In a perfect world I could afford thousands of dollars for the perfect slatmill, but, alas, my world is imperfect. Have any others had to compromise and get an electric treadmill? If so, how did the process of getting your dog used to it go? We have had ours for 2 weeks and he will stay on for about two minutes, or as long as a bowl of food is being held for him to eat out of.
i have been using an electrical treadmill (for humans) to add extra workout for my 1 year old Mal. i am always with him while he’s on it because of the warning @robert-cabral mentioned on his videos. i can’t afford to buy a doggie treadmill and there’s no way for me to get one here in the Philippines too. the way i was able to get him on it is same as the crate training tips Robert gave. first i put some treat on the treadmill for him to get on it. did that a couple of times. Next step was to walk beside him on the treadmill at the lowest speed setting just like when we’re out on walks, then i gradually moved it up, but i was still walking with him. Next i had him walk/run on it between my legs, while i was on the foot rails. when i was confident he’d walk/run on his own without me having to walk with him, i got off the treadmill and sat in front of him (and the treadmill) and continued to praise him. Now whenever he sees me pickup the dog harness he’s eager to go run on the treadmill. here he is: https://www.instagram.com/p/CJqOLDjgGOm/?igshid=3o8j6lw7curw
Hi Loretta – happy to share how I conditioned my GSD on the same model treadmill as your picture shows. After my research a couple years ago I learned a few things that helped us and perhaps something may be the piece you are looking for as all dogs are different; 1.) Ensure the treadmill is not facing directly into a wall. As unnatural, at first, as it is for the dog to be on a moving surface, it is equally unnatural to run into a wall.
2.) Once conditioned/familiar with the treadmill itself, I did his initial “familiarization” in Mode 1, level platform. While slower, the speed variations help in removing monotony and allows for warm-up and cool-down periods. It allows time to coach/coax the dog to stay towards the front of the treadmill as I never used a lead or anything with the treadmill. With the safety “stop” lanyard attached to a loose collar, my dog made the connection that if he lags too far back on the treadmill, it stops immediately. Likewise, it helped in his initial learning to keep the provided “sides” in place on the treadmill to assist with centering on the treadmill.
3.) My dog is ball driven. Keeping the “prize” in sight helped at first. Once the exercise session is finished, he waits on the stopped treadmill until released – then rewarded.
In my quest to learn how to keep him moving, I read a suggestion someplace that said to encourage the dog to stay in motion, rub/scratch between their front legs as they are exercising. It worked! I gradually transitioned to the rubs/scratches to encourage him to position more forward on the treadmill. Now, all I say anywhere in the house is “Treadmill” and he runs to it and waits for me to attach the safety stop lanyard and he exercises. I stay at the head of the treadmill at all times.
To be sure, this was not a quick process. I would estimate it took a good couple months and the incremental increases were very small. I believe as important as it is that the dog knows how to exercise safely on the treadmill at appropriate times/intervals – it is imperative that the dog know how to stop it themselves. I placed an arrow in the picture pointing to the safety stop lanyard as it is hard to see – but it is there. I can’t imagine being forced to run when I don’t want to or something hurts – knowing how to shut the treadmill off empowers the dog to stop it and safely dismount. Once the treadmill was stopped by the safety lanyard, I opted to never reattach the emergency stop and go again that day. My thought was that in so doing, my dog would eventually make the connection that he was in control of the movement, and/or if you fall too far back on the treadmill, it stops for the day. If he wants to travel, he has to stay centered.
I would be remiss not to mention that the treadmill is an addition to, and not a replacement for, our daily training sessions and structured pack walks. When there is ice on the sidewalks, or its too hot and humid, we still have a temperature controlled environment in which to get his need for significant movement met.
I would love a slatmill however they are in the $2,000 and up range… I use a 3G treadmill. My Labrador runs on it without a leash for 8 minutes at 3.2 MPH. The Mal runs at 4.2 MPH / 3% incline but with a leash, because he is all over the place… is lookin to the side, up , down, can’t make up his mind. I try to run them after the first morning bathroom break before breakfast. I first train them to use it as a platform for Place command. The Lab was running solo after a week.
Ive been trying to decide what is best for short-legged Terriers…looking at Slat mills, they are reasonably priced here in Aus. Are there any good articles on conditioning (more for Lure coursing and all over muscle tone, than bulking as I show and course my dogs)