Winter is around the corner and, for me, that always means it’s time to start thinking about treadmill training for dogs.
Dog owners are often surprised to hear that you can teach a dog to walk on the treadmill, but there are several benefits:
– During winter months it can be an easier way to exercise your dog both physically and mentally. Sometimes getting out on a walk in two feet of snow doesn’t seem amazing. But teaching your dog to walk on the treadmill can burn off a lot of that energy.
– It doesn’t have to be just winter. All year round this can be a great way to exercise your dog.
– Treadmill training seems to be one of the dog training exercises for your dog that expends the most physical and mental energy. When you can work both physical and mental into an exercise it seems to compound your efforts and you get a tired and fulfilled dog much easier.
– Running builds muscle and is great for your dog’s health.
So let’s get into HOW to train your dog to run on a treadmill.
Step 1- Proper equipment
– You want a treadmill with a motor, ideally. The self propelling treadmills aren’t great.
– Get yourself a leash; 4-6 feet or so is what we’re looking for. NO retractable leashes.
– Have some sort of collar that releases quickly after a quick tap. A slip lead, martingale, or even prong collar (if your dog has been trained on it) can be super helpful.
2- Get your dog on the treadmill and help him or her feel comfortable.
Simply use the leash to guide the dog on. When he’s standing there give praise. Give some treats.
Make it a positive experience to be standing on the treadmill.
3- Start slowly!
But as you start make sure that you’re ready with the leash. A lot of dogs will try to hop off immediately.
YOU CAN’T LET THIS HAPPEN!
You’ve got to use that leash to give guiding little taps to keep the dog on the treadmill. If the dog learns that it’s possible to easily jump off when it’s a bit scary or they don’t feel like doing it then it becomes VERY hard to fully treadmill train your dog.
4- Find your dog’s sweet spot
Every dog has a speed that is both:
A- Fast enough to keep them both physically and mentally engaged, but…
B- Not TOO fast to where the dog can’t keep up.
Find that speed for your dog. As your dog gets better at this skill you’ll likely find that speed will go up.
5- Slowly increase the duration
Don’t try to get 20 minutes out of your dog on the treadmill on the first day.
You’ve got to build up to that duration. It may only be a couple minutes at first but if you build on that you’ll soon be able to get nice long exercise sessions in.
Happy treadmill training!