Leave it to us humans to introduce dogs to the joys of working hard and getting nowhere.
The American Pet Products Association (APPA) reports that about 3 million dogs across the country were using treadmills in 2010.
Given widespread obesity in the species (I think we taught them that, too), it’s not an entirely bad thing for dogs to be getting workouts on treadmills.
But there is a monotony to it that strikes me as running counter to what dogs are all about. Show me the dog that prefers a treadmill to running outdoors — in nature, free to veer this way and that, to stop and sniff when the spirit moves him — and I’ll show you a dog that, quite possibly, has become too human.
On the other hand, if the treadmill is the only exercise a dog is going to get, I guess we’ll just have to accept that the times are changing.
According to the Associated Press, the latest APPA survey of pet owners marked the first time the treadmill question was included, based on reports that doggie treadmills were selling briskly. The survey found 3 million dogs made use of them, which is about one of every 25 dogs in the country.
The reasons for resorting to a treadmill are many, and often valid – when it’s too hot out, too cold out; when a pet’s human has become temporarily, or permanently, immobile; when an injured dog needs a controlled form of exercise.
While the AP article explored only the upside of dog treadmills, it strikes me that — like most technology — they carry a high probability of being misused.
Putting your dog on the treadmill could become the equivalent of putting your child in front of the TV set — a way to keep them occupied and quiet. All us folks who seem to think we’re too busy for a walk in the park could come to over rely on them.
The argument could be made, and maybe will: If you don’t have the time and energy to walk a dog, don’t get one — at least not one that requires a lot of exercise.
The AP article mentions one woman in Las Vegas whose rescued dog had dropped from 115 pounds to 80 using a treadmill. That impressed her so much that she bought her own dog treadmill, which is now used by all four of her dogs — too many, she said, to walk at one time.
“I want to make sure the rest of their lives are the healthiest we can make them. If the treadmill promotes a longer life, then it’s easy to do it each day … Whatever we can do now to help them lead a healthier, better life is worth it,” she said.
All that’s true, as long as its not the only activity the dog is getting. Frolicking in the grass and socializing with other dogs also makes for a healthier dog. So while I don’t want a doggie treadmill in my home, or, worse yet, a human one, it’s clear they do have their place.
Dog trainer April Suhr of Las Vegas believes shelters across the country could make good use of them. Getting out of their kennels and onto a treadmill a few times a week could keep shelter dogs from going “cage crazy” and make them healthier, happier and more adoptable, she says.
Suhr has a treadmill at home for her three pets and her foster dogs. Giving them the same amount of exercise by walking and running with them would take several hour and many miles, she noted.
Doggie treadmills, which are built smaller than human ones, come in a range of sizes and prices, starting at nearly $500.
DogPacer, maker of one of the newest and least expensive on the market at $499, has plans to start producing a less costly treadmill for toy dogs in September. Pennsylvania-based GoPet sells canine treadmills and a treadwheel, ranging from $475 to $1,225.
Interestingly, dogs being forced to run on treadmills was one of the first causes taken up when America’s animal welfare movement was finding its footing.
Until the late 1800s — and here’s where we get to the ugly part – dogs were bred and put to work at many a restaurant and inn as turnspit dogs. They were placed in wooden wheels, similar to that you’d see in a hamster’s cage, and encouraged to walk. The wheel powered a chain drive that rotated a spit above a fireplace, ensuring that the meat on the spit cooked evenly.
The short-legged dogs, bred small enough to fit in the wheel, would often be leashed in a way that made them choke if they stopped. Often, a hot coal would be tossed into the wheel to speed a dog up.
When Henry Bergh established the ASPCA in the 1860s, one of his first campaigns was to end the practice.
That a device similar to one once used to enslave and abuse dogs is now being sold — for $1,000 and more — to pamper them and keep them healthy is ironic to say the least. Though it’s with kinder, gentler intentions, we seem in a way to be, after 150 years of stepping forward, back in the same place.
I think that says something; I’m just not sure what.
