Top Dog Treadmill Training Programs and How to Do Them

Outdoor walking is the best workout your dog can have, that’s for sure. Not only does he train his muscle, but he also enjoys sniffing and gazing upon whatever comes his way.

Nevertheless, we might be forced to stay home on some days. The blazing sun and freezing snow aren’t really the best conditions for training. If this sounds familiar, you should consider getting a dog treadmill.

Just like humans, dogs can use treadmills to do a lot more than simple walks. In this article, I’ll list the top dog treadmill training programs and how to do them. Let’s see!

Note: If you click some of the links in this article we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Weight Loss

Weight loss is one of the complicated targets in dog training. You have a bunch of other factors to consider besides physical exercise. But the consistency of treadmills should make things easier than outdoor training.

The Training Program

Ideally, dogs should run for about 30 minutes per day to achieve the best results possible. The actual weight loss rate will differ considerably between breeds. But generally speaking, 30 minutes of daily treadmill training might burn around 2.9 calories per each pound that your dog weighs.

Type of Dog Average Adult Weight Calories Burned after 30 Minutes of Dog Treadmill
Chihuahua Mix 12 lbs 35 calories
Beagle 20 lbs 58 calories
Spaniels 50 lbs 145 calories
Lab 70 lbs 203 calories

As you might already know, we can’t aggressively start the program with 30-minute sessions. Otherwise, dogs might bear injuries that might make them hate the whole concept of treadmills.

Week 1

The first week should be dedicated to light walks of no more than 3-5 minutes.

The aim is to get the dog used to how walking on the treadmill feels. Most of the dogs get confused when they notice that they’re walking while the surrounding environment is standing still. Keep the training sessions short to avoid overwhelming him with too much information.

Also, your dog must be wearing a harness from here on out. In the first week, you must keep holding the leash while standing on the left or right side of the treadmill. This position should prevent the leash from tangling into your dog’s feet.

dogPACER LF 3.1 Full Size Dog Pacer Treadmill

Week 2

Once the dog is comfortable around the treadmill, you can start gradually ramping up the speed. Start by light walking for 1-2 minutes, then jogging for 3-5 minutes, and end with another walk for 1-2 minutes. In total, the session shouldn’t last for more than 10 minutes.

Walking before and after jogging is important to warm up the muscles of the dog. This enhances the circulation and multiplies the workout benefit. It also decreases the likelihood of spasms and other injuries.

And again, you should hold the leash at all times while standing on the right or left side.

Week 3

By now, your dog should be excited around the treadmill. The training sessions in this week should be capped at 20 minutes. Start by walking or jogging for 2-4 minutes, then encourage the dog to run for 10-12 minutes, and end by walking for 2-4 minutes.

During the warmup, you can kneel in front of the treadmill if you want to encourage your dog with treats. However, while the dog is running, you should return to the side in order to act promptly if something goes wrong.

Week 4

From here on out, the sessions can be as long as 30 minutes. Each session must start and end by warming up with light walking or jogging for 5 minutes. That should leave around 20 minutes for the actual workout.

It’s crucial to keep an eye on your dog to notice signs of fatigue like excessive panting, coughing, or tripping. If any of these happen, stop the treadmill gradually and call it a day.

If running for 20 minutes continuously sounds too much for your dog, it’s possible to break it down into 2 small sessions with light jogging in between.

Strengthening

Unlike weight loss, strengthening programs don’t focus on long durations of intensive workouts. You want to do something similar to the reps and counts you apply in the gym. To keep things organized, I’ll discuss the strengthening programs for hindlimbs and forelimbs separately.

Exercising the Hindlimbs

Strengthening the hindlimbs is crucial to decrease the likelihood of developing hip dysplasia. This can be easily done by increasing the incline of the treadmill. The bigger the incline, the more work the muscles will exert to keep up.

To start, set the treadmill on a 0° incline. Set the speed to something as low as 1.5 or 2 mph. The dog should walk or jog for about 5 minutes. As stated earlier, this warmup is crucial to enhance circulation and prevent injuries.

Afterward, increase the speed to 2.5 or 3 mph. The dog should run for 2-3 minutes. This is important to build up the overall body strength.

Then, decrease the speed again to the same value as the warmup and set the treadmill in the inclined position. The dog must maintain a constant walking speed for 5-10 minutes. Each session must end with a light walk for 2-3 minutes on a flat surface.

Once the dog builds enough strength, you can repeat the session again in the evening.

Exercising the Forelimbs

Inversing the incline of the treadmill should strengthen the dog’s forelimbs and back muscles. Unfortunately, not all treadmills support this feature. But you can still create a manual decline by placing a couple of books under the posterior part of the treadmill.

Start by warming up your dog with the same routine mentioned for the forelimbs. Remember, the warmup must be performed on a level surface to avoid overloading the muscles.

Afterward, apply a minimal decline to the treadmill and set the speed to 1 or 1.5 mph. This can last for about 10 minutes per session. And again, don’t forget to end with a walk on a level surface for 2-3 minutes.

Final Thoughts

I hope the mentioned programs will help you in keeping your dog in the best form. Remember, dogs might be super intimidated by treadmills at first. The goal is to slowly introduce it without using force.

Dogs who aren’t used to the treadmill will often keep lagging behind. Surely, you need to lure them forward to avoid possible slippage. To do that, kneel in front of the treadmill and use verbal praises to encourage the dog on coming forward. After a while, the dog should pick up the pace without the need for encouragement.

Safety first!