SDOS Episode 47 – How To Get Fit with Fido with Renea L Dahms

Episode 47 – Today Dom is talking to the awesome Renea L Dahms of Positively Unleashed about her new ‘Get Fit with Fido’ program. If you feel like you need you need to start shedding some of those post Christmas pounds but you don’t have time to walk your dog, never mind join a gym, then Renea has the perfect solution for you.

Full Transcript below

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Full Transcript:

Dom: Hello me bonny bairns, and welcome to episode 47 of the Superhero Dog Owners Show. I’m your host Dom Hodgson, and I’m joined by my very good friend, Alex the video guy.

Alex:                      Hello.

Dom:                     We are presently-

Alex:                      Where are we? This is not a van.

Dom:                     This is not the van, no.

Alex:                      This is my car.

Dom:                     Alex had to take the van to do the important work of dog walking, dog adventuring, and so we were going to … We had podcast recording scheduled, so we thought, no, we’ll power through without the van, and I sort of requisitioned your car.

Alex:                      Yeah.

Dom:                     Is that all right?

Alex:                      No, that’s … well, I suppose so. We’re here now. No, that’s fine, we are nothing if not adaptable. Bit of a mess, bit of a cramp in here, compared to your nice big van.

Dom:                     I know, but it’s … you’ve done well. You’ve done well. I like what you’ve done with the place.

Alex:                      Thanks very much. No space for dogs though.

Dom:                     No, unfortunately not.

In today’s episode, I’m going to be talking to dog trainer, Renea L. Dahms.

Alex:                      Well, wait a minute. It’s been your birthday hasn’t it?

Dom:                     It has Alex.

Alex:                      Happy birthday.

Dom:                     Thank you my friend. Thank you. The reason why Alex has mentioned the birthday, is because it was the big 40 everyone.

Alex:                      I was wondering whether you would tell them.

Dom:                     I know. I don’t look a day over 39, but it’s true, I was 40 years old just the other week. I got this wonderful iWatch. Is it an iWatch or an iPhone?

Alex:                      It’s just called the Apple Watch. I think because they would be confused that people would think like, I watch, you know?

Dom:                     I got it. I get it. So what’s it called? An Apple Watch?

Alex:                      An Apple Watch.

Dom:                     Oh well, that’s what it is then. So I got one of these anyway, which is this really cool-

Alex:                      Let’s have a look at it.

Dom:                     … little gadget, device. There we go. Yeah, it helps if you point it at the camera doesn’t it, Dom?

Alex:                      Very nice.

Dom:                     So, I’ve had it on for like 10 days or something like that, and … well obviously since my birthday. Obviously it connects to your phone, you can talk into it, and all this kind of thing. Actually I’m yet to do … I have a tutorial to do with Apple.

Alex:                      Oh, right.

Dom:                     To show me how to use it.

Alex:                      Throw that in there, that’s cool.

Dom:                     Yeah, yeah. So I’ve got this tutorial, which I’m thinking now, now that I’m thinking about it, I think I might have missed it. I think it was today. Bollocks. I hope I can redo another one.

It’s counting my steps, so we can see from today that I’ve done 12,973 steps.

Alex:                      Get you.

Dom:                     Pretty good for a guy who didn’t traditionally do a lot of dog walking these days. So that’s my target, I’ve got my little target and I’m finding this accountability a really good thing.

Alex:                      Yeah, yeah.

Dom:                     The watch tells me that, like eight days, I’m on a streak. My streak is 8 days long of hitting 10,000 steps, and it’s kind of spurring me on a little bit.

Alex:                      Yeah, you don’t want to break it.

Dom:                     No. Yeah, you’re trying to keep it going all the time. We do a similar thing with our emails and stuff like that. You know, for the pet business people, when we’re trying to promote the business, if you can email every day and try and reach out to people. And if you can play with your dog every day, and do a little bit of training, then all these actions contribute towards a better result, don’t they?

Alex:                      That is true. What’s that saying? A successful year is made of successful months, successful weeks, successful days.

Dom:                     That’s right, yeah. That’s right.

Alex:                      Very good.

