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Show Notes

According to her business’s Facebook page Brittni Heywood spreads  contagious kindness.

And fitness for dogs.

Brittni is the owner of Potential Unleashed in Kuna, Idaho … heyo, just down the road from me … and she is dedicated to improving dog behavior, manners and fitness.

That’s right, she’s a dog trainer. With a twist.

Sure, she’ll teach humans how to get our dogs to sit, stay and heel but she’s much more into getting — and keeping — our dogs fit and healthy.

Brittni also just launched the P.U.P., or Potential Unleashed Pool, a water dog’s private paradise. She’s built on an acre-and-a-half of her property a swimming pool and a large, fenced-in play area that humans can rent for two hours of playtime with their dogs. 

Brittni joins me today to share her expertise in canine fitness, highlighting how personalized fitness routines can significantly enhance our dogs’ health and extend their lifespan. Certified in both  behavior and canine fitness, she gives us valuable insights into keeping dogs of all ages active and healthy.

What to listen for

  • Importance of maintaining a healthy weight for dogs
  • Tailored fitness routines for puppies, adults, and senior dogs
  • Exercises like cavaletti for muscle development and mobility
  • Collaboration with rehab centers for post-injury fitness
  • Enhancing the human-dog bond through fitness activities
  • Understanding and advocating for your dog’s health

Where to find Brittni

Potential Unleashed Idaho
P.U.P. Idaho
Facebook
Instagram

Transcript

Angela  

According to her business’s Facebook page Brittni Heywood spreads  contagious kindness.

And fitness for dogs.

Brittni is the owner of Potential Unleashed in Kuna, Idaho … heyo, just down the road from me … and she is dedicated to improving dog behavior, manners and fitness.

That’s right, she’s a dog trainer. With a twist.

Sure, she’ll teach humans how to get our dogs to sit, stay and heel but she’s much more into getting — and keeping — our dogs fit and healthy.

Brittni also just launched the P.U.P., or Potential Unleashed Pool, a water dog’s private paradise. She’s built on an acre-and-a-half of her property a swimming pool and a large, fenced-in play area that humans can rent for two hours of playtime with their dogs. 

Brittni joins me today to share her expertise in canine fitness, highlighting how personalized fitness routines can significantly enhance our dogs’ health and extend their lifespan. Certified in both  behavior and canine fitness, she gives us valuable insights into keeping dogs of all ages active and healthy.

Hey Brittany, how are you today?

Brittni 

I’m good. How are you?

Angela

I’m good. Thank you. Why don’t you go ahead and tell us a little about a little bit about yourself?

Brittni 

Perfect. So my name is Brittany Haywood. I actually was born and raised in Idaho. And that’s where I still live with my husband and our three dogs.

Angela

Oh, wow. You’re in Boise, right.

Brittni

Yep. So about 15 minutes outside of Boise and Meridian.

Angela

Oh, what’s the name of your business?

Brittni

So I own Potential Unleashed. And so I do, certified in behavior, manners, and then also got my certification in canine fitness. And that is where my passion and my love gets to just explode. And I get to help people and their dogs with their fitness journey.

Angela  

Oh, this sounds fun. What does that look like?

Brittni 

Um, so just like in anything? Dog related? It depends. Um, so fitness is kind of a general term, it’s a general statement. Most people think of, you know, human fitness, which is going to the gym pushing weight. And can I fitness is a little bit different. Right? So it’s very individual. And it really just depends on what the human is wanting in regards to the fitness as well.

Angela  

We, and I mean, Americans have a reputation as being somewhat on the pudgy side, and you know, a little bit on the unhealthy side. Does that trickle down to our, our canine buddies too?

