A proper dog exercise routine doesn’t have to entail tiresome long walks or dangerous forest hikes. Be innovative. You can purchase a treadmill for dogs that will help meet your dog’s physical exercise needs in the comfort of your home.
However, getting a treadmill for dogs doesn’t excuse you from walking your dog out in the open air. Your fur kid will enjoy these open-air walks by experiencing funny scents and sight of other dogs and people. Still, it will be a great way to break the monotony away from the treadmill.
Although treadmills are great, they have limitations. Treadmills are not fit for dogs suffering from musculoskeletal conditions or older dogs with chronic arthritis. That’s why it’s appropriate if you consult a vet about whether a dog or human treadmill will be fit for your canine companion.
If you have already planned to get one of these exercise equipment, this article has covered all you need to know.
Is A Treadmill Good For A Dog?
Besides being fun, physical exercise has many health benefits for your dog. However, living in an apartment or having less time with you, exercising your dog might be an uphill task.
According to the AKC, a treadmill can help you condition your dog’s body, for example, before walks, dog sports, or agility competitions.
More so, a treadmill can help your pup lose a few pounds. Still, treadmills have become popular in the rehabilitation of injured dogs. If used appropriately, a treadmill will help you exercise your dog all year round, even if the weather outside is harsh.
Even though a treadmill is a worthy form of exercise, here are some tips you ought to know.
- A treadmill is not appropriate for a dog in a poor physical condition
- A treadmill is not ideal for dogs under 18 months. The reason being using the treadmill frequently can damage the growing palate
How Long Should A Dog Walk On A Treadmill?
After getting your dog a treadmill, should you let it walk or run on it till it drops down? No, walking on a treadmill is demanding physical activity. The maximum duration your dog should walk on a treadmill for dogs is 30 minutes.
However, this duration can vary for some dogs. For example, overweight and heavier dogs might not even clear 5 minutes on this treadmill for dogs. At the same time, a skilled and energetic dog might go beyond 30 minutes.
At first, a dog walking on a treadmill should start at a moderate pace and duration. The dog can walk on a treadmill for 5 minutes during the first week. That allows the dog to build the confidence and stamina needed to stay on a treadmill.
Again the following week, make it 10 minutes, keep adding the duration and watch for signs of exhaustion.
Tell-tale signs of fatigue include
- Staring at you
- Lowering of the head and tail
- Loss of pace
How To Introduce Your Dog To A Treadmill
Forcing your dog to hop right on the treadmill after purchasing it will see everything become a calamity. Either your dog will get injured or scared to the core. Nothing as such you want, I presume.
That’s why dog treadmill training is vital to ensure your dog is comfortable.
Here is how to train a dog to walk on a treadmill.
The first few days and weeks will be for your dog to explore this treadmill. Watch out for how the dog overall interacts with this exercise equipment. Is the dog scared or enjoying the whole experience?
At this point, you decide whether to reward your dog or not.
Let your dog become familiar with the treadmill sound, the side panels, and the running belt.
Once the dog is comfortable, you can power on the treadmill. Once you do so, watch your dog’s reaction. Is it scared or trying to run away?
At this point, you ought to desensitize your dog to the sound. So first, when you turn it, reward your dog with a high-value reward. If your dog likes treats, bring plenty of them. If it’s a quacking toy, let your dog play with it.
Your dog will create positive associations with the treadmill for dogs.
Let the treadmill run for a few minutes and continuously reward your dog for being calm. Dogs live in the present. That’s why extra motivation is crucial.
From now on, your dog will know that the treadmill’s vibration signifies reward time.
After your dog hops on the treadmill, you can coin a verbal cue for that specific action. For example, when your dog jumps on the treadmill, say ‘on the treadmill’ or ‘up’ loudly.
Let your dog become familiar with this verbal cue and practice it for a few days. If your dog is enthusiastic (that’s why treats will be variable), it will grasp this command quickly.
Turn On The Machine
Next, put your dog on a leash. Other pet owners will use a dog treadmill harness that ensures the dog is stable and in position while exercising.
Start in a slow-speed setting and encourage the dog to move forwards. Reward your dog if it’s comfortable walking on this moving surface.
You can reduce the treats now so that your dog becomes less dependent on them.
Let the dog practice at this speed setting for a few days or weeks.
Increase the Speed And Duration
Now your dog is 90 % able to exercise on the treadmill. Next, increase the speed. Watch your dog’s reaction, and if he seems to struggle, reduce it or stop.
You can also increase the duration but at your dog’s comfort. Dog walking on a treadmill should never exceed your furry friend’s limits. Overdoing it might create a negative association.
See, that is all about dog treadmill training. Your priority should be letting your dog create a positive association with the treadmill.
Next up, break this training into smaller steps.
Follow that, and this whole process will be smooth for you and the dog.
What Size Treadmill Do I Need For My Dog
Buying a treadmill for dogs needs proper planning beforehand to get the right size treadmill for dogs.
