Dog treadmill training has always been useful. Dogs and treadmills go back to the early 1900's.
Back then, they served multiple purposes. For instance, the slate mill (animal powered treadmill) was used to churn butter, ice cream, and helped with lots of other tasks.
The benefits of using treadmills and dogs are endless. Canine professionals incorporate them for show ring practice, gait analysis, physical therapy (recovering from an injury), behavior counseling, and year-round physical conditioning in harsh climates (Minnesota!).
There are a wide variety of dog treadmills available. Generally speaking, they are broken up into two categories:
The animal powered treadmill is usually referred to as a carpet mill. These dog treadmills have varying
options like resistance control,
incline adjustments, etc.
These are non-electronic (manually) dog-propelled treadmills. They range in price from $300 - $600 depending on the make and model.
Incline control on a dog treadmill enables the handler to increase the grade of the walking surface to simulate walking up a hill. This is an important feature for dogs that are overweight, prone to hip displaysia, or dogs going through physical rehabilitation (physical therapy).
Speed control is a big benefit and the main reason we use a motor driven dog treadmill. We start dogs very slow (walking) to help get them to become acclimated to the treadmill and work them into faster speeds. For some dogs, a brisk walk is a better workout and more difficult than a trot or fast jog. Higher speeds might be used for conditioning a hunting dog in the off-season or for building muscle tone in the sport competition dog.
Track length can impact the gate of the dog. What size is right for your dog? Measure the dog fully extended (in a down position) and look for a dog treadmill that is at least this size. At Neuman K-9 Academy, we use a motor driven treadmill with a 60" deck which covers a wide variety of breeds / sizes.
Time and distance meters on a dog treadmill allow you to gauge the intensity of the work out - how long and how far your dog has been running/walking. I recommend developing a fitness or work out plan. The ability to monitor time and distance is important.
A feature that didn't make the top four but is worth mentioning is low impact shock absorbers. They provide a healthier workout for your dog and are worth paying the extra money for.
As stated previously in this article, we use a motorized or belt driven dog treadmill (electronic). If you keep the treadmill clean, greased and maintenance it according to the manufacturer's specifications, you will get several years of use with no problems. Dogs disperse their weight on 4 paws instead of two feet and in general there is less wear and tear than a human running on it.
You will find that after your dog becomes familiar with the treadmill, they absolutely love it. The positive impact it has on the dogs health (physical and mental) is significant. Each and every boot camp dog that graduates our program goes through physical conditioning which includes daily work-outs on our dog treadmill.
We have a unique process for teaching our dogs to walk or run on the treadmill. If you are interested in training your own dog, click below for step-by-step instructions with a video to help you train your dog at home.
Dog Treadmill Training - Instructions Part 1 (click here)
Learn more about the types of dog training programs offered by Neuman K-9 Academy.