Brittni 

Absolutely So, especially in in the US, we show our affection and our love through food, right, you got dinner with friends, you do this. And we also see that with, oh, well, I love my dog, I’m gonna give him this, or I’m gonna give him an extra cookie or with a little extra food on top. But unfortunately, just like us when we overdo it, that can start to add up. And for our dogs, that adds up really fast. And depending on, you know, the age of the dog, the breed of the dog, the dogs, normal or typical activity level, they’re not burning as much calorie as they’re taking in, therefore, they’re gaining the weight. And then, as we all know, once we put the weight on, it’s much harder to get off. And that’s even more so with age, right, because then you have mobility issues, and you don’t want to move because it hurts, and then it’s just the snowball effect. And that goes for our dogs too.

Angela  

What are some of the health implications of having a little too much weight on our dogs?

Brittni 

So again, depending on the dog, it can take years off of their lifespan, we already don’t get enough time with our dogs. And so having a chunky dog can take up to two years off of their life. Just with that extra weight.

Angela  

That’s a lot of love that you get to miss out on two years. Yeah, I like this. So walk us through a fitness session with you then.

Brittni 

Um, so again, it depends on the dog, it depends on what what the human is looking for. So after they’ve been seen and cleared by a vet, right, we want to make sure that we’re not met that I’m not messing anything up. Um, a lot of times I focus on the full bog, so the whole body with a point to work the hind end, because dogs carry up to 70% of their body weight on their front. That’s why as they age, their back end is the first to go. Because they lose that muscle mass, they lose that joint support. So it’s very simple things can be done to give our dogs that extra little support in building those muscles. So with that, what my typical exercise or workout routine may look like is we do and again everything is on a non slip surface, right we we want our dogs to have good grip, solid grip feel comfortable because we want to get that full range of motion And otherwise, that compensation comes out. And then we have other problems. So what I like to do is cavaletti these, so that came from the horse world. So all it is, is it poles set up. So occasionally we will use like broomsticks mob sticks, like anything straight, we set them up and we have the dog just walk over them. The point of this is actually learning and helping the dogs learn where their feet are and actually picking them up. Because as dogs age, again, they get sloppy, and they kind of do that toe drag. So all we’re doing is we’re helping them lift those feet up. Ah,

Angela  

cool. Okay. At what age can we start bringing our dogs in for this kind of fitness training? Because I know that like running and big hikes and stuff, you should wait until they’re at least fully grown, I believe, to avoid over stressing the growth plates that aren’t done developing. Correct?

Brittni 

Correct. So famous answer? It depends, right? So it depends on the breed, it depends on again, the long term goal for this dog. So if you have an extra large or a giant breed, their growth plates aren’t technically fully clothed, until they’re 24 months old.

Angela  

Right?

Brittni 

Those big joints, right. So if you think of that, and you know, repetitive, hard movement, hard surfaces are damaging the growth plates, we should actually be doing different activities than just taking our dogs for walks. So fitness. And the way I do it, you can start your dog, as soon as you get them home. Because we’re not doing anything crazy. We’re not putting them up on the couch and having them jump off, right. You can start low to the ground. And matter of fact, most of the time, I don’t even put dogs on unstable surfaces till you know, four weeks in on the fitness if the dog is ready. So for example, in my house he’s to now but tank our lab. When we got him he was in doing fitness with the other dogs he was just restricted. So meaning he was on stable surfaces, lower platforms, and not as much exercise. Now diesel my my old guy who’s roughly 16 to 18 at this point. Yeah, fitness has been a game changer for him. new lease on life since since we’ve introduced it. He’s got the competence, but he’s also got the muscle because we’re supporting him that way. So same exercises, just on different equipment for longer periods of time. So there’s both ends of the spectrum. You know, eight week old puppy 15 year old so fitness is made for everybody. It’s just designed. Yep. designed specifically for that dog or not age.

Angela  

So you mentioned your own your own boy is 16. Somewhere around there. Mmm hmm. What, what unique needs do senior dogs have when it comes to fitness and an overall health in that respect?