(Photo: A Belgian Malinois works out on a treadmill at LA Dog Works in Los Angeles; by Grant Hindsley / Associated Press)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 21st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: american pet products association, animal welfare, animals, appa, benefits, concerns, dog, dog treadmills, dogs, equiipment, exercise, health, humans, increasing, pet products, pets, products, running, sales, survey, treadmills, turnspit dogs, use, walking
Americans may be cutting corners to cope with the crappy economy, but spending on pets appears healthy as ever, at least according the the American Pet Products Association’s latest report and poll.
Pet ownership is at an all-time high of 72.9 million households — about two of every three households, according to survey results released Monday.
The total number of pets — including 78 million dogs and 86.4 million cats– represents a 2.1 percent increase over last year, according to UPI.
The APPA’s annual report showed Americans spent more than $48 billion on their pets in 2010, an increase of of 6.2 percent over 2009, and it anticipates spending could top $50 billion in 2011.
The biggest surge in spending is expected to be in the area of veterinary care, with the APPA estimating $14 billion will be spent by pet owners in 2011.
More than 15 percent of dog owners, in fact, said their animal’s medical treatment would take priority over their own, according to a Reuters report on the poll.
Spending on treats, toys and accessories was up a reported 30 percent, from $56 million to $73 million. And the cost of buying a dog has also spiked from $121 to $364 due to the increased price of pure breeds.
“The pet industry continues to see unprecedented growth,” said APPA President Bob Vetere. “The survey reveals pet owners are willing to spend money on their pets despite a downturn in the economy.”
(Photo: Money sculpture by Justine Smith. To see more of her art visit justinesmith.net)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 6th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: america, american pet products association, americans, animals, appa, cats, dogs, economy, industry, pet, pet industry, pets, poll, products, spending
Americans are increasingly making provisions for their pets in their will, placing their pet’s medical needs over their own, and planning vacations around their pet — all signs that pets, more than ever, are considered part of the family, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA).
The APPA has released its 2009-2010 National Pet Owners Survey, and it shows pet ownership at its highest level ever, with 71.4 million households in the U.S. owning at least one pet — 62 percent of all households.
Furthermore, during the past decade the current number of pet-owning households increased by 12 percent, up from 61.2 million pet-owning households in 1998.
According to the survey, there are 77.5 million dogs, 93.6 million cats, 171.7 million freshwater fish, 11.2 million saltwater fish, 15 million birds, 15.9 million small animals, 13.63 million reptiles and 13.3 million horses owned in the U.S.
“The findings in the survey clearly demonstrate the importance of the role our pets are playing in our every day lives. Two decades of trended data show that now more than ever people consider pets an important part of the family and are still providing for their faithful companions even in these trying times,” said Bob Vetere, president of APPA.
“As pet ownership continues to rise, so has the demand for quality products and services. This has led to an amazing evolution of innovative products and services that truly enhance the experience of owning a pet,” he added.
Since the inception of the APPA National Pet Owners Survey in 1988, dogs and cats have accounted for more than two-thirds of all households that own a pet. The actual number of pet owning households is significantly higher than it was twenty years ago, as is the overall number of U.S. households.
The survey showed 17 percent of dog owners have an electronic tracking device implanted in their dog, with the Western region having significantly more tracking devices than dogs in other regions.
The survey found dog visits to the veterinarian are up, averaging 2.8 visits a year. Thirteen percent of dogs and 21 percent of cats are considered obese or overweight by their veterinarian. When asked to indicate their priority if there was a choice between a large medical expense for themselves or their pet, 15 percent of dog owners would attend to their dog’s need before their own.
Seven percent of dog, cat, bird and horse owners indicated they had made financial provisions for their pet in their will. One-third of dog, cat and bird owners and almost half of equine owners have named a caretaker or guardian for their pet in their will.
More than 20 percent of vacationing dog owners take their pet with them in the car when they travel. These owners take their dog on an average of five car trips per year. Three percent of dog owners take their dog to work at least more than once a month.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 11th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: america, american pet products association, appa, attachment, birds, caretakers, cats, closeness, data, diet, dog, dogs, family, fish, food, gifts, guardians, horses, households, medical, microchips, national pet owners survey, obese, overweight, ownership, pet owners, pets, products, relationship, travel, trends, vacations, veterinary, wills, work