Okay folks, I’m going to teach you how to get your dog to walk on the treadmill step by step. I’ll cover from the very first time your dog steps on the treadmill to the point where your dog can walk on the treadmill off leash.
Step 1 is…
Step 1 – Get the Dog Used to Getting On & Off the Treadmill
Have your dog get on and off the treadmill several times without turning it on. We don’t want the treadmill to do anything that might scare the dog by making noise (like beeping or moving).
Some dogs pick this skill up right away and others struggle quite a bit at first, so be patient with your dog and stick to the steps I lay out and your dog will start to love it!
Once your dog gets on and off the treadmill without hesitation she is ready for the next step.
Leash your dog and start the treadmill. Typically 1-2 mph is the starting speed; the bigger the dog the higher the speed. If the weight of your dog is slowing the belt down when she steps you need to up the speed, otherwise you risk the dog feeling uncomfortable walking on the belt’s surface.
Once the belt starts try to keep tension out of the leash. This is nearly impossible at first, but it’s important that your dog feels zero tension in the leash as soon as possible. This way she learns that the most comfortable place to be is right in the middle of the treadmill and walking. How do you do this?
Short tugs on the leash. Tug and release. Tug and release. Sometimes I find myself tugging 5 times in quick succession until the dog finally starts moving forward.
Your dog is going to stress out a bit when the treadmill starts. The worst thing you can do is let them jump off or turn the treadmill off. This only teaches your dog that if she’s uncomfortable she can escape the situation which will make treadmill training 100 times harder. Make sure she stays on, so you can teach her that panic is not the solution… walking forward is!
I recommend having someone in front of the treadmill calling the dog and motivating her to move forward. When she does start walking you can praise and give a treat if your dog will take one (some are too concentrated on the treadmill to want a treat).
Let the dog feel the back of the treadmill. A lot of dogs will refuse to walk or only walk when you tug on the leash. Many times if you let them drift back to the end of the treadmill their paws will feel the rounded part and the drop off and will immediately start walking forward so they don’t fall off. I let the Pug in my video do this around 1:20 if you want to see an example.
Once the dog settles down a bit and takes a few steps in the right direction you can turn the treadmill off but DO NOT let the dog jump off right away. You want to control when the treadmill session is over, so take some time to praise your dog and give her treats before she jumps off. This helps end the training session on a high note!
Increase the length of time spent on the treadmill after each session by about 10%. Eventually your dog will trot on the treadmill without a leash for up to 30 minutes.
Have fun teaching your dog, and send me a message or leave a comment if you run into resistance. I hope you enjoy my Salt Lake City dog training tips.