Exercising on a treadmill is a powerful tool that can help dogs improve muscle strength and stamina, prevent obesity, aid weight loss, and provide mental stimulation. If you have an active, hyperactive or obese dog, teaching treadmill training could be your answer to a calm, well-behaved, and fit dog. Learn all the ways treadmill workouts benefit dogs!
So if you’re thinking your dog needs at-home exercise and you have a treadmill available, you really can teach your dog to love treadmill exercise. They benefit in many of the same ways we do, plus it’s a solution for them to get their zoomies out in a home environment. If you’ve been wanting to get your dog trained on treadmill workouts, follow these tips to help them understand and succeed.
Treadmill Training For Dogs
The first step is to get your dog comfortable around and on the treadmill. (Never force your dog to do anything they are not ready to do). With the treadmill off, you want to lure your dog to the track with treats or a favorite toy. Place the treats near the treadmill and let your dog approach the treadmill on their own terms. The goal is to get your dog accustomed to the felling of the track and desensitize them to the machine itself. Once they seem comfortable, use treats to position your dog on the treadmill in the right direction.
Reward your dog for each milestone, then repeat. After repeating this a few times, your dog should be able to get on the track and into the correct position. For some dogs, Step 1 can take a couple of days. But keep repeating until your dog jumps on the track without hesitation. Always treat for good behavior!
Now that your dog willingly steps up on the treadmill without hesitation, it’s time for a little action. Place a sturdy harness on your dog and click a leash onto the harness while you hold the other end. Never clip your dog onto the treadmill and walk away! Now you are ready to turn on the treadmill.
Turn on the treadmill at a speed that allows your dog to walk at a normal pace. Too slow is confusing, as well as boring, but too fast could scare your dog. Watch your dog’s gate to make sure they are walking naturally. Do this for 3 to 10 minutes. Reward your dog. Repeat the next day.
Once your dog has mastered walking on the treadmill, you can increase the speed to a trot and later a run. Keep in mind that some dogs have a difficult time converting from a trot to a full gallop. Make sure the pace is set to meet the needs of your dog’s gate. Start at 5 minutes and work your way up to 20 minutes, watching your dog for any signs of dehydration or exhaustion. Stop the treadmill if your dog looks fatigued and wait to resume training another day. Don’t forget to provide water!
After some practice, you’ll find that your dog really enjoys their treadmill time. Once the treadmill becomes part of your dog’s routine, he’ll be able to exercise on the treadmill with very little instruction and without a harness.
This article was originally published on 3/29/2012 and updated on 5/21/2020.