Dom:                     So we’re trying that, I’m open to fitness ever so slightly. Should be doing more, but we’re starting with this, we’re getting there. And I’m finding that I’m eating less biscuits, not when you’re around, but generally I’m eating less biscuits-

Alex:                      Don’t pin that on me.

Dom:                     … and junk food, eating some more fruit, drinking lots more water. Weeing like a race horse, consequently.

Alex:                      That’s good to know.

Dom:                     On the subject of fitness actually, that leads us quite nicely onto today’s guest, because Renea L. Dahms from Pawsitively Unleashed, has got a Get Fit with Fido programme. In the interview that we’re going to do with her, it’s actually called something else because it was recorded a while ago and she’s changed the name, and it’s been updated and stuff, but the principles obviously are still the same.

This is something really interesting that we’ve been talking about inside my Superhero Dog Owners in the circle as well, because we … I pulled in a friend of mine, Phil Agostino, who is a fitness and nutrition expert. You know Phil, you’ve done some video with him, haven’t you?

Alex:                      Yes. Yeah, he’s awesome.

Dom:                     Author of Lose the Flab Fast, a really, really good book as well. So Phil came on just to talk about some things that you could do with your dog whilst you’re out walking him to help you to make the most of the walk.

Alex:                      Yeah, cool.

Dom:                     We struggle to fit in time to do dog training, we’ve still got to fit in the dog walk sometimes. So it was just about trying to do a little bit more. Maybe fast walking in between a lamp post and then taking your time for the next one, and that’s like introducing a little bit of interval training into your walks to increase your fitness slightly, and trying to get the most out of your dog walk really.

That’s something that we’re going to be exploring a little bit more with Phil, say we did an hours training inside the inner circle, for both inner circles actually.

So that does lead us rather nicely, doesn’t it, onto the lovely interview with the marvellous Renea L. Dahms.

Alex:                      Awesome.

Dom:                     Alex, would you please press the button.

Alex:                      It’s been a while, can’t remember how.

Dom:                     My guest today is a dog trainer and behaviourist from Wisconsin, where she runs Pawsitively Unleashed, Canine Performance and Aquatic Centre. She’s been featured in the American Kennel Clubs award-winning Canine Good Citizen blog, and Dog Fancy magazine. She’s the author of the Family Companion Dog, An Owners Manual to Centred Leadership, and she specialises in coaching for the everyday dog owner, as well as the hobby and professional dog owners with classes and seminars, and basically all things dogs.

She’s been doing this for a lot of years, I’m really looking forward to speaking to her. Welcome to the show, Renea.

Renea:                  Hi there. I’m happy to be here.

Dom:                     And I said your name right?

Renea:                  Yes, you did.

Dom:                     Super cool.

We’re going to dive straight in with the greyhound round. This is a quick-fire round. I want to get to know you a little bit better, I want the people who are watching to get to know you a little bit better. Are you ready to go off the leash?

Renea:                  I’m ready. Pawsitively unleashed, always.

Dom:                     Good one.

Who’s your favourite superhero?

Renea:                  Mighty Mouse.

Dom:                     Good one.

Are you an early bird or a night owl?

Renea:                  I’m both.

Dom:                     All right. 24/7?

Renea:                  Yep. Stay up late, get up early.

Dom:                     Would you prefer to walk a Weimaraner in the woods, or a Pomeranian in the park?

Renea:                  I would always prefer to walk in the woods, no matter what I’m with.

Dom:                     Okay, so the woods won, not necessarily the dog?

Renea:                  Correct.

Dom:                     Your favourite animal that isn’t a dog?

Renea:                  Horse.

Dom:                     Good, good.

Red or white wine?

Renea:                  Oh red, totally red.

Dom:                     All right, definitely. It’s a date, it’s a date.

What’s your favourite doggy film?

Renea:                  Where the Red Fern Grows.

Dom:                     Oh, I haven’t seen that one.

Renea:                  Oh, it’s a very good one.

Dom:                     I’ll have to check it out. I’ll have to check it out.

Well done, well done. Good answers.

I want to go back in time a little bit now. I’ve got lots of questions I want to ask you, but I want to start at the very beginning. Before you were a dog trainer, when you were just Renea growing up, what was your experience of growing up with dogs?

