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Your dog loves going out for their daily walk. It doesn’t matter to them what the weather happens to look like outside. Snow, sleet, rain, ice, even blistering heat. They’re happy to bounce out the door. You, on the other hand, are less thrilled. It’s okay when conditions are beautiful, but when it’s a blizzard? You’d rather huddle indoors. But pups need to get regular exercise. So before you bundle up in twelve layers or clothes and reach for the dog coat, consider an alternative. Dog treadmills provide a way for canines to work off pent-up energy inside – no outerwear involved.
Dog Walking Challenges
Whether active or not, every dog needs some form of exercise. And most people choose to attach a leash and head out for a walk. Maybe it’s down to the dog park, or perhaps it’s around the block. And while you may have a comfortable dog walking routine, other people aren’t as lucky.
Weather can present challenges for everyone. Hot or cold, wet or dry, the outdoors can make for miserable walking conditions. Some dogs don’t mind, but others stop at the door and give you that “Are you kidding?” look.
Other times people struggle with their work schedules. Long hours mean pushing the daily walk into the evening hours. And while you can find collars and harnesses with reflective stitching to help keep your pup visible in the low light conditions, you don’t always live in an ideal location to walk at night. In the city OR country, you can find:
- Rocky terrain
- Broken glass or other trash
- Uneven sidewalks
When the outdoors present challenges, dog treadmills offer an INDOOR solution.
Even in the perfect neighborhood on a gorgeous spring day, you may find a need for a dog treadmill. Because they work on the same principle as a human treadmill: exercise whenever you need, in the comfort of your home.
Plenty of people fall in love with dog breeds with high energy demands. That’s fine if you live in the country, with acres of land for them to race around. But what if you’re in an apartment? You’re stuck with needing to hit the dog park every other hour. (Or you have to create a savings account to afford a dog walker to do it for you)
And if you have mobility challenges, dog treadmills are a lifesaver. Your furry friend can get all of the extra walks they need, without putting strain on YOU. Both of you remain happy and healthy.
Choosing a Dog Treadmill
Investing in a dog treadmill is a big decision. You want to make sure you’re choosing the best model for your home and your dog. So when you start skimming the options, you want to keep these key features in mind:
- Space: While some dog treadmills collapse or fold out of the way, you still need to make sure you have room for them to operate. They’re not the smallest doggie accessories. And if it DOES fold away, you’ll want to make sure you have somewhere to store it.
- Size: You need to check the length, width, and weight the treadmill’s designed for. This provides the proper comfort and safety.
- Have your dog lay on their side, with legs extended. For length, you want the distance from their front paws to their back PLUS 10 inches.
- To check width, you want at least 2 inches on either side of your dog’s widest part.
- For weight, check the treadmill’s recommended weight load, NOT the maximum weight capacity (they’re usually different). If your dog exceeds that capacity, the frame will give out. And if they’re too far under, they’ll fly off when you turn it on.
- Speed: Dog treadmills usually average speeds of 0.5-7.5mph, which is fine for the average dog. But look at your dog’s age and fitness level to make sure you can adjust that speed appropriately.
- Incline: Have you adjusted the incline on your treadmill or elliptical before? It makes you work harder and burn more calories. The same applies to canines. But you want to have control over adjusting the incline so your dog doesn’t suffer an injury.
- Safety: You want a dog treadmill with safety features, such as an automatic stop, a leash attachment, or side barriers. This protects your dog from accidents while they enjoy their indoor walk or run.
- Transport: Unless you plan to keep the treadmill set up in one place permanently, you want to consider how much it weighs and how easy it is to move around. Does it fold flat? Or does it have wheels? Throwing out YOUR back while you store it isn’t a good idea.
Human Treadmills vs. Dog Treadmills
Dog treadmills aren’t the cheapest items out there. And if you have a treadmill of your own, you may wonder if you can use that to help out your pup. After all, the design of the machines is the same, right?
Actually, it’s not. Human treadmills are much louder, without the safety features found on canine units. That causes most dogs to become leery of approaching them. And if your pup happens to stumble? The machine doesn’t know to switch off.
If you want to switch to or add an indoor component to your dog’s exercise routine, make sure you spring for a dog treadmill. That goes double for any dogs that cower from vacuum cleaners. Human machines? They’re at LEAST that loud, if not worse.
Starting Your Dog on a Dog Treadmill
Once you have your dog treadmill, you want to take some time to train your dog to use it. They’ll end up a little wary of the new machine, at first. So you’ll need some patience and time to get them started.
- Set up the dog treadmill where you intend to use it. Let your dog investigate it while providing praise and treats.
- Switch on the treadmill, but DON’T force your dog to climb onto it. You just want them to hear it and see it move. Continue the treats.
- When they’re comfortable around it, place treats on the belt while it’s OFF. This way, they learn how to climb onto the running area.
