If you’ve been spending increased time indoors, as many of us have, your dog may be suffering from a serious case of canine cabin fever. Weather, work, or world events may stand between your four-legged friend and their daily run, but a treadmill is the perfect way for your pooch to get those steps in, no matter what.
How much exercise does your dog need?
As the American Kennel Club notes, all dogs are different. Their needs depend on breed, age, and overall health. If your dog has a severe case of “the zoomies,” has gotten a bit too fluffy, or is looking a little down, it might be telling you that it needs more exercise. A walk or jog on the treadmill is a great occasional alternative to an outdoor run.
Before you get started...
Before you and your pooch embark on this new fitness journey, make sure your BFF is comfortable and safe.
Here are a few important safety tips:
If needed, use an appropriately fitted harness and bungee leash.
You should never use a flat collar or a correction collar and leash on a treadmill. Choking and entanglement are major hazards!
Never leave any pup — of any age — unattended on a treadmill.
Listen to your doggy: not all dogs will enjoy the treadmill experience. If your pet is averse to the treadmill, never force them to use it.
Have fun! Teaching a dog to run on a treadmill should be cute and enjoyable — for you and your pup!
Step 1: Get comfortable
First, let your dog approach the treadmill at its own pace. As with most things, your dog may take some time to get acclimated to the big new toy in the living room — AKA your treadmill. Let your dog step on the machine when it’s ready and slowly introduce the noise of an activated treadmill over time.
Step 2: Bring on the treats
Once your dog is familiar with the machine, encourage your canine friend to step onto the treadmill — still “off” at this point — using some positive reinforcement. You’ll need to have plenty of treats and your most convincing cheerleading skills if your pup’s feeling unsure.
Step 3: Start slow
Once your dog has mastered the “stay” command on a still treadmill, turn your machine on to the lowest speed. Encourage focus and forward motion by sitting at front of the treadmill and providing a steady stream of yet more snacks and love.
Step 4: Pick up the pace
Over time, you will be able to increase the speed of your BFF’s stroll in minor increments. Watch for signs of stress and wait for your pup to feel calm and confident before speeding things up.
Step 5: Exit safely
Teach your dog to stay on the treadmill until you give an “off” command. Slow the treadmill to a halt and have your best bud wait for your signal to ensure a safe exit.
Above all, the treadmill should be a fun and enriching experience for your four-legged friend. Keep in mind that some dogs will only stroll on the treadmill while others will enjoy a peppy run. Every dog is different, but — like you tell them every day — they’re perfect just the way they are.