Save your money and avoid frustration by first measuring your dog before you get a treadmill for a dog.
Worth noting the size of a treadmill will be dependent on your dog’s weight and gait length.
More often, manufacturers indicate the maximum weight capacity of a treadmill. Although that is a usable option, you need to capture your dog’s length.
Measure your dog from the tip of the snout to the end of his tail. To get the right treadmill size for dogs, multiply the dimension by two. The result is the ideal size of treadmill you need for your dog.
For example, a dog with a gait length of 25 inches will need a treadmill for dogs with a belt length of 50 inches.
A longer belt length will allow your dog to run faster and feel comfortable while on the treadmill.
Are Dog Treadmills Illegal?
Treadmills for dogs are not illegal -not unless a dog owner uses one for a sinister purpose.
Nevertheless, animal activists loath the usage of treadmills to train a dog- That’s because these treadmills are some of the trademark tools loved by those who engage in dogfighting.
Although dogfighting was discontinued 200 years ago, some still run this trade. For example, a former professional footballer, Michael Vick, was convicted of running a dogfighting ring. One of the tools found inside the ring was a treadmill for training dogs.
Dog owners use a treadmill to tone a fighting dog’s muscles and improve the stamina needed during battle.
That has seen 20 states in the United States prohibit the usage of treadmills for dogs.
Types Of Treadmills For Dogs
Now that you know the benefits of treadmills for dogs, here are the various types you might find out there in the market.
1. Motorized Treadmills
These are close to the other treadmills you find in your local gym. They have a powerful motor that helps run the belt. These motor-driven treadmills have an LCD screen that you can control duration and speed.
- Easy to train a dog to use them
- Best for aerobic conditioning
- With added on features
- These treadmills have an LCD screen where you can monitor vital parameters.
2. Non-Motorized Dog Treadmills
Unlike a motorized treadmill, your dog powers this type of treadmill. The speed of the treadmill will increase the faster your dog runs. Nevertheless, there are various types under this broad group. For example, we have slat mills and carpet mills.
These treadmills have an overhead bar where you can attach a dog treadmill harness.
- Support natural gait
- Allows dog to control the speed
- Feature top bar to attach dog harness
3. Hydrotherapy Treadmills
These are types of motorized treadmills submerged in water. This variety of a treadmill is available in animal clinics as it helps in musculoskeletal recovery.
- Good for rehabilitation
- You can adjust the water level based on the resistance you want to have
- Most expensive
Benefits Of A Dog Treadmill
Even though nothing beats the advantage of walking your dog outside, this option is not always available. And if other indoor exercise routines won’t suffice, getting a treadmill for dogs might be the next option. These are some of the benefits of a treadmill for dogs.
- Treadmill for dog helps exercise your furry friend when the weather is harsh outside.
- Aids in the rehabilitation of injured dogs
- It helps exercise your dog even if you have a busy schedule
- Save you money- no need of seeking the services of an expensive dog walker
- A great boredom buster
- Your dog can exercise even if you live in an apartment or congested area
- Some treadmills have a double duty- both you and your dog can exercise on this exercise equipment.
What to Consider When Buying the Best Dog Treadmill
As you prepare to get your dog a treadmill, here are some factors you should consider. I know you don’t want to purchase an expensive treadmill for dogs, only for it to be way bigger than your dog or one that won’t fit in your house.
Size of Your Dog and Track Length
The dog’s size and track length are two inseparable factors that can help you choose a suitable treadmill for your canine companion.
The good thing is manufacturers will indicate the weight limit of a set treadmill, be keen and note that limit.
If you have large breed dogs, you will need a treadmill with a high weight capacity to accommodate your dog.
After that, consider the track length. Small dogs will need a dog treadmill or a human treadmill with a short track length.
Getting a loud treadmill should not be your priority if you have a canine companion who hates noise. Always consider a treadmill for dogs running on a quiet motor that won’t startle your dog.
If you have a small house or are always on the move with your dog, don’t go for a massive or hefty treadmill for dogs. Look for one that is compact and easy to fit in your constricted storage space.
You can get a collapsible treadmill to fit in tight spaces.
Safety should be a priority. There is no need to get a treadmill for dogs that will leave your dog more scared after every exercise session. Confirm if there is a safety key or lock on this treadmill? You can always pull out this safety key in case of an emergency.
Also, treadmills with side panels are great for preventing a pet from falling.
Check the speed of the treadmill you are to get. You can consider the best dog treadmill with the highest speed if you have an energetic dog.
However, a low-speed treadmill will suffice if you have an injured or old dog breed.
When at this factor, you need to consider the size of your dog. Small dogs with short legs will need a low-speed treadmill to match their strides. Large breed dogs with longer legs need a treadmill with high speed to match their strides.
Another minor helpful feature to consider is the incline setting. A good treadmill will have adjustable incline settings to meet your dog’s exercise needs. For example, an overweight dog will need a higher inclination to increase calories burned per session.
