fun Friday!My Profile

  6. Very interesting. I agree with Hawk that a good way to train is gentle and consistent training, starting small and building.
    2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…Keeping Senior Dogs Fit In The HeatMy Profile

  7. Your interview with Krista was a nice surprise! Being proactive about our pups’ health is so important, and fairly easy to do, too! You just need a little discipline.
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…Top 3 reasons for dog allergies, symptoms, and how to cure themMy Profile

  8. Great interview. I’m really impressed that Krista was able to find an amazing niche in a popular industry. Canine fitness is so obvious, but so overlooked.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Will More Raw Brands Use High Pressure Pasteurization?My Profile

  9. Thank you Slim Doggy for spreading the news! FitPAWS loves SlimDoggy!

  10. What an interesting program she’s doing. Great interview. This is such an important topic for all pet owners.

  11. Sounds like a great program.
    De Hufford recently posted…52 Snapshots of Life, Week 32, Favorite.My Profile

  12. Wow, this is really cool! I’d love to learn more about conditioning my dog properly, but I’m never sure where to start! Now I have a name to poke around. 😀

  13. What a wonderful program that sounds like. It’s great to see a company like this focusing on canine fitness. It’s true that even though we might be concerned with our dogs’ health and fitness, it doesn’t mean that we know how to do things the right way, in order to keep them safe from injury when they are active.
    Jan K recently posted…Questioning Pet Vaccinations – Wrap UpMy Profile

  14. The master training course sounds interesting. Mr. N has a fitbone and I try to have him work on it periodically.

  15. Great interview! Got me thinking I need to look into ordering a fit bone for my boys.
    Groovy Goldendoodles recently posted…GUILTY OF DOG COMPARISON BEHAVIORMy Profile

  16. I’ve read about the FitPaws master trainer program and I think it sounds awesome. I’d like to take it! Great interview!
    Diane recently posted…Havanese Nationals Here We Come!My Profile

  17. Wow, very interesting! Loved the interview!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Which Dog Breed Is Best For Me?My Profile

  18. It’s been nice to see a surge in rehabilitation therapies in the verterinary field over the last 5 – 7 years. We now have more options for post surgical management after orthopedic surgery, as well as managing the older arthritic dogs. While this program is not geared specifically to this, anything that encourages movement and exercise is ok in my book.
    Anne recently posted…Do Cats Get Cavities?My Profile

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