How can I safely introduce my dog to walking on a treadmill?

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Keep three important things in mind when introducing your dog to the treadmill. First, not every dog is going to like it, so go very slowly. It can take weeks or even months. Two, don’t ever leave her unattended. Three, use the appropriate harness, not a leash.

Here are other tips:

• Introduce your dog to the treadmill slowly and use plenty of positive reinforcement. If you force her too far, too fast, she’ll have a negative experience, which can create an acute fear of the machine.
• Let your dog to sniff around the treadmill, jump on it while it is not in motion and get used to its presence for a day or so. Then, using a lead, walk her up to it, around it and finally onto the belt. Once she is standing or seated on the belt give your dog lots of praise and rewards. Repeat this as necessary until your dog is comfortable and happy to be on the treadmill.
• While still holding the lead, start the treadmill at a very slow speed. Be prepared, because your dog may startle or try to run away, especially from the sound, but just stand beside her as you would during a walk. Eventually, she’ll understand and feel more comfortable around it.
• Once you have her on the treadmill, if she jumps off, use your hand to lift her up gently from the belly to get her to stand up and at the same time encourage her to use her legs to move forward. You may need someone to help you to hold a treat in front of her. Remember to use very slow speed at this point.
• If your pet seems anxious or nervous and walks with her head very low or tail between her legs, don’t push her too far too fast. Do short sessions with lots of praise and treats until your dog is walking with her head up.

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