Brittni 

Absolutely. So I think the older pups kind of get overlooked and it’s just oh, they’re old. That’s how that’s how it should be right? And that’s not fair to them. Um, so pain management is obviously a big thing. Right? Arthritis sets in. So actually keeping them mobile, keeping them in motion keeps those joints lubricated. So the more we can actually do, the better it is for them, the stronger they stay. And the more fun they’re actually having because you’re engaging their body and their brain. So again, typically, at my house, we do cavities, regardless, because I like the practice of the lifting of the feet. The cool thing is you can stretch it out so then they actually have to extend longer. So it changes there. Are their motion write their extension. And it improves, it engages their brain, because they’re actually happy to think and process. The other thing that we’ll do with diesel, my old guy is, we’ll just have him put his front feet up on something, and it doesn’t have to be anything too high, because what that does is that transfers his weight. So his own body weight to that back end. And as long as he’s even, right, the weight is evenly distributed on those back lens. He’s engaging his core, he’s engaging his spinal muscles. And those those you know, ins and outs of the back end. So just something as simple you know, the step that you have coming in from the garage or from outside, just having them pause and keep their front feet there for 10 seconds, engages all of those muscles.

Angela  

Oh, that sounds fun. And easy.

Brittni 

and easy. So easy. People are like, Oh, I don’t need all of this equipment. No, you can get the equipment. But really, if you have a dog bed, that’s an unstable surface and just have them stand on that dog bed. They’re happy to engage all of those muscles, because they’re happy to keep themselves steady. Yeah. Because I have a balanced disk and Bella will have none of it. Yeah. So when I started with my fitness certification, diesel didn’t want anything to do with the balance pad. Right? The literal balance pad that every person has stood on, for one reason or another. He was like, Nope, I’m out that scary. And now he’s up on, you know, disks and orbits and really tall, unstable stuff. So that just goes to show not only is it the body, the brain, it’s also the confidence that you’re working with these dogs.

Angela  

You’ve said often what you do depends on the dog and the breed. How do you? How do you tailor the different exercise routines to accommodate for different breed different size different age group.

Brittni 

So I look at the dog in front of me. And I see or I also go off of what the humans are telling me, right? So if they favor one side, or if they sit funky, or any of the signs that I’m like, Okay, we’ve got something weak going on. Or if it’s just a general, I want my, my dog to be as healthy as possible. And I start again, on that low surface, that stable surface, so that way the dog can get the skill, and then we increase the challenge or the length of time, right? So quality over quantity always. And the big thing is knowing your dog knowing when your dog is tired, because they are amazing creatures. And they will keep going and keep going and keep going. And by the time you’re like, Oh, I think we’ve ever done it. You’ve long pass the over, over done. Yeah. So and the other thing that I like to tell people is once you know the signs of your dogs, when they’re fatigue, also keep track of how long they’re sleeping. Right? So dogs in general should be sleeping, you know, 14 hours to 16 hours a day. So if they’re sleeping well into the next day after fitness, you’ve way overdone it.

Angela  

Ah, okay. I would just like her to not wake me up at 430 every morning to maybe I’m not doing enough.

Brittni 

It’s possible. What and I mean, our big dogs, right? They’ve got more muscle mass. So they need they need a little bit more when the muscles there. The other thing that I also like people to note is if their dog is limping or gimping or off after fitness, that’s also information that I need to know because that gives me information that something else may be going on that we need to look at

Angela  

his injury rehab fit into it all. Do you do much of that as well?

Brittni 

So I am not rehab or PT. So if your dog has an injury has surgery, they have to do PT rehab. Prior to coming to me, I can only work with the dogs once they’ve been cleared. So I work with local rehab here that once the dogs is to that point that they’re cleared, and the human wants to continue working and have that accountability, that’s kind of where I come in and pick up where the rehab is left off.