Although not a must, it’s good to go for a treadmill with other extra features. For example, what is the warranty of this treadmill? Do they accept returns easily?
Is there a top bar to attach your dog’s collar and leash? Is there a treat bowl on the front where you can place treats to motivate your dog?
Also, can you use a remote control to operate this treadmill?
Is Walking Outside Better Than A Treadmill
Although treadmills play a massive role in keeping your dog in shape, in no way can they supersede the benefits of walking outside?
Unlike when on a treadmill, walking outside provides mental enrichment. While outside, your dog gets to sniff new scents and experience new sights and sounds. And as you might know, mental stimulation is as important as physical activity.
Furthermore, a good treadmill for dogs can be relatively more expensive than you have to spend walking your dog. If you opt to walk your dog, the only cost you might incur is getting a good leash and harness. And maybe some yummy treats to motivate your pup.
Nevertheless, not that we are dismissing the benefits of dog walking on a treadmill. It’s an excellent indoor exercise, but remember to take your dog outside for those refreshing and exciting walks weekly.
How Fast Do Dog Treadmills Go?
Unlike dog-powered treadmills, motorized treadmills for dogs feature varying speed settings. Some motorized treadmills can go as fast as 7.5 miles per hour and slow as 0.5 miles per hour. An example of a treadmill with a speed setting is the DogPACER treadmill.
Besides that, motorized dog treadmills feature either 0.1 or 0.5 miles per hour speed increments.
Using these speed-setting increments, you can increase or decrease the intensity of each exercise session, depending on what you want to achieve. Mild cardio exercise for an overweight dog will need one to set the dog treadmill at a speed of around 0.5 mph to 2 mph. An experienced dog participating in agility sports will be comfortable running on a treadmill set at a speed of between 4mph – and 7mph.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Treadmills?
It’s fascinating watching a dog trot or run on a dog treadmill. And watching on the internet pictures of dogs who have benefitted from this indoor exercise equipment might give you that nudge of getting one for your dog. Even though this equipment will improve your dog’s stamina and put it in good shape, it’s good you learn of its disadvantages too.
A Dog Treadmill Only Exercises One-Plane of Motion
Unlike playing outside with a ball or fetch, a good workout on a treadmill only exercises the sagittal plane, also known as the median plane.
The sagittal plane movement occurs both front and back of your dog. Your dog also needs the dorsal and transverse planes exercised.
Dorsal or frontal plane movement happens when your dog bends or curves. Transverse plane movement happens when your dog twists or rotates.
Notably, a dog treadmill cannot exercise all these planes of motion. That’s why your dog needs to play a game of tug. Alternatively, you can let your dog romp all over an enclosed yard.
A Treadmill Can Affect Your Dog’s Gait
When your dog walks on such a treadmill, it might shorten its gait, thinking it might run into this barrier. That’s a common problem if there is a barrier in front of the dog treadmill.
It Is Hard To Train A Dog To Use A Treadmill?
Besides being time-consuming, training a dog to use a dog or human treadmill is hard. Sometimes it might be your dog’s anxiety making it hard to learn how to walk on a treadmill. Some dogs are also startled by the vibrations, thus making it hard to train them to use this exercise equipment.
Lastly, not every dog owner has the patience to wait for 2-4 weeks before a dog can now fully use a treadmill. Most dog owners want their dogs to learn to use the treadmill like a pro in the next 24 hours, although that’s impossible.
Treadmill for dogs are expensive
Like human treadmills, dog treadmills are not cheap; they will require you to dig deep in your pockets.
Treadmills with standard programs might cost you around 300 dollars. In contrast, other dog treadmills with advanced programs can cost as much as 1000 dollars.
When calculating all other expenses, don’t forget to include the periodical repair and maintenance charges. You might also need to hire a dog trainer to train your dog to use a treadmill.
To sum up, owning a dog treadmill is relatively more expensive than walking your dog.
Deprives Your Dog of The Chance of Exploring the Beautiful Environment
Locking your dog inside and offering it a treadmill as the only form of exercise will deprive it of exposure to other sights and sounds.
Walking lets your dog sniff new scents, play with other dogs, or enjoy the sunshine.
These are elements that will mentally stimulate your dog. And as earlier said, mental stimulation is as good as physical activity.
Always ensure your dog experiences what’s behind the walls to keep a balance.
Treadmill for dogs Take Up a Lot Of Space
Even though manufacturers will try to make dog treadmills as compact as possible, these indoor equipment are always bound to take lots of space in your house.
Is It Time To Get A Treadmill For Your Dog?
There is no harm if you decide to get your dog a treadmill. Besides spicing up your dog’s daily exercise routines, this equipment is also a great boredom buster.
Nevertheless, owning a treadmill doesn’t mean you must forego all dog walking routines. Your dog might become bored. You need to know that a treadmill for dogs is here to supplement other physical exercise routines, not replace them!