How Long Can Dogs Run on a Treadmill?

Treadmills are undoubtedly among the best equipment that dog owners should have. They offer year-round exercise for active dogs regardless of how bad the weather is.

Nevertheless, since it’s not a natural way, you need to know the maximum allowed duration that won’t negatively impact your dog by straining his muscle.

So, how long can dogs run on a treadmill? The short answer is 20-30 minutes. However, this duration can be quite long for some dogs. Senior dogs, for instance, can suffice by 10-15 minutes.

In this article, I’ll explore this topic in detail. We’ll take a look at all the factors that you need to take into consideration. Let’s see!

Increase the Time Gradually

Like I said, not all dogs can be trained on a treadmill for 30 minutes. But does this mean that you can go for the full duration with dogs who are healthy enough? No.

The problem here is psychological more than physical. Running on a treadmill doesn’t feel natural at all for most dogs at first. They often get confused when the surroundings remain still even though they’re moving their legs. Plus, timid dogs might find it hard to trust the noisy belt of a treadmill.

For these reasons, dogs should be introduced gradually for treadmill training. In other words, the maximum duration will differ according to how familiar the dog is with the treadmill.

Week 1

In the first days, it’s crucial to get the dog used to how the treadmill belt feels. You don’t actually have to turn on the treadmill yet. You just need to make the dog feel positive about the general concept.

To do that, lure your dog onto the machine by treats. Start by holding a treat right before the belt. Then move your hand over the belt to encourage the dog to step with his forelimbs. Afterward, position your hand over the end of the belt to lure the dog onto the machine with his four legs.

The duration of these sessions doesn’t really matter since the belt isn’t moving. But try to keep it long enough for the dog to feel comfortable.

Week 2

This will be the first week of actual exercise for your dog. Surely, you want to slowly ramp up the treadmill speed and duration to avoid muscle strains and injuries. An average of 5 or 10 minutes should be suitable for most dog breeds.

Week 3

By this time, the dog must have no problems at keeping pace with the treadmill. Training might last for about 20 minutes per session.

To prevent early fatigue, you must start and end the workout with 3-5 minutes of light walking or jogging. This should enhance the circulation and decrease the likelihood of injuries.

Week 4

It’s possible to reach the maximum exercise duration of 30 minutes this week. But again, make sure to include 5 minutes of light activity before and after the intensive running.

Signs of Dog Fatigue

The mentioned exercise durations are based on the experience of dozens of dog owners. Even though they reflect the average, they might be completely wrong for your dog.

In this section, we’ll take a look at some of the ways with which your dog can signal his fatigue or loss of interest. Surely, once you notice such signs, you have to immediately stop the exercise.

Sudden Tripping and Loss of Pace

Obviously, when the dog gets fatigued, he won’t be able to sustain normal physical behavior. This can manifest as small incidents of tripping or inability to keep pace.

More times than not, tired dogs will keep lagging behind on the belt. They’ll try to catch up the pace with bursts of movement, but they’ll soon lag again.

At other times, the gait might be affected. Dogs will shift their weight in the direction opposite to the fatigued area. If hindlimbs are tired, they’ll spend more time stepping over the forelimbs, for instance.

Abnormal Reaction Toward Treats

When dogs get tired, they have a hard time remembering their training. Perhaps the most obvious implication is related to treats. Instead of reaching out gently to your hand, the dog might spastically bite whatever you’re presenting.

Some breeders believe that this might be a sign of hunger after physical exhaustion. But many dog owners debunked this theory when their dogs didn’t want to eat after the exercise was finished.

Barking or Whining

Every dog has a unique way to communicate anger or frustration. Some dogs bark loudly as if they’re demanding you to stop. Other dogs will try to grab your attention by faint, raspy whining. Therefore, this is left for your personal experience with your loyal friend.

Can a Treadmill Substitute Outdoor Walks?

That’s a big no! Think of a treadmill as a plan B in case you can’t carry on with the normal exercising routine for whatever reason.

For instance, a treadmill will be exceptionally helpful in the super hot days of summer. It can also be used in the chilly nights of winter. It’d certainly be convenient for hyperactive dogs who don’t seem to get tired at all.

But depending on a treadmill as the only method of exercise for your dog isn’t the best decision. Why? Well, taking a dog for a walk isn’t only about muscle exercise. This is also crucial to keep your dog’s senses satisfied and well-trained.

To be fair, a treadmill excels over regular walking in the matter of physical exercise. It enables you to perfectly control the time and intensity to tailor the results to whatever you need. But it’s lifeless. A treadmill is just a piece of machinery without any interesting smells or sceneries to feed your dog’s curiosity.

Final Thoughts

Needless to say, your dog’s safety comes before anything else. If he doesn’t seem to accept the treadmill, don’t force him onto it.

Also, make sure to buy a treadmill with a safety clip to which the leash can be attached. If you couldn’t find such a model, you’ll have to stand by your dog at all times to act promptly if something goes wrong.

If you’re hesitant between a collar and a harness, you should definitely go with the latter. A harness distributes the forces evenly while giving you the best control.