Dog treadmills can be life-changing if your pup ever whines to go for a walk at 5 am on a -10 degree morning. (If you opt to still do the winter walks outside, you might want to at least bundle them up with a dog sweater to keep off the chill). Or maybe the temperature is in the opposite direction — it’s too hot to even play with the doggie pool toys, but your pal is still staring at you with the leash in their mouth. For overweight pooches with a little less energy, they might benefit from a slow feeder bowl, but they’re also prime candidates for a dog treadmill.
Should you get a dog treadmill?
Wondering if a dog treadmill is the best route for your companion? Mindy Tusko, an American Kennel Club certified dog trainer and owner of Pawsitive Results Training, says it depends. “A treadmill is not a replacement [for exercising outside],” she says. “This is just to be used for when you can’t go for a walk. Sporty or athletic dogs might also have higher activity needs, or might need to stay in top athletic condition.”
Treadmills can’t replicate the fun smells and sights on a walk, and they require additional training compared to regular leash walking. However, they are a good supplement if you and your pet are regularly housebound. So if you have a dog with TONS of energy, live somewhere that gets very hot or cold (or lots of snow), have an overweight dog, are rehabbing a dog with an injury, or possibly have a dog that gets anxious and is resistant to other attempts to calm down (check with your vet), you might consider getting your dog on a treadmill.
How do you teach your dog to use a dog treadmill?
“Hire a trainer,” Tusko advises from the get-go. “People think, ‘oh, my dog knows how to walk, of course they can use a treadmill.’ That’s not the case, treadmills move, treadmills make noise, it’s a very different experience for dogs.”
She adds that it’s crucial to “help them get used to [the treadmill], teach them positive associations with the treadmill, teach them how to walk while attached to the long leads for safety, etc.” When it comes to finding a good trainer, Mindy suggests you “look for a trainer that has done treadmill work with their own dog, if possible.” And of course, you’ll also want to supervise your companion at all times.
Can dogs use human treadmills?
“Dogs can use human treadmills,” says Tusko, “but you have to be careful. Human treadmills have much higher speeds, for example. But if it’s used properly, you can use one without a problem.” Be sure to start on the slowest setting then gradually increase the pace to a comfortable trot.
When training a dog to use a human treadmill, another to keep in mind is their stamina. Tusko explains you need to “learn your dog’s endurance level. Take them for a walk, and notice how far they can walk before they start slowing down and wanting to go back home, and how long it took them,” says Tusko. Watch your pup carefully for signs they’re getting tired, then slow the belt immediately (and gradually come to a stop) if they are.
Again, your vet and/or dog trainer will guide you with tips on how to start using a dog treadmill; ask for specific pacing and time recommendations for your individual pooch.
What is the best dog treadmill?
There are a few options out there, but you’ll want to make sure you get one that is the appropriate size for your pal. For four-legged treadmill novices, you may also want to consider getting a unit with blinders on either side, since “these give the dog edges as a sightline so they don’t step off and injure a paw,” Tusko explains. Also, units that are specially designed for dogs don’t typically go as fast as human treadmills, which helps reduce the risk of injury.
If you’re ready to start looking for a canine cardio machine, we’ve canvassed some of the internet’s best deals and offerings on both dog-specific treadmills and human treadmills that can pull double duty.
*Note: For the sake of safety, we recommend speaking with your vet and/or a professional dog trainer before making a purchase.
The Best Dog Treadmills
If there was a gold standard of dog treadmills, this would probably be it. According to Tusko, “if your dog is over 50 pounds, look into getting a specific dog treadmill. The reason is that human treadmills aren’t long enough for [a larger dog’s] stride length, and that can cause injury to the dog.” So if you’ve got a great Dane, Bernese mountain dog, great Pyrenees, or another large-size breed, we’re talking to you. The belt length on this treadmill is 71”, compared to human treadmills which average around 55”-60”.
This is the smaller version of the above dogPACER treadmill, made specifically for smaller breeds of dogs. Compared to the 71” full-sized version, this treadmill only has a track length of 38”. This reviewer has a “pit bull/chihuahua mix who was severely abused and is afraid of everything,” but not, apparently, this compact treadmill! They saw noticeable differences in their dog’s “edginess” after a few daily minutes of running on the medium setting. The Minipacer is suitable for pups up to 55 lbs.
At only a touch over four feet long, the PETSITE dog treadmill would be a great call for someone who has a small dog in a small space. And I do mean a smaller dog; anything larger than a spaniel will have strides too long for this treadmill. Of course, it also comes with other dog treadmill standards like blinders on each side. As an additional bonus, it can handle a dog up to 200lbs. So let’s say you don’t have a large breed dog, but your dachshund is double XL. This treadmill might be the (proverbial) kick in the tail they need to slim down.
This technically isn’t a dog treadmill, but rather a treadwheel. It’s entirely dog-powered, meaning that if you’re not walking due to snow and ice and also lost electricity, your dog still gets to run! It also means the speed is totally customizable and there’s no chance of your dog getting exhausted by a too-high speed setting. It’s the perfect size for small to medium-sized dogs with tons of energy to burn.
The Best Human Treadmills For Dogs
The NordicTrack is a prime example of a treadmill that can swing both ways, and many reviewers report that they’ve successfully been able to use it with their dogs. Just make sure you start slow! Thankfully, the lowest speed on this treadmill and on most dog treadmills is the same: 0.5mph.
This reviewer specifically got this treadmill to use for both herself and her puppy. The low speeds were a plus for both of them, as was the lack of a noisy motor. (One common problem with using a human treadmill for dogs is the loud noises startling skittish pups.) Plus, she included a dog tax video!
This might be a treadmill for humans, but it has all the potential of a dog-friendly walk. The safety bars, which would help an older user or one with balance issues, look like the perfect opportunity for handmade blinders. (Just makes sure they’re secure and won’t get caught in the belt! Ask a pro for tips.) The nice thing about this treadmill is its lower-than-average high speeds, meaning you won’t accidentally send Fido flying if you mis-adjust the speeds.
This treadmill is the perfect compromise between a workout for your dog and a workout for your wallet. It might not have all the bells and whistles of something like a NordicTrack, but what does your dog care? They can’t read, anyway! This treadmill also has the advantage of a space saver, since the handlebar can fold down and allow you to tuck the whole thing under a desk or bed for storage. This reviewer uses the REDLIRO with both her dogs, one of whom is quite skittish. She attributed the low-to-the-ground, slight build to lessen her dogs’ intimidation levels.
If your dog is a little on the “husky” side, you may be concerned that some of those smaller-build treadmills won’t be able to handle their heft. This treadmill, at 108lbs, will do just fine. It also can handle a user (either human or dog) up to 250lbs. You can get your pooch to work out, then give that dog a bone!