Renea:                  Actually, when I was growing up, at age I remember growing up, we didn’t have a dog because my parents rented and we couldn’t have a dog. And I wanted a dog, wanted a dog, wanted a dog. So when I turned 18, I bought myself a dog. Dalmatian because that’s what everyone should start with.

So I bought myself a Dalmatian as a birthday gift to myself, and that’s where my dog training started.

Dom:                     When did you go from being a pet dog owner to be a trainer? How did that happen?

Renea:                  Well, I learned about dog clubs and dog shows, and so kind of started getting involved in a local dog club and training for that. And ended up getting a Dalmatian through a rescue, in addition to the one I already had. He was actually attacked in a dog class and then had all kind of behaviour problems because of that, and this was like in the mid-90’s.

And nobody was able to help me help him through his behaviour issues, so I started researching and learning how to do all this behaviour work on my own. And we were able to get him from being terrified to be around another dog, to doing competition obedience including the groups, sits and downs, and whatever.

From there I decided maybe I should consider trying to help other people, and I left the dog club that I was assisting in dog classes with, and started my own business.

Dom:                     Brilliant, brilliant.

I always like to ask my guests to share an embarrassing dog training story. I think it’s good for people to know that we make mistakes as well, and things are always going wrong.

Renea:                  Mine are usually not so much in the … well it’s all training, I guess. But I compete with my dogs, so I have all kinds of great embarrassing stories, because they can do everything perfect even outside that ring, and you walk in the ring, and they always want to leave you humble in some way, form or fashion.

I think one of my best was when I first started trying to do competition obedience, and if you’re familiar, they have a heeling pattern. So you start walking with your dog off leash, and my dog proceeded to walk to the centre of the ring, do a perfect stand stay, and watch me. Turning her head and everything, watching me do the whole heeling pattern by myself at one of the biggest dog shows in our area. Great times, that was good.

Dom:                     It would have been really good if she’d have clapped you when you finished.

Renea:                  Yeah, right. Exactly. Just at the end, she caught back up and did the perfect heel and sat. So it was pretty fun.

Dom:                     Well done to you for carrying on as well.

Renea:                  Well, what are you going to do?

Dom:                     Brilliant.

So you’ve been running Pawsitively Unleashed coming up, for 20 years, which is unbelievable. What kind of changes have you seen with the kind of things that pet dog owners come to you with over the years?

Renea:                  I was talking about that with some dog training friends of mine the other day. When I first started, I started in a smaller space and would take about 10 dogs, 10 people and their dogs. And now I’m in a far larger space, and the same 10 dogs seems like a lot more work in a smaller space.

I think the biggest change I’ve seen is, dogs seem to be more under control at that time. Now it seems like the majority of people that come to my classes are struggling with a lot more behaviour issues with their dogs, or their dogs have no focus. As soon as they get around other dogs, they’re crazy, and it’s trying to get them to calm down and deal with that.

I guess the biggest issue is probably that in the past, people that had crazy dogs like that, just weren’t going to take them out in public. And now I think people are willing to get those dogs out and work with them, so that they have a really great companion versus just kind of tucking them in the backyard and forgetting about them.

Dom:                     Yeah, yeah. Definitely.

You have a new P.A.W.S programme, yeah?

Renea:                  Yeah.

Dom:                     Tell me about that. Physical Activity With Spot. It’s all about exercising your dog. Tell me some more about that, I’m really interested in that.

Renea:                  All right.

P.A.W.S stands for Physical Activity With Spot, and the whole goal is to revolutionise people’s relationship with exercise. So we say embrace movement. I think when you use exercise, it kind of becomes the E word to people. If you say workout, it’s the same thing, their eyes glaze all over and they just walk off.

We designed a programme that’s fun. Three or four years ago, I was already teaching classes for people’s pets. So you would bring your dog and you’d exercise your dog, and we’d use that for confidence building and all kinds of stuff. And I started thinking, well why can’t we incorporate working out with your dogs? We wanted it to be fun, somewhat challenging, but easy enough that people would do it, but still get something out of it.

