Canine Treadmill Training - Instruction Part 2

Previously, we covered an introduction to Dog Treadmills – their benefits and our machine recommendations. We then moved on to the first three steps of Treadmills for Dogs Training.

In the final stages of canine treadmill training, you should begin to advance your dog's ability to change speeds, incline and decline the machine in motion, and increase the duration of the workout.

Along the way, you may encounter challenges that we will work through - so keep reading. You may find some valuable tips and tricks!

We will cover:

4. Movement(s)
5. Schedule
6. Problem Solving

Canine Treadmill Training: Movement (s)

Training your canine to increase and decrease speeds will give you the ability to vary the workout and keep their focus on the treadmill.

Treadmill Movement - Phase 1:

This is surface conditioning the dog. In this phase, the dog is moving their feet at a very slow walking pace. The speed of the treadmill should be somewhere between 2.0 and 2.5.

Treadmill Movement - Phase 2:

This is when we teach the dog to jog. For each dog, this speed will vary. Here are some approximate speeds:

Small to medium dog: 3.0 – 3.5mph
Medium to large dog: 3.5 – 4.5mph
Giant breed: 4.0 – 5.0mph

Start out in Position 1 (next to dog, short loose leash - see Instruction Part 1 for all positions). You are walking the dog at the normal walking pace. After a few minutes, slowly start to increase speed on the treadmill (gradually) while monitoring the gait of the dog.

If they break stride into a jog, I will continue for a few minutes and then slow back down to the walking pace.

When you increase the speed, the dog may start to lag to the back of the treadmill. Use verbal praise to encourage your dog to stay at the front. If they are not changing speeds when you increase – and continue to lag, you will need to do speed intervals. Here's how:

Turn the treadmill back down to a comfortable walking pace; increase back up to a jogging pace; decrease to walking speed, etc. By doing intervals (speed up, slow down, speed up, slow down) for several sessions in a row, it will increase confidence and train the canine to increase speed as the speed of the belt moves faster.

For dogs that are very uncertain, it may take 5 to 7 sessions to see a little progress. The signs of progress are the dog staying at the front of the treadmill as you increase the speed. The end result for the second phase is your dog at the ideal jogging speed (varies per dog) for 3 to 5 minutes – at the front of the machine.

Treadmill Movement - Phase 3:

This is teaching your dog to continue walking or jogging when you increase the angle of the belt – otherwise referred to as incline. By this point, canine treadmill training should be coming along smoothly and your dog should be comfortable with walking or jogging. So, I begin the incline with the dog walking at the normal pace.

I will slowly increase the incline. Each treadmill varies with what interval it will incline to; however, my dog treadmill is 1 to 15. When I first incline the machine, I will turn it up to 5.

I will have the dog walk at this incline for 2-3 minutes and then turn the incline back down to 0. I will then turn the speed up to the jogging pace and again, incline to 5.

After a few minutes, turn off the incline and let the dog jog for a few minutes with no incline. At this point, if your dog is comfortable with incline, you can begin incorporating this into their daily workout.

If the dog starts lagging to the back of the treadmill, I recommend that you move to Position 2 (in front of the treadmill) and use verbal praise to draw the dog forward. You can also use light tugs on the leash to prevent them from falling off the back of the belt/platform.

Remember- safety first!

Treadmill Movement - Phase 4:

This phrase is working at higher speeds, when the dog is running on the treadmill. Running speeds will vary based on the size of your dog; but a good rule of thumb is 4.0 to 5.0 for small to medium dogs, 5.5 to 6.5 for medium to large dogs, and 6.5 ++ for large or giant breeds.

A few things worth considering before you attempt this phase are the age and physical attributes of your dog. A young dog that is still growing should not be running or engaged in strenuous activities. This can have adverse affects on the growth of the body.

Another thing to consider is the dog's experience level on the treadmill. In other words, how well your dog can jog, walk and work on the incline previous to this phase. Training your dog to run on the treadmill is the same as all other training phases.

I slowly turn up the machine and monitor if the dog is increasing speed or lagging to the back of the treadmill. For this phase, the handler / trainer should be in Position 1 so they can quickly turn down or turn off the machine if the dog begins to struggle.

Canine Treadmill Training: Schedule

The schedule will vary depending on the skill set of your dog. However, here is the guidelines we use at Neuman K-9 Academy.

Canine Treadmill Training Week 1:
Phase one, 3-5 minute sessions teaching the dog to jump on the treadmill platform, walk for 3-5 minutes, sit when the machine is turned off, release off the treadmill and reward (lots of praise). Trainer / handler is in Position 1 the entire time.

