Before you get a dog, you think that you will walk him all the time, and having him will make you a fitter, healthier person. Then life sets in.
There are many reasons why walking your dog doesn’t happen the way you envisioned before your dog was in your life. Work has a tendency to get in the way, as do kids’ activities, physical illness, weather, and a lack of parks anywhere near your house.
For owners that live in the heart of the city, it may not have even been a consideration in the first place.
But the awesomeness that is technology has come up with the dog treadmill, and the answer to all of the world’s problems and the meaning of life has been resolved.
Why does your dog need to exercise?
Dogs with pent up energy are not good when left alone at home. They might destroy things or hump stuff, or just get really angry at you and then poop in your shoes.
Lack of exercise, especially if combined with a rich diet, can lead to a rather chubby puppy. Extra weight on your dog is similar to extra weight on a person; it puts pressure on his heart, lowers his immune system and essentially shortens his life.
What are the benefits of a dog treadmill?
Apart from the fact that you don’t have to walk him yourself, there are a number of benefits to getting a dog treadmill:
- Walking him inside keeps him safe from other dogs, and other dogs safe from him
- Dogs with illness or allergies can be protected from the elements and the environment
- If you live in an area prone to rain, wind or snow, like say, England, you might not want to take your dog out all of the time.
If your pup is recovering from surgery or illness he made need to start very slowly and a treadmill can be great for this. It is also good if your dog has not exercised in a long time or is overweight and needs a gradual start to his exercise regime as well. Dogs who are older and have bone or joint problems may also be more suited to a low impact machine.
Dog treadmills can also be handy for older or immobile owners, or for people who travel a lot with their dogs and just don’t get a chance to walk them.
Some breeds of dogs require an absurd amount of exercise to stay fit and keep entertained, more than what an average person can give them, even with twice daily walking. For these breeds, having the treadmill to supplement their fitness can be a great option.
Your dog still needs outdoor playtime however
At best, a treadmill should only be a short-term or seasonal option, or supplementary to their time spent outdoors. For physical, psychological and behavioural reasons your dog needs the stimulation and interaction he gets from playing outside. Dogs are not meant to be permanently housebound.
If your dog has health or behavioural issues that prevent him from going to the park, make sure that you talk to your vet about these concerns to make sure that they are being addressed and not just ignored.
What should look for when choosing a dog treadmill?
Similar to person treadmills, dog treadmills come in all levels of quality. You can pay a lot for bells and whistles, or just get something basic.
You don’t want something so basic that it can’t support your dog however, so you need to consider his needs when you are comparing them. It has to be suitable for his size and weight, and also for if he will be running or just walking. It needs to be stable and wide enough to give him the room he needs. The treadmill should also have sides to hold him in place, softer sides will do this more gently.
Some treadmills have no motor and run on dog power. This can be all that many dogs need and is certainly safe because it won’t go faster than they can handle. They are usually quieter as well.
The next step up is a motorised treadmill, and then the bells and whistles get integrated into the models from then on. Other features include:
- Time gauge to tell you how long he has been running
- Distance gauge to measure how far
- Calorie counting
- Start and stop safety buttons
- Remote control
- Difficulty levels and incline options
- Area for treats as an incentive
- Transport options such as the ability to collapse and fold away, or wheels to move it around your home as needed.
You would probably want a manufacturer’s warranty to ensure the treadmill lasts your dog’s lifetime and withstands the level of activity that he needs.
The most important features of a dog treadmill
- Choose the right size for your dog, including for his height and weight, as well as the speed at which he runs. If the track is too short or narrow it will alter his gait and can cause injuries.
- Choose one that does not have gaps in the sides where the belt sits that he could slip into.
- Choose one that has a strong belt and that stops as needed, as well as not being slippery.
- Look for soft end caps rather than hard ones (this is the bit that covers the frame), as dogs have been injured by catching paws or claws in the hard ones. Make sure there are no holes or gaps where this could occur.
- Choose the quietest one that you can afford (provided it is big enough and safe enough) because with their super-hearing dogs prefer something with less vibration and noise.
Comparing the best dog treadmills
Go Pet PetRun PR700 Treadmill
This is an excellent treadmill, designed for great big dogs and those needing a lot of exercise. It supports dogs up 265 pounds and up to 59 inches in length. It is very safe and sturdy, and will support what your big dog needs.
This is an expensive machine and usually bought by professional therapists, not necessarily pet owners, so it may be more than what a lot of people need. But if you want something very good and you have a big dog, you will not be disappointed in this product.
- Manual incline
- 98 inches X 25 inches running area
- Remote control capabilities
- Folds for storage
Great support for big dogs, heavy dogs and any that need to run fast. The remote control is an excellent extra feature as well. It is a big machine but folds up for storage so need not take up a lot of space in your home (although if you have a big dog you are probably used to him taking up a lot of space already!).
The price is probably the only drawback of this product. But the size could frighten smaller dogs, so you don’t need to get this one if your pup is smaller.
DogPacer Lf 3.1
This is a great simple machine for a lower price and still excellent quality. It is safe and sturdy and support dogs weighing up to 179 pounds. It has sides to hold your dog in his position and folds down for storage.
- Pre-programmed exercise programs
- 71 inch x 16.5 inch running surface
- Emergency stop
- Manual incline
The price of this model is fantastic. It is a good quality basic model and will suit the needs of most dog owners. Plus, it is great if you travel often or need to put it away somewhere at home. It is safe and tends to be the most popular treadmill purchased, with many happy customers.
This is a reasonably basic model, so you may want something with more features. It is also not suitable for bigger dogs.
Panchos Gym PG 702
A reasonably priced dog treadmill with a great look. Perfect for most dog types.
- MOTOR: 1.5HP
- SPEED: 1.0-10.0 km/h
- EXERCISE AREA: 47×16 in
- TOTAL AREA: 60x22x25 in
- MAX. WEIGHT: 55 lb
Checkout the Panchos Gym PG 702 here