- As soon as they’re approaching without a problem, attach the leash and walk them in place. Turn it on. Provide treats while they walk.
- When they get used to the dog treadmill, you can slowly increase the speed to suit their needs.
- Follow the same process if you want to increase the incline.
You should NEVER leave a pup unattended on a dog treadmill. Even if you have a safety switch to turn things off, you want to stay around in case of problems.
Best Dog Treadmills
When outdoor walks pose problems, you may find yourself wondering what to do inside. Tiny dogs can play fetch without too much trouble. But as breeds go up in size and weight, that can get challenging. Dog treadmills offer an answer that works for everyone. Your pup still gets the same amount of exercise, without taking up too much room (or risking any breakables). And you can use it whether it’s a monsoon outside, a blizzard, or hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk. You stay comfortable, and so does your canine companion. It’s the perfect solution!
DogPACER makes two appearances on this list. Their LF 3.1 model caters to dogs weighing up to 180 pounds. It’s also spacious, with a running area measuring 71 inches in length and 16.5 inches in width. And you won’t need too much room beyond that to set it up in the house (46″ high x 77″ long x 27″ wide). The speeds range from 0.5-7.5mph, and you can increase them in 0.1mph increments. There are also four incline settings, moving from 5-9 degrees. The computer comes programmed with workouts, or you can create your own, depending on your dog’s needs. They include a crossbar to attach the leash and optional side guards. And when you’re done? It folds flat for easy storage.
Downsides? This dog treadmill is on the large size. And it’s HEAVY (84.5 pounds). So while you can fold it out of the way, you’ll need to move carefully to shift it (and there aren’t any wheels). It runs with a 20amp motor that needs 110 volts of electricity, and some people found that they needed a dedicated circuit to prevent problems. And that motor makes SOME noise, so work through training carefully. The side guards are also on the flimsy side, so NEVER leave your dog unattended.
If you like the DogPACER model but need something with a smaller footprint, the Minipacer is the dog treadmill for you. You’ll need less room in your house (28.5″ high x 42″ long x 21.5″ wide). Of course, that translates to a smaller running area: 38 inches long and 16 inches wide. But it’s perfect for dogs coming in at under 55 pounds. You get the same speed control and range as you do with the larger model and the same safety features, too. But when it folds flat, you only need to lift 48.4 pounds (MUCH easier on your back). It’s also quieter, easing the nerves of pups who don’t like mechanical noises.
The downsides? This model has a permanent incline of 4.5 degrees. That may work for a fit, healthy dog, but it can be too much for a senior. And you have the same flimsy side guard problem you see with the larger model. And it requires the same 110 volts as the larger model (so no breaks there).
When you look at dog treadmills, you want easy portability to keep them out of the way. Goplus features wheels to make it easy to store the treadmill when your dog doesn’t need it. It also only weighs 47 pounds. Set up, you won’t need to clear much space, either (29.5″ high x 49″ long x 21″ wide). It’ll handle up to 200 pounds, and the running area is spacious (38 inches long and 14 inches wide). You can adjust the incline through three settings, providing the perfect workout. Plus, you get the advantage of the LCD screen OR a remote control. It comes with the leash crossbar, sturdy side guards, AND a safety key. If the key pulls out while your dog’s running, the treadmill stops immediately. And your remote? It has the same stop button.
So what are the downsides? While the weight capacity is up there, the running area won’t allow giant dogs enough space to run comfortably. You also need to adjust the incline on your own – the machine won’t do it for you. And while the remote is nice to have, it doesn’t always work very well – you don’t want to rely on it. Also, you can’t fold this dog treadmill flat.
PETSITE is another dog treadmill with wheels and low weight (47.5 pounds), making life easy when you want to store it out of the way. You also won’t need too much in the way of floor space to have it out in a room (41.5″ high x 49″ long x 21″ wide). The weight capacity comes in at 200 pounds (again), and you get a running area that isn’t too shabby (38 inches long and 14 inches wide). There are three inclines available, as well. And this is another dog treadmill that allows you to choose from the computer programs or set the controls at a screen OR with a handy remote control. You get a leash crossbar, sturdy side guards, as well as a magnetic safety key. Simply attach the key to your dog’s collar, and if it pops out during the walk, the machine stops.
Downsides? Unfortunately, the running area comes up a little short for the weight capacity again. You also need to go to the machine’s base to adjust the incline – you can’t do it on the control panel or with the remote. And while it doesn’t weigh much and has wheels, you can’t fold it flat. So it’s a good thing it’s on the smaller side.
No one wants their dog to miss out on a walk. But if the conditions aren’t safe – or comfortable – you may hesitate. That’s where dog treadmills come in. Even at midnight, after a double shift at work, you can let your dog go for a walk or even a run!
You want to make sure the size is appropriate for your pup, and you’ll need to clear the space for the machine. But once you have that sorted? Your dog will never miss another exercise session again!