Even if daily walks are already a part of your dog's exercise routine, a treadmill designed specifically for dogs has its uses. For dogs with a constant thirst for activity, a treadmill can keep them occupied once you've reached your limit (remembering that they still need supervision). They can also help prevent obesity, curb certain behavioral issues, and provide therapy for joint injuries (and other problems associated with aging). Of course, treadmill exercise has its place, but cannot replace the multitude of benefits that outdoor walks provide for your dog in the form of environmental enrichment; dogs' senses of smell, sight, and hearing are stimulated outdoors in ways that cannot be mimicked indoors. Treadmills are not a substitute for regular walks unless owners are unable to do so for a variety of reasons including health concerns and weather. That being said, they can provide a beneficial supplement to some dogs' exercise regimen.
Our favorite is the DogPACER Treadmill, which is well-sized for a wide range of dogs, operates relatively quietly, and has a useful, no-frills interface. In-depth research across major brands has led us to several high quality alternatives, which you might want to consider, especially if you're are considering a treadmill for a very large or very small dog.
Here are the best dog treadmills.
DogPACER Treadmill 3.1
Three exercise programs
Side guard to keep your dog from getting distracted
The incline can only be adjusted manually
Exercise modes are only minimally customizable
The DogPACER Treadmill 3.1 is a safe, affordable, and flexible treadmill for most dogs in need of a standardized exercise program or just a way to expend a little extra energy. It also operates more quietly than many other dog treadmills, which will make it easier to acclimate your dog to exercising with the device.
The pace is adjustable between .5 and 7.5 miles per hour, in increments of 0.1, allowing for a wide range of exercise options. The incline has four adjustable settings between 5 and 9 degrees, though it has to be changed manually so there's no way to program multiple inclines into a single exercise.
In addition to the safety bars―which incorporates a fabric guard so your dog's view is focused ahead, making them less likely to be distracted―the DogPACER operates using a red Safety Key, which can be clipped to your dog's collar.
Weighing in at over 84 pounds, the DogPACER isn't exactly light, but its form factor is as minimal as a treadmill is likely to get, collapsing down for easy transport. It even has little wheels so you can roll it to a different position in your house like it were luggage.
The DogPACER has a straightforward control interface, which is mostly a strength, unless you are hoping for highly customizable features. In addition to the "Start/Stop" button (which only works when the Safety Key is in place), there are buttons to adjust the treadmill's speed. The screen can display how much time has passed, the current speed, distance travelled, and an estimate of calories your dog has burned.
There is also a "Mode" button, which lets you select between 3 different programs: Easy Pacer, Interval Pacer, and Competitive Pacer. Each exercise program can be run for 10-30 minutes and adjusts the speed of the treadmill minute-by-minute (following program details laid out in the dogPACER manual, which is also available online) to keep your dog engaged.
It's a no-frills design that provides everything you need for your dog's standard exercise needs. For most dog owners, the DogPACER has all the features they're likely need, but canine fitness buffs who are looking for specific training outcome may want to seek out a treadmill with a more robust feature set. Consider instead the DogPACER 4.0, which works with an Android or iPhone app for more features, though at a significantly increased price that is unlikely to be worthwhile for most dog owners.
Footprint: 76.77 x 27.16 x 46.18 | Running Area: 71 x 16.5 | Weight: 84.4 pounds | Speed Range: 0.5- 7.5 mph
Best for Small Dogs
Safe and sturdy
Portable and compact
Only suitable for small dogs
Designed for dogs 55 lbs and under, the dogPACER mini is an affordable model from the most ubiquitous and trusted dog exercise equipment brand. This model is as perfect for small spaces and budgets as it is for small dogs.
Its preset exercise program covers everything that a puppy could need for an at-home workout, whether there aren’t enough opportunities for them to bound around outside or they are just dynamos with an excess of energy. Despite their portability and small footprint, they are sturdy and safe for your dog thanks to a carbon steel design.
Footprint: 42 x 28.5 x 21.5 | Running Area: 38 x 16 | Weight: 48.4 pounds | Speed Range: 0.5- 7.5 mph
Best for Large Dogs
GoPet Petrun PR725
Air Step Incline system
Safe for all sizes of dog
GoPET specializes in premium, heavy-duty treadmill models for dogs of all weight classes, and has cornered the market on exercise devices for hefty canines. The Petrun PR725 can easily support dogs up to 176 lbs, and that isn’t even the biggest the company goes sizing-wise; it’s currently difficult to find, but the PR300 model can accommodate dogs weighing just upwards for 250 lbs.
These hyper-durable machines feel as close to professional dog physical therapy equipment as you can find on the consumer market. Its remote-controlled Air Step Incline system can give dogs of any size the precise workout they need, whether they are simply overly rambunctious, attempting to lose weight, or adhering to a specific physical therapy regimen to recover from injury. It also allows for a faster running speed than any other major dog treadmill on the market.
Of course, the trade-off for medical-grade quality is a high price tag. If you aren’t willing to throw down just short of $1500, you should look around for other exercise and rehab alternatives for your king-size canine.
Footprint: 90 x 24 x 16 | Running Area: 71 x 16 | Weight: 137 pounds | Speed Range: 0.6-10 mph
Best Outdoor Option
No electronics required
Dogs can go any speed
Often out of stock
There is essentially no other competition on the market when it comes to safe and sturdy non-electric pieces of canine exercise equipment. The GoPet Treadwheel is an industrial-grade hamster wheel for your dog, and comes in four different sizes, designed for small, medium, large, medium-large, and large breeds.
