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Old 05-24-2009, 03:34 AM   #1

Join Date: Sep 2006
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Doggie Treadmills

Exercise is a key ingredient in making a happy, healthy and mentally stable dog. While there is no replacement for daily walks and outings with your dog, which builds pack unity and provides variety in the animal's day, for some individuals walks may not be a feasible daily option. Inclimate weather, personal injury or limited schedules may prevent a loving owner from treating his or her pet to a walk every day. There are many products on the market now to aid pet owners who are searching for ways to exercise their pet. Canine Treadmills have arrived.
But before you pay $300-3,000 on a machine to walk your dog, there are questions you must consider.
Cardio vs. Muscle building
Do you want a treadmill to give your jog a good cardio workout or to condition and tone its muscles? For many people who show their dogs, the answer might be both. For the average pet owner, however, cardio is probably the answer. Some treadmills are dog powered, meaning the motion of your pup drives the motor. This requires more strength on the part of the dog and is better for muscle toning. Electrically powered motors, like the treadmills humans are accustomed to, move the belt at a certain speed with which the animal must keep up. This is more a cardio focused workout. Treadmills with electric motors are going to be more expensive, depending on their size, available functions and quality.
Will my pet really use this?
Yes. Dogs want to please you and if you reward them properly, jogging on a treadmill should be no problem. Introducing a dog to a treadmill must be done slowly and with lots of positive reinforcement but even very anxious dogs can use a treadmill with ease if they are trained correctly. If you force your dog onto the moving belt at too fast a pace and he/she has a negative experience this can create an acute fear of the machine. I recommend just allowing the dog to sniff around the treadmill, jump on it while it is not in motion and get used to its presence for a day or so. Then, using a lead, walk him/her up to it, around it and finally onto the belt. Once the dog is standing or seated on the belt give the dog lots of praise and rewards. Repeat this as necessary until the dog is comfortable and happy to be on the treadmill. While still holding the lead to ensure the dog will not jump off, start the treadmill in motion at a very slow speed. The dog may startle or try to run away. That is perfectly normal... after all, the ground just started to move! That's freaky! Holding the lead, stand beside your dog as you would during a walk. The dog should get the picture. Some treadmills have places where you can attach a lead, so you do not have to stand there the entire time. Some dogs may be able to walk or jog without a lead eventually.
If the animal is anxious or nervous, walking with its head very low or tail between its legs, don't push it too far too fast. Do short sessions with lots of praise and treats until the dog is walking with its head up. I use Omaha Steaks Beef Jerky for Dogs as special treadmill treats. These smell amazing and the dogs actually beg to go on the treadmill now, as they know the special reward that follows the jog.

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