Sunday, August 31, 2014

How to Train a Dog to Use a Tread Mill

video


Many of us have dogs that require daily walking of up to two hours a day to keep them happy and exercised and to keep bad habits and destruction at bay. Especially, hyper-active breeds or younger dogs. Who really has the time to do this? I didn't, so I taught our Border Collie/Australian Shepherd Mix, Dusty Boot, to use our tread mill while I folded the laundry, balanced the check book or did my own exercise video. This keeps us both happy and engaged.

Do NOT attempt training your dog to use the tread mill if you have not have not mastered basic obedience, i.e. sit, wait and stay.

Also, NEVER LAUGH or snicker at your dog, no matter how cute or funny they look running on the treadmill. Don't allow family members or guests to laugh or snicker, either.

1. Get your dog comfortable and use to being around and on the tread mill.  Turn it on when he's in that room with you. Get him use to hearing all the noises, beeps and the turning of the belt. When it is NOT running walk him across the belt area of the tread mill. Have him sit on the tread mill, use a leash at this point. Be relaxed and keep it fun and natural. Spend 10-15 minutes two or three times a day with your dog doing this. Our dog is a working dog and he is not rewarded with food, only verbal praise. Reward your dog as he is in the habit of being rewarded, but in addition, praise him liberally. Do these exercises for a week or ten days until you are confident you both are ready to move on to the next step.

2.  The dog should be on leash. Walk him up on to the tread mill. Put your feet on the sides of the treadmill, over the dog. Command the dog to sit. Hold the leash so it is not tight but relaxed. You could do this several times for a couple days before you turn on the treadmill to the very slowest speed. As the treadmill begins to move your dog will begin to walk slowly along with it. Praise him. Do NOT increase the speed, keep it very, very slow. Only keep the dog on the treadmill for about five minutes. Stop the treadmill and keep the dog on the treadmill after it stops. You stay on the treadmill for the entire time. Only allow your dog to get off the treadmill with a command, like "Break" after it has completely stopped. You can release him off the leash at this point. This step is important because you don't want the dog to develop any bad habits, i.e., hopping off the treadmill without a command to do so. You are in control. Once your dog is fully trained he will enjoy the exercise and experience, but at first it might be a little unnerving for him. Do this step for a week to ten days, or until the dog is very comfortable. The time and speed can be increased as the dog progresses. But do not increase the speed, too much, no more than three miles per hour. By the time your ready to move to the next step, the dog should be confident, comfortable and relaxed with the whole process. At this point, you are still, straddling the dog and the treadmill.

3.  Repeat step #2, except do the entire step over: off leash for a week or ten days. Again, starting slow and for a very short time. Increasing each as the dog exhibits confidence and success. Remember to reward your dog liberally with praise. Have fun, even if at this point you wonder why you are doing this because it too is extremely time consuming! I know what your thinking, "Why aren't I outside walking this crazy dog?"

4.  But don't give up, you are now ready to put the dog on the treadmill by himself. Put him on the treadmill, stand to the side of the treadmill and start it up. Don't move, stay very close beside the treadmill by the dog's head. Do this step for a week to ten days but as the dog gets comfortable with you not being on the treadmill with him, move away from him a foot or two.

5.  The dog will get more and more comfortable with the treadmill and with your presence farther and farther away from him, as he does this continue to increase your distance away from the dog along with the minutes and speed of the treadmill. Remember increase everything very, very slowly! Give him the "Break" command to leave the treadmill.

6. In approximately, thirty days your dog will be getting his daily exercise without you. Continue to move further away from him. You should be able to be any where in the same room with him, front, back, either side, etc. I do not leave him on the tread mill without being in the room with him and I don't recommend leaving a dog on the treadmill unattended. You can program the treadmill as you would for yourself, time or level, etc. Don't abuse his new skill or the dog by leaving him on the treadmill for too long. Thirty minutes gives the dog a good workout with a speed of not more than three and a half miles per hour, depending on the breed and size of the dog. Our's is a Border Collie/Australian Shepherd Mix.

To be continued: Advanced Treadmill Training, in an upcoming blog.


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