are dog treadmills illegal

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Dog treadmills are mostly used by professional dog trainers to train working dogs and to prepare sports dogs for events. It improves the dog’s physique and endurance to work.

There’s a growing popularity among pet parents in the use of dog treadmills at home to provide indoor exercise to their lovely pups.

But, are dog treadmills illegal?

There are two types of dog treadmills; motorized and non-motorized. Both are used to exercise dogs at home when the outdoor conditions are not favorable.

Motorized dog treadmills are similar to human treadmills because they roll moving belts at a set pace for controlled running.

Non-motorized dog treadmills ‘slat mills’ are not powered by a motor. They are instead fully controlled by the dog’s walking or running pace.

Some countries and states object to the use of dog treadmills because they can be used to train fighting dogs, which is an outlawed vice.

In this post, we will provide the information you need to know about the legality of dog treadmills and the benefits of indoor exercises.

Legal Considerations of Dog Treadmills

Before investing in a canine treadmill, there are a few legal requirements that you should consider, depending on where you live.

The legal framework of selling, owning, and operating a dog treadmill varies across different countries, states, and even municipalities.

Some jurisdictions require commercial establishments for dog workouts to acquire a license before operating the business.

It is important to do your research and comply with all the sets of laws regarding the use of dog fitness machines to ensure that you are operating within the law.

Specific Bans on Dog Treadmills

Specific bans on dog treadmills have been implemented in some territories due to concerns about animal welfare and dog fighting issues.

Some jurisdictions have outlawed dog treadmills because they believe that people may use them wrongly to train dogs to fight other animals.

They also suppose that dogs should exercise in a natural outdoor environment instead of being confined to an indoor treadmill for their exercise requirements.

New York is among twenty states across the US that have outlawed the use of dog treadmills.

Surprisingly, the main reasons for the illegalization of dog treadmills in those states have everything to do with its linkage with dogfighting activities.

Dog fighting is a violent and cruel practice that pits dogs against each other in a bloody fight. Participants in this cruel sport would desire to increase the aggressiveness of dogs and build stronger muscles, and stamina during fights.

Authorities believe that unethical individuals would typically use treadmills to build their dog’s muscles and stamina, and they never miss to spot one when searching a dogfighting premise.

The New York Times reported on a woman who got arrested and charged in 2017 after officials found evidence that her four dogs were used in dog fighting.

The investigators affirmed their allegations after discovering a pile of dog training tools, including a dog treadmill, which they believed was used to make the fighting dogs strong and aggressive.

Are Dog Treadmills Safe? Animal Welfare and Cruelty Concerns

Animal welfare organizations are alive to the linkage between dog treadmills and dog-fighting cases.

As a result, they have repeatedly advised pet parents intending to use the doggy treadmill to be vigilant and avoid excessiveness in training.

You can ensure safety by teaching your dog how to walk on the treadmill and monitoring them at all times when using the machine.

Keep an eye on your dog’s respiratory rate to ensure they are not breathing heavily, and observe their tongue color to be sure they are not overstimulated during exercise.

If your dog’s tongue color changes to bluish with pale gums, or they are drooling excessively, you should stop the exercise immediately and inform your vet.

A recovering dog on a treadmill
Image Credit: simarik from iStock

It’s not okay for your dog to get overly exhausted when running on a treadmill. Look out for the signs of stiffness, abnormal gait, or painful walks a day after your dog completes a treadmill session.

Pet parents should remember that walking their pup on a treadmill is different from walking them outdoors. Dogs on treadmills would typically use more strength to work out.

A treadmill workout can also be tedious for the dog because there’s no stopping and sniffing compared to how dogs do it when walking outdoors.

A treadmill walk may not provide the same mental stimulation to the dog in the manner provided by outdoor walks.

The activity of dogs when going for evening walks and runs, or playing fetch engages their mind and all senses.

The dog experiences new sights, sounds, and smells when undertaking outdoor adventures, which simulates their mind and reasoning.

But when taking your dog outside is not possible due to nasty weather, or any other reason, a treadmill can be a great alternative to meet your dog’s exercise requirements.

Controversies Surrounding Dog Treadmills 

Some people believe treadmill exercise for dogs is intensive, cruel, and harmful.

It’s for this reason that opponents have argued against the replacement of outdoor exercise for dogs with indoor training tools such as treadmills. 

Critics have also raised concerns about the potential physiological impacts of confining dogs to a closed space for extended periods during exercises. 

Most Veterinarians and animal experts across the board have discouraged the use of dog treadmills as the primary tool for exercising your dog. 

Counterarguments In Favor of Dog Treadmills

People against the specific bans on dog treadmills have proposed that anybody with bad intentions can misuse dog training tools for ill motives.

They argue that when used correctly, dog treadmills can be effective in training a dog and for weight control, especially during bad weather and for people living in apartments.

The burden lies with pet parents to ensure they use these tools correctly since the benefits can outweigh the potential drawbacks.

Ongoing Research

Researchers are continuously engaged in further studies to provide more evidence of the connection between dog treadmills and dog fighting.

Despite the evidence of attaching dog treadmills and related training tools to dog-fighting rings, it is believed that this machine can be a great alternative for outdoor exercises.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Are dog treadmills safe for all breeds and sizes?

Dog treadmills can be used by dogs of all breeds and sizes for controlled workouts. You only need to choose the best size for your dog to ensure safety.

2. Can I leave my dog unattended on a treadmill?

No! You should never leave your dog unattended on a treadmill. There’s always a danger of falling off or getting stuck on the belts, and this may cause serious injuries.

Monitoring your dog on a treadmill is recommended because it allows you to supervise the dog during the entire session and intervene when any problem occurs.

3. How do I introduce my dog to a treadmill?

Start by placing your dog on an unmoving treadmill and reward them with some tasty treats for positive conditioning. Get the dog on and off the stationary belts until they feel comfortable.

Proceed by turning on the treadmill with the lowest speed to avoid surprising the dog. Encourage your dog to follow the moving belts with a treat while aligning the paws to face the right direction.

Don’t walk your dog too much, you should limit the first few sessions to around 10 minutes. You don’t want the dog to associate the treadmill with overwhelming activities.

Start with slow walks on the treadmill and increase the pace once your pup shows signs of running.

4. Are there any alternatives to dog treadmills?

Dog treadwheels can be used in place of traditional treadmills to exercise your pup indoors. Most treadwheels are non-motorized, meaning they don’t require any power to operate.


There are specific bans on dog treadmills across different countries, states, and even municipalities.

The major reason contributing to the localized ban on treadmills is the connection between treadmill workouts and dog fighting.

Pet parents need to know the legal framework guiding the use of dog treadmills in their area before investing in one.

If there are no legal limitations, we encourage you to use treadmills responsibly and monitor your dog every time they run on the machine.

Treadmill walking should never replace outdoor walking for dogs. It’s a good alternative when the weather is bad, but you should aim for outdoor exercises whenever possible.

Written By

Laura is the founder of Furs'n'Paws. She is a also a pet writer and expert with more than 20 years of experience of working with dogs and cats. She developed a very strong love for animals at a young age. Her passion led her to establish a thriving pet sitting and dog walking business in Dubai. As an expert in pet training, behavior, and nutrition, Laura is committed to helping pet owners and pet lovers by offering high-quality information on a wide range of topics.

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