Benefits Of Treadmill Running For Dogs: All You Should Know

Statistics show that more than 50% of dogs in America are considered obese, making obesity in dogs more common than we think. [1]

Moreso, small dogs are at greater risk of developing canine obesity, so as a small dog owner, you would want to ensure that your favorite little companion gets enough exercise.

While outdoor games and a quick walk can help, not every day is ideal for outdoor exercise.

A lack of time, hot weather, and even rainy days can make it difficult to get outdoors and meet all of your dog’s workout needs.

Also, owners of high-energy dogs need to put a little more thought into providing the dogs with enough exercise. 

As a result, many dog owners wonder if a treadmill is a perfect solution in those situations.

So, as a dog lover, let me tell you the benefits of treadmill running for dogs to put your worries aside.

Benefits of Treadmill Running for Dogs

Using treadmills for dog exercise has become very popular these days because it offers some great benefits!

Running on a treadmill: 

  • Allows your dog to exercise regardless of weather conditions.
  • Helps in conditioning, training, or rehabilitation.
  • Increases dog’s muscle tone and general endurance.
  • Helps in weight loss and fitness conditioning.
  • Decreases boredom and limits destructive behavior resulting from boredom.
  • Improves your dog’s movement and overall well-being.
  • Reduces stress in high-energy dogs.
  • Allows you to do gait analysis on your dog.
  • A great exercise substitute for dogs with disabled owners or for dogs who don’t like leash walking.

What to Check Before Buying the Perfect Dog Treadmill? 

You need to consider several factors before buying an indoor dog treadmill to avoid potential complications and suffering from buyer’s remorse.

For instance, you need to think about the price, size, speed, and functions before buying a treadmill for your canine buddy.

Track Length

Be sure to measure your dog’s fully extended size before buying a treadmill. Large dogs have a longer gait, so they need treadmills where they can walk naturally to prevent injury.

On the other hand, small dogs can get intimidated by large treadmills.

Incline Control

You must check the treadmill’s incline control before buying one.

The ability to adjust the grade of the walking surface is beneficial for dogs suffering from hip dysplasia, obesity, and who are going through physical rehabilitation or therapy.

Speed Control

Speed control is one of the primary reasons that dog owners purchase motor-driven treadmills.

Speed control allows setting the speed of the treadmill that matches the dog’s pace and situation.

Time and Distance Meter

You need to monitor your dog’s progress, for which you need a time and distance meter.

By measuring time and distance, you can see how long or how hard your dog has been running on a treadmill. 

It’s worth mentioning that you should never buy a treadmill that doesn’t have a time and meter display.

Cost

Treadmills can range from $525-$1800, depending on the size and features. Large dogs’ treadmills will cost more than treadmills designed for small breeds.

Also, a motorized treadmill will be more costly than a dog-powered treadmill. 

Can a Dog Use a Human Treadmill?

There are many dog treadmills available that have raised sides or other attachments to make it easier for your dogs to be on them.

However, all dogs except breeds with weights above 60 lbs can use a human treadmill.

Larger dogs’ walking strides may be too long to walk properly on a human treadmill. So it’s best to purchase a pet-specific treadmill for larger dogs.

For small dogs, you can choose to use a human treadmill. But there can be some problems, including loud and frightening noises and a lack of safety guardrails.

Another problem is that your dog should ideally walk, trot, or run in the middle third of the treadmill deck.

If dogs need to move too far forward or too far back while using the treadmill, it can alter their natural gait. Such repetitive gait changes can cause gait abnormalities.

So measure your dogs before letting them use human-sized treadmills.

Treadmill Training for Dogs: Step by Step

Treadmills, with their moving surface and unfamiliar sound, can be quite intimidating to your dog.

When you first introduce your dog to a treadmill, go slowly and make positive associations. Train in small steps to match your dog’s pace.

Step 1: Teach Your Dog to Get On and Off the Treadmill

For this step, start with the treadmill turned. You have to use tiny high-value dog treats to reward your dog.

Use a treat to entice your dog onto the treadmill. When they get off, give them another treat.

If your dog is reluctant to get on the treadmill, don’t force them. To encourage them, you can reward them each time they put a paw on the treadmill. 

Step 2: Make Your Dog Comfortable With the Sound of the Treadmill

To make your dog feel comfortable with the noise of a turned-on treadmill and running, make him familiar with the sound of the treadmill. 

Turn on the treadmill to its lowest setting. When your dog hears the sound, give them a treat. Then turn the treadmill off. Repeat! 

Step 3: Teach Walking on the Treadmill Slowly

Set the treadmill at the lowest speed. Use your dog’s favorite treats to lure your dog to walk on the moving deck.

Encourage them with continuous treats so that they continue walking forward on the treadmill. 

It may take some time for them to gain confidence and familiarity with a moving surface beneath them.

