Dog Treadmill Training Step by Step

You know exercise is important, for humans and for dogs. But especially for a high-energy breed like the Doberman.  Without enough exercise to burn up this excess energy, you’ll end up with a frustrated dog, and a frustrated dog is a not-well-behaved dog.  One option for exercise is teaching your dog treadmill running.  This is a great option if you live in cold countries like Canada,  don’t have the time, or don’t have a fenced yard for off-leash runs. Or maybe it’s a case that you have a dog that is not very sociable or well-behaved in public. 

doberman dog treadmill training

Dog Treadmill Training Step by Step

To get your dog to use a treadmill for exercise, you’ll want to slowly get the dog comfortable with the idea and the equipment. Start slow and depending on how confident your dog naturally is, it may take 5 minutes or it may take hours or days. Training clickers can teach new behaviors quicker, so consider using them. Keep your training sessions short. Try to train for 5 minutes spread throughout the day.

Step 1

Place the treadmill in an area where the front is open to the room, not facing the wall.  This way the dog doesn’t have the perception that he’s going to run into the wall.  Ideally, you also want a treadmill with a wider belt. Let your dog explore the treadmill on his own. You could use the clicker and give a treat whenever the dog goes near or steps on the machine. Don’t have the leash tied to the treadmill! If your dog falls off or wants to stop, this can cause injury. A bungee style leash is a good option instead.  

Step 2

Turn the machine on and allow him to get used to the sound of the motor.  Then with the machine turned off, have your dog stand on the treadmill. Let him step on and off to teach him that the treadmill is nothing to fear.  Remember your dog will sense your emotions so remain calm and confident yourself, to reassure your dog that it’s no big deal. He needs to trust you.

Step 3

When you think your dog is comfortable with the treadmill, have him stand on it.  Keep hold of the dog’s collar and have him look forward. Turn on the treadmill at a very slow pace.  You may use a treat to lure the dog to walk forward if it doesn’t excite him too much.  Now guide him to walk forward, don’t allow him to step off. Let him get used to the feeling of where the treadmill belt ends. Stand beside or in front of the treadmill. After your dog walks the treadmill fairly well, increase the pace slowly. When they can walk by themselves without needing guidance from you, stop the treadmill and praise him on a good job.

Step 4

Once you think your dog knows how to use a treadmill, gradually over days increase the length of time or speed or even the incline. 

How long should a dog be on the treadmill?

It depends. 15 minutes running may be enough for some dogs. An athletic, high-energy dog may run longer. Whereas an old dog or less active dog may be tired out after a few minutes. Always supervise your dog while treadmill training and keep watch on how they’re doing. Also, remember people have off days when they’re not feeling well.  Your dog won’t be able to tell you if he’s feeling sick or sore, watch for any limping, or gasping for breath while on the treadmill.  The other thing to consider is if your dog has health concerns like arthritis, then avoid treadmill running. And lastly, consider that puppies have growing bones and should not be running until they are older. Instead, use slow treadmill walks that look comfortable for your dog’s natural trot or gait. 

Have you tried dog treadmill training? 

Here’s a Doberman running on a treadmill and a great instructional video from Upstate Canine Academy.

Read more: Alternatives To Dog Walking >>

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