In many ways your dog is just like a little child. A dog has innate requirements to seek physical activities. They love to jump, run, and play as much as little children and keeping them constrained can cause them to become sad and irritable. However, there are some occasions you may find it difficult to provide your little champ to play outside as much as they need, like when it is extremely cold.
Dog treadmills are fast becoming a convenient alternative for people who struggle to ensure they are able to provide their dog with adequate exercise but dogs will not naturally jump onto the treadmill and start using it, you will likely need to do some dog treadmill training.
If you live in a small apartment and cannot offer your little pet enough space to move around, it can drastically affect their health. Obesity is one of the most significant health issues experienced by domesticated dogs, and it can even lead to premature death in some cases. Keeping your dog healthy is one of the ways that we love and care for our dogs.
When you keep your dogs away from exercising and running around, with time, they can lose their instinctive drive towards movement, which can lead to a deterioration in their body condition and muscle tone. Dogs, especially working breeds, who have a higher need for physical activity and aerobic workout, may also show some severe behavioral symptoms when kept away from fulfilling their natural crave for activities and events.
In an ideal scenario, your dog must be able to run and walk vast distances regularly, however, if you are not finding the time or the environment is limiting such exposure, it is time for you to seek other solutions. One of the best ways to make sure this happens is with the help of a dog treadmill. With proper training, this can indeed be a game-changer.
Are dog treadmills a good substitute for outdoors exercise?
Dog treadmills should not be viewed as an alternative for taking your dog for proper walks outdoors. They provide a convenient way to top up their exercise when you might otherwise be unable to do so.
If you’re temporarily working much longer and are unable to get someone else to exercise your dog then using a dog treadmill can allow you to give them the chance to run around your working hours while you’re getting ready for work or preparing your dinner.
If you’re going to be unable to look after your dog throughout the day and then have minimal time for them in the evening then it is worth considering whether it is fair on your best friend to treat them like that.
Keep Them in Shape
As already discussed, there are times when it can be difficult to get your dog to exercise outside. Using a dog treadmill is probably the best alternative that you can use to keep your dog in shape and even improve their weight without having to step outside your home.
Dog treadmills can cost around $300 and above. It all comes down to the brand, the manufacturer, and the size and breed of your dog. However, when you think about the vet bills and implications of your dog becoming obese, that can be an easy choice to make.
There are several factors to keep in mind when you’re looking at dog treadmills, putting your small dog on a dog treadmill for larger dogs shouldn’t be an issue, but putting a large breed on a smaller treadmill can be dangerous.
If you’re interested in finding the best dog treadmill for your best friend then we have an article that looks at the top 7 dog treadmills currently available.
Dog treadmills can seem confusing and, even, scary to dogs when they come across them for the first time. Dogs are used to seeing the ground stay still, and when they walk, they move forwards in relation to everything around them. Getting them used to the idea that a dog treadmill is a safe place for them to be and to walk on is the purpose of dog treadmill training.
Here are two methods that you can use to get your dog used to the concept of a dog treadmill.
The Acclimatize Method
If you want to train your dog using this method, these are the following steps that you need to follow:
- Introduce the Treadmill to Your Dog: First, you have to make sure that the treadmill is turned off. Get on top of the treadmill and ask your dog to follow you on top of it. Keep a treat ready for him in your hands, and as soon as it jumps on the treadmill, give it to him.
- Make Him Jump Solo: At this stage, you aim to let your dog enter the treadmill without you. Keep a treat in your hands just over the treadmill, and once he makes the jump, feed it to him.
- Teach him to Stay on the Treadmill: Once your dog is comfortable getting onto the treadmill, you will now have to teach him to stay on the treadmill. You can do this by providing him treats at regular intervals while he is on the treadmill. Make sure you do this until he is comfortable standing on the treadmill.
- Introduce the Movement Aspect: Now, you simply have to turn on the treadmill and keep your dog adjacent to it. Provide him treats while he is standing. Your aim here is to acclimatize the idea the the dog treadmill moves and makes noise, and that this isn’t something to be afraid of.
- Make Him Walk: Your main goal during this step is to get your dog to walk on the treadmill. Ask your dog to get on the treadmill and provide them with a treat. Put him on a leash and then start the treadmill at the lowest setting possible. Now stand next to him, holding onto the rope providing an illusion that you are taking him out for a walk like you usually do.
- Provide Reinforcement: Now that your dog is on the treadmill and it is moving, you need to provide him with some encouragement to walk forward. Do this by providing treats and leaving them on the treadmill. Keep doing this until he is compatible with the idea.
- Increase the Speed: Once your dog is comfortable walking on a treadmill, you can now start increasing the speed. However, this is a gradual process that you need to continue for days and weeks. Provide him with treats once he stops. Make sure you never give him treats when he is already on the treadmill so that he does not choke. Keep providing him with verbal reinforcement, so he continues to walk knowing that it is what you want of him.
The Practice Slow Method
The next method you can try to train your dog to use a treadmill incorporates the following steps:
- Obedience Training with Treadmill: In the first steps, you will need to introduce the treadmill to your dog and encourage him to get on it. Once he is on the treadmill, you can practice commands that you already know, like sit and stay. Make sure to provide continuous reinforcement so that he feels appreciated and gets comfortable being commanded while on the treadmill.
- Put a Leash on your Dog: Now put a leash on your dog and make sure that he is facing the forward direction. Keep holding on to the leash while putting the treadmill on the lowest setting. Give him the Ready command now.
- Encourage movement: Once you have put your dog on the lowest setting on the treadmill, you will need to provide him with encouragement and reinforcement, so he moves forward. Verbal instructions, as well as material rewards, are advised.
- Increase the Speed Gradually: Once your dog is comfortable moving on the treadmill at the lowest setting, you can now begin to start increasing the speed on the treadmill gradually. However, be very attentive at this juncture. If your dog shows any sign of anxiety, slow him back immediately.
- Teach New Commands: When the treadmill is stopped, don’t allow your dog to jump off from it immediately. Make him wait till you give the command “off.” This enables your dog to come down to a halt before jumping off from the treadmill and hence prevents accidents. At the same time, this allows you to make sure that your dog does not jump from the treadmill while it is still running.
Things To Keep in Mind
Obviously, there are big differences between dogs and human babies, they require different strategies and reinforcement to make them obey you. When you are introducing a dog to a treadmill, you have to be extremely cautious because they tend to develop a long-lasting fear of machines that make a noise and move. For this reason, you have to keep in mind that the dog treadmill training process is prolonged, helping them adjust to the machine at their own pace. While these methods have been tried and tested, you have to keep in mind that every dog is different, and they may have different mechanisms and reactions to a treadmill.
Keep an open mind about this, and it will make your job much easier. One recommendation that will make your life easily is to make sure that the treadmill is not facing a wall. If the dog treadmill is facing a wall this can lead your dog to assume that moving on the instrument will make them hit the wall.
Always introduce the treadmill to your dog when it is turned off, so it knows that it is a dormant instrument that cannot harm him. Reinforcing incremental movement towards the treadmill will also help him to develop a good rapport with the treadmill, which will help him to exercise on it in the next step. Make sure that you are always holding onto the leash when he is working out on the treadmill. This not only provides the dog with an illusion that he is being walked at the same time, but it also makes them feel secure and does provide an extra security blanket during the workout session.