Hello! So glad you found your way to this article. We’re here to talk about dog treadmills and how they can help to keep your dog happy and healthy.
Maybe you found your way here because you know you want to purchase a treadmill for your dog and you’re looking for advice on the best one to get. In that case, I hope you find the reviews on this page useful.
But maybe you’re not quite convinced yet; maybe you are still trying to make up your mind whether you need one at all. Or maybe you’re not even sure what a dog treadmill is. In that case, read on! This guide is designed to answer all your questions about dog treadmills. Questions such as . . .
What is a dog treadmill?
Well, basically it’s a treadmill for dogs. Pretty straightforward, right? These useful products allow a dog to walk, trot or run without going anywhere. Designed specifically for a dog’s needs, these treadmills can be a vital part of your dog’s exercise regimen.
Best Dog Treadmills Reviewed
Wait, why is so important that my dog get exercise?
Exercise is vital for your dog! The first reason is so it can stay healthy. Just as with people, a dog that spends the majority of its time sitting around the house will gain weight and become unhealthy. Some estimates put the number of obese dogs in America at as much as 40%. 40%! That’s a lot, for animals descended from wild ancestors who spent their days hunting and roaming for miles at a time.
Exercise is also an important part of keeping your dog well-behaved. Dogs are, by nature, high-energy animals, and they need outlets for that energy. They also need the mental stimulation that exercise can bring. Without these, your dog can exhibit behavioral problems like barking, digging, hyperactivity, and destroying things, which are really just responses to boredom or unused energy. Is your dog displaying any of these behaviors? It could be that he is just not getting enough physical activity. Many people find that once their dog starts getting enough exercise, these behaviors disappear.
Fine, but why do I need to exercise my dog? Why not just let him run around outside?
Okay, then how about I take the dog on a walk myself? That’s cheaper than buying a treadmill.
That is definitely cheaper than buying a treadmill, and it is a great way to exercise your dog and to engage him mentally. Even if you have a treadmill, it’s still wise to take your dog out on a walk when you can, and to engage him in other types of physical activity.
What the treadmill is for is those times when taking the dog outside for a walk is just not feasible. This could happen for a variety of reasons.
- Weather: At both ends of the thermometer, you’ll find temperatures that are just not conducive to dog walking. Taking your dog out in high heat or the freezing cold can be an unpleasant experience for the both of you. Just like people, dogs can suffer from overheating and from frostbite. And remember, you’ve got shoes and they don’t; hot asphalt and icy paths can both cause your dog discomfort. (Not to mention, if you’re in a place where they salt heavily, you may come back from your winter walk and find that your dog’s paws are covered in salt.) Rain and wind are other weather conditions that could keep you from going outside. Having a treadmill gives you a backup plan for those times when the weather is just not cooperating.
- Allergens and air quality: Another outdoors concern to contend with is pollen, and the seasonal allergies that can keep you or your dog from being comfortable outside. There’s also low air quality and high pollution. Using a treadmill indoors gives you a way to exercise your dog on days when the pollen count is just too high or the air quality is just too bad.
- Safety: Not everyone lives in a place where walking your dog is always feasible; if you live along a busy road, for instance, the thought of walking your dog along the side of it might not be very appealing. And then there are those people whose work schedules mean they could only walk their dogs when it’s dark out. For a variety of reasons, that doesn’t appeal to a lot of people. It’s nice to have an option to exercise your dog in the living room.
- Time: The time required to get yourself and the dog ready, and then take it out on a walk, can be a difficulty for a lot of people. With a dog treadmill, you have an alternative to that. It’s not recommended that you put the dog on the treadmill and then disappear for a while, just in case of emergency, but you could, for instance, be in the same room as the dog and answer e-mails while the dog is running. The treadmill gives you options.
- Your health: Not everyone is in a position to take their dog outside themselves. The elderly, and people with health problems and disabilities, may find it difficult to walk their dog as much as they need. A dog treadmill is less physically taxing for the dog owner.
I already have a treadmill for myself. Can I just let my dog walk on that?
