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Welcome to Racked's first-ever Pet Week! All week long, we'll be highlighting what makes New York so great for our furry (or slimy) friends.
Images via Facebook/DreamComeTrueK9
It's inevitable that dog owners who buy matching puppy-and-me trench coats and schedule mud masks for their furry companions will eventually seek out specialized doggie workout routines. And when that day comes, they'll find Dream Come True K9—an Attorney Street dog care center that traffics in treadmill sessions for pups (think of it as the animal equivalent of Mile High Run Club).
"Some people hate exercise and dread working out, and others really look forward to going to the gym," DCTK9 owner Blake Rodriguez says. "When you provide them with a fit, healthy lifestyle, a dog will take to it, just like a human." Although, as Rodriguez is quick to point out, doggie treadmills aren't just for making pups feel confident in their argyle sweaters—they're also powerful tools for correcting behavioral problems. We caught up with the dog whisperer to talk about the benefits of puppy power-walking, how to treadmill-train your dog, and what happens when you put a cat on a treadmill.
First things first! Why put a dog on a treadmill?
We use the treadmills in a variety of ways, the primary use is for mental stimulation and mental focus. With an ideal dog, you can bring him into a cafe, and put him in a down position and he'll just chill without having to be tied up. A dog that I've trained knows that when I put him in a down position, that's his cue to be relaxed. But the reality is, a lot of people don't have that dog—they don't teach their dogs impulse control.
If a dog is snipping, or having panic attacks, we'll start treadmill training until he builds confidence and is at the point where he could do it on his own. Then, we'll start to bring calm dogs into the room as he's focused on his task at the time—which is walking on the treadmill. Then we'll start letting him play and roam around. If a dog knows how to do something and not be sidetracked, that's really valuable.
So do the dogs start looking forward to it?
If my dog is sleeping, the second he hears that treadmill sound he wants to go on it.
How fast do they go?
All dogs know how to walk, but they're not familiar with the object, so we start slow. A nice paced walk is three to four miles per hour, and that's once the dog is comfortable with the treadmill. If you can get them at trot—like a jog for a human—that's a good pace.
How long are the treadmill sessions?
Sessions are typically 30 to 60 minutes. We have some dogs that are built to do 90 minutes. But when we first start out, we do five to 15 minutes to get the dog acclimated. We want to end the session on a good note.
Have any dogs freaked out?
No, every introduction has been super smooth! No freak-outs.
How are dog treadmills built differently than human treadmills?
It's a longer board. A human treadmill is 45 to 60 inches long, and a dog treadmill is 74 inches, which makes sense because dogs have four legs.
Can you get a Great Dane on one?
Yes! The deck is long enough.
What about a teacup Yorkie?
Would you recommend putting a dog on a human treadmill?
A dog one is more ideal, but yes, you can put a dog on a human treadmill. You should seek out advice from a trainer and watch a few YouTube tutorials before doing it, though. Start out slow to get them past that mental block of, "Whoa, the floor is moving!"
I'd like to note that this should never take the place of regular exercise. This is something to do in addition to your dog's normal walks and playtime.
Have you ever treadmill-trained a cat?
I don't know if it would work! I think it's possible, but cats are very, very independent. The training would have to be treat-based.