What Is FitPaws?
FitPaws is a relatively new company in the pet care world. They produce a unique line of products tailored to canine fitness and rehabilitation. Through partnerships with Colorado State University, the Canine Rehabilitation Institute, and more, FitPaws has put together an extensive line of dog fitness tools.
Owners can use these products to help get their pups into shape, strengthen their bond with their dog, help them learn new behaviors, and support healing after an injury.
FitPaws products are designed similarly to products used in human rehabilitation and strength training. But they are created to match the specific needs and physical abilities of dogs.
The FitPaws product lineup includes balance boards and pads, inflatable balance bones, discs, and peanuts, hurdles, and more. These products allow for a range of different exercises and target movements to help strengthen everything from core muscles to different joints. And all provide a unique way to engage and stimulate a dog’s mind.
I had a chance to try a few FitPaws products for myself. With the help of my 12-year-old Dalmatian mix, Ragz, and my 14-year-old Chihuahua, Papyrus, I put the FitPaws Balance Disc, Mini K9FitBone Balance Training Platforms, and Balance Pad to the test to see if they’re worth the expense.
FitPaws – A Quick Look
FitPaws offers a variety of different product options. Their main focus is on inflatables and wobble boards designed to increase core strength and help with balance. But the company also has some other exercise equipment, including jumps and targets.
I had the opportunity to try three of their products out on my own dogs. I received a set of Mini K9FitBone Balance Training Platforms, a FitPaws Balance Disc, and a FitPaws Balance Pad.
Mini K9FitBone Balance Training Platforms
These bone-shaped inflatables have a variety of uses. They’re optimal for stability training and strengthening the core and limbs. But they can also be used to improve coordination, for sensory stimulation, to improve confidence in puppies, and for general behavior training and bond strengthening.
The mini set includes 2 bones that can be used together or separately. The k9FitBones are also available in regular size (23″ L x 11.5″ W ) and giant (35.5″ L x 15.7″ W x5.5″ H). Each of these larger sizes includes one inflatable bone and a pump.
The fun bone shape of these inflatables serves a function. The wide ends provide plenty of space for the dog to set their paws while the thinner middle section allows for some wobble to improve balance. How much the bone wobbles can be adjusted by adding or removing air.
Each side of the bone has a different texture that also serves an important purpose. One side is smooth, with small, rounded bumps that prevent the bone from slipping on the floor or beneath their paws. The other side has hundreds of protruding nodes that provide sensory stimulation.
The mini bones are nice because they allow you to exercise just your dog’s front legs or just their back legs. Or you can use both at the same time and work both ends while strengthening the core.
FitPaws Balance Disc
The FitPaws dog balance disc is very similar to those you find in human physical therapy and strength training centers. But this one is sized for canines and has some extra features made specifically for dogs.
Like human inflatable balance discs, this one is meant to challenge your dog to maintain their balance. This not only helps improve stability but strengthens muscles in the legs and core to support stronger joints while stimulating the mind.
The disc comes in two sizes to accommodate different-sized dogs.
Like the balance bones, these discs feature a textured side with stimulating nubs. The other side is smoother with protruding ridges to prevent slipping.
The more the disc is inflated, the harder it is to balance on. This is a great feature that allows you to work with your dog’s abilities and create more challenging exercises as they improve.
The balance disc can be used alone to work one pair of legs or in conjunction with a K9FitBone or second disc to work both sets of legs.
FitPaws Balance Pad
Of all the FitPaw strength and balance training products, the Balance Pad is probably the easiest one for dogs to use. Rather than rocking or wobbling when stepped on, this pad simply gives under pressure. This causes slight destabilization that forces the dog to balance and engage muscles in the legs and core.
FitPaw recommends this option for beginners and dogs recovering from injury.
Given the simple shape and familiar feel of the foam material used, this is a great product to start with when training your dog to use therapy tools like these. I know my dogs took to it very quickly.
The Balance Pad is one-size-fits-all. It comes in one color and doesn’t require an extra pump or any other tools to use.
Is FitPaws a Good Value?
If you’re looking for a fun training tool, you have a serious canine athlete, working dog, or a pup recovering from an injury, these products are worth the price.
Unlike similar products designed for human use, these ones have some special features that make them better for dogs.
For one, they are sized properly for compact dog paws and breeds of various sizes. This is important for proper muscle engagement and to avoid injury during use.
