Monday, May 5, 2008
Introducing Your Dog to The Treadmill in 8 Steps
I have received a few inquiries about my treadmill training, many of you wanted to know how I did it.
Dad has listed out 8 steps for those of you who are interested in introducing your dog to the treadmill for the first time. Proper introduction is very important because if your dog develops a fear of the treadmill, it will be impossible to get him to run willingly on the scary machine.
1. First, start with the power off. Put your dog on a leash and lead him to the treadmill. Allow him to take his time to sniff and investigate the treadmill. At the same time, say the word "treadmill" in a happy tone. This is to associate the treadmill in a positive manner and remember to praise him for investigating the machine. You can say something like, "Good boy, treadmill!".
2. Then, walk away with your dog for one or two minutes before going back to the treadmill and repeat Step 1 again. Repeat this over a few days with the power off until you are sure that your dog is not afraid of the treadmill.
3. When your dog is comfortable with the treadmill, put him on a leash and walk him up and down on the treadmill together. Praise profusely with his name and the word, "treadmill" together. Repeat this until he shows no hesitation to go onto the treadmill. You can use treats and lots of encouragement to let him go onto the treadmill, but never force him onto it.
4. When your dog is able go onto the treadmill on command, turn on the treadmill and start with very low speed. Your dog may be startled by the sound from the treadmill, divert his attention with lots of treats and praises. Now, you should be standing at his side with the leash. Hold a treat with the other hand and place it in front of him to encourage him to move forward, like the "donkey and carrot" concept. Allow him to have the treat. If he moves too fast, you can increase the speed gradually. Continue to give him very small pieces of treats and lots of encouragement and praises.
5. If your dog cringes down when the treadmill starts, use your hand to lift him up gently from the belly to get him to stand up and at the same time encourage him to use his legs to move forward. You may need someone to help you to hold a treat in front of him and you have to hold the leash on one hand and the other hand holding him from the belly to prevent him from cringing down. Remember to use very slow speed at this point.
6. After you have accomplished Step 4 and 5, you may increase the speed gradually especially if you see that he is moving too fast or the speed is too slow for him. Remember that he should be under supervision at all times when using the treadmill.
7. In the beginning, he should be on the leash at all times when using the treadmill . When you are sure that he can run confidently on the treadmill, you can remove the leash without his knowledge . Always give him lots of praises when he is running on the treadmill to create positive association.
8. Help your dog to succeed, do not force him onto it. Slow and proper introduction is the key point here. You will see that your dog is looking forward to every session and going up on the treadmill waiting for you to turn it on. Start with 5 minutes and gradually build up to 20 minutes, remember to warm up and cool down your dog every time. Running on the treadmill is great for rainy days and bad weather, but it should never replace going out for walks to enjoy the beautiful outdoors! Happy workout, everyone!
Here is a short clip of the whole family working out together.