Angela  

Oh, that’s a fantastic relationship. I love Yes. Yeah, that’s really important to to keep on moving. Because we had tplo surgery in January of 2023. And our rehab that did amazing work. But then once she got cleared, it was like, you’re on your own. You’re

Brittni 

done. Congratulations. Yeah. And actually,

Angela  

we’re active enough as far as hiking is concerned. But at the same time,

Brittni 

it would have been nice to have some additional like, here’s somebody for you, if you want to continue on with this journey. And the way I do fitness with my clients specifically, is we do enough homework, we want I walk them through how to do the exercises, and then they have about two weeks, right? Because they don’t need to keep building building building the the body needs to acclimate. And then we go from there. Very

Angela  

similar to human bodies. And Absolutely. Do you design a workout that the pet guardian can take home and do on their own as well?

Brittni 

Yes, yeah. So, um, when people are working with me specifically, locally, if I have the equipment that they need, they borrow it from me that we we know how the dog is going to adapt. Or if the dog like I want nothing to do with that, then they’re not going and buying a bunch of stuff that then they can’t really necessarily use. And the other thing that I like to do is when I am with specific clients, finding stuff that they have around their home, right, so that they’re not having to go because not everybody wants a dog gym in their house. And I get that. I don’t understand it. But I get it.

Angela  

I mean, different strokes for different folks, I suppose.

Brittni 

Absolutely. But I always always recommend a set of cavaletti keys, because those are so versatile in most. And we can we can tweak so many different exercises with those. And then, like I said, the dog bed, right, that gives us enough of an unstable surface to use when we get to that point.

Angela  

Now I know for myself, I’m not supposed to work my back two days in a row, not supposed to do legs two days in a row, not like I make it to the gym. But those are the those are the guidelines, right? Yeah. Should you be doing these exercises with your dog every day? Or does it depend on the age? Does it depend on the type of exercise? Exactly.

Brittni 

So it depends on what else the dog is getting? Right? Um, so my household occasionally, they will just get, like free run, right? So they’ll get to just go run and be dogs sniff and that’s more of the cardiovascular and they self regulate their the days. So that was yesterday. So today, everybody got extra or fitness. So what their regiment look like today was less because yesterday was a higher go day. So today was cavaletti these front feet up, right? So we’re getting the core and the back end. Now, tomorrow, or Thursday, depending on what I decide they kind of get to do with whether right? Will be front end. And probably some core. Right? Because just like humans, our core protects our spine. Right? Right. And if you’re if their core is supporting their spine, they’re less likely to be injured. And everybody wants a super strong core. So the I think working and being able to work that you know, daily or every other day is ideal and then flip flopping if you’re working with front end or the back end.

Angela  

I’ve long believed that a tired puppy is a happy puppy. Does that resonate with you to

Brittni 

a tired puppy that is correctly hired? Yes. Yeah, absolutely. Because I mean, again, dogs will do just about any thing for us. So I think we need to make sure that we’re doing it appropriately and not just go, go, go, go go. So you have a tired dog.

Angela  

But it does play into the mental stimulation factor as well for dogs, doesn’t it?

Brittni 

Absolutely. So, again, the beautiful thing about the fitness and conditioning is it works the body and the brain. So you get a two in one, as long as you’re doing it correctly, because the dog is happy to think and process where their body is how to adjust, right? So once you start to watch the muscles that engage when you just have them put their front feet up. And they’re actually thinking and processing. It’s just as tiring as a mental game. Right? Plus, then you get a little exercise.

Angela  

So do you have group fitness classes like aerobics and yoga? But is it Zumba?

Brittni 

So occasionally, I will do a group class. But again, because it’s so individualized, and I like to tailor to what I think and or feel that dogs specifically needs. Not always as a group class a good fit.

Angela  

What are the signs, dog guardians should look at to say, Oh, my God, I need Brittany?

