Your dog was designed to run. His wild cousins travel in packs for miles each day in search of prey, to defend their territory, or looking for resources such as water. Unfortunately, your apartment or house does not provide your dog with this opportunity, and that is where problems can start. Dogs need physical activity, and if they don't get it they can develop all kinds of physical, emotional, and mental issues. Ask any veterinarian and they will tell you that obesity in pets is a major problem and responsible for a large number of health problems in our, pets including premature death. When we keep our pets in a restricted environment, such as indoors, the opportunities for natural activity are greatly diminished. Ideally, dogs should be walked long distances each day, but time and environmental restrictions sometimes limit our ability to provide this much-needed activity to our canine companions. One solution is to teach your dog to use a treadmill to get the exercise he needs indoors, when you don't have the ability or time to take him on a long walk each day.
You can teach your dog to use a treadmill to get the daily exercise and activity he needs, to burn off extra energy, improve his physical condition, and stimulate him mentally when you are unable to provide outdoor exercise. As pet owners, sometimes we are not able to take our dogs on the long walks they require daily, due to illness, weather, or time constraints. A motorized treadmill can provide a solution, however, you will need to train your dog to safely use the treadmill. Because treadmills make noise and the movement can be confusing to the dog at first, you will need to train your dog not to be startled or afraid of the treadmill and how to use it safely and calmly, not jumping off, balking, or bolting when the treadmills starts up. Most dogs do a steady trot while on the treadmill, a gait that is natural to them in the wild. You will need to watch your dog closely at all times while on the treadmill to make sure he does not get tangled up or injured: never leave a dog unsupervised on a treadmill. Also, you will need to closely monitor his activity so as not to over-exercise your dog, or cause him unnecessary strain. Avoid working puppies or very young dogs on a treadmill, as they do not always have the coordination necessary to work effectively on a treadmill and can become injured if they stumble. Large dogs, especially, should wait until they are mature to work on a treadmill as they can strain their joints if overworked and are more prone to injury on a treadmill. Remember, your dog doesn't have control of the speed and duration of activity when he is on the treadmill-- watch for signs of fatigue and keep exercise appropriate.
You will need an appropriately sized treadmill for your dog. You can use a regular treadmill for most dogs, although large dogs may need a treadmill especially designed for large dogs. Specialized dog treadmills are available commercially and often have side panels to help direct your dog to stay on the treadmill and a feed dish at the front to reward your dog. Make sure you have a treadmill in good working order, with no loose or broken parts, and that is an appropriate size for your dog to work, given his natural stride. Determine what duration and speed is appropriate for your dog prior to getting started, and work up to that slowly. You should have treats available to help reward your dog for learning to use the treadmill, and you may use a leash but never tie your dog to the treadmill, as this can pose a serious safety issue. Never force your dog onto the treadmill, as this can create fear. It is also better to make sure the treadmill is facing away from the wall, so your dog does not feel that he is about to run into the wall, and to gives you better access to the treadmill from all sides to encourage and reward your dog.