Treadmill Training for Dogs, Yup It’s For Real
When we do tours of our facility, we always get the same reaction from people when they notice our doggy treadmill, they chuckle to themselves and then ask, “Is that for real? Do dogs really do that?”
The simple answer is “yes, if you train them to do it.”
Treadmill training at home or at a facility gives dogs something to do that puts them outside of their comfort zone, so they are forced to engage their minds and their bodies. If you have a hyper active or obese dog and a loaded work or personal schedule, treadmill training could be your answer.
Your dog first needs to be properly trained to walk (then run) on a treadmill. If you have a treadmill at home, here are some tips for training your dog:
Step 1: Your first goal is to get your dog to be comfortable around and on the treadmill (never forcing your dog to do anything he or she is not ready to do). So first, you want to lure your dog over to the treadmill with something positive like treats or a favorite toy slowly getting him or her use to the track and machine. Once your dog is comfortably standing on the treadmill facing in the correct direction, reward your dog and repeat the next day so that you only need to use positive reinforcement after your dog is on the track and in the correct position.
Step 2: Once your dog can get up on the treadmill without hesitation, place a sturdy harness on your dog and click a leash onto the harness while you hold the other end (NOTE: Never clip your dog onto the treadmill and walk away!!). Now you are ready to turn on the treadmill.
Step 3: Turn on the treadmill at a pace that allows your dog to walk regularly. Too slow is confusing and boring and too fast can be scary. Watch your dog’s gate to make sure your dog is walking naturally. Do this for 5 to 15 minutes. Reward your dog and repeat the next day.
Step 4: Once your dog has mastered walking on the treadmill, you can try to increase the speed to a trot and then run. Some dogs have a difficult time converting from a trot to a full gallop on the treadmill, so make sure the pace is set to meet the needs of your dog’s gate. Start at 5 minutes and work your way to 20 minutes always watching your dog the entire time to ensure there are no signs of dehydration or exhaustion. If your dog looks fatigued, immediately stop the treadmill, give your dog water and wait for another day to resume training.
Step 5: After some practice, you’ll find that your dog really enjoys it and even looks forward to it! Once the treadmill becomes apart of your dog’s routine, he or she will be able to exercise on the treadmill with very little instruction and without a harness.
If you are not willing to take the steps at home or do not have a treadmill, we recommend booking an appointment at a facility, like Fitdog Sports Club. At a facility, you can count on experienced handlers to train your dog for you.
Treadmill training is great for reducing or eliminating behavioral problems, it improves muscle strength and stamina, prevents obesity or helps reduce weight and is a new and fun activity for dogs that require a lot of mental stimulation and exercise.