It’s kind of a combination between canine exercise, people exercise, freestyle and dog tricks. You bring your dog in and we set up a small circuit, and I show everyone how the exercises work. And then what they do, is just make their way through the circuit of exercises. Like we might have an aerobics step out there, so you step up, you step down, and when you step up onto the step, your dog does a sit, and when you step back down, your dog stands on the step. So you’re both utilising the step together. Or maybe you’ll step across and they’ll go across with you.

We use physio peanuts, physio balls. The FITbones that another company has. Aerobic steps, sand weights, cones-

Dom:                     Wow, the whole bit. So it’s a like a whole kind of circuit training, but with your dogs?

Renea:                  Oh yeah, and it’s a tonne of fun. The dogs love it, the people love it. It gets the dogs moving, it gets the people moving.

Obesity in people is kind of levelling off a little bit, but it’s not going down. But obesity in pets is actually getting worse. So this is kind of a way to get everyone out together moving, because some movement is better than no movement.

Dom:                     Definitely.

Renea:                  So instead of trying to make people go do this big Arnold Schwarzenegger workout, let’s just get moving and feel better.

Dom:                     Yeah, definitely. You’ve got to start somewhere, haven’t you? Definitely.

Renea:                  That’s right.

Dom:                     How are they taking to the P.A.W.S. programme?

Renea:                  Oh, they love it. It’s fun. People like it, they have a good time. And it’s funny, because I’ll look back at videos from when we first were starting stuff, to like last night we had a class, and you can just see the difference in the confidence in the people.

Even like I added some new exercises last night, and several months ago, they were like, “Oh, my God,” trying to figure anything out. Like, “I can’t do this,” and you could see them working really hard to figure it out. Now they’re Johnny-on-the-spot, because they’ve got some confidence in themselves, and they’re moving better. Because three months ago, they couldn’t move like they can move now either, because there’s some fluid in the joints and stuff because we’re moving around.

Dom:                     What do you see happening with the dogs and the owners?

Renea:                  The dogs that are coming in are paying better attention to their owners than they were when we first started. Because the people that are there, have been in there the whole time.

The dogs really enjoy being on the equipment with the people too. So you can see their relationship’s better. If you get to an exercise where the dog is really just kind of going to hang out and do a sit stare and a down stay, because dogs need to learn to just do nothing too, they’re actually doing it now. You’ll see it’s pretty cute, the dog’s just kind of sitting there staring at their owner waiting for them. Whereas before, they’d be sniffing all around and not hanging out.

So the dogs are getting some better skills, the relationships are definitely better. They’re happy to come to class.

Dom:                     Brilliant, and they’re learning something new, aren’t they? That’s fantastic.

Renea:                  Yeah.

Dom:                     How do you go about teaching the dogs to settle then, in between, when it’s not their turn?

Renea:                  We actually try to teach them to settle. Sometimes I’ll do a class where you’ll just stand there and stare at your dog, and as soon it sits, you click and give it a treat. We’ll do that for a little bit. And then if you continue to stand there, we’ll just kind of chat. Like, oh let’s just talk, and we’re just going to stand here and do nothing with your dog, and eventually the dog will lay down. And I tell them, click and drop a treat, or put a few treats between their feet.

But remember, we want the dog to settle, so don’t throw them a party, just very calmly say, “Good job,” because we don’t want to unsettle them. Yeah, we just kind of do a lot of … just a little bit of capturing and a little clicker training to get that, and it usually works pretty well.

Dom:                     Yeah, good stuff. Brilliant, I like that a lot. That’s awesome.

What’s a favourite activity you like to do with your own dogs?

Renea:                  Geocaching.

Dom:                     Oh, all right, awesome. Tell me a bit about that. I’ve got a friend who does that as well, actually, and she takes her dogs. Tell us a bit about geocaching.

Renea:                  Geocaching, in a nutshell, would be using multi-million dollar GPS units to scavenger hunt for junk in the woods. You have GPS coordinates that will take you to something somebody hid. They can be hanging in a tree, they can be slightly buried, they can be really creative. We had some we found where somebody glued bark to a PVC pipe so it looked like a log laying there. Things like that.

