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Most dogs need plenty of exercise to keep them healthy, happy and well-behaved. But some owners have trouble getting their dog enough exercise, and are forced to examine creative alternatives. A treadmill for dogs is one of the best options for many pets and their owners.
A dog treadmill gives your canine the ability to burn some calories indoors, in a controlled environment, alleviating the need to take her outside as often as you otherwise would.
But not all treadmills are helpful or well-suited for canines. Fortunately, we’ve compiled a list of five of the best treadmills for dogs available, which you can see below. After reviewing the top options of the market, we’ll provide some tips for selecting the best treadmill for your dog and using it safely.
5 Best Treadmills for Dogs
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The DogPACER Treadmill is an affordable, yet functional dog treadmill that folds up easily so you can store it or take it with you on vacation. Built with your dog’s safety in mind, it features two side panels to keep your dog from falling off and an emergency stop key that stops the machine on a dime whenever pulled free.
- 1.5 peak horsepower motor
- Comes with preprogrammed exercise programs
- 71″ x 16.5″ running surface
- Made for dogs up to 179 pounds
- Manual incline
User Reviews: Most owners who tried out the DogPACER Dog Treadmill were very happy with the product and found it easy for their dog to use. A few owners appreciated the preprogrammed exercise regimens and the digital display, which indicates the minutes your dog has been running, the current speed, the distance covered and an approximation of the number of calories burned. Complaints about the DogPACER were rare, although a few owners reported that the unit malfunctioned after only a few months of use.
Bottom Line: Although most owners found this treadmill to work quite satisfactorily, the DogPACER Dog Treadmill is best suited for those with tight budgets; those with the means to purchase a treadmill at a slightly higher price point will probably be pleased with the superior performance and durability. Nevertheless, if you need a treadmill, yet can’t afford a better option, the DogPACER is a great choice.
The GoPet Treadwheel is a unique alternative to the traditional treadmill. Essentially an over-sized hamster wheel, the Treadwheel provides a very-low impact way to get your dog some extra exercise.
- Requires no electricity to operate
- 60″ L x 20″ W running area
- Can be used indoors or outdoors
User Reviews: Relatively few owners have reported on their experience with the GoPet Treadwheel, so it is hard to get a feel for its quality and function. However, most of the owners who did share their experiences viewed the Treadwheel positively. Because it takes a fair bit of weight or strength to get the wheel turning, it is probably not well-suited for small dogs.
Bottom Line: The GoPet Treadwheel is a good option for owners who need a treadmill-like device that can be used outdoors or without power. However, owners that don’t have such needs will likely be better served by one of the more traditional treadmills on the market.
The PetZen DogTread Treadmill is a high-end exercise tool that is designed to encourage a proper gait while your dog walks or runs. The DogTread sits very close to the ground to keep your dog safe, and its whisper-quiet motor won’t disturb your dog while it is in use.
- 75” L x 17” W running area
- Equipped with a manual incline adjustment
- Programmable speed, distance and time
- Comes with several preloaded workouts, eliminating the need for you to program your own
User Reviews: As with many other dog treadmills, there aren’t a lot of user reviews to consult, so it is difficult to characterize its performance. However, those owners who have tried it and shared their experiences were quite pleased with the DogTread Treadmill – as were their dogs.
Bottom Line: If you are interested in getting a high-end treadmill for your dog without spending a fortune, the PetZen DogTread deserves consideration. While the lack of many user reviews is disappointing, this treadmill possesses all of the hallmarks of a high-quality product that should work well for your large dog.
The GoPet PR725 Treadmill is a premium exercise tool, designed for large dogs, weighing up to 175 pounds. Built to the standards professional physical therapists demand, the GoPet PR725 provides your dog with a chance to get more exercise, while hanging out in the climate-controlled comfort of your home.
- Includes two side rails to keep your dog safe
- 71” L x 16” W running surface
- Allows dogs to run up to 10 miles per hour
- Emergency safety stop to prevent injuries
User Reviews: Like a few of the other treadmills we’ve detailed, user reviews for the GoPet Treadmill PR725 are scarce – probably because relatively few dog owners need a treadmill that can accommodate very large dogs.
