Pit Bull Informational Pages
by Diane Jessup 

Treadmill and Jenni
Use and Construction

UNDER CONSTRUCTION
While I am working on this page, please enjoy some pictures of my dogs enjoying their equipment. My jenni is extremely free spinning and has a 40 foot diameter. CLICK HERE for pictures.

The Use of the Human Treadmill In Conditioning Dogs - Part II

We are ready to start training our dog to use a human treadmill (meaning electric driven). You have tested your dog to make sure it does not have heartworm and is in good health. You have modified your treadmill so that the dog will be contained within the tread area, and can’t run out the front, slide out the back, or climb the sides (see Part I).

First, understand that for most dogs, having the ground move underneath them is frightening! You must be patient and take this slow. Hurry now, and you run the risk of ruining your dog’s attitude toward the mill for the rest of its life.

As in all training that is not based on mental or physical intimidation, training the dog to the mill takes an understanding of what motivates your dog. Is it a ball, a tug toy, gentle praise, food? As we start the dog, we are going to reassure them that they are doing the right thing by offering them a familiar reward. So, get what ever it is that your dog loves, and bring the dog to the mill in harness.

Most dogs are a little frightened of getting on the mill, so again, be patient and purposeful in your actions. Don’t spend ten minutes coaxing the dog up on the mill—gently set the dog on it quickly and quietly. This will keep the dog from growing more and more anxious. Hook up his harness; make sure it is comfortable. Take the time to calm the dog at this point. Give him a treat or a grab of his toy.

Speaking calmly, start the machine on LOW. Not so slow that the dog has to stutter step to walk, but slow enough the dog can walk at a normal, slow pace. Now, there has to be a learning curve here, so don’t baby the dog, and fuss all over him and freak him out. Talk calmly, encouraging the dog. Tell him “good”, and let him sort the whole situation out. Let the dog go—however he is doing—for one minute BY THE CLOCK and then stop the machine. Don’t let him off, just stop it and calmly praise him.

Restart the machine after about 30 seconds, and let the dog go another minute. Repeat this three or four times then take the dog off. Rome was not built in a day, nor was a dog taught to be a red-hot treadmiller in one session. However, many a dog’s attitude toward the mill was ruined in one session.

The next session should start with the same procedure, but you may lengthen the time the mill is running to two minutes each time. It is still AT A WALK.

Is your dog “freaking out”? Does he fight the mill, the harness, try to jump the walls? Only time and quiet patience will overcome this. Yelling, correcting and giving up will not work. The dog is just unsure (or spoiled) and needs to know that throwing a fit won’t make this go away. I have seen many “fit throwers” go on to LOVE running a mill.

Watch the dogs feet! If the dog is fighting the mill at all, chances are the belt can be burning or scuffing the pads. This certainly won’t help your dog learn to love the mill! This is why we keep the mill at a SLOW pace for now—to keep pad injuries to a minimum.

Is your dog happy and eager? Great, increase your time SLOWLY! Always, always use your timer. Never increase more than one minute a day.

You will be surprised how quickly your dog will come to enjoy running the mill. It is up to you, as his coach, to keep his practice sessions regular and appropriate. Use common sense; increase time OR speed, but not both at the same time. For instance, if your dog is walking for five minutes, feel free to increase the speed to a trot, but drop the time back one minute. Then slowly increase (one minute at a time) until you feel your dog is at its peak level.

Endurance is built by long periods of slow speed, strength by short, hard sprints. Additional articles will be following on conditioning your dog with carpet, slat and electric mills.

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The treadmill is often misunderstood by those with no real knowledge of performance type dogs. Once "classic" example is a self proclaimed "dog expert" whose claim to fame seems to be "amost testifying" in the Diane Whipple case. In an absolutely dazzling example of not understanding the use of a treadmill, nor canine pyschology, he made the following statement concerning the use of treadmills to, it appears, make dogs vicious!

 

" Technically speaking, I believe Bane and Hera were certainly dangerous; however, this is not the same as saying they were vicious.

Several important points need to be made in regard to this conclusion. First, perhaps to Schneider's regret, Bane or Hera were never subjected to any procedures designed to make them vicious. They were never put on tread mills, nor were they were ever given steroids or trained to attack, etc."

Oiy vey! Obviously, running a dog on a treadmill does not make them "vicious". Nor does giving an animal steroids make them vicious. And of course, proper attack training does not make them vicious (ie., police K-9s, etc.) This is a classic example of a "PhD" who is an "educated idiot".

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