Using a treadmill for dogs
Why put dog on a treadmill? Exercise is just as important for your dog as it is for you. It helps to keep the heart, lungs and blood circulation working properly. Daily exercise is not a perk, it is necessity! Lack of exercise will lead to boredom and this can lead to the sort of behaviour from your dog that you would rather not see… Perhaps a treadmill just might be the solution.
Treadmills for dogs are different from those designed for humans.
Dogs do not move in the same way that we do. A dog treadmill is specifically built to meet the needs of your four-legged friend. Increased exercise will keep your dog active and alert and less liable to boredom. The treadmill ensures not only that the dog uses his muscles but also his brains. Once the dog is used to the treadmill you will see that he is very concentrated, and that is more tiring than the regular half an hour walk. A treadmill is not intended as a substitute for daily walks but can be a valuable addition.
A treadmill can be used for rehabilitation or training, and sometimes in a very practical sense for dogs with very high energy levels.
• Pace and movement can be built up in a controlled manner in the case of rehabilitation
• Additional controlled movement to lose weight
• For rehabilitation in general
• It provides a stable surface and controlled movement when starting on a fitness programme.
• Allows exercise whatever the weather.
• You can set the appropriate pace for the dog
If we have to deal with very fearful or aggressive dogs or cats we combine Bach flower therapy and homeopathic remedies with behavioural training.
Increasingly, we are faced with dogs with high energy levels that lead to behavioural problems. These dogs require a certain degree of physical exertion, if they cannot work off some of their energy they become frustrated, start behaving badly and in the end the owners gives up on them and they are taken to an animal shelter to be re-homed. We need to help dogs to remain calm and teach them that good behaviour is well rewarded.
Benefits of a treadmill for dogs:
1. Following surgery for fractures or for spinal disorders or obesity
– Makes for optimal rehabilitation
– Improves cardiac function after joint surgery
– Improves joint flexibility
– Provides structure
– Improves muscle tone
– Loss of fat – improves coordination
– Improved limb movement and general well-being
– Speeds recovery after orthopaedic surgery
2. Arthritis and other joint problems
-Provides an overall improvement
– Stimulates an optimal blood flow
– Promotion of mobility
– General improvement in the coat caused by muscle activity
– By using the uphill function there is improved rehabilitation of hips and hocks and lower spinal function and improved fitness
– The downward slope helps steady over excited dogs when they are recovering from shoulder, elbow and knee problems.
3. Preparation for shows and competitions
– Breeds that require a lot of exercise can be trained throughout the year in this way.
4. Helping with behavioural problems.
How to get started.
In the first place, success depends on how the dog is introduced to the treadmill. It makes no sense to force the dog. The dog must associate the treadmill with a fun experience and for most of them this means their favourite treat. Most dogs are naturally curious and will have no problem with climbing onto the belt, especially if there is a tasty treat there. However remember that every dog is different and will therefore react differently. An old dog or a dog that is recovering after surgery should be lifted on and off of the treadmill.. A nervous dog will be helped by watching another dog using the treadmill.
Walking on a moving surface is a very different process than simply walking on a solid surface. Anyone who uses a treadmill in a fitness centre will certainly remember the first time they tried it, it’s a strange feeling. For a dog is no different, they have to get used to it. For most dogs, this is no problem, other dogs will need more time before they feel comfortable using a treadmill. Every dog needs to find their own comfortable pace; a dog with long legs will have a different pace to a dog with shorter legs. Age, health, physical fitness and actual experience are important factors that owners should bear in mind. When a dog is on a treadmill it should always be supervised, even on treadmills that are equipped with an emergency stop system. This is usually in the form of a clip anchored to the computer and the dog’s collar causing an emergency stop should the dog try to sit down.
How old should a puppy be before he can be introduced to the treadmill?
Monotone movements over an extended period, such as long walks or working on a treadmill, are not advisable for any puppy. Their joints and bones are simply not strong enough. A puppy can be taught to use a treadmill but it must be for brief periods and the puppy must enjoy the experience. The number of metres that the puppy has walked should be carefully monitored. Thirty metres in one go for a 10 week old puppy is already a very long distance and for the first six months a puppy should only be allowed to move at walking pace. As from six months you can introduce short periods of trotting but with large breeds you may want to wait still longer. As the puppy grows and develops it will be gradually be able to move comfortably at a faster pace.
How do can I make working on a treadmill a fun experience for my dog?
In the first place, success depends on how the dog is introduced to the treadmill. It makes no sense to force the dog. The dog must associate the treadmill with good things and for most of them this means their favourite treat.
When introducing the dog to the treadmill choose a treat that is not going to crumble and offer something tasty and special, not an every day treat.
When you first show the dog the treadmill, do NOT have it switched on. Give the dog the opportunity to look and sniff at this new and strange apparatus. If he climbs up onto the belt by himself, all well and good and offer a treat. Always ask the dog to get off at the rear of the treadmill. If the first day the dog does not want to step onto the belt, don’t force things, tomorrow is another day. We are not in favour of owners climbing onto the belt with their dogs as this is not how the dog will be working in the future Most dogs are naturally curious and will climb up onto the belt, especially if there are treats there.. Every dog is different and will therefore react differently. An old dog or a dog that needs rehabilitation after surgery should be lifted on and off of the belt. A responsible owner will know when not to over do things with their dog. If a dog is apprehensive, allow it to see another dog working happily on the treadmill.
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What do you think about using a treadmill for dogs? Have you already tried using one for your dog? We look forward to reading your comments.