Bottom Line: Although we’d feel more comfortable recommending this treadmill if there were more user reviews, it is clearly a high-quality treadmill that should work well for your dog. And for the price, there are few better options available for large dogs.
The GoPet PR730 is a top-of-the-line treadmill, designed to support dogs weighing up to 265 pounds and measuring up to 59 inches in length. In addition to being strong and durable enough for large dogs, this treadmill also comes equipped with a number of features that are simply not available in many other units.
- Manual incline adjustment
- 98” L x 25” W running area accommodates even the largest dogs
- Adjustments can be made manually or with the included remote control
- Folds up for convenient storage
User Reviews: There aren’t any customer reviews posted for the GoPet PetRun PR730, but that isn’t surprising, given the cost and capacity of this unit. Unlike many of the other treadmills detailed above, this model is designed for professional therapists and a very small number of dog owners.
Bottom Line: If you want the very best treadmill available or you simply have a gigantic dog who is too large for most other models, you can’t go wrong with the GoPet PetRun PR730. Most owners will find treadmills costing half as much will suit their needs, but if you have a Great Dane or Mastiff who needs some extra exercise, the PR730 may be your only option.
Reasons to Purchase a Dog Treadmill
A treadmill for dogs can be a very helpful tool for many owners, and there are a variety of reasons that your dog may benefit from using one. Some of the situations and scenarios in which a treadmill for dogs may prove valuable include:
- Your dog is overweight. Obesity causes many of the same health problems for dogs that occur in people, and it is important to keep your dog’s body weight within the range your vet recommends. You’ll need to ensure your dog is not obtaining too many calories from her food, but you’ll also need to increase the amount of exercise she receives to regain her svelte figure.
- Your dog has an injury. Dogs who suffer sprained ankles, twisted knees and other injuries may need to participate in a rehabilitation program to heal completely. Because a treadmill for dogs provides your pet with the opportunity to move her limbs and improve muscle strength in a controlled and gentle manner, many vets and therapists recommend using them during the recovery period.
- Your dog is suffering from joint or bone problems. While osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia and other joint problems often make it difficult for dogs to get around the dog park, these dogs still need exercise. In fact, light, low-impact exercise can often help reduce the amount of pain they experience and improve their flexibility. A treadmill for dogs can help provide a great way for your dog to get this exercise in a safe and gentle manner.
- Your dog has very high exercise requirements. Some breeds, including Siberian huskies, Belgian Malinois and others, require absurd amounts of exercise to stay healthy and fulfilled. While you’ll still want to take these dogs on long, frequent walks and play plenty of games with them to help burn through some of their energy, a treadmill for dogs can provide another way to help get them the exercise they need.
- Your dog has behavioral problems. Some dogs, particularly those who have traumatic pasts or were not properly socialized when young, have trouble behaving appropriately while out and about. While you’ll need to take steps to correct these problems, and you’ll still need to take your pet out regularly, a treadmill for dogs can help ensure your dog gets enough exercise while you work through these problems.
- You have mobility challenges. If your dog is healthy, yet you have trouble getting around, it may not be safe or practical to walk your dog or take her to the park as often as is necessary. In such cases, a treadmill can help your dog burn off some calories without requiring you to take her anywhere. You’ll still need to figure out a way to get your dog some outdoor time, but a treadmill will reduce the amount of outdoor time necessary.
- You live in an area with frequent inclement weather. Most big dogs are willing to walk in a little rain or snow, but if you live in an area with torrential downpours or excessive snowfall, you may need to come up with alternative ways to get your dog the exercise she needs. A treadmill can work perfectly for these types of scenarios. And for the record, treadmills may also prove valuable in areas with long hot summers.
- You live far from a good dog park. Most people live within a few minutes’ drive of a dog park, but those who do not may need to investigate alternative methods for getting their dog sufficient exercise, such as a treadmill. A treadmill for dogs can help ensure your canine gets to run or walk enough to help offset your dog’s lack of park time. Additionally, because city streets are often littered with glass, nails and other dangerous items, a treadmill provides your dog with a very safe way to get your dog some exercise.
