Dogs absolutely can use a treadmill! While it may seem a little bit odd to some people, there are plenty of reasons why you should encourage your dog to use a treadmill. In fact, it may be highly beneficial to their health, and it may provide you with a little bit of a respite from a highly energetic and bored dog.
Why Should a GSD Use a Treadmill?
German Shepherds are dogs that need a lot of exercise. They need around 2-hours of activity each day. Now, it is brilliant if you can leave your home and walk your dog whenever they need it. However, let's face it; many of us do not have the time to spare to head outside and actually walk our dogs for that long, or even consistently. Some of us may not even have the energy to take a dog out for that long.
The primary benefit of using a treadmill is that your German Shepherd will be able to exercise from the comfort of your own home. Sure, they will not be enjoying the sights and sounds of the outdoors, but at least they are getting all of the exercise they need. Obviously, you will still need to take them outside at some point. Dogs do need to use the bathroom, after all.
Of course, being on a treadmill is also fantastic if your dog needs a bit of exercise and you can't get outside due to some awful weather. Yes, according to our article, German Shepherds can withstand extreme climates, but we humans are not always as thrilled about going out in it for a walk.
Even if that were the only benefit, it would be great. However, there are so many more benefits to having a GSD run on a treadmill every so often.
Not only do German Shepherd dogs require a lot of exercise, but they are also brilliant dogs. If they do not have things that could prevent them from getting bored, they will have behavioral problems. They will try and find their own entertainment, and this entertainment will probably be destroying your belongings. Just a short while on a treadmill will help alleviate a decent amount of boredom in your dog.
Many people will also use a treadmill to help their dog recover from specific injuries. For example, if your German Shepherd has injuries around their joints, then working them out on a treadmill may help them to recover a little bit quicker. It's the same thing that people will do when recovering from sports injuries.
Finally, some people believe that putting a GSD on a treadmill can help with their training. This is because the GSD focuses better when it is exhausted its energy. It is a massive struggle to get a German Shepherd to pay attention to you when they have a ton of energy brimming up inside them. Trust us on that one!
See our article here on what happens with dogs when they have pent up energy that is denied an outlet
German Shepherd safety on a treadmill
Before you put your German Shepherd on a treadmill, you need to know about a few safety precautions that should be taken.
You need to make sure that your GSD is fully-trained to use the treadmill. Thankfully, this is something that should be easy to do. Yes. Your German Shepherd will be a little bit scared of using the treadmill at first. However, as long as you keep your GSD on the leash and walk alongside them, then they should be fine. Most will pick it up in a single session.
You should always ensure that your GSD is fully supervised whenever they are using the treadmill. Ideally, you would hold them on a leash while exercising, but it isn't vital. Just make sure that you are in the same room when they are using the treadmill. Be ready to help if anything goes wrong. However, once your German Shepherd has managed to get into the swing of things when it comes to using the treadmill, these issues should be minimal.
For some (lazy) reason, some people will tie a leash to their German Shepherd and then tie the leash to the treadmill. We have seen plenty of images of this online. Do not do that for any reason. If your GSD slips on the treadmill, then they will end up strangling themselves. After all, the German Shepherd will go flying off the treadmill while still attached. We can't see it ever ending well.
It is also essential to ensure that your German Shepherd is not left on the treadmill for too long, especially if your GSD has an injury or they are on the younger side of things. Being on a treadmill will be putting a lot more strain on your German Shepherd than a standard walk. They don't have time to rest, do they? Ideally, you should ensure that your German Shepherd is not on the treadmill for more than 10-15-minutes at a time. Give them a break, or they will end up injuring themselves.
Try to keep the speed of the treadmill to be reasonably low. At most, your dog should be doing a brisk walk. While some dogs will be able to run on a treadmill, this will be for more 'experienced' dogs. Start the German Shepherd on a low setting and work your way up from there. If you go overboard, your dog will become injured.
Finally, make sure that your dog uses the right treadmill. Ideally, you would buy your German Shepherd a proper dog treadmill. However, they can use electric 'human' treadmills too. The only thing that they shouldn't be using is a manual treadmill. They would not be able to work it. Their legs aren't strong enough, and this could cause them an injury.
What Age Can a German Shepherd Start to Use a Treadmill?
A German Shepherd should not be using a treadmill until they are 18-20-months old. We know that some people recommend that you start the GSD a little earlier. However, we would never suggest that. The risk of injury is going to be too high.
It would be best if you waited until the German Shepherd is 18-months-old because this is when the dog's growth plates close. At this point, the dog will have stopped growing. Before that, there will be soft tissue in the dog's bones. This tissue can quickly become injured if your dog overexerts themselves on the treadmill, and this can cause permanent injury to their legs.
How Do You Clean a Treadmill After a Dog Has Used It?
If your dog is using a treadmill, it will be quite mucky. There will be drool. There may be urine. There will almost certainly be fur. If you do not clean the treadmill regularly, then it will break. Thankfully, keeping the treadmill clean should be easy, assuming you follow a proper cleaning regime.
Dog drool can be cleaned off the treadmill with warm, soapy water. We advise cleaning the dog drool at least once per week. The same with dog urine. Although, you may want to use water and white vinegar combo to really make sure it is clean. After all, you need to kill that bacteria that will be hanging around in the urine. The white vinegar will help to neutralize the smell.
Cleaning fur is a little bit more difficult as you will likely need to access the treadmill's motor. A vacuum cleaner will help to remove the fur, though. Just give the treadmill a vacuum everywhere at least once a week. If you don't, then all that fur will destroy the treadmill's motor. This is going to be quite an expensive replacement!
The vacuum cleaner will also help eliminate any dirt and grime that your German Shepherd got onto the treadmill. Wiping the treadmill clean with a warm, soapy cloth should eliminate the rest of the filth.
It is crucial that you let the treadmill dry before your German Shepherd uses it again. If you don't, then the treadmill is just going to break. They do not do well when they are wet.
Remember, a German Shepherd using a treadmill is a fantastic thing with a heap of benefits. However, you will also want to ensure that they safely use the treadmill and ensure that you clean it regularly. Once you get into the swing of things, your GSD will really enjoy using their treadmill. Trust us on that one!
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