January 10th, 2013
Human Treadmills versus Dog Treadmills – Why You Should Choose the Latter for Your Dog
When we speak of exercising your dog and suggest using a treadmill, people ask why they just can’t use the same treadmill they use to exercise at home. Actually you can but it’s important to understand the differences between the two before you make that decision for your dog. Here are some important differences to consider.
- Human treadmills generally have a shorter track surface since we humans have a shorter gait. This may be fine for small dogs but not for larger ones. Dog specific treadmills will have a running belt that is long enough to handle a dog’s longest stride and natural gait and to give dogs room to “fall behind.” Exercising a dog on a treadmill of improper length will constrict the dog’s movement by shortening its stride, resulting in an unnatural gait and potential joint problems down the road.
- Human treadmills many not have a slow enough speed for small dogs.
- Good dog treadmills are wider than human treadmills to give the dog room to “float” back and forth to trot naturally and to encourage the dog to reach and extend. Human treadmills are generally too narrow and will restrict body movement.
- Human treadmill motors typically have ventilation systems that allow air flow to cool the motor. A good dog treadmill will usually have the motor located in a separate area or tightly enclosed with an internal cooling system. This helps to prevent dog hair and dirt from entering the motor casing which can cause a malfunction. Dog hair is not considered “normal wear and tear” and wouldn’t be covered under the warranty of the human treadmill.
- Human treadmill belts often have a noticeable built-in gap between the side of the treadmill and the edge of the belt. While this is OK for humans, it can be hazardous for a dog’s paws or claw. Well -designed dog treadmills will ensure the belt is close to the side-rails or edge.
- Human treadmills do not offer side rails which help with training a dog to use the treadmill. Good dog specific treadmills will incorporate safe sturdy side panels.
- Human treadmills often have large end caps on the front and back of the treadmill, whereas dog treadmills typically don’t. These end caps are dangerous for dogs because their paws and claws can easily get caught and rip.
- The best dog treadmills are very quiet in design compared to a human treadmill. Many dogs are frightened of the vibrations and noise common in human treadmills.
- Unlike human treadmills, good dog treadmills have the control panel and quick release in an easy to access position for training the dog to use the treadmill.
While we know of people who do use their human treadmills to exercise their dogs, we don’t advise it for the many reasons stated above, especially if you have a bigger dog. If you would like to experience a dog treadmill, come to Rocky’s Retreat for a free one week pass to our gym, and we’ll show you the difference.