Note that a treadmill for dogs should never be used to completely replace walks and outdoor playtime; they should only be used to supplement regular walks and trips to the dog park whenever possible. Your dog needs to get outside and explore the world regularly to remain emotionally healthy and stave off boredom and frustration.
Things to Look For
It is important to select a high-quality treadmill to avoid safety problems, and to ensure it works well for your pet. Some of the most important considerations you’ll need to take into account include:
It is very important to select a treadmill that can handle your dog’s weight. This is especially important for owners of large or giant breeds, who often exceed the size limits for many treadmills.
The best treadmills offer a wide variety of speeds, ranging from very slow to a brisk run. The more speed options that are available, the more likely you will be to dial in the perfect speed for your dog.
Some treadmills can be folded up so that they can be stored in a closet or under the bed. These are preferable for owners who live in tight quarters, and they are also easier to take with you on vacations or trips, if necessary.
Some treadmills allow you to adjust the incline of the treadmill to simulate walking up hill. This can help your dog burn more calories and strengthen her muscles without having to increase the speed at which she runs. This can be safer in some cases and a valuable capability for super-high-energy dogs.
The best treadmills feature tracks that are cushioned to help protect your dog’s joints and reduce the impact they sustain. This is especially important to look for when picking out a treadmill for an elderly or injured pet.
For safety’s sake, you want your dog’s treadmill to sit as close to the ground as is possible. This will help your dog feel more comfortable on it and prevent her from falling very far in the event of a misstep or accident.
Guard walls can help prevent your dog from wandering off the side of the treadmill. Guard rails also help some dogs to feel more secure, although they can make others nervous about entering the enclosed space. Ideally, you want to choose a treadmill that has guard walls that can be removed if need be.
Once your dog gets comfortable using the treadmill, you may want to employ various exercise regimens in which the speed of the walk varies over time. Try to select treadmills that allow you to program various routines – whether or not they come with preprogrammed options.
Teaching Your Canine to Use the Treadmill
A very small number of dogs take to treadmills like ducks to water, but most will have to be taught how to use them. You’ll have to adjust your method based on your dog’s personality and her health status, but the basic procedure is as follows:
- Introduce your dog to the treadmill in a relaxed manner. Keep the machine off while doing so, and just try to get your canine comfortable with it. Let her sniff and inspect it at her leisure. The goal is to get her to jump on it willingly. You may need to sit on the treadmill and calling your dog up to you (assuming the treadmill will support your combined weight safely), or you may use her leash to guide her up. You may need to entice her with treats the first few times.
- Once your dog seems comfortable with the contraption and will jump on it herself, turn the treadmill on to the slowest speed. Let your dog get used to the way the treadmill looks and sounds while it is on. Once she seems comfortable with the moving treadmill, try to encourage her to jump onboard. You’ll probably need to use some combination of leash guidance, treats and copious amounts of praise. Keep the machine at its slowest speed until your dog figures out that she needs to avoid the back of the track to avoid falling off.
- Slowly increase the speed, allowing your dog to work up to a slow jog. Remember to provide plenty of praise and positive reinforcement while your dog is using the treadmill – exercise should be fun and you’ll have much better luck getting her to use it regularly if you help her associate it with positivity.
Safe Treadmill Use for Your Dog
Just like any other tool, treadmills are extremely helpful when used properly, but they can also be dangerous if used incorrectly or carelessly. Fortunately, it is pretty easy to keep your dog safe while using the treadmill, by simply following a few guidelines.
→ Always supervise your dog when using the treadmill.
→ Start slow and gradually increase the speed and incline of the treadmill over several sessions.
→ Do not overdo it; dogs can become injured or fall if they are pushed beyond their limits.
→ Use care to ensure your long-haired dog’s fur does not become caught in the mechanism.
→ Always consult with your vet before initiating a treadmill training program with your dog.
Do you use a treadmill to help your dog get the exercise she needs? We’d love to hear about your experiences. Was it easy to teach her to use it? Are you happy with the model you selected?
Let us know in the comments below.
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Product photos courtesy of Amazon.com.