Dogs on Treadmills

 |  Feb 15th 2011  |   1 Contribution

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Treadmill or dreadmill? At a retail price of 9, one would hope the former...

The other day I came across a catalog that advertised, among other things, doggy treadmills. They're purported to be "whisper quiet" (so they don't bother you while you're sitting down and eating a sack of potato chips on the couch while watching TV?), and some go up to 8 mph with a 7% incline. It kind of gives a whole new meaning to taking your dog for a walk.

But these are DOGS! Aren't they supposed to be walked outdoors, rain or shine or sleet or hail? Wouldn't they view these treadmills as dreadmills? The dog in the photo above seems to be plotting ways to get rid of his owner while putting his best paw forward on the Hammacher Schlemmer Canine Treadmill.

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At least this 1881 treadmill had some practical applications.

If a dog is going to have to be exercised on one of these contraptions, perhaps because of illness of the owner, at least the treadmill could have some practical use. Check out the treadmill on the right. Cabinet Magazine says that Nicholas Potter's "Enterprise Dog Power" treadmill, made around 1881, was designed to power butter churns and other small farm machines. Pretty interesting way for a dog to churn its keep!

I've heard that doggy treadmills can be valuable for rehabilitation or physical therapy, but what about regular, healthy dogs? Wouldn't they be weirded out and worried that if they don't keep up the pace they could go slamming against the nearest wall like a lobbed tennis ball? I know Jake would.

But it turns out there are ways to get some dogs to enjoy a romp on a treadmill. Clickers and treats play a big role in acceptance, as does proper machine placement. (Never put the treadmill so its front is next to a wall. What dog wants to feel like she's running headlong into a wall? And never tie a dog to the treadmill.!) Type "dogs" and "treadmills" into your favorite search engine and you'll get lots of treadmill training tips.

Here's a grainy but interesting video of using clicker training to get a dog used to a treadmill. (It's a human treadmill; same idea, though.)

Some dogs seem to take quite naturally to treadmills. I love the way the guy in the next video stands on the side at times and just uses one paw. What a funny dog!

This husky apparently needs loads of exercise, and took to the treadmill very quickly. Go dog, go!

Of course, even the husky in the previous video would probably much prefer being able to run her heart out in the great outdoors. There's nothing like good old-fashioned "walkies" to make a dog happy. And bathroom cleanup has got to be much easier on snow or grass than it is splattered on walls. ;)


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