Recently I have been promoting treadmill training for dogs more and more to my clients. Most of the time it comes up with clients who have young, energetic dogs that need to burn some extra energy. However, there are benefits to treadmill training a dog even if they aren’t a high-energy, working breed.
Treadmill training your dog is a great way to:
- Supplement exercise in addition to your daily structured walks
- Exercise your dog during inclement weather (i.e. last winter’s huge snowfall, dangerously cold/hot temperatures)
- Give your dog a “job” to do
- Help decrease anxiety in a nervous dog
- Build confidence in a timid dog
- Add consistency to your dog’s daily life
How to introduce your dog to the treadmill:
- With the treadmill OFF, use treats or dog food to lure/motivate your dog onto the treadmill. Praise and treat your dog when he gets on the treadmill. Motivate your dog off the treadmill. Repeat over and over until your dog is comfortable and happy to get on the treadmill. This process may take a few minutes, a few sessions, a few days or longer. Don’t rush this step!
- With the treadmill OFF, lure/motivate your dog onto the treadmill. Praise and treat once they are on. Attach collars and leashes to your dog. You will need 2 leashes and 2 well-fitting collars (martingale or slip collars work best). You should have a leash attached from the left side of the treadmill to your dog and another leash attached from the right side of the treadmill to your dog to help keep them centered and from jumping/falling off. **See photo and video link below for proper setup.
- When your dog is properly secured, turn the treadmill ON at the lowest setting. Stand on the side of the treadmill to help your dog stay centered. Note: Initially your dog may resist walking on the treadmill. Stay calm and quiet, help your dog remain centered on the treadmill but let your dog figure it out. This may only take a few seconds or it may take a few minutes for them to get the hang of it.
- When your dog is starting to get the hang of walking on the treadmill, you can increase the speed gradually until you reach a comfortable walking speed for your dog. Some dogs like to go very slow while other dogs prefer a faster paced walk/jog. Note: Try not to talk to your dog too much as this can distract them from their focus on walking.
- Let your dog continue to walk for 5 minutes or so then slowly lower the speed and turn the treadmill OFF. When the treadmill is OFF and completely stopped, unclip your dog from the leashes on the treadmill and help him off calmly. Don’t allow your dog to jump off the treadmill.
- Repeat these steps and gradually increase the time your dog walks on the treadmill building up to 30-45 minutes or as instructed by your vet.
Proper leash/collar setup
*** https://www.udemy.com/train-your-dog-to-walk-on-a-treadmill/ This is an excellent video and explanation of how to start your dog on the treadmill by Ted Efthymiadis, owner of Mango Dogs in Canada.
Things to consider before starting a treadmill program with your dog:
- Is your dog physically healthy and able to walk/jog for 30 minutes or more at a time? Check with your vet if you are unsure.
- How old is your dog? Just like normal running and jogging, I usually recommend clients wait until a dog is fully grown before they start any type of repetitive-motion, high-impact exercise. There is some risk to very young dogs whose joints and bones are not done growing. Again, check with your vet for what is a safe age is to start your dog with this type of exercise.
- Where do I get a treadmill? Look on Craigslist or other online used-for-sale sites. Most people who purchase treadmills buy them with the resolution to get into great shape but then generally the treadmill ends up as a clothes hanger or dust collector in the corner of a garage. Working treadmills that people are just trying to get rid of or sell very cheaply are usually pretty easy to come by.
Questions about treadmill training your dog? Feel free to contact Argos Dog Training! We’re here to help!
Enjoy Your Dog!!!