So you find it, you open it up. Usually there’s a log, you sign it. If there’s things in there, you can take a thing, but you gotta throw a thing back in. And so I always throw my clickers in there, because I have my business name on them.

Dom:                     Good thinking.

Renea:                  Yeah, so I throw my clickers in all the geocaches. My dog likes it because we’ll go spend a couple hours at a time doing it. So we’re hiking around in the woods, or wherever we are, and then my dog will start to search for them. We do scent work and tracking and stuff, so after a while, my dog … my dog’s probably found half the geocaches we’ve found, before I have.

Dom:                     Wow.

So, it’s just the repetition of the fact that you’re going out, and you’re finding this stuff? Because obviously the dog don’t know the scent of the thing that he’s finding, but he’s still tuning into finding something.

Renea:                  I think because Tupperware is out of place [crosstalk 00:17:54].

Dom:                     Oh I see, it’s the Tupperware then. Yeah, yeah. It’s the Tupperware, I see.

Renea:                  Yeah, I think that the containers are just kind of an out-of-place scent, and so they’re probably attracted to it. Plus a lot of people go to it. We do do tracking, so I think they probably notice a lot of the human scent kind of pooling into an area, which probably attracts them as well.

Since we’re out there geocaching, we started adding parkour. Canine parkour. So we’ll be doing parkour while we geocache, so it’s all good.

Dom:                     Yeah, brilliant.

Well, we do a bit of parkour with our dogs as well, a lot of them. Just in the parks, just jumping over logs and benches and things like that. Going around trees and stuff, it’s great fun isn’t it?

I love stuff like that. I love anything where you’re teaching a dog a tree just isn’t necessarily to pee on, you know? You can do something else with it as well.

Renea:                  Yep, yep. All kinds of fun.

Dom:                     Yeah, it just helps you keep a bit more controlled, doesn’t it? That’s brilliant, that’s brilliant.

You’ve given us loads of … I normally like people to give us an idea of something that pet dog owners who are watching the show can go and have a try of. But you’ve given us a number of different things, from the exercise, the geocaching, and the parkours, all brilliant.

If you could sort of wave your magic wand and get every pet dog owner to do something new with their dog, what would you pick, and why?

Renea:                  I would pick the P.A.W.S. programme, because I think that … well we’re becoming a sedentary group of people. You know, we sit all day at work, we sit all day in our car. Facebook certainly makes it easy to have more chair time, than moving around. And I think one of the reasons that dogs come in the class as unfocused and crazy, is because they’re not getting enough physical and mental stimulation. I don’t think they need to be able to just run wild for five hours, I think they need to have purpose to their movement, and I think people do too.

I think it’s really good, and it can show you that you can get a lot of really good results without having to put in a tonne of time. You don’t have to be gym rat to see improvement.

Dom:                     Yeah. Excellent.

Same way as you don’t need to be a dog trainer to have a well trained dog, do you?

Renea:                  Absolutely not.

Dom:                     You’ve just got to do something with them, I like that.

What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever been given? Either dog related or something else.

Renea:                  Don’t give up.

Dom:                     Nice, and can you tell me where you’ve used that in your personal or your business life?

Renea:                  Well, I’ve been here for 20 years, so there’s that.

Dom:                     You haven’t given up yet.

Renea:                  Yeah, no matter how tough things got, I’ve toughed it out. We’ve had all kind of things that would have put other people out business probably. Even in my personal life, or with my dogs. I’ve had dogs that have had issues and problems, and I stuck with it and I’ve worked through so that my dog and I can still enjoy a great life together, because I have a companion animal and I want a companion. And so I’ve just figured out what I need to do to help my dog through, and myself through things, and here we are.

Dom:                     Good stuff. Good advice, really good advice.

What do you like to do Renea, when you’re not doing all of these activities? Do you have any chill out time? What do you like to do when you’re chilling out?

Renea:                  Read, I like to read.

Dom:                     That’s good.

Renea:                  I read a lot. I have a huge bookshelf. I really enjoy reading a lot. I used to do a lot of art, I haven’t done that for a while, but I might get back into drawing.

Dom:                     Good stuff, good stuff. That’s awesome.

Where can people go to find out more about you, and what you’re up to, and the P.A.W.S. programme?

