A dog treadmill might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to getting your pooch some exercise, but many owners and dog trainers have found that these machines can actually be quite an asset when used correctly. While you shouldn't just expect a treadmill to take the place of going for a long walk or running around at the dog park, it can be a good way to help your dog work off extra energy or shed excess pounds.
As with any exercise, human or canine, the key to having your dog use a treadmill is taking the right approach. Obviously, getting outside and walking or running is still preferable as this engages all of your dog's senses as well as working out his muscles. But this isn't always possible for any number of reasons and in these cases, using a treadmill may be a great way to keep your dog moving.
For owners who live in areas that have harsh weather, it may be difficult or even impossible to get your dog outside as much as you'd like, so a dog treadmill could be a good alternative. Your pup can use the treadmill in any kind of weather and you don't have to worry about going out in the cold and wet just to make sure he is stretching his legs.
In other cases, the problem could be physical issues with the owners. Senior citizens with limited mobility or individuals with physical handicaps or those recovering from surgery or illness that can't get around very well may have difficulty taking their dog for a walk. With a treadmill, their four legged friend can still have some physical stimulation even if they can't get up and move themselves.
There are actually treadmills made specifically for dogs like the dogPACER available on Amazon.
Perhaps one of the most unique uses for a dog treadmill is for active breeds like the Australian Shepherd. You'd think that these dogs would get plenty of exercise in their regular routine as they always seem to be on the move, but often these highly energetic breeds can have a buildup of excess energy that even their busy daily life doesn't deplete. In cases like this, using a treadmill for an hour or so in the evening can help them to work off their excess energy and settle down.
Of course there are other, more practical, uses for treadmills such as physical therapy. Dogs who sustain injuries are much like their human counterparts in that they will need to move the affected limb or move their whole body in order to encourage proper healing. Again, this can be a particular concern for breeds like the Australian Shepherd whose active lifestyle can make them more susceptible than most to injury.
In the case of physical therapy, a dog treadmill should only be used with proper instruction or by a trained vet or therapist so that the dog isn't injured further. In some cases, a treadmill can even be used underwater to reduce strain on the injured limb and provide gentle, natural resistance. This type of PT has proven quite helpful for many injured or ill dogs. As with humans, treadmills can also be used to help dogs lose weight, which is important as maintaining a healthy weight can help a dog live longer.
If you want to ensure that your dog stays healthy and active for as long as possible, why not consider adding a treadmill to his regular routine? It's a safe and easy way to keep him moving and you may both end up benefitting from it in the long run.