This article is inspired by the recent Cesar Milan seminar brought to Hawaii by Pono the Poi Dog Productions, LLC. Dog behavior expert Cesar Milan promotes “Exercise, Discipline and Affection” respectively for a happy and healthy relationship between you and your dog. But if you’re working full time and don’t have time or energy to walk your dog every day, how do you prioritize exercise? Although it should never substitute outdoor walks with your canine, a treadmill can be helpful to exercise your dog.
Does this look familiar? My dog can run a couple of miles and still have enough energy to run circles like this. However, after walking or jogging for a few miles, she is calmer, more obedient, and less likely to destructively chew or dig.
Training Your Dog on the Treadmill Commercial canine treadmills are available, but I’ve yet to find a company that sells them in Hawaii. Models made for human use can be modified to safely use for dogs by adding a bar to attach a canine harness.
Positive reinforcement via treats and praise can be used to train your dog to get on/off the treadmill and to walk/jog/run on it for exercise. Canines usually take to treadmill running after the first few sessions of training. It may take a session to get your dog comfortable getting on the treadmill with the use of treats and praise without even running the treadmill the first time. Fences or side rails can be made with PVC pipes, plastic fencing and zip ties to ensure that your dog stays on the treadmill.
Walking on the treadmill for the first time can be an awkward and frightening experience for your dog. In general, animals are not used to the ground moving under them. Initially, you may choose to advance the treadmill belt with the use of your foot to get your dog used to the movement. Then, you can progress to faster speeds as your dog feels comfortable.
If two people are available, one can cue the canine from in front and one straddling the dog in the back with praise and treats to keep the dog walking straight.
A dog breeder I consulted suggests that your dog should be supervised when walking on the treadmill to ensure its safety. Speed of walking and duration will depend on the current lifestyle (active vs. sedentary) and energy level (high vs. low) of the canine.
Doggie Back Packs I find using a light back pack while walking outdoors helpful to exercise my Siberian Husky.
Heavy loads are not recommended when walking young canines as they may lead to orthopedic problems. Consult your veterinarian as to when they feel walking with a weighted back pack is appropriate for your dog. Back packs can be found for small, medium and large dogs at the Crazy Canine.
Special thanks to Uncle Stanley for sharing the knowledge and techniques illustrated by the pictures of his dogs on the treadmill.
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