"Yippee, Spring has finally sprung!! Time to take Rover for his daily walk.....Oh wait, its pouring down rain!!! Sorry Rover, guess you will have to get your exercise...chewing up my shoes!"
Does this sound familar to you? Well, this used to be the standard dialog in my house, until I taught my two dogs to run on the treadmill. At first I only wanted to see if I could really get my Boxador, Dori, (who is terrified of such scary things, such as, oh, the toaster oven...rain...airplanes...wind... smoke detector battery alerts) to do it. It was a slow process, starting with simply getting a treat for sniffing and standing on the treadmill. Then we gradually progressed to walking, then jogging. Now all I have to say is "Dori, you wanna treadmill?" and she runs upstairs, jumps on the treadmill and waits for me to turn it on.
After seeing Dori enjoy the challenge, I taught my Whippet, Devo, to do it too. And it couldn't have been better timing, as only as few months later I learned I was pregnant. At times when I was too nauseated or exhausted to move, I was able to still give my dogs the exercise they need and deserve. After the baby came and the weather was too chilly to take the baby outside, Dori and Devo once again got to expend their engery in a productive manner. While they would rather be outside chasing the ball, frisbee or birds, sometimes I just can't get them out there. So having both of them trained on the treadmill has been very beneficial for all of us.
You can find a good, cheap treadmill just about anywhere. Used sporting good stores, craigslist, newspapers, family, friends, and co-workers are all great sources. There are "dog" treadmills out there; they are expensive. If you have a large enough human being treadmill, it can suffice. You don't need anything fancy, just speed up and down!!
You do need to be cautious when teaching your pet to use a treadmill. Not every dog should do it, and before you start, ask your veterinarian if this type of repetitive motion would be good for your pet. The training isn't difficult, but must be carefully planned, be completely positive, and move along at a pace that doesn't rush or scare the dog. Always supervise, never tie your dog to the treadmill. And never leave your dog unattended on a running treadmill. As a general rule, never run your pet for more than 15 minutes on the treadmill or at speeds higher than a stable, working trot; dogs should never gallop on the 'mill.
There are a number of web-based resources that offer tips on how to train your dog to run on a treadmill. YouTube also has several videos on the subject. If you are unsure how to get started, you can always come and see us for a free consultation, and we can give you some tips to get you going.