Brittni 

Well, I mean, honestly, every dog should be doing some sort of fitness at any age, any level, because part of the awesome about fitness is injury prevention. Right? So we’re preventing we’re trying to stay ahead of issues that could arise. And then if you have a baseline on your dog, then you can be like, oh, something’s off. Something’s wrong. Where if you’re like, Oh, I think they’re limping today. What could have caused that right, but you don’t actually know or what I like to ask a lot of my clients is, can the dog sit? Well, yeah. Okay, perfect. What does that sit look like? Is it a nice tight tucks it? Are they floppy on one hip? Are they lazily? Because that’s information. Right? And that tells me either tplo or cruciate hip issue, right? There’s a lot of information that we can get by just a simple, how does your dog fit? And what does it look like when they stand?

Angela  

Look, you see behind me that I have the most beautiful dog in the world. And she had the most perfect sit, like like that. Oh my gosh. And now since tplo surgery, that leg is sticking out to the side, I might get it back in how do I get so

Brittni 

a platform to work on a platform? Because then she has to suck it in? Um, and the other thing is, you said that you did that last year? Yeah, that surgery? Um, so she’s had a year of compensation. So the muscle memory has changed. And is she fully weight bearing? When she’s Yeah, on that leg? Okay.

Angela  

So it’s just her brain taking over now.

Brittni 

It’s the brain and again, that that muscles weak, and it’s just easier to flop. So

Angela  

it’s not working out again, Bella?

Brittni 

Somebody has to. I’m happy about that. Yeah, so create something that she has to. She can’t just sit wonkier or with that leg out. Yeah, gotcha. Okay. Yeah. So and the other thing that I like to tell people, and I like people to know this because most people don’t. By the time your dog is limping. They’re at a pain skill of a six.

Angela  

Oh, wow. Really? Yes. Oh, no.

Brittni 

So that tells us that tells us how good they are at hiding. Yeah.

Angela  

But one of the beautiful things about dogs is how resilient they are to Oh,

Brittni 

yes. They will bounce right back. As long as it’s addressed.

Angela  

Right. Um, what can you tell us about the way you see the human dog connection grow when owners work with them? In your world, yeah.

Brittni 

So huge bond grows, because it’s fun. The human is enjoying it, especially when their dog learns the concept or learns the skill. And does it correctly you can you literally just feel the human light up like, Oh my God, my dog gets it. And then the dogs like my humans enjoying this. Okay, let’s do it more. So it truly just grows and that bond and connection is it just raises it to a whole other level. And that that feeds their whole life. Right that that transfers to anything and everything that they do because the dogs like oh, we’re having fun the human. I can have fun. It’s not this rigid, boring. Or over the top. It’s like yeah, let’s just go enjoy each other. Let’s go do something awesome.

Angela  

Great way to earn trust with each other to Absolutely. I love Yeah. What’s one last piece of advice you can give to our listening crowd?

Brittni 

Know your dog. Learn your dog, the way they move. Because again, every breed is different. They’re designed to do different jobs. They all have a different gait. So you have to be your dog’s advocate. And if you don’t know what is normal, and if you don’t have a baseline and something happens, things can go unnoticed until there’s a true issue. So if you if you know how your dog typically sit, or stand or wait bears, you’re already ahead of the game.

Angela  

That’s great advice. Thank you so much for joining us today, Brittany.

Brittni 

Yes, thank you for having me.

Angela

You know what I love the most about this chat with Brittni?

How she emphasizes that engaging in our dogs’ fitness and activity can have a profound impact on the human-dog connection.

By playing together, hiking together, adventuring together, we build trust and strengthen our connection to each other.

And we learn to enjoy and love each other.

It’s how Bella and I truly found each other … on wooded trails of North Idaho and Eastern Washington.

We are both social animals — canine and human — and through shared experiences, we deepen our bond and mutual understanding.

This journey of fitness isn’t just about physical health; it’s about nurturing the spirit of companionship and creating memories that last a lifetime … and into the ever after.

Thanks for joining us at The Companions Collective. If you enjoyed this conversation, share it with a friend or two. If you have a moment, we’d love it if you could leave us a review or rating on your podcast platform.

Until next week, tell your dog I said hi.