We have been getting asked a LOT lately about treadmill training your dog and how to accomplish it. At first many dogs are scared of the treadmill or jump right off. This is totally normal!
First – lets talk about the benefits of treadmill training. Obviously the treadmill is an invaluable tool for those high energy dogs that just never seem to tire. It’s an excellent crutch when you’re having a lazy day, but your dogs are not! What many people don’t realize though is that treadmills can also serve as a truly excellent confidence builder for shy dogs as well! What’s scarier than a huge noisy machine that moves?!
The absolute most important thing to keep in mind when attempting to treadmill train your dog is to take it slow. Sometimes, depending on the dog, this means taking it unbearably slow. Your dog’s leash is going to be absolutely essential. Do not go anywhere near the treadmill without your dog on leash until they are fully and reliably trained. Do not have the treadmill facing a wall, dogs will naturally not want to run at a wall.
Get your dog comfortable around the treadmill LONG before you ever even attempt to turn it on. Depending on the dog and their level of comfort this might mean spending days just getting them to be calm being near the treadmill. Regardless of how confident your dog, it is still important to get them used to being near and standing on the treadmill before turning it on. Practice getting on and off the treadmill repeatedly.
POWER! Once your dogs is comfortable both around as well as on the treadmill it is time to get them used to the noise. Turn the treadmill on a slow to moderate pace and work until your dog is comfortable around the machine while it is on.
It’s time to walk! Using your leash, position your dog front and center on the treadmill. Once they are calmly placed, turn the machine on. Your dog may panic initially so it’s very important to stay calm and encouraging. You can take this as slow as you need – having them walk for very short periods of time and getting on and off if necessary. Your dog will soon adjust to walking at a very slow speed, and then you can start increasing the time they walk. from 1 minute to 5 minutes and so on and so forth.
Once they are comfortable walking at a slow pace and maintaining their front and center position you can slowly start working on increasing speed. It is important to keep your dog leashed or harnessed until they are fully trained and comfortable with positioning to avoid injury.
Treadmills are a GREAT tool! But safety always comes first!
Some key safety points for treadmill training your dog: NEVER leave your dog unattended on the treadmill and NEVER tie your dog to the treadmill.