Renea:                  There’s three places on the web that I’m the easiest to find. Obviously I have a website, which is We have a Facebook page, which we keep very active and it’s, I think,, probably. But we do have a Facebook page.

Then we have our YouTube channel, which is Pawsitively Unleashed, Wisconsin. And we have playlists that have parkour and the P.A.W.S. programme, and any of the stuff we do in classes, it’s all there.

Dom:                     Brilliant, brilliant. I’ll put links up for that, so people can be able to access that really easily.

Renea:                  Perfect.

Dom:                     That’s fantastic.

Hey, I want to thank you very much for your time. I’ve really, really enjoyed speaking to you, and I’d love to have you on the show again sometime.

Renea:                  Oh, I’d be more than happy to come back, this is fun.

Dom:                     Brilliant, brilliant. I’ll send you a copy of my book too, and you can stick that on your shelf.

Renea:                  Sounds good.

Dom:                     Thanks again, Renea.

Renea:                  Thank you.

Dom:                     Take care.

So, Alex.

Alex:                      Yes, Dom.

Dom:                     How awesome was that?

Alex:                      That was pretty awesome. Yeah, it was cool.

Dom:                     That was really cool, wasn’t it?

Alex:                      Something a little bit different, yeah.

Dom:                     Definitely, yeah.

I think … I predict, Alex, that this will become more of a thing, I think.

Alex:                      Yeah.

Dom:                     This getting fit with your dog. We talked about with Phil the other day, and like I said, and Phil said … I don’t know what the name is now, but you know the ladies who have just had the babies, who’ve got their act together. The idea of like meeting up with the prams and pushing them around the park, and stuff. It’s got a special name, but I can’t remember what it is. I think it will go more that way with dogs as well.

Alex:                      It’s true.

Fitness is very in these days, isn’t it? But it’s still … I mean for people like dog walkers and dog trainers, who are so busy-

Dom:                     Yeah, dog owners.

Alex:                      Yeah, exactly. It’s difficult to kind of fit that stuff in, but this is a way of kind of taking something that you already do, and just giving that extra little fitness slant on it.

Dom:                     Yeah, and Renea, God bless her soul, is there at the forefront pushing this stuff.

Alex:                      Exactly.

Dom:                     Well done Renea, thanks so much for being interviewed.

Please go and check out more about Renea L. Dahms, and hopefully get on the podcast again some time too.

But before we go Alex, before we wrap this up, I’ve got something to show you. This is my brand new book, Walk Yourself Wealthy.

Alex:                      There it is.

Dom:                     The quick, easy and no BS guide to transform your passion for pooches, into an insanely profitable and fun dog-walking empire.

Alex:                      Love it.

Dom:                     And it’s got a nice … can you see the glittery bit there? You can see the glittery, glittery, can’t you?

So this book is … it’s not a dog training book, this book is for dog walkers, dog trainers who want to grow their business, doggy daycare owners, dog groomers even. The market and lessons in here will help you to grow your business, whichever kind of pet business you have. But anyway, that was it.

This is available at You can get it on Amazon, it’s available on the Kindle version. It’s available as an audiobook on Audible. And you can even get the Walk Yourself Wealthy course as well on Udemy. Or you can go to and you can see a lot of goodies that I’ve got on there as well, because if you buy it from me, then I send you some bonus stuff as well.

So that’s it, we’re going to talk more about that though in next week’s podcast.

Alex:                      Cool, sounds good.

Dom:                     We’ve got to revisit the business of dog training, and talk a little bit more about the book. I know we have a lot of dog trainers, dog walkers and stuff, who watch this, so we’ll give the dog actual dog training. We’ll stick a pin in that, as they say, and we’ll talk a bit more about the book.

Alex:                      Awesome, sounds good.

Dom:                     Yeah. Good, I’m pleased you said that, because we’re going to record it in a couple of minutes.

Alex:                      No, we’re not.

Dom:                     Continuity. So thanks for watching everyone, and thank you Alex, for setting up the car. It’s been very comfortable.

Alex:                      No problem.

Dom:                     If we don’t see you through the week, then we’ll see you through the window.


Meet the Author

Dom Hodgson