Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Teach your dog to walk on a treadmill

Have you ever been exhausted from work only to come home to a dog that’s full of energy?  Your dog either begs for your attention by pawing at you or he demands attention by chewing your shoes, the carpet, the couch and possibly even the dry wall.  After a long day at work, the last thing you want to do is go for a long walk.  But your dog has been doing very little if anything at all while he waits for you to come home.  So naturally, dogs, in this situation, get a lot of pent up energy that they don’t know what to do with and that energy usually gets released in a negative way.
Have you ever felt it is just too hot to walk your dog?  While some states have weather that gets too cold to walk the dog, in Riverside County the weather can get too hot to walk the dog. 
For these reasons and more, people have turned to the treadmill.  The treadmill has been helping humans get in shape for years, and if used properly it can be a powerful tool in making sure your dog gets his much needed daily exercise as well.
Step 1: Introduction to the treadmill
Introduce your dog to the treadmill by letting him sniff the machine, walk around it, walk on it, stand on it, etc.  You can encourage him by standing on the machine and calling him, reward him with treats, or let him explore on his own. The idea is to get him comfortable with the treadmill as if it is just another piece of furniture.
Step 2: Give it a go
This is the most critical step and where most treadmill training goes wrong.
Have the dog walk onto the treadmill and stay on this time. Make sure he is facing the proper direction.  You can stand on the sides of the treadmill with the dog between your legs, or on the front of the treadmill encouraging the dog to walk toward you. Where you stand depends on the size of your dog and your ability to correct him if he tries to jump off.
Turn the treadmill on a low speed. Most dogs will panic when the treadmill turns on, but you are there to keep him focused on walking and to reassure him that he is fine (using a confident demeanor and touch, not using baby talk).  Keep him on the machine but don’t put continual pressure on his collar, as that will stress him out and make him panic more.  This step may take a while but it’s very important to not stop the session until your dog has started walking without trying to get off.  He needs to end with a positive experience on the treadmill or he will not want to get on again.
If your dog does catch on quickly, try doing the exercise for about 15 minutes at time while he is getting use to the idea.  
Step 3: Add some speed
Once your dog has gotten the hang of walking on a treadmill you can slowly increase the speed.  Just one or two speed increases will do since he will be using a lot of concentration to adjust his own speed accordingly.
Once he has mastered the art of walking on a treadmill, you can increase length and speed of the walks to whatever duration is appropriate for your dog’s size and energy level.  Please remember, your dogs should not be running on the treadmill, they should top their speed at a nice trot.  And never leave your dog unattended on a treadmill, especially if they are attached with a leash.
If you can successfully train your dog to walk on the treadmill he will get the daily exercise he needs and become better behaved, making your life easier.  So, good luck and happy treadmilling.
Still need some visual aid? Check out his video for a more hands on demonstration: http://youtu.be/W1AIdeSEo5w

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