Dogs need daily exercise to keep their physical and mental health in good shape. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a teacup Yorkie, German Shepherd, or Great Dane.
Although a dog’s energy levels differ depending on their breed, every dog still needs some form of exercise. But how do dogs get this exercise?
While most people take their dogs on walks, not everyone has the time or weather conditions to walk them daily. One alternative is the dog treadmill, which differs from a regular treadmill in several ways.
In this blog post, I’ll discuss the differences between a dog treadmill vs. human treadmill.
Dog Treadmill vs. Human Treadmill
Dog treadmills and human treadmills work on the same concept, but are fundamentally different.
Both are equipment where people and dogs can walk or run while remaining in one place. It’s a quick and convenient way of getting some much-needed exercise daily.
However, these two types of treadmills differ on the following grounds:
- The Walking or Running Track
- The Speed Settings
- Power Source
- The Motor Ventilation System
- The Motor Sound
- The Treadmill Belt
- Side Panels or Side Rails
- Built-In Exercise Programs
A dog and a human treadmill will differ in each mentioned category. That’s because you and your dog move differently and have different physical attributes.
So, the manufacturers of each piece of equipment take their target audiences in mind when designing the treadmills: dogs or people.
1. The Walking or Running Track
A dog treadmill usually has longer and wider walking tracks to accommodate their long strides and natural gaits.
In contrast, human treadmills have shorter and narrower tracks because our strides and gaits aren’t as long as a dog’s.
It might be suitable for small to medium-breed dogs to use human treadmills, but larger dogs might struggle. It may not allow them to fall behind and catch up as dogs naturally do when walking and running.
2. The Speed Settings
Most human treadmills can’t go as slow as dog treadmills can. It might be fine for larger dogs with longer strides to take a comfortable slow-paced walk.
However, those speeds might be too fast for a comfortable slow-paced walk for small or medium dogs.
3. Power Source
An electric supply or movement can power both dog and human treadmills. An electric treadmill’s motor gets energy from your power socket with the electric supply, and the track starts to move.
But a movement-powered treadmill only moves when the dog or person starts walking on it.
A manual human treadmill might not be as safe for dogs. That’s because it takes a lot of power and effort to get the track moving. At the same time, if they do get it moving, it might be challenging to slow down.
Because these treadmills are made with people in mind, they consider people’s weight, gait, and movement. While giant or large dog breeds won’t necessarily have an issue, small and medium dogs could.
Imagine a dog gets the manual human treadmill moving, goes into a sprint, and wants to stop. Then it might take longer for the track to slow down than the dog’s energy levels allow.
The dog weighs much less than the average human does. So, it will take longer for the weight to counteract the track’s speed, leaving the track to run for longer than the dog could manage.
The dog doesn’t have the energy to slow down the pace, so the still-moving track can make them fall.
A manual dog treadmill is specifically designed with dogs in mind, so it’s easier to adjust speeds. It doesn’t take as much weight, and therefore effort, to move the track or slow down.
This way, if the dog is trained to use it safely, you can leave your dogs to exercise by themselves.
Both dog and human electric-powered treadmills may be safe for dogs, although you’ll read differing opinions online.
You’ll need to monitor and adjust the speed so your dog can keep up. However, keep in mind that electric treadmills won’t slow down by themselves.
It would be best to supervise your dog when using either the human or dog electric treadmill. If your dog gets tired, you can slow down the speed and give your dog a chance to rest.
4. The Motor Ventilation System
A human treadmill’s power source or motor is usually encased but not sealed completely. This allows air to move through the motor, allowing the system to cool off and not overheat.
However, suppose your dog uses your treadmill. Their hair and dirt can become trapped inside the motor and cause systemic damage, which your warranty won’t cover.
On the other hand, a dog treadmill is completely sealed off and has its own cooling system. This way, your dog’s hair can’t get trapped inside the motor, but it still gets the cooling it needs.
5. The Motor Sound
Because some dogs can be skittish, most dog treadmills are quieter than human treadmills. Not only are the noise levels lower, but so are the vibrations.
Dogs can get easily frightened by the unfamiliar vibrations below their feet and form negative associations with the exercise. So, the quiet design of dog treadmills is excellent for those dogs.
Human treadmills have louder hums and vibrations, which can be scary to dogs. However, many dogs get used to the sound and sensations and cope well on human treadmills.
6. The Treadmill Belt
The belt or track of most human treadmills forms a gap between itself and the side of the treadmill. While it doesn’t affect people much, it can be dangerous to dogs. A dog’s paw, nails, coat, or tail can get caught in the gap and cause injury.
7. Side Panels or Side Rails
Human treadmills usually have side handles that allow us to hold on when needed. These handles won’t help dogs, though.
A dog treadmill usually has side rails or panels that keep a dog from falling off and makes training on the treadmill easy.
You could attach your dog’s leash to the rail and rely on the side panel to keep your dog on the track at all times.
8. The Way People and Dogs Walk: Center of Gravity
Treadmills are designed to support the user’s movement, and their ability to balance depends on their center of gravity. This center is different for people and dogs. Here’s what that means:
- People have bipedal movements, which means we move with two legs. One foot is in the air while another is on the ground.
Our center of gravity is usually just below our belly buttons. We can move with stability with only one foot touching the floor or treadmill.
- Dogs have quadruped movements, which means they move with four legs. Gábor Horváth of Eötvös University says that “when walking slowly, a dog’s body is supported at all times by three feet on the ground, which forms a triangle.
The closer their center of mass is to the center of those three points, the more stable they will be.”
So, a human treadmill is designed to accommodate the way we move. On the other hand, a dog treadmill is designed to accommodate their movements.
Can Dogs Use Human Treadmills?
There are different opinions when it comes to dogs using human treadmills. Some suggest that it’s not safe for your canine companion, while others suggest it is.
Hopkins Animal Hospital suggests that “Improper training or use of a treadmill can cause your dog to become injured. There are treadmills specifically made for dogs, but you can also use a human treadmill.”
It’s possible that a human treadmill can be used for your dog, but you’ll have to consider whether your dog would adapt to it. You should consider the following:
- Will your dog be stable enough on the treadmill?
- Can your dog keep their balance on the equipment?
- Does the treadmill have a slow enough speed, so your dog is comfortable?
- Is there any way your dog’s feet, nails, or tail can get caught somewhere?
- Does your dog know how to get on and off safely?
- Is your treadmill the right size for your dog?
- Do you have an electric-powered treadmill? If you have the self-powered one, your dog might struggle to get off after a sprint. They might be too tired to slow down their speed and get hurt in the process.
The main goal is to keep your dog safe while allowing them to exercise. So, if you train your dog to walk or run on a human treadmill safely, you’re good to go.
However, if your dog is too big, small, slow, or fast for your treadmill, you might consider getting a dog-specific treadmill instead.
Conclusion on Dog Treadmill vs. Human Treadmill
Dog treadmills are specifically designed to accommodate the way dogs move. The same goes for human treadmills.
The fact that we move differently from our canine counterparts means that the equipment will also be different.
However, your dog may be able to walk on your human treadmill if trained properly and it’s suitable for their size and speed.
No one knows your dog better than you do. So, consider your dog and their specific capabilities and needs.
If you do this, you’ll safely determine whether your dog will adapt to a human treadmill or need a dog treadmill’s specific features instead.
It’s ultimately up to you, but consider everything you’ve learned in this post. You can always consult your local vet or dog trainer if you’re still unsure.