Canberrans are braving brisk autumn evenings to improve their fitness and their dogs' obedience beside Lake Burley Griffin at a new hybrid boot camp.
Sisters Tania and Karina Piddington have combined their passion for dog training and personal fitness to create a unique training regime for man and his best friend.
Karina Piddington, a certified personal trainer, said the House of Dog program was one of the first in Canberra to mix canine obedience with personal training.
"We started this in mid-March and, essentially, it is a fitness boot camp that incorporates dog obedience so the dogs get a workout at the same time as their owners," she said.
"Initially, we thought this was bound to be crazy as we wouldn't have any good dogs to begin with but everyone has had a really good time so far."
The sisters lead participants through fitness and interval training – along with their dogs – before the dogs are ordered to sit and wait patiently for their masters to complete resistance training.
The dogs are taught to desensitise themselves to their surroundings as cyclists and joggers race around the shores of the lake.
Tania Piddington, who has been fostering dogs with Canberra Pooch Rescue for years, said the program had attracted a range of breeds, from terriers to Great Danes.
"I'd say about 60 per cent of the dogs so far have been small, but we have also had some very large ones," she said.
"So many people go down to the gym and leave their dogs at home but this way you don't have to leave your best friend at home.
"It's about getting a great workout and training them at the same time; it kills two birds with one stone."
The Piddington sisters travelled to California to train with a dog boot camp before licensing the program and bringing it back to Canberra.
Karina Piddington said all dogs of all obedience levels were welcome at the boot camp as the goal was to teach owners how to command their dog's respect.
"We do a one-hour obedience lesson with everybody before they join the class so that we can show them the commands they need to know and assess their dog," she said.
"We let any dog in as long as they are not aggressive as the number one priority is everybody's safety."
She said many people were initially interested in the obedience training but eventually enjoyed the fitness element.
"We want it to be a good workout for everyone involved so they can go at their own pace if need be and we can adapt it to suit all dog owners," she said.