Ultimate Guide to Exercise Wheels for Dogs aka Treadwheels

Filed in Dog Health by on June 11, 2022

Exercise Wheels for Dogs aka Treadwheels

Are you looking to learn more about exercise wheels for dogs? They’re also referred to as treadwheels or running wheels.

Part of maintaining our dog’s well-being is looking after their physical well-being. But sometimes we don’t always have time to take our dogs on walks.

As a result, you might consider an exercise wheel. I’ll guide you to everything there is to know such as what’s an exercise wheel for dogs, their pros and cons, differences with dog tradmills, and the best dog exercise wheel.

What is an Exercise Wheel for Dogs?

An exercise wheel for dogs is basically a large modified hamster wheel, but for dogs. So, picture a hamster wheel in your mind, enlarge the image and put a dog in place of the hamster. Okay, it’s a bit more sophisticated than that, but you get the picture.

Some people call it a treadwheel, while others call it a running wheel. These exercise wheels for dogs have the following features:

  • The wheel is freestanding.
  • It’s large enough to fit small, medium, and large dog breeds.
  • Unfortunately, giant dog breeds won’t fit inside the wheel.
  • The exercise wheels have padding on the inside to make it more comfortable.
  • They’re manual devices, meaning dogs can get them running by themselves.

This novelty dog product is a great way to get your dog to exercise without having to leave the house. However, you’ll need to ensure your dog’s safety through observation and training.

Benefits of Dog Exercise Wheels aka Treadwheels

panting dog

When I consider the benefits of anything, it’s essential to look at scientific data or studies to make a good evaluation.

Unfortunately, exercise wheels for dogs haven’t been on the market for long enough to get a concrete conclusion. But there are significant benefits for dogs and their owners by using this equipment.

The benefits of dog exercise wheels are:

  • They come in different sizes: You can get a dog exercise wheel based on your dog’s size such as small, medium, or large. As a result, there’s a wheel perfect for them.
  • Your dog gets exercise, no matter the weather: You can set this wheel up in your home where the weather won’t affect your dog’s exercise schedule. So, no more scorching sun or hauling rain to prevent your dog from getting the physical activity they need.
  • You don’t have to go far for your dog to get exercise: Because you can set these treadwheels up in your home, you don’t have to go out for your dog to exercise. You can just let your dog run or walk on the wheel at home.
  • Your dog gets the opportunity to sprint until they’re tired: Usually, the good dog parent etiquette is to keep your dog on a leash when going for walks. Unfortunately, you can’t run as fast as your dog, preventing them from sprinting to their fullest capability. However, your dog can run as fast as they want with an exercise wheel while still being safely confined in your yard.
  • The wheels are manual and adjust to your dog’s effort level: Because these exercise wheels are manual, they will only spin faster if your dog puts in the effort. Your dog’s amount of effort will reflect how fast the exercise wheel spins. So, if your dog wants to jog slowly, it can. But if they want to run fast, they can do that.
  • The manual wheel stops when your dog does: Dog exercise wheels are designed with dogs in mind. A dog’s weight and momentum will be enough to get the wheel going. But if your dog slows down, the wheel will also slow down, making it safer than electric dog treadmills.
  • Dog owners with disabilities, injuries, or constraints can exercise their dogs: People who are physically or otherwise not capable of walking their dogs can exercise them at home.
  • Your dog can exercise by themselves: Once you train your dog to use the wheel safely, they can climb on the wheel to walk or run whenever they want. Your dog doesn’t necessarily need your presence to get in a good running session.
  • The inner surface of the wheel has a padded mat for comfort: The surface your dog’s feet touch has padding and carpeted fabric to ensure their feet are comfortable when walking or running.

Drawbacks of Canine Workout Rollers

giant saint bernard dog

Although there aren’t really any studies on exercise wheels for dogs, there are some apparent concerns:.

The cons of exercise wheels are:

  • Most exercise wheels can’t accommodate giant dogs: These treadwheels are designed with a dog’s weight in mind.

Unfortunately, larger dogs might be too heavy to operate the equipment safely. It’s a good idea to consider your dog’s weight before buying a treadwheel.

  • Dogs can get hurt without training: Dogs don’t inherently know how to walk or run on this wheel. They need training to stay on the running pad and learn that they can fall off if they don’t run straight. So, it’s essential to train your dog with treats at first before leaving them alone with the wheel.
  • No effort, no results: Your dog has to put in a bit of effort to get the wheel to turn initially. For example, they need to use more muscles when getting the wheel started than when using it mid-spin.

So, your dog might give up when the wheel doesn’t turn. Luckily, you can teach your dog how to get the wheel turning with training and patience.

  • It can cause joint stress: Your dog’s natural gait isn’t designed to run on a wheel. So, the unnatural way of the wheel curve can cause strain on your dog’s joints. This stress can cause stiffness, cramps, and other injuries in the process.
  • Your dog might get bored: Some dogs might not like running in a sedentary position, looking at the same view. So, you might need to get creative in keeping your dog’s interest on the wheel and running sessions, like playing music.
  • Your dog might fall off or get distracted: A dog can lose balance or focus, meaning they risk falling off the turning wheel.

