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Treadmill Dog Training: How to Get a Dog to Run On Treadmills

Professional dog trainer, Melissa Heeter, has her dogs running on a doggie treadmill a half hour a day, three days a week.

Large, fluffy, happy white Somoyed dog outdoors on a walk with tongue out.

Help Your Dog Get Fit and Walk Off Behavior Problems

Professional dog trainer, Melissa Heeter, has her dogs running on a doggie treadmill a half hour a day, three days a week. When her dogs see the treadmill, they run over to it, and wait eagerly for her to turn it on.

Melissa travels around the country as part of the Pro Plan® Rally to Rescue® Tour, teaching people to treadmill train their dogs, and spreading the message about pet adoption.


So why the treadmill? Isn’t a regular walk enough?

Melissa says a treadmill gives your dog a real workout, allows you to control the terrain, and eliminates distractions. And, your dog can run regardless of weather. Beyond fitness, it helps dogs curb behavior problems, which come from boredom.

“Dogs are born to run, jump, chase and bite,” Melissa says.” That is what they are happiest doing.”

The treadmill challenges dogs physically. Their needs for jumping, chasing and biting should also be met with regular play with balls and chew toys.


How to Train Your Dog to Run on a Treadmill

The first thing to do is make the treadmill a “fun station.” Assuming your dog already knows basic commands, simply teach “table” to get him onto the treadmill. Then go through the other commands or tricks he knows, rewarding each time. If he’s had no training, use the treadmill as his training space for the basics like “sit” and “stay.”

Once your dog understands the treadmill is a fun place, put a leash on him and face him forward. Have an assistant turn on the treadmill at the slowest speed. Coax him to walk forward. Give encouragement and praise. If he’s nervous, stop and go back to basic training. If your dog catches on, gradually increase the speed.

To get your dog conditioned, let him run as fast as he is comfortable on the treadmill for one minute the first day, and add a minute each day afterward, until he can run for 15 minutes. If he’s athletic, gradually increase to a half hour.

More treadmill training tips:

  • Let your dog get familiar with the sound of the treadmill before putting him on it.
  • Let your dog know when you’re going to turn the treadmill on with a command like “Ready!”
  • When finished, don’t let your dog jump off on his own. Use a command like “Ok!”
  • Never leave your dog unattended or tie his leash to the treadmill.
  • Make sure your dog is healthy enough for an exercise program. Ask your veterinarian if in doubt.


Your treadmill or a dog treadmill?

There are dog treadmills, such as the Jog a Dog. But, you can use any non-manual treadmill, as long as it fits your dog. For an average 45-pound dog, you need a 55-inch treadmill belt. Any size dog can learn, however, large breeds should be at least two years old because they tend to be clumsy until they”re adults.


Good Exercise = Better Behavior = Fewer Dogs in Animal Shelters

Melissa Heeter travels with Rally to Rescue® because training helps prevent animal homelessness. Good people turn in perfectly good pets to animal shelters because of behavior problems. They don”t realize that with proper training and understanding of their pets” needs for mental stimulation and exercise, most pets can and will behave.



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