While it’s tempting to use a treadmill you already have, rather than purchase another, there are a few reasons that using one specifically designed for dogs is a good idea.
Another feature specific to dog treadmills is sidewalls, which many (though not all) dog treadmills have and human treadmills generally don’t have. These are good for keeping your dog on the belt, and for keeping him from getting distracted.
The placement of the controls is also a concern. On a human treadmill, the controls are usually front and center so that you can access them while you’re on the treadmill. This would be troublesome if your dog was using the treadmill, because you wouldn’t be able to reach those controls very well. On dog treadmills, the controls are usually placed so that they’re accessible to you—usually on the side of the machine.
Dog treadmills are often designed to run quieter than a human treadmill, which is useful because the noise of a human treadmill could frighten the dog.
Human treadmills can have end caps at the front and/or back of the deck, which a dog, especially a small one, could get his paws caught in. Many (though not all) dog treadmills tend to avoid that kind of design.
So as you can see, there are a lot of design details that make a well-designed dog treadmill preferable to a human one.
All right, you’ve convinced me. What should I look for in a dog treadmill?
Good choice! There are a lot of factors that go into your decision about which dog treadmill to buy, and which ones carry the most weight are really going to vary based on your needs and your dog’s needs. How large is the dog? How much space do you have to store a treadmill? What’s your budget for this purchase? Keep that in mind as you look at this list of factors you can take into consideration as you ponder this purchase.
Here I mean the size of the dog and the size of the treadmill. The larger your dog, the larger the treadmill needs to be; you also need to worry about the weight capacity of the treadmill. This is especially important if you have a high-energy dog that’s going to run a lot; all that bouncing is going to put a lot of strain on the treadmill. Make sure you’ve chosen one that will stand up to it.
One rule of thumb you’ll sometimes see is to make sure the deck is twice as long as your dog (or, if you have multiple dogs that will be using the treadmill, twice as long as your longest dog). Keep that in mind as you look at treadmill sizes.
If you don’t have the room to leave the treadmill out all the time, or you only expect to use it part of time—say, only in the winter—you’ll need to check how easy it is to store the treadmill. Some treadmills are designed to be folded up when they’re not in use, so they’ll store away easily; others have to be stored as they are, and are going to take up a massive amount of room. If storing the treadmill part of the time is a priority, keep this in mind.
The motor the treadmill uses is very important too. You’ll want to make sure it’s a strong enough motor to keep up with your dog, especially if your dog likes to run fast and hard. You’ll also want to think about how loud the motor is. Very loud motors could frighten your dog, and your treadmill won’t be a very good purchase if your dog is too frightened to use it! Fortunately, most dog treadmill companies keep this in mind and try to make sure their motors run nice and quiet.
As we mentioned above, well-designed dog treadmills will place the controls off to the side, so that you can adjust them without getting on the treadmill yourself. You’ll also want to look at how nice these controls are: is there a display screen? How easy is the screen to read? How durable is it?
And what does it display? Many will show speed and incline; it’s also nice to find ones that show time elapsed, distance run, calories burned, etc.
This is a feature that a lot of human treadmills have. This is usually a magnetic piece on the treadmill, attached to a string; you can clip that string to your own clothes, or just grab it if necessary. The point of it is that if you should fall or lose control, you’ll jerk the safety key out of its port, and this will cause the treadmill to stop.
Well, now you can have this technology at work protecting your dog! Many dog treadmills now feature safety keys. If that’s something you’re interested, make sure the dog treadmill you purchase has one.
Walking on an inclined treadmill is a great way to up your workout, and this holds true for dogs, too. See if the treadmill you’re looking at has an adjustable incline, and what the increments are (if the only options are 0 degrees and 10 degrees, that might be too tough for your dog to deal with). See how complicated it is to adjust the incline, and whether it can be done mid-run or if you have to stop the dog completely to do it.
Also take a look at what the treadmill’s flattest incline is. Some products don’t actually have a completely flat option; the default is a slight incline, and it goes up from there. This could cause a bit of difficulty, especially for an older dog or one with joint problems.
