Unsupported statements have been made in articles and blogs across the Internet that dog treadmills are machines designed to abuse animals. The first treadmills were designed for smaller animals like dogs and sheep in the mid-19th century to churn butter and for larger livestock like horses for grain threshing. The concept of treadmills for punishment was specifically for humans and first appearing around the 1950’s in prisons. There is no history I could find anywhere of treadmills being designed for or used in abusing animals. That’s not to say it’s never been done; humans can find many creative and unusual ways to be cruel to even the most loving creatures. But that would be due to an individual human’s actions, not due to the design or intent of the machine. It’s worth pointing out that walking a dog for its required 30-60 minutes of daily exercise in 90-degree heat and humidity on scorching pavement can be considered abuse as opposed to letting your dog use a canine treadmill in safe and comfortable surroundings.
The blogosphere is rife with statements, or opinion, that to own and use a dog treadmill is irresponsible and lazy, and akin to letting a television raise a child. If this happens, this is only because a human decides to do so regardless of the intent of the treadmill’s design. Far from being the “lazy choice,” deciding to furnish a dog treadmill for your best friend’s exercise is often the most responsible choice. Canine treadmills are designed to offer dogs a way to exercise in a variety of circumstances. There is no question that the ideal dog exercise is 30-60 minutes, depending on the dog’s breed, age and overall health, running freely in fresh air. It is estimated that dogs can cover up to three times the area off the leash that they can on a leash, but many pet owners don’t have the ability to offer their best friends that sort of freedom. Environment represents one of the biggest limitations to this allowing our dogs a free romp, due to traffic, other urban congestion and leash laws. Weather is another significant factor. responsible pet owners are aware of the conditions when it’s too hot or too cold for their dogs to safely tolerate exertion, or to risk paw injury. This is one of the types of conditions that the treadmill was designed for: As a supplement to a dog’s outdoor exercise if conditions are not safe.
Another, and it can be argued the primary, condition for which dog treadmills were designed to be used is as an alternative means of exercise when traditional, rigorous outdoor romps are not possible. When a dog is rehabbing from surgery, the dog treadmill provides a very controlled and monitored exercise environment. When a dog owner is ill, handicapped or elderly, a dog treadmill ensures the dog still gets his required exercise. Shelters and animal hospitals use treadmills to make sure dogs get exercise even if the staff or volunteers can’t get the dogs outside for long walks or runs.
If you’re doing research on canine treadmills before you buy one, then I congratulate you. Whether you decide it’s right for you and your dog, or not, just be sure you are reading balanced facts and not opinion. Your veterinarian will be one of your greatest resources. The fact is that while veterinarians agree that being outside with your dog for rigorous exercise is ideal, most acknowledge it is not always practical or even possible to be able to do that. A dog treadmill is often the most responsible solution for maintaining the health and well-being of your dog.