Is your pooch looking a bit podgy? Your labrador being lazy? Your chihuahua just plain chubby?
Well Wales’ first dedicated doggy gym is set to open next month, complete with treadmills and yoga balls.
The Dognasium in Swansea will also host a canine weight management class – dubbed doggy Weight Watchers – where pets will be weighed and owners encouraged to keep food diaries.
Guess what? It’s already popular in America
“Dog gyms are very popular in America,” said Ceri Simpson, a qualified animal physiotherapist.
“We will have gym stations, where you’ll be able to work on different aspects of your dog’s fitness.”
Exactly what will it have?
The facility will offer equipment such as specially adapted canine treadmills.
“They’re longer than the treadmills you might see in a normal gym,” explained Ceri.
“There’s a safety bar and the dog wears a harness.”
Do dogs actually like it?
“Some dogs need a bit of encouragement, but most of them come round to the idea.”
Staff determine the level of exercise a dog needs by taking its resting pulse rate and then monitoring it while the animal exercises.
According to Ceri, a fit working dog might be able to run on an incline for 20 minutes, while an overweight Westie Terrier might only be able to manage five minutes of walking.
What else does it have?
The gym will offer yoga balls, designed to improve a dog’s balance and core strength.
There will also be resistance bands, such as those used to treat shoulder injuries in people, and balance boards, designed to improve core strength.
The team behind the project, CS Animal Hydro and Physiotherapy, believe the facility will be the first of its kind in Wales.
“We know of a few indoor play centres, but nothing like this,” said Ceri, who is registered with the International Association of Animal Therapists.
“This is more of a fitness centre.”
Can dogs have a swim, too?
Their company is based on Banwen Farm in Neath and includes a hydrotherapy pool for dogs.
They offer rehabilitation after surgery or injury, as well as fitness and performance programmes and management of chronic mobility problems, such as arthritis.
“The Dognasium is almost an extension of that,” said Ceri.
“We wanted to provide a fitness centre for dogs who come to us for physiotherapy.”
The facility will also offer day care for dogs, an indoor play area, agility course and training classes.
All classes will be run by trainer Gemma McLoughlin, who owns Canine Gems Fig Behaviour and Training.
What about weight loss?
The team plan to host a weight management group, like Weight Watchers for dogs.
They will hold a weekly meeting, where each dog will be weighed and the owners will be given advice on feeding their pet a healthy diet.
“We get a lot of animals coming to us with weight-related problems,” said Ceri.
“It’s not the dogs’ fault – it’s as much about educating the owners.
“Obesity can be a vicious circle. If your dog is overweight, it can cause mobility problems, which means they can’t walk, so they put on more weight.”
So, when’s it opening?
The team only got the keys to the building earlier this week, following a rigorous planning process, but are on track to open at the beginning of April.
“We’ve been inundated with inquiries, but we don’t really know how many customers to expect,” said Ceri.
The centre will be able to accommodate up to 30 dogs in day care.
The Dognasium is due to open in Swansea Enterprise Park in April.