Check what speeds are available: what is the fastest and the slowest the treadmill can go? And in what increments can you adjust the speeds? If you’ve got a large dog that wants to run fast, can the treadmill keep up? If you’ve got a small dog that can barely scurry along at anything faster than a crawl, does the treadmill go slow enough, and change in small enough increments, to keep from tiring your dog out badly?
And, as with above, check how difficult it is to adjust the speed, and whether it can be done mid-run. It’s best to start the dog off slow, increase to a higher speed for a while, and then slow down again to cool off. If you have to stop the treadmill entirely to change speeds, it’s going to be hard to get a good exercise program for your dog.
With certain treadmills, though, the above section might not be a problem! Some dog treadmills come with preset fitness programs that will automatically raise and lower the speed and incline according to the program’s design. If these are well-designed, they will go through all parts of a workout for your dog with no input from you! This can be a real time saver, and can help you make sure your dog is getting the best possible exercise regimen.
There are other useful features that a treadmill might have, such as a place to clip your dog’s leash, a treat dispenser (very useful for training your dog!), or a remote control so that you can adjust speed and stop and start the treadmill from afar. See what the treadmills you’re considering have to offer!
Ease of replacing parts
Warranties are always nice, but can be especially useful for machines like this, with so many moving parts and so many potential points of failure. They’re going to be even more important if your treadmill gets a lot of use. So keep an eye on what the warranty offers, how long it lasts, and the sorts of things it covers. A good warranty could be the deciding factor between different treadmills; the peace of mind they give are worth it!
Okay, I bought a treadmill. How do I get my dog to use it?
Training your dog to get him to use the treadmill is very important! Although most dogs come to really love treadmills, and can be eager and excited to run on them, it’s not a behavior that comes naturally to them; it has to be taught. Some dogs take to it much easier than others; it could take a very brief amount of time for your dog to get used to it, but it could take longer. So be patient, and don’t give up!
The most important thing is not to force your dog to get on and start running; if he has a bad experience with it once, it can be really hard to overcome that later and get him to stop regarding the treadmill with suspicion. Take it slow. Reward him with lots of positive attention, and treats if desired, so that he has positive associations with the treadmill. And again, be patient!
First, get your dog accustomed to the treadmill itself. Lead your dog onto the powered-down treadmill (obviously it’s best if your dog already understands leash pressure); you may want to do this while saying “Treadmill” to get him used to that command. If the design of the treadmill allows it, lead them onto the back of the deck and off the front of the deck. Do this a few times, then reward your dog with a treat or with positive feedback.
Don’t make your dog walk on the treadmill for too long in your first couple training sessions: only a few minutes for your first session, slowly increasing in duration as time goes on. This is especially important if your dog is not in good shape; just as with people, dog needs to work up to good physical shape.
Eventually, after some amount of training, you’ll reach the point where your dog is comfortable on the treadmill, and you don’t need to hold his leash. Even at this point, though, don’t put your dog on the treadmill and leave the room. Inexperienced dogs can still panic or misstep, and experienced dogs can get so comfortable on the treadmill that they start looking around and stop paying attention. You want to be there to keep them focused, and to be able to react quickly should something occur.
How much exercise should my dog get?
This is going to vary widely from dog to dog. Different breeds are going to have different exercise needs. Some breeds, namely those in the hunting, herding, and working groups, are very high-energy and are going to need a prolonged amount of rigorous exercise. Other breeds are better suited to short bursts of high activity, interspersed with low energy output, and still others might be better suited to walks, not runs. Brachycephalic dogs (flat-faced breeds like pugs and shih tzus) are susceptible to breathing problems because of their anatomy; you’ll definitely want to be careful with how you exercise these dogs.
The point is, take the same advice here that you’d hear about humans: consult with a doctor (or a vet, as the case may be) before starting an exercise regimen. She’ll be able to tell you what’s best for your dog based on his breed, age and health.
The most important thing to remember is that no matter the dog’s breed, age and health, all dogs will benefit from exercise, to keep them healthy and help with behavioral problems that stem from boredom and an excess of energy. So keep at it!