Celebrate the Whippet Breed

Treadmill Training

Getting Started

From Sue Smith

There are "K9 Specific" models available - the TROTTER and JOG-A-DOG. They're different from the human treadmill in that the tread is generally longer and the speed is calibered a bit differently.

Suggestions by Julie Rebecca Donan (& Bart & Elroy, whippeteers) in Bardstown, KY

Note: =) Julie wrote this post for folks who already know the clicker training method. If you would like to learn more about it, you can visit sites like http://clickertraining.com and http://www.shirleychong.com/.

I use clicker training, so the boys get on the treadmill voluntarily, because they want to -- don't want them thinking this is a bad thing (like *I* think it is!! hate that treadmill!) -- if you're clicker training, it makes the dogs a lot happier to try to do what you want. =) I've had 5 (maybe 50 minutes total) sessions in about 3 days with the treadmill, and now Bart is taking several (20+) paces on it -- with all 4 paws. We're slowly working our way up.

Here's how I did it:

1. Take dogs into room with treadmill. Have clicker & your best treats (in my case, liver brownies). Click & treat for any movement (including looking at, moving head toward) toward the treadmill, which is off.

2. Click & treat for any actual motion to treadmill.

3. C & T for having a paw near treadmill.

4. "" for having paw on treadmill. (The first 4 steps took me less than 5 minutes per dog.)

5. "" for having 2 paws on treadmill.

6. "" for having 3 paws, then standing on treadmill.

7. "" for standing on treadmill for 5 seconds, then 10 seconds.

8. When dog is back off treadmill, turn it on, very low speed, between 0.5 & 1 mph. Repeat steps 1-7 with treadmill on. This is where I am with Bart; Elroy has got 2 paws on the moving treadmill right now. We'll work up to longer & longer times on the treadmill.

--Julie & co.
Julie Donan (& Bart & Elroy, whippeteers)
---- Bardstown, KY jrdonan@mindspring.com ----


How I trained mine on Jog-A-Dog

Suggestions by Sue Wagner, Whippet Owner

AND, the question of the day......HOW do you get the darned dogs to "trot" on a treadmill??? The solution has escaped us.

I let them watch ME use it (with adequate barriers up to not only keep them from jumping on front or back (dangerous) but also to pique interest as they were unwillingly "separated" from me if only by a few feet. This let them get used to the noise and they learned to accept it. I then encouraged them to "walk" it while it was off (like a dog walk in agility). They got a treat for running up from the back end and stopping and waiting for the treat.

Next was a plain buckle collar that was not too loose (had to snug it up a bit as I didn't want them slipping out of it if they resisted) and a leash and a plate of fresh-drained tuna fish. Had the dog run up and wait at top end of treadmill. Treated dog. Then said "ready-ready-ready" as I SLOWLY turned treadmill on. Lots of verbal praise and encouragement. Speed kept fairly slow (but fast enough that they had to walk ) and also very small treats of tuna. Kept leash short and in my hand as I stood at head of treadmill to keep dog from running off end and also to keep dog safely centered and on tread (the jog-a-dog has side rails so that the dog can't step off the belt). Ran dog for about one minute (i.e. not so long as the dog started to deteriorate in confidence). Then told dog "slowing-slowing-slowing" as I eased the belt to a stop.

Praise and treat.

Removed leash and then encouraged dog to jump off front, run to back and run up to top for more treats and praise. Did this several times so that last impression of treadmill is FUN.

Continued above and added increasing time. Then increased speed as dog's physical capability increased and confidence level was maintained.

If dog lagged at all during trotting, I gave gentle pops to leash and encouraging words and then treated for desired response. Barricaded the other dogs so that they could WATCH the first dog "have all the fun, attention and tuna w/mom" but were safely kept from joining the first dog before their turn .

Both whippets have taken to the jog-a-dog like pros. My dobe, a big baby in wolf's clothing, ran off the end of the treadmill (d'oh) and has been leery of going at any speed higher than an agonizingly slow walk (maybe I should say "step"). He has been made to watch the whippies run, watch the whipies get attention, watch them get treats. He WANTS a turn for tuna too! So I put him back on it and saw increased desire and confidence. Only ran him for short time (3 min's) and before he had chance to start to fret, took him off. It's slower progress, but I'm definitely seeing it with him. Jog-A-Dog instructions recommend 10minutes as maximum time for a dog to be worked.
This is just my experience with my 3 dogs.

Sue Wagner

Suggestions by Tommie Porter, Y NOTZ Whippets

I use a human treadmill, purchased it from Fred Meyers several years ago. It tells us how many miles, speed in mph, calories burned & has an adjustable tilt to it.. The only modification we had to do was get a wider belt for it. The one it came with had about a 2" gap on each side where if the dog stepped on it the foot would stop suddenly. The walking area length is about 4 1/2'. Because the belt is black and the front deck is black we also painted a white strip where the belt turns under the treadmill. The dogs focus on the line and never step off of the belt..

When we first started teaching our dogs to walk on it, we started out with them as pups about 14 weeks old.. We did teach some older ones to with great success.

At first it was a two person operation, one to control the controls and one to help steady the dog. My hubby would straddle the belt and hold the dog between his legs on the belt. We would use the walk command and I would start the belt very slowly. He didn't squeeze them but they were between his legs. He would then hold the dog with his hands somewhere about the brisket and steady the dog till it started walking.

Then gradually he would let go. If the dog started to fall back on the belt he would take hold of them again and encourage them to stay up towards the white line. It takes time and patience, but just about all my dogs now jump up on the treadmill and walk un-assisted.

Sometimes we can't get it moving quick enough for them!!! They will scratch at the belt till it starts moving.

Suggestions by Genny Holland, Whippet Owner, APPAWS Whippets

I'd think this would be a great cardiovascular workout. I go for "pulling," too. Free running around here has proven to be very hazardous to my dogs' health, and my pocketbook. So, for several months now, I have been leash walking them almost exclusively with my "custom-made" pelvic belt leash/harness, musher-kinda setup. I take three of the younger guys, harnessed, which are joined together with Y-connectors. They pull pretty hard, which is an isotonic kind of workout. I take them on three to four miles of trails, or zig-zag through open area. They're "hunting" the whole while. I take the two oldsters on a separate Y-connector-leash, and let them loose at the outset of our walk. They tend not to get hurt because they run slowly. This makes the youngsters pull more eagerly, as they want to be roaming about, too. Just once in awhile, and now only one at a time, I'll give them a few minutes of free running.

The ones with bulkier muscles really beef up; the ones with longer, leaner muscles get nice and solid, but not bulky. In either case, I think they have been building up better than just free running alone.

Genny Holland
APPAWS Whippets