But more importantly, they are made to be durable enough to withstand sharp dog nails. The longevity you’ll get from these products makes them well worth the price.
What Kind of Warranty Does FitPaws Offer?
All FitPaws products come with a limited manufacturer warranty of 90 days. They also allow returns for a small handling fee for up to 30 days after purchase.
Are FitPaws Durable?
Inflatable FitPaws products are made of thick, 6p-free/phthalate-free vinyl plastic that is fairly heavy-duty. I wouldn’t imagine it would be easy to damage these products assuming they’re being used as instructed and for the right-sized dog. As long as you don’t allow your dog to bite them, they will last.
Are FitPaws Easy to Use?
Yes, they are simple to set up and use once inflated. However, because FitPaws requires your dog to step onto them in various ways and stand for extended periods, training is part of the process. Effective use will vary for every dog depending on how receptive they are to behavior shaping and target training.
Our Experience With FitPaws
As an owner of two senior dogs, I was very excited to get to try out these FitPaws products. My Dalmatian mix, Ragz, has always had a bad shoulder that has been getting worse as she’s aged. And my Chihuahua, Papyrus, has an old neck injury that is constantly getting aggravated.
I was hopeful these products might strengthen their cores and joints to help with these issues.
As soon as I received my Mini K9FitBone Balance Training Platforms, Balance Disc, and Balance Pad, I got to work training my dogs to use them. Luckily, my dogs are used to target training and behavior shaping. I only had to spend about thirty minutes with each before they would readily step or back onto the products with me leading them.
For dogs that aren’t used to performing these kinds of behaviors, I would recommend training paw touch and step first using the Balance Pad or a similar object. Once they have that down, you should be able to seamlessly move to a partially-inflated bone or disc without any issues.
As my dogs got used to the items, I began increasing the inflation of the bone and disc. This challenged them to hold their balance and noticeably engaged their muscles.
For the last two weeks, I have been using these FitPaw products nearly daily.
The Balance Pad was very nice to have initially because it was the easiest one for my dogs to work with. Once they got used to the other products, I used it mostly to warm them up before getting into the more challenging exercises.
Once fully inflated, the Balance Disc provided the most challenge and seemed to work really well for building core strength in both dogs. Papyrus, who is only 7 pounds, had an easier time with it than Ragz, who is 30 pounds.
The K9FitBone Balance Platforms also provided a good challenge when moderately to fully inflated. They worked great as a stretching platform for Papyrus, given his height. And using both together provided another great way to help stretch his back and strengthen his core.
Along with the disc, I used the bones frequently to help work Ragz’s front legs and that troublesome shoulder.
FitPaws are always modifying and increasing user resources like exercise instructions for each product, e.g., how to target certain conditions or strengthen specific muscle groups. A major benefit that will help pet owners get the most out of the products.
After this initial test period, I feel strongly that these products are helping my dogs, and will continue to incorporate these training products and practices into their daily routines. The K9FitBones, especially, have been useful for helping Papyrus stretch his neck and back. I am hopeful a combination of stretching and balance work using these tools will continue to help Ragz rebuild the muscles in her shoulder and avoid further degradation of that joint.
One thing I can say with certainty about these products is that my dogs love the one-on-one time they get during this training. They seem to enjoy the challenge of figuring out what I want them to do combined with the novelty of balancing on stimulating surfaces. (I’m sure the tasty treats I use don’t hurt, either!)
These products are a little bulky and require a bit of storage space when they aren’t in use. They can’t be deflated and rolled up very easily, and the Balance Pad cannot be compressed or folded at all. They can, however, fit nicely under a bed or behind your couch if you wish to have them out of sight when not in use.
These products are meant to be integrated into your doggo’s everyday routine in order for them to reap the full health benefits, so keeping them in sight and at arm’s length will help keep your training schedule on track.
I would hardly call this a drawback, though, I am happy with these products and would definitely recommend them to other dog owners.
Overall, I was very impressed with these FitPaws products. After trying the Mini K9FitBone Balance Training Platforms, Balance Disc, and Balance Pad with my dogs, I saw an improvement in their balance and strength after just two weeks. I also loved how much they enjoyed working with me during training and how stimulating these new challenges were for them.
For owners of working dogs, athletes, and canines in need of physical therapy, as well as owners looking to train a new pup, I believe they would make a great addition to your daily routine while helping to strengthen your bond with your dog.