If the wheel isn’t moving fast, it’s not a major concern, but it can cause serious injury if the wheel goes fast. Exercise with dogs says that “A more serious problem could be an injury resulting from constant awkward movement.”

  • It takes a while for a dog to learn how the wheel works: Unlike an electric treadmill, an exercise wheel might be challenging to grasp for most dogs. However, if you use treats, have patience, and practice daily, your dog will likely get the hang of the wheel.
  • An exercise wheel doesn’t compare to nature: Most dogs need interaction with nature, sniffing everything, when on walks. Through their sense of smell, dogs make sense of the world around them and expand their knowledge and intelligence.

If your dog’s only exercise is with equipment, they’re deprived of interacting with nature. So, it’s a good idea to take your dog for walks now and again, even when using exercise wheels.

Differences with Canine Running Machines

When it comes to indoor dog exercise equipment, there are key differences between exercise wheels and dog treadmills, which include:

  • The build
  • The mechanism of action
  • The safety features
  • The teachability

Take a look at the breakdown of each comparison to understand how a dog exercise wheel differs from a dog treadmill.

The Build

Exercise Wheel for Dogs: It’s a round upright wheel that stands freely on a built-in stand wherever you place it. It’s large enough to fit larger dogs, like Golden Retrievers.

They have soft padding on the inside surfaces to add comfort to a dog’s feet. Some exercise wheels come with safety gates to ensure your dog can’t get on without supervision.

Dog Treadmill: It’s a device that has a flat walking track, much like a human treadmill. All dogs can use a doggie treadmill, even the giant breeds, no matter their size.

Some of these can fold up to store away while others can’t. At the same time, some have safety railings to clip on a dog’s leash and keep them from falling off.

The Mechanism of Action

Exercise Wheel for Dogs: An exercise wheel for dogs works manually, meaning that your dog’s movement powers it to turn. You don’t need a power supply to get this wheel turning. The more effort your dog puts in, the faster the wheel will spin.

Dog Treadmill: Some dog treadmills are manual, while others need a power supply to work. Like an exercise wheel, a manual treadmill relies on your dog’s movements to start moving.

In contrast, electric dog treadmills have speed settings and can’t turn off at your dog’s will.

The Safety Features

Exercise Wheel for Dogs: The padding on the inner surface of the wheel ensures that your dog’s feet don’t get damaged. At the same time, it absorbs excess shock as your dog’s feet pounce on the wheel when they run.

They also have safety gates that prevent them from getting on the wheel when you’re not looking. This way, you can ensure that your dog doesn’t get hurt, especially when still learning to use the tread wheel.

Dog Treadmill: Most electric dog treadmills have safety stop features connected to your dog’s collar. So, if your dog gets too far behind or falls off, the treadmill will stop. With manual treadmills, it will stop as your dog slows down.

Most electric and manual dog treadmills have side panels and railings. The side panels prevent dogs from veering off the side and falling. At the same time, the sidebars allow you to attach your dog’s leash to keep them steady.

The Teachability

Exercise Wheel for Dogs: Many dogs might find it challenging to understand how these exercise wheels work. They can see the large wheel hanging over their heads, finding it daunting and scary.

They might also struggle to understand that the wheel will only move when they do. So, it might take more time to teach a dog how to use an exercise wheel than a doggie treadmill.

Dog Treadmill: Dogs also struggle to understand that they need to take the first step to get the manual treadmill moving, like the exercise wheel. But, there isn’t a large wheel that can scare a dog, making it easier to teach them how to use them.

On the other hand, electric treadmills move by themselves. Dogs catch on quickly that they should walk on the moving track. So, it’s easier to train dogs to use electric treadmills than manual ones or exercise wheels.

Best Contender In The Industry

There aren’t much variety of exercise wheels on the market, nor comparison data. But one brand’s name seems to hit the mark on what dogs need from exercise equipment.

This brand is GoPet. They designed three different sized treadwheels, namely small, medium and large. That way, any dog of any size can get the exercise they need.

GoPet exercise wheels are simple and easy to set up, ensuring that anyone can put them together. It’s a simple design and easy for dogs to use.

The only downfalls are that you can’t control the speed, and it’s pretty big and can take up lots of interior space in your home.

Whenever you consider getting an exercise wheel for your dog, ensure you trust the brand.

While other dog exercise wheel brands might be on the market, GoPet has the most reviews and the largest visibility. No matter which brand you choose, though, take time to do some research.


When you consider alternative exercise options, an exercise wheel for dogs can be a good choice.

These dog exercise machines, also known as treadwheels or running wheels, can provide a great workout to your dog without leaving the house. However, they have certain pros and cons that you should consider, as discussed in this blog post.

Remember that every dog is different and will have different experiences. Some dogs might catch on quickly to how to use them, while others might have a more of a challenge.

Let me know your experience.

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