How to Build a Treadmill for Dogs

A treadmill must have enough room for your dog's longest stride.
i dog running stretched out on green grass image by Paul Retherford from

Sometimes your dog is a bundle of energy and you have no time to take him out, or the weather is too wild. A dog treadmill can give him the exercise he needs indoors. Exercise your handyman skills and build one for a fraction of the cost of buying one.

Step 1

Measure your dog’s longest stride. Roll him on his side and stretch his front and back legs out, without hurting him, and measure the distance. Add 20 per cent to this; this will be the length of the running board. Measure his width across the chest while when he is standing; the running board should be 1 1/2 times this measurement. Measure the distance from the floor to the top of his head and add at least 5 inches; this will be the height of the frame. Record these three measurements.

Step 2

Cut a piece of plywood -- it can be as thin as ¼ inch or thicker -- the length and width of the running board measurements as the running surface. Build a frame to support the running board with 2-by-4s. Make sure the 2-by-4s that comprise the side frame extend about 5 inches at each end of the running board, to allow room for the rollers and to have enough length so the carpet cannot come off. If your dog is heavy, place a couple of 2-by-4s across the width as braces. Hammer nails or drive screws to hold the frame together and secure the running board on top.

Step 3

Add an upright 2-by-4 on each side of the treadmill about three-quarters of the way back, of a height matching the length of the running board. Secure these to the outside of your base frame so they won’t interfere with the running surface and brace them with two short 2-by-4s at a 45-degree angle. Secure a piece of dowel across the top between them to tie the dog’s lead-rope to.

Step 4

Cut two lengths of PVC pipe to fit across the width of the treadmill frame at each end of the running surface. Place a length of 4-by-4 post inside each one and screw it in from the side so it won’t spin inside the PVC pipe. Mark the center point of the pipe at each open end and drill a guide hole into the post. Position your PVC pipe so that the top is slightly above the running board, to prevent the carpet catching. Drill pilot holes carefully into the frame sides aligned with the center of the pipe and insert short pieces of copper tubing as bearings. Press long nails through the guide holes in the post inside the PVC pipe, which can now spin freely.

Step 5

Measure a piece of carpet the width of the running board that is long enough to go around the running surface and both rollers. Leave a little extra on until you are sure it is right. It should be reasonably tight so you probably need to take one of the rollers out while you position it correctly. Cut it to length, allowing for an overlapping area, and sew the ends of the carpet together with heavy-duty fishing line and a curved bag needle.

Step 6

Make legs out of 2-by-4s or use cinder blocks. Elevate the front higher than the back. The more you elevate the front, the harder the dog will have to work.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

the nest