Treadmill Training

Oh, this weather! A spring storm with snow and rain is bogging down Denver, making walking the dog a very soggy experience. How can you exercise your dog if the weather is too hot, too cold, too snowy, or too rainy? Make use of that treadmill that has been collecting dust since your 'New Years Resolution,' that's what I do!

My dogs love to trot on the treadmill. Sometime they will even 'ask' me to turn it on by going and standing on it of their own accord. It really is a handy tool to have with two high energy shepherds. It's a versatile and convenient tool. Sometimes I'm too tired to play tug or go for a long stroll, or sometimes I use  it as part of a 'cool-down' routine after an intense training session. I often use the treadmill for training aggressive dogs. They can get some cardio without endangering themselves or others.

You can teach your dog to love the treadmill, too. These are the steps:

1. Using high value food rewards, lure your dog on to the treadmill and mark and reward them for simply standing on the treadmill. Use a leash and collar to steady them on the treadmill. Repeat this several times, until the dog is happily jumping on the machine.

2. Start the treadmill, but keep the speed LOW. Steady your dog using a harness or collar while standing at their side. Praise them and use high value food rewards to communicate that being on the treadmill is a rewarding experience! Repeat this step several times until your dog is happily and comfortably walking on the treadmill.

3. Adjust the speed so that your dog is walking a little faster, and then eventually trotting. Periodically mark and reward your dog for maintaining the pace.

Tips and tricks: GO SLOWLY! Rushing the training process can cause a fear response to the treadmill. Be sure your dog has mastered each step before moving forward. Position the treadmill so one side is against a wall, preventing your dog from falling off the side. Try not to drop the treats! Your dog may try to follow them while the treadmill is in motion. Always supervise your dog. DO NOT tie them to the treadmill or leave them unattended. Always take your dog's physical fitness into consideration, and don't over-do it.

Happy Training!