Can I Train My Dog to Use a Treadmill?

Q. We have a Pit Bull who needs a lot of exercise, but my husband and I have health limitations. On our veterinarian's advice, we got a doggy treadmill, but I have no clue how to get my dog to walk on it. Where do we start?

A. Dog treadmills are a practical way to meet a dog’s exercise requirement when there are limitations, like severe weather or an owner's health condition, preventing the same exercise from being done outside. I experienced this predicament myself with my two Pugs when I was put on bed rest while pregnant with my daughter, Reagan.

The first step in using the treadmill is to have your veterinarian recommend an exercise goal — either an amount of time or a distance — that will benefit your dog. Keep in mind that your dog will require exercise interaction outside of the home even if his main exercise is on the treadmill; this can be done in various ways, including training classes, shorter walks, doggy day care or a trip to the pet store to pick out a favorite chew.

Getting your dog accustomed to the treadmill will take time and patience, but the extra work is worth the payoff. If you rush your dog into using the treadmill without the proper training, he may panic and try to jump off and possibly get injured. Take the training slow and go at a pace where your dog feels comfortable.

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How Do I Train My Dog to Use a Treadmill?

A dog treadmill can be an excellent tool for getting your dog much-needed exercise when regular walks aren’t an option. Dog trainer Mikkel Becker shows you how to teach your dog to navigate the treadmill. Of course, the treadmill is never a replacement for getting your dog outside. Dogs still need interaction outside the home, which can be done with ventures to the dog park, having a dog walker come over on occasion, or getting your dog enrolled in doggy day care or a training class.

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