Teaching Your Dog to Run on a Treadmill
If your dog is a high-energy breed, you already understand the importance of regular exercise. Not only does exercise keep your dog lean and fit, but it also helps to wear him out so he doesn’t become a nuisance. If inclement weather or mobility issues prevent you from taking your dog for a run outside, you may want to consider teaching him to run on the treadmill.
Are Treadmills Really Safe for Dogs?
If you are used to walking your dog outdoors, you may wonder why on earth you would even think about training him to run on a treadmill. The main benefit of a treadmill workout for dog is that it can take place indoors – this will be a godsend for you if the weather decides not to cooperate with your plans. Just because it is raining doesn’t mean that your dog doesn’t still need a walk.
Related: Pumping Up With Your Dog At The Gym
Another benefit of treadmill exercise for dogs is that it gives your dog a real workout without distractions. This is especially important for high-energy breeds and for dogs that could stand to lose a little weight. On a typical outdoor walk, your dog spends half the time sniffing around without getting any real exercise. As long as you train your dog to run on the treadmill properly, it is completely safe. Just be sure to train him well, teaching him how to walk on the treadmill first and then transition into running.
How to Teach Your Dog to Use a Treadmill
The first thing you need to do is get your dog used to being on the treadmill. As a big, noisy machine the treadmill can be a scary thing for dogs. Start out by incorporating the treadmill into some of your games, rewarding your dog when he moves near or onto the treadmill.
In the next stage, start to incorporate the treadmill into your obedience training sessions – have your dog get up on the treadmill before you practice commands like “Sit” and “Down”. You can even teach your dog a special command to have him get up on the treadmill on his own.
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Once your dog is used to being on and around the treadmill when it isn’t running, you can start working with him to teach him how to walk on the treadmill.
Put your dog on a leash and have him stand on the treadmill facing forward. Ask a friend or family member to turn the treadmill on to its lowest sped and encourage your dog to start walking with treats and plenty of praise. With each training session, gradually increase the treadmill speed until your dog is trotting at a comfortable pace. Then, simply increase the length of his treadmill running sessions by a minute each day until he can run for about 15 minutes – 20 to 30 minutes if he’s a high-energy and athletic breed.
Running on the treadmill should not be a replacement for taking your dog on his daily walk, but it can be a useful thing for him to learn. There will be times when the weather prevents you and your dog from going outdoors or when you simply aren’t up to a 30-minute walk or run. In times like that, just turn on the treadmill and let your dog walk himself!
Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.
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