How to Use a Trotter With Your Dogby Deborah Lundin
Side rails help some dogs feel more comfortable on a trotter.
A trotter, a dog treadmill, provides an in-home exercise method for your canine companion. A trotter should never replace traditional exercise, such as walks and games of fetch; it's an additional workout option for a dog who needs to be physically active. Choosing the right trotter is essential, as is gradually getting him used to it.
Place your dog on a scale to determine his exact weight. Then, on a suitable surface, be it the ground or a wide table, place your dog on his side and extend a front leg forward and a rear leg backward. Don't stretch. Using a measuring tape, measure the distance from his front paw to his back paw. Add 5 inches for smaller dogs and up to 10 inches for larger dogs -- and for more active smaller dogs, to allow for extended gait when running. Additional space allows for wiggle room and provides a cushion of space should your dog drift forward or fall back while walking. This first measurement is your dog’s approximate walking gait and the latter is the minimum length of trotter he needs. Choose a dog trotter that is at least this measurement as well as one designed to support your dog's weight. Trotter lengths vary from 28 to 73 inches.
Call your dog over to the trotter and encourage him to stand or sit on the running surface. Once he complies, offer him a treat and praise. Repeat this step until he comfortably gets up on the trotter with ease. Once he is comfortable standing on the trotter, attach his leash to his collar -- use a flat collar. Trotters vary; follow model instructions for securing your dog’s leash. Some have an upper support that attaches his leash above his head, while others secure the leash out in front or have you hold the leash off to the side or in front of the trotter. After his collar is secure, start the trotter at the slowest speed.
Increase speed or adjust the trotter incline as your dog becomes comfortable. Start with small workouts, having him walk for three to five minutes each day. Gradually increase his workout time to 15 to 20 minutes each day, and increase the speed enough to turn his walk into a jog.
Create an exercise plan for your dog that includes trotter time as well as outdoor activities like fetch or free play. If you take regular walks with your dog, use the trotter on days when the weather does not allow for a walk around the block.
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- Measuring tape
- Flat collar and leash
- If you have multiple dogs using the trotter, choose the size best suited to your largest dog.
- Not all dogs will feel comfortable on a trotter. Do not expect your dog to jump on and get busy. It may take time and patience. Some trotter designs provide side walls for additional security for your dog. Having such fencing reduces the chance of a dog falling off the side. It may provide a sense of security that reduces apprehension for some dogs.
- Never leave your dog unattended on a trotter.
- Treadmills designed for humans may work for your dog, with some considerations. A human gait is much shorter than those of most dogs. Make sure that the treadmill is long enough to support your dog's gait.