Canine Treadmill Training Week 2:
Phase two, 6-10 minute sessions teaching the dog to increase speed from walk to jog (interval training for speed changes). Walk 1-2 minutes, jog 3-5 minutes, walk 1-2 minutes. The dog is required to sit when the treadmill is turned off. Trainer / handler will be in Position 1 the entire time.

Canine Treadmill Training Week 3:
Phase three, 10-15 minute sessions teaching the dog to walk and run with incline incorporated. The dog is required to sit when the machine is turned off. Trainer / handler will work in Position 1 and 2.

Canine Treadmill Training Week 4:
Phase four, 15-20 minute sessions having the dog walk, jog, run, speed walk with incline, with warm up and cool down (walking 1-2 minutes at the beginning and end of the workout). The dog is required to sit when the machine is turned off. Trainer / handler will work in all three positions excluding Position 3 when the dog is running.

Canine Treadmill Training Week 5+:
Begin charting the workout. Write down how far the dog is running (distance / miles), maximum speed running, total minutes of the workout and maximum height of incline. I also recommend keeping notes on your dog's progress so you can continue to advance their ability to run on the treadmill and challenge them physically and mentally.

Do keep track of your dog' weight. This will help you gauge the amount of exercise in relation to the workout and diet, which is important for dogs and humans who are weight-training or physical conditioning.

Canine Treadmill Training - Harry the Pug. Sit before released.
Dogs should sit before they jump off the treadmill. This is Harry, a Pug.

Canine Treadmill Training: Problem Solving

The possibilities are endless as to what will challenge your dog the most on the treadmill. But here are a few that we have encountered over the years.

Pooping or peeing on the treadmill -

This one by far is the most frustrating challenge, but preventing it is easy. Let the dog out to go to the bathroom before the workout!

I also keep a close eye on the dog's movement. If they begin to move funny (stride changes), their back end starts to hunch, or they all of a sudden start sniffing the belt, I will turn off the treadmill and quickly get them outside. After a while, you will be able to read the body language of your dog to determine if they might need a bathroom break.

Lastly, if you continue to have accidents regardless of the bathroom breaks, run your dog on the treadmill opposite of the times you feed.

Jumping off or bailing during workout

Going to Position 2 or 3 prematurely will result in dogs trying to jump off the treadmill. I recommend staying in Position 1 for the first two weeks. Then work with a short but loose leash in Position 2.

If you are having instances where your dog jumps off a few times in a session, you should revert back to Position 1 for a while before going back to Position 2 or 3.

Have your dog sit on the treadmill before it is allowed to jump off when the exercise is complete. This will imprint in the dog's mind that it must stay on the machine until released.

Forging Ahead

Forging during canine treadmill training is common in high drive dogs at the beginning of the workout. There are several ways to address this and the best solution will vary per dog. However, you can try giving a verbal correction ("No"), or use back pressure on the leash to help burn off the initial energy.

You can also turn on the incline right at the beginning of the workout to burn off their initial energy. After a couple minutes, most dogs will settle – but forging in the beginning is usually the byproduct of a lot of energy and excitement to get going with the exercise.

If your dog does a lot of forging, I do NOT recommend Position 2. This frontal position of the trainer / handler will only encourage the dog to run faster or come through the front of the treadmill.


Lagging can be the result of several things. The first and most obvious could be that the dog is tired. If your dog is panting, drops of saliva are coming off of the tongue, or your dog is struggling to maintain position at the front of the treadmill (lagging), it is most likely time to do the cool down and end the session.

Lagging can also be the result of increasing speed too soon in the canine treadmill training process. If lagging occurs in the first three phases of training, most likely you are moving at a pace too quick for your dog. Slow down and do intervals. Dogs need to build up stamina and build the necessary muscles to do longer workouts.

Lagging can also be the result of asking too much of your dog early on. Maintaining a schedule and gradually increasing the workout will prevent lagging.

Remember, not all dogs are created equal. Dogs that are more laid back (couch potatoes) might not be as motivated or enthusiastic about the treadmill. These dogs will require a ton of praise and motivation to engage in their canine treadmill training.

Canine Treadmill Training: Conclusion

If you introduce the treadmill and train your dog properly, not only will this be a safe way to exercise your dog, but they will love the physical and mental release they get from the exercise. You can exercise your dog year around and have a much healthier and happier canine companion.

Please feel free to contact us if you have questions regarding canine treadmill training.

Watch our Dog Treadmill Training Video below or visit Neuman K-9 Academy You Tube channel for more dog training videos.