Many of you have asked how I learned to walk on my treadmill. Mom is going to explain it all for you - it was easy but it does take a couple of weeks - over to Mom now
The first step is just to make this fun and a game.
With the treadmill turned OFF - I started by just getting Reilly to jump up on the treadmill (you can use treats as a reward or for Reilly it was favorite squeaky ball) This gets them use to feel of the mat. If you have walked on a treadmill in bare feet - you will know that it has an unusual feel to it.
Once he felt comfortable with jumping on it, I then got him to do a sit and wait on it - each time making the wait a little longer. I also added a lay down on it as I wanted him to feel comfortable getting up from the mat too.
Next - I got just a short 5 foot lead and tied the lead to one side of the treadmill. I attached the lead to Reilly too and had him do a sit and wait at the side of the treadmill (not on it). I then turned the treadmill on - giving lots of praise and encouragement until he got use to the sound of it. I did this a couple of times.
The game then became one where he would sit on the treadmill (while it was turned off) and sit beside it (while it was turned on) Remember, lots of encouragement, praise, happy voices and rewards.
Next step is to attach the five foot lead to the middle of the treadmill (if you don't have somewhere to attach it in the middle you can actually just hold the lead) it can help to have two people doing this - one holding the lead and one being able to turn the treadmill on and off.
When they are comfortable with the sound of it - Then have them stand on the treadmill and turn it on the lowest speed. Don't worry if they seem scared or nervous - that is normal. Lots of praise and encouragement - keep them focused on you. Give it a few seconds and turn off the treadmill - then straight away go back into the game of sitting on the treadmill (while it is turned off)- sitting by the side of it (while turned on). Keep repeating this until they feel comfortable on the moving mat at a low speed.
You also want to make sure they stay in the center of the mat - length ways as you don't want them getting to close to the end - if they are then it is probably going to fast for them. Weaving from side to side is normal as dogs have a different way of balancing then we do. Have a treat or squeaky toy in your hand to keep them focused on YOU.
Do this daily for about a week making sure to slowly increase the amount of time they spend on the moving mat. About 10-15 minutes of this "game" is good to start with.
When they feel comfortable just being on the moving treadmill - then SLOWLY start turning up the speed. Keep using the lead until you are sure they have found their balance on the treadmill. I used the lead to keep Reilly's head up and focus on me and slowly began to loosen the lead until he could walk on it with out it.
To find the perfect speed for you dog - they should be able to do a nice easy trot on it and keep pretty much in the center (length ways). Reilly's optimum speed is 2.5 - 2.8 depending on his mood :) Each machine varies though so you will have to find what works best for your doggie.
Remember this is a new exercise - so just like us they will need to build up stamina. Reilly started off with just 5 minutes for the first week of walking by himself on the treadmill, then 10 minutes the second week, then 15 minutes the third week. He now does his mile in 12 minutes - but he's been using the treadmill for three years now. Also remember NEVER just stop the treadmill while they they are on it - like us they need to cool down - so gradually slowly the speed down over a few minutes until coming to a stop.
Key things to remember :
1. Make it a fun game with of encouragement, praise and treats.
2. Keep them focused on you (using either a treat or their favorite toy)
3. Be in a calm happy mood - if they can feel you are worried - they will be worried!!!
3. Use a lead to keep them on the treadmill until they feel comfortable just being on it by themselves
4. NEVER NEVER NEVER - leave them unattended - not even for a second! Stay by them at all times. I had a chair nearby so I could sit and watch him.
5. Never have them flat out running !!! They just need a nice steady trot to get a good workout.
6. You can put a doggie bed at the end of the treadmill just encase they do slide off it. It happens sometimes when they get distracted by a noise or something.
7. NEVER put you doggie on the treadmill just after they have eaten. Exercise can encourage a bowel movement and trust me - poop flying off the back of the treadmill is not fun!!! (we learned that one by accident and poor Reilly was sooooo embarrassed)
It does take time for them to feel comfortable on a moving machine. I think I probably spent at least 2-3 weeks making sure Reilly felt comfortable on it. Now as soon as I say "treadmill" he races over to it and jumps on - waiting for me to turn it on.
Okay, I think that is everything. Feel free to ask any questions.
Oh MOM !!!! Did you really have to tell them about the poop incident - I am soooo embarrassed now !!!!