Dogs stay in shape on treadmill conceived and manufactured in St. Albert
By: Viola Pruss
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013 06:00 am
The dogs at St. Albert’s All Season K9 Awareness dog daycare are an active bunch.
They chase each other through the room, hunting toys and balls, nipping at each other’s tails. But one of them, a little brown dog, is busy with another kind of exercise – he’s on a treadmill.
His short legs move swiftly back and forth on the device as he listens to an encouraging speech from his elderly owner.
“It’s just five more minutes,” she says and checks the speed on the treadmill.
Overseeing all the activity is Kaytie Stack. She sits in a small office beside the entrance, watching her furry clients and their owners. She opened the dog daycare in October 2009.
She is also the first person in Canada to manufacture and sell dog treadmills. She and business partner Patricia Dickson have been running Spot On K9 Treadmills since 2011.
Though her treadmills are still a novelty in St. Albert, sales are growing, Stack says.
She says she uses them to exercise the dogs, and to deal with anxiety and stress issues. Sometimes their owners lack the time or energy to run with them on a daily basis, she adds.
During the winter months she has over twenty to thirty dogs to care for on a daily basis. All of them use the treadmills for at least half an hour a day.
Other dogs, like the little brown one, come once or twice a week to exercise.
“It helps with getting your dog in shape for show performances, with a dog that recovers from injury, or a dog that’s unruly or too strong,” she says.
“And in the winter time, when you can’t take him for a walk or it’s just not safe on the ice.”
The idea for the treadmills originated from a show on National Geographic, The Dog Whisperer. Stack says the host recommended using equipment to train dogs, so she experimented at home with a regular, human treadmill.
Then, one cold winter day, she was walking her dog Daisy and thought someone should open an indoor exercise and off-leash place.
She purchased the first treadmills for K9 Awareness from the U.S. until one of them broke.
While repairing it, she said she noticed a number of flaws in the design. That’s when she and Dickson teamed up and decided to make their own.
The treadmills are produced by Lucien Dnestrianschii and Joseph Marcos, owners of Klaus Industrial Design, a design and manufacturing facility in St. Albert.
“We put together a design and six months later she put the first unit to the test at the Pet Expo in Edmonton,” Dnestrianschii says.
“The results were quite encouraging and people liked what they saw. So we did some improvements and helped her file the patent.”
Since then, the company has produced over 50 treadmills for Spot On. They are made from aluminum, which offers light weight, and easy storage and reassembly. They can also be changed in height and are waterproofed.
“All of the manufacturing and processing is local, right down to the machine components,” says Marcos.
“We try to keep everything at home as much as we can. That said, our units come at a higher price.”
Spot On treadmills come in three designs, accommodating larger, smaller or medium-sized dogs. They cost between $1500 and $2200.
Stack says most of her treadmills are sold to other doggie daycares but a few are shared among individual dog owners.
One of her clients recently opened a dog daycare in Morinville, and two orders are going out in March to daycares in Sherwood Park and Calgary.
Despite their proven benefits, Stack said dog owners still need to go outside and play with their pets.
In the future, she hopes to expand on both the daycare and treadmill business. But for now, she says, having two businesses can be overwhelming and still needs some getting used to.
“I need some sleep and I also have a family,” she laughs.