What You Need To Know About Dog Treadmills

Treadmills are a popular indoor solution for people who want to walk or run long distances for weight loss or just plain fitness. Now it becoming a more popular solution for owners who want to get or keep their dogs in shape. The American Pet Products Association recently did a survey of pet owners and found approximately 3 million dogs were using treadmills in 2010 across the United States. Is a dog treadmill something to consider for your pooch?

Treadmills For Dogs – The Pros

Among dog owners and professionals there are varying opinions about using a treadmill to exercise your dog. On the one side, owners, trainers and vets cite convenience and safety as a reason to use. On the other side, others feel a treadmill is boring for dogs and lazy on the part of the owner. However, even among the opinions, there are situations that most would agree are good reasons for an owner to have his or her dog walk on this equipment.

  • If the weather is very hot and your dog is sensitive to high heat (like cold-climate dogs such as Huskies, Mastiffs, or like dogs with sensitive skin).
  • If the weather is hot and very humid and you have a dog that is sensitive to this (like dogs with respiratory issues such as pitbulls and pugs).
  • If the weather is very cold or difficult to walk in (most dogs except for cold-climate dogs).
  • Your dog has some physical problem where controlled exercise and the soft surface of a treadmill is better than a walk on pavement (an injury, a joint issue, wearing a cone, etc.).
  • The owner has mobility issues where going for a walk is difficult.
  • The owner has issues getting out of the house (very young children, only home when it’s dark outside, sick person in home, etc.).



Other Reasons to Consider Dog Treadmills

They
makes it easy access to exercise indoor. You know you don’t have to have a dog treadmill–or a human treadmill–to get a workout. You can play games with your dog, work on obedience training, walk up and down stairs and other options to get moving indoors. A treadmill is easy, it has one function–to let you move your legs at whatever speed you like in a small space. Not much to plan or think about (after you have your dog trained to use it). So, a treadmill makes it easy to schedule and plan exercise–you know exactly what you are going to do.

You
You can track statistics and monitor closely with a treadmill. Treadmills have information console that make it easy to track the pace, how much time is spent and at what speed. This way you really know how much exercise your dog is getting and not just taking a walk down the block and assuming you’ve used 20 minutes.

You can keep your dog focused. If your dog is very distracted on a walk, in particular by other dogs, this is becomes a non-issue with a treadmill (unless you have other dogs). All the focus is on the task at hand, walking and balancing on this moving thing, and whatever is in the immediate environment which you control.

Dogs
need to do more vigorous exercise than you can provide. If you have high-energy breed or an overweight dog of almost any breed, that dog needs more than a casual stroll. Regular vigorous exercise is key for weight loss and for satisfying a breed with a lot of energy. You may be able to walk, but that dog may need a trot, jog or run, and if you can’t keep up with that for more than a couple of minutes, a treadmill can keep the pace.

It is a great addition to the exercise schedule of an active dog. You can use it as one exercise during the day with the other session being a walk or play. It is great for conditioning competition dogs such as those who do agility, pulling, or terrain competition. It great to use to exhaust an excitable dog quickly who will be going into an excitable situation, maybe before you have company, or other dogs are around or before you leave your dog.

It is a great addition to the exercise schedule of an active dog. You can use it as one exercise during the day with the other session being a walk or play. It is great for conditioning competition dogs such as those who do agility, pulling, or terrain competition. It great to use to exhaust an excitable dog quickly who will be going into an excitable situation, maybe before you have company, or other dogs are around or before you leave your dog.

Cons of Dog Treadmills

Many
breeds need mental stimulation. A walk outside with sights and sounds and smells provide something for the dog to process and provoke interest. Mental stimulation, gets them thinking, helps alleviate boredom and the anxiety that causes and the destruction both can cause.

You
may not be getting the exercise you need. Dog owners tend to be more active and healthier than non-owners. The regular exercise that your dog needs and you give is a large part of that.

You can also miss out on some of the natural bonding. Once you’ve trained your dog and he or she is doing his thing on the treadmill while you read or talk on the phone (in the same room as the dog’s treadmill!!), you aren’t spending that space and energy and attention with your dog.

Walking
or running terrain is still a better workout, given the same amount of walking time. Walking on different surfaces whether concrete, gravel, dirt paths or grass requires the legs to use more muscles. First, you have muscles doing much more small twitches and micro adjustments to account for balance and surfaces. Also, on a treadmill, the belt is moving 2 feet backwards which is less work than in the real world where you plant feet on firm ground and use more energy to push off.