The careful attention to tension control in each model insures that even the largest pup will be well-supported and free to run to their heart’s content. A major upshot of its unplugged design is that it serves as a great outdoor option and can be left in the elements for long periods of time.
Footprint: From 19 x 41 x 44 to 36 x 82 x 87, depending on model | Running Area: from 40 x 12 to 80 x 22 | Weight: 42 to 250 pounds | Speed Range: N/A
Goplus Dog Treadmill
Low price tag
Easy to use
Not suitable for bigger dogs
At $410, the Goplus treadmill runs roughly $150 less than the DogPacer 3.1, but its functionality and durability is on par with the more popular company’s higher grade models. Widely popular among online shoppers, many dog owners find its smaller running area and more limited preset offerings to be sufficient for their small to medium size pups. It doesn’t lack for safety features, either, thanks to its safety key and emergency stop functions, as well as its wireless remote control which allows you to change the flow of your dog’s workout in real time.
Footprint: 49 x 21 x 28-29.5 | Running Area: 38 x 14 | Weight: 47 pounds | Speed Range: 0.5-7.5 mph
Across the board, DogPacer’s line of treadmills seem to be the most reliable option. With their different size options, as well as budget-to-premium functionality across models, it is easy to find a good options for your dog and home. That's why our favorite, and "Best Overall" pick is the DogPACER 3.1 Treadmill. But if you have more money to spend on a hyper-durable treadmill that is perfectly suited to your dog’s weight class, you may want to scale up and try out one of GoPet’s unique Dog Treadwheels.
What To Look for in a Dog Treadmill
Always consult with your veterinarian before purchasing a dog treadmill, particularly if your dog is over seven years old or has health conditions, including obesity. It's also important to start small, introducing your dog to the treadmill with 5 minute walks or shorter. For many dogs, the sensation of the ground moving underneath them can be unsettling and there is a training period to allow for them to comfortably and safely learn to use a treadmill. Make sure to use positive reinforcement and introduce it gradually, even starting on the ground and allowing your dog to observe and listen to the sounds it makes before encouraging him/her to step onto its non-moving surface.
Most of the treadmills on this list have some kind of smart capability, or at least a healthy selection of digitally programmed exercise routines to suit different animals’ needs. If your pup has specific requirements that the treadmill needs to address—for instance, to combat obesity or injury—make sure that the built-in workouts or digital controls can account for them. Carefully selecting their workout parameters insures that your dog doesn’t get overworked and isn’t exercising in a way that might be inappropriate for their body type, age or health. Remember to ask your veterinarian if you have questions on a training program for your dog, and start off slow and for short periods of time to build fitness and your dog's comfort and confidence. Make sure to stop or give your dog a break if he/she is showing any signs of discomfort (ie struggling to keep pace, limping, unsteady gait, resisting, falling, or other signs).
Perhaps the most important spec to check on any dog treadmill is the running area, and whether it is sufficient or safe for the size of your dog. Pay careful attention to the running area and acceptable weight range for each product, especially if you have a large pup who is full of energy. For petite animals, a more compact piece of equipment like the DogPACER mini is a smart and manageable option.
The treadmills on this list offer a variety of mechanisms to provide safeguards from injury, from removable sides to safety keys to tension control. Quiet motor technology can also be a key safety element if your dog is reactive to specific types of sound and movement. For your own comfort as well as that of your animal, select a model that has a list of safety specs that satisfies your specific criteria. It is also critically important to never leave your dog unattended while exercising on the treadmill. Dogs cannot control the machine should a problem occur, and for their safety, they must always be supervised.
What are dog treadmills used for?
The uses of dog treadmills range from helping dogs get their requisite amount of exercise if their owner(s) live in climates that don’t allow for sufficient outdoor time. They can also make life easier for owners who are stretched thin and don’t have time for regular walks, or those suffering from a physical impairment. But remember, a treadmill workout will never compare with the environmental enrichment that can be found on a walk outside, with all of the smells, sights, and sounds that your canine friend may enjoy.
Treadmills are also sometimes recommended by canine physical therapy experts if your dog is recovering from certain injuries. If your dog is exercising regularly and naturally, though, a treadmill is not a necessity.
Do dog treadmills work?
While good old fashioned outside exercise covers most or all of a dog’s basic exercise needs, treadmills have been shown to be a great supplemental activity for certain animals. Outside of practical uses for owners who need them to provide their pups with a baseline level of exercise, treadmill workouts can be helpful for preventing canine obesity if used closely and with supervision. Treadmills allow owners to carefully calibrate workouts that suit the particular needs of their animal.
Are dog treadmills safe?
All of the dog treadmills listed here have been proven safe for pups who fit its weight requirements and have appropriate supervision as well as their veterinarian's approval. However, it often takes dogs some time to become acclimated to using them. When your canine is first getting started, it is best to start with short runs ranging from one to two minutes before attempting full-fledged workouts (these should generally not exceed 30 minutes in length). Nervous dogs may react to the sound of the equipment and act erratically, which is why most of these models specify quiet-motor technology.
If you have a dog who is generally prone to unpredictable, nervous or aggressive behavior, treadmills may not be a suitable option and could be a source of potential injury.
Why Trust the Spruce Pets
Winston Cook- Wilson is a writer and editor based in New York City. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, The Ringer, Vice, Pitchfork, Spin, and elsewhere.
For this article, he reached out to dog rehab specialists and physical therapists to see what they recommended for good at-home products, and these brands were all deemed safe and constructive options. Expert insights helped us pinpoint the attributes that distinguish each dominant product on the dog treadmill market, and highlight when a given product may be a dangerous or inappropriate fit for your animal.