But they will get used to it soon enough; you just have to maintain some patience. 

Step 4: Slowly and Separately Increase Speed & Duration

If your dog shows a relaxed and happy body language, you can then slowly increase the speed of the treadmill.

Try to match their natural walking or trotting pace. The speed should neither be too slow nor too fast. At every step, you need to use treats and encouragement.

First, keep treadmill sessions short so that your dog can build up stamina and conditioning. You can keep the session between 2–5 minutes per day.

However, if your dog doesn’t show a happy body language and relaxed behavior, don’t force them to walk on the treadmill.

Give them time and treats to motivate them.

Running on a Treadmill for Dogs: Common Dog Training Exercise Mistakes

If you are planning to make your canine friend run on a treadmill, you should avoid the following common mistakes.

Skipping Warm Up or Cool Down

If you make your dog run on treadmill time without any warm-up, it can lead to injury.

Let your dog warm up through exercises stretching the dog’s neck and increasing blood flow. 

On the other hand, don’t suddenly stop your dog on a treadmill because it can tighten up a dog’s muscles. First, gradually slow it down and let your dog cool down.

A good practice is to set aside 5-10 minutes to warm up and cool down.

Improper Form

Don’t just keep your dog walking on the treadmill. Rather keep an eye on their natural gait – no overstriding or short choppy strides. 

If your dog’s treadmill isn’t long enough, they may skip steps which can cause injury.

Understanding the best movement patterns and speed will help your dog use their body as efficiently as possible.

Repetitive Workouts

If your dog does repetitive workouts, it may not want to do it anymore. 

To keep your dog’s mind stimulated so they can’t anticipate every step, mimic outdoor conditions as much as possible during their treadmill sessions.

Change the speed and the incline, and try incorporating some dog treadmill exercises into the mix to keep your dog entertained and interested.

Running Too Much On an Incline

For unconditioned dogs, avoid making them run for more than five minutes on an incline of more than 5-7 percent.

This position puts a lot of pressure on your dog’s hips and lower back. 

If your dog exercises at extreme inclines for extended periods, they can suffer from an overuse injury, especially if they have a weak back or core, to begin with.

You should slow down the speed to encourage exercising all the major muscles of the lower back and hind limbs.

No Fun Fitness

Exercise can be fun for your dog because they can spend time with you, thereby strengthening your bond.

But some owners don’t play after their dogs complete their workout sessions.

Once your dog is done with exercise and has cooled down, you should spend some time with them doing their favorite activities.

This will help shape your dog’s attitude toward the treadmill and make it something they enjoy doing.

Tying to the Treadmill

Tying your dog to the treadmill is the worst mistake you can make as a dog owner. Please don’t force them to do something they don’t want to.

Be their responsible owner and guide them to a successful workout, and don’t simply walk away after tying them to a treadmill.

Size Guide

The next thing to consider on the subject of exercising your dog on a treadmill is how to choose one that fits your dog’s size.

This is important as your dog will not get the best from a treadmill if the latter is either too small or too big. 

The first step to take is to weigh the dog on a scale. You can measure this yourself, or get the weight from your veterinarian at the last checkup.

The dog’s weight is what you compare to the treadmill’s weight, and the dog’s weight should be below the weight limit or close. 

Weight isn’t always enough because your dog could have long legs or even shorter ones. Therefore, do a gait analysis too. This you can then compare to the treadmill’s running area’s dimensions. 

In a multi-dog household, you can buy separate treadmills or one with the biggest dog’s size. With supervision, the smaller dog can use the treadmill. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a dog treadmill worth it?

While outdoor activities are vital, a dog treadmill is a suitable alternative with its share of benefits to your pet’s well-being.

It is an efficient way to give your dog a full-body workout with less stress on the joints, as compared with running on asphalt or concrete.

Bottom Line: Don’t Replace Outdoor Walks With Treadmills

Cute Brown And White Border Collie Dog
Credit: Magda Ehlers / Pexels

Although a treadmill can help your dog exercise indoors, it shouldn’t replace outdoor adventures, especially outdoor walks and runs.

Exercising outside provides many benefits, including a sense of freedom and stimulation that indoor exercise simply cannot match. It lets the dog enjoy sights, smells, and fresh air.[2]

Also, a walk with your dog is a great way to bond with them while reinforcing your authority.

So do keep a dog treadmill at home for times when you can’t take your dog outside but don’t consider them a replacement for outdoor activities!

Also See:
Dog Stretching Exercises: 6 Simple Ways To Stretch Your Dog

Avatar Of Emma Harris

Authored By

Emma Harris

Emma Harris has been a veterinary care assistant and a dog writer for over six years. She is a passionate dog lover who believes in treating all animals with kindness. Emma puts her experience with animals (especially dogs) into writing by discussing topics that act as go-to guides to dog nutrition, health, and care. ...