I don’t know about you, but I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. The ones people tell me about all sound the same. It’s always “I’m going to go on a diet,” or “I’m going to get healthier,” or “I’m going to cut out junk food,” or my favorite, “I’m going to buy a treadmill and use it for something other than hanging laundry. I don’t make resolutions because I don’t want to set myself up to fail.
The treadmill thing, though, got me thinking. Why would anyone want to exercise on a treadmill instead of just going out for a run or a walk? I am, as regular readers know, of an inquisitive mindset, so I started thinking. I guess a person might use a treadmill if exercising outside is problematic due to bad weather. Or maybe if they live in a bad neighborhood.
Then, since my focus is, of course, dogs, I started wondering about how dogs might get the exercise they need if going out is sometimes not an option. And lo and behold, I discovered dog treadmill reviews! Yes, gentle reader, there are actually treadmills for dogs, and reviews available for said treadmills.
The answer to that question is obvious. Dogs need exercise not just to stay physically fit, but to remain emotionally healthy. From time to time, you may not be able to take your dog outside for exercise. Perhaps, you’re suffering from the flu, or you’ve broken a leg, or something else is keeping you from getting out and enjoying exercise with your dog. You can always pick up your physical fitness slack later on, but your dog still has to be exercised.
So, what are you going to do? Well, you could hire a dog walker, but that means putting your best friend’s safety in the hands of another person, and that’s not without potential hazards (See 10 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Dog Walker). The other thing you could do is get a dog treadmill. Reviews are available at various online sites, but remember that not all the information you find on the Internet is accurate. If the preponderance of the dog treadmill reviews seems to recommend a certain model, it’s probably a safe bet, but be vigilant.
First, let’s talk about dog treadmills in general, and then we’ll get down to the dog treadmill reviews.
If you can’t always go on a long walk, or if you can only take your dog for a long walk once a day, a dog treadmill could be a great solution. In fact, they’re particularly useful for elderly people who aren’t prepared to give up the pleasure of a dog’s companionship, but who might have physical limitations that make regular exercise problematic. They’re also useful for people who are largely house-bound, but who must meet the needs of a service dog that has to be exercised. They’re also a good solution if you suddenly find that your other commitments (work, perhaps?) are so time-consuming that you just can’t spend a couple of hours a day exercising your buddy.
Maybe it’s just that your dog is really high-energy, and you wear out long before he does. Whatever the issue, a dog treadmill can give your pet the exercise he needs when you can’t.
Another benefit to a dog treadmill is that it can reduce the likelihood of injury. I lived in some pretty nasty neighborhoods in my earlier years, and one of the things I always had to be watchful for was broken glass and other debris that could hurt my dogs. Some of those neighborhoods didn’t have dog parks where I could take a dog to play safely, either. If I’d known about dog treadmills back in the day, I would have had a safe alternative – not to mention no excuse for not walking my dog.
Another reason you might need the use of a dog treadmill is if there are other, aggressive dogs in your neighborhood – or, for that matter, if your dog is aggressive with others.
Some dogs are a bit resistant to treadmills, and there’s really no getting away from that. Let’s face it, dog treadmills, reviews that are highly favorable notwithstanding, are not natural. Even the best dog treadmill is going to take some getting used to. For that matter, I suspect that humans probably have a bit of a learning curve when it comes to walking and running on treadmills as well. You can usually overcome your dog’s resistance to the treadmill with a couple of simple steps, though.
Encourage your dog to jump up on the treadmill before you turn it on. Make a game out of it – you jump up first, and make all kinds of happyhappyjoyjoy noises to show your dog how much fun you’re having. Then, you might put a treat on the far end of the treadmill and guide him forward. That way, he’ll know that good things happen when he uses the treadmill.
When you’re ready to turn on the treadmill, it would probably be best to have your dog on a leash. When the tread is moving, he’s probably not going to be crazy about the idea of jumping right on, so this will be a bit of a process. If you can get him to put one paw up on the treadmill, guiding him gently with the leash, that’s a good start.
Then, once your dog shows a willingness to at least put a paw on the treadmill, take the pressure off the leash. This is your signal to your dog that he’s doing what you want him to do. Then you can try for two paws. If he wants to move away from the treadmill, that’s fine. It might take several tries, but at some point, he will get up on the treadmill.
Once he’s finally accepted being on the treadmill, just use the leash to guide him forward. As he becomes increasingly comfortable, you can increase the speed a bit. Keep in mind, though, when you’re doing this, that most dogs are more comfortable trotting than they are walking. So you don’t want to ratchet the speed up too high, but you don’t want to keep it too low either.
Most dogs will also tend to gravitate toward the rear of the treadmill on the first try or two. It’s fine if his foot slips off – just use the leash to guide him back on.
Most dogs will catch onto treadmill use fairly quickly. Using practice and the leash, your dog will likely become a treadmill pro in little time.
Most dogs do best on a treadmill that is fairly close to the ground, and adjustable when it comes to speed. Some treadmills come with walls on the sides, while others are open. Some dogs dislike being confined, while others feel safer on a walled treadmill. It really depends on the individual dog. According to the dog treadmill reviews I have read, most dogs seem to prefer the open type of treadmill.
Now, the reviews. I hope that they will help you to determine what type of treadmill is best for your dog.
The PetZen DogTread is a great treadmill that has short walls that your dog can see over. That works really well for dogs that prefer a bit of structure, but don’t want to be confined. Your dog can still see his surroundings (and more important, he can see you). There is also a food dish at the front, so if you’re having trouble getting your dog used to the treadmill, this is a really good feature because you can use the leash to guide him onto the treadmill, and then he’ll be encouraged to run toward the food. Of course, you should slow down and stop the treadmill from time to time so that he can enjoy a bit of a reward.
This treadmill comes in sizes suitable for small or medium size dogs. Depending on the size, you can generally spend $900-$1,000 for this treadmill at Amazon.
The MiniPacer dog treadmill is another dog treadmill that is suited for small to medium dogs. It comes with removable walls, so whether your dog likes the feeling of safety that walls provide, or would rather be able to view his surroundings, you can accommodate his preference.
One great feature of this dog treadmill is that it can be folded up for storage, so if you only need to use a treadmill periodically to exercise your dog, you can tuck it away in a closet or under the bed when it is not in use. It’s inexpensive, too – usually under $60 at Amazon.
I really like the GoPet TreadWheel for large dogs, and I wish I’d known about it when I broke my ankle and couldn’t walk Janice and Leroy. Can you imagine a sort of hamster wheel for dogs? If you can, then you’ve got the concept. It delivers an amazing workout for your dog, and most dogs are easily encouraged to use it.
Remember the first time your dog jumped into a rocking chair and then immediately jumped out? And then he decided it was all good, and settled down in the rocking chair? The GoPet TreadWheel has pretty much the same learning curve. Most dogs will be a little bit reluctant at first, but with your guidance, they’ll soon be outrunning even the most energetic hamster.
In the large dog size, this treadmill will run you about $1,300 at Amazon. It’s also available in sizes suitable for smaller dogs, even down to toy breeds, and the smaller the dog, the lower the price.
I’m a big believer in lots of fresh air and exercise for dogs. But not exercising your dog is never a good idea, so if, for whatever reason, you need to keep your dog indoors for a period of time, a dog treadmill can be a great solution. I hope that these dog treadmill reviews have been useful.
Have you ever used a dog treadmill? How did it work out for you? What was the learning curve like for your dog? Did he love it, hate it, or just need a bit of time getting used to it? I’d love to hear your stories, so leave a comment.