Exercising Your Dog on a Treadmill by Diane H. Wong |Published 08/19/2020
Most small dog owners are well aware of the the dangers of canine obesity and want to provide sufficient exercise for their favorite little companion.
While a quick walk around the block or a short game a fetch can certainly help, providing enough exercise for high energy dogs may take a bit more thinking. Many dog owners are wondering if a treadmill might be the perfect solution. There are however, some do's and don't to consider.
One thing I want to stress is that I write these 'rules' as a guideline for using a human motorized treadmill.
Though there are basically two types of dog treadmill (animal-powered treadmill and motorized), the general rules are almost similar, however, it would be in your best interest to follow the guideline from the dog treadmill manufacturer as opposed to mine.
Again I stress, do not let these misconceptions stop you from exercising your dog on treadmills.
These are not entirely true. As a matter of fact, it is the regular average folks who employ treadmill exercising as an alternative. Only a small percentage of competitive dogs use a treadmill to complement their already rigorous exercise routine.
As with all physical exercises, your goal is to get your dog leading a healthy lifestyle so that he will not be too lazy for his own good.
Exercising your dog on a treadmill regularly not only helps to strengthen the heart muscle and overall well being, but it is also a powerful stress reliever. This is ideal for dogs who are cooped up in the house most part of the day.
While these rules may be quite common sense to many but occasionally, they can be overlooked. Always consult your vet before attempting the advanced level like jogging. For a slow pace walking, it should be fine with all dogs with a couple of exceptions.
Years ago, I saw a documentary on television where a Maltese in China could do 200 or 2000 steps of stair-climbing after a tai chi exercise. (I know it's very questionable that a dog can do tai-chi.
The owner never showed how the technique was done as he spoke in Mandarin. Honestly, if this is possible, my late dad would have taught our dogs tai chi instead of 'tormenting' me for years!) with his master every morning. If I'm not mistaken, I believe they are aiming to break the Guinness Book of World Records (for stairs climbing, of course).
As you read in Part one and two of this treadmill series, you already know the many benefits your dog can gain through the use of it. The next question is how to teach your little poochie to walk on a treadmill?
Before your dog begins exercising on the treadmill, follow the few behavioral guidelines below to ensure your dog's physical and psychological safety.
It is without a doubt that many small dogs have a lot more energy packed into their tiny bodies compare to sporting dogs. However, breeds like Pekingese, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, or Shih Tzu might find an excursion around the house tiring. Brachycephalic breeds are especially prone to tiring due to exercise.
Due to the dog's willingness to please, they can somehow keep up the pace, but they certainly are not having any fun. Jogging is best left to medium and large-sized dogs.
Supervise all training sessions. Do not put too much stress on your dog that his cardiovascular system is overloaded.
If your dog is showing these signs…
Stop the exercise by picking him up. Gradually put him down so he can regain his regular breathing. Let him have some water to drink before you massage his tiring muscles.
Do not put your dog on the treadmill the very day you bought the treadmill. Let it sit around for a couple days. Don’t make a big deal about it, treat it like a new piece of furniture you just bought. If he decided to investigate the treadmill, let him be. Again don’t make a fuss about it. Don’t bother to sweet talk to him about it either. Simply go on with your normal daily lifestyle.
Let your dog see you exercising on the treadmill. It will help if you are actually enjoying it by starting it slow—brisk walking. While your dog isn’t watching, you may go ahead with your regular workout routine and sweating it out. The reason is simple when your dog, who never exercises in his entire life, sees you pounding the mill and gasping for air, sends him an unpleasant and threatening message. Remember, we’re dealing with pampered pet dogs.
Carry your dog while you are brisk walking on the treadmill. This is only possible if you have small dogs less than 8 lbs. If you have no problem carrying your 10 to 15 lbs dog and brisk walking for 10 minutes, then go ahead with this method.
Do this two to three times a day. (No worries, ladies, you won’t build any arm muscles by carrying your heavy pooch. It takes a whole lot more strength training exercises to build some defined muscles.) The reason for doing this is to get him accustomed to moving motions without diminishing or magnifying the surroundings in any way.
Put your dog on the mill and stay a step behind him while both you and your dog walk at a very slow pace. You might be walking at the very edge of the belt if you have a very small treadmill.
Just be careful and bear with it a little, for your focus is more on the comfort and safety of your dog. If this is not possible, you might have to spread your legs and put your feet on the sides on the treadmill next to the moving belt.
Put your dog on the mill at a slow pace. Remain close beside him and continue to “walk” (walking on the spot) on the ground. Do this for 10 minutes or so. Gradually shorten the time as you back away a little but never out of sight. Again, do this two to three a day.
Once he gets the idea of walking on a treadmill, you want to stay close to him until he finishes his 20 minutes walk. Many had asked me if it really takes a week for dogs to get used to treadmill exercising.
In most cases, Yes!
When I first introduced treadmill exercise to my Golden Retrievers (who are with my MIL), they were very cautious of the machine even though it was only a couple square feet larger than them. So looking from your little Fido’s viewpoint, wouldn’t it be scary for him to get on a moving object that’s twelve times his size?
Diane H. Wong is a content writer. Besides, she is a research paper writer at the service where everyone can ask to “write my essay for me,” so she prefers to spend her spare time working out marketing strategies. In this case, she has an opportunity to share her experience with others and keep up with advancing technologies.