Human-Powered Dog Treadmill

Anna and I made this back in January (before I made this website), but I wanted to archive it here.

I actually thought about this project again recently.  We were walking Mabel in the rain (as it does in the Seattle winter) a week or so ago, and I started thinking to myself  “Man, I wish there were a way we could exercise Mabel indoors”.  Then I had a sudden feeling of Deja Vu, and realized I had the same sequence of thoughts that resulted in me wanting to make a dog treadmill in the living room almost a year ago.  Back in January of this year, when I saw an abandoned treadmill on the side of the street, I figured I shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to hack it.  I knew it was going to be easier to manually operate it (rather than have to fix broken motors / electronics), so I saw my chance when I noticed that someone else had also abandoned a rusty old cheap bike on the street, which I could scrap for parts.

It ended up being a fun Saturday morning / afternoon activity.  I stripped down the treadmill into just about it’s individual components, and did the same think with the bike.  I connected the two pieces with twine (suboptimal, but quick and easy). Anna had the great idea of sewing an exercise band together into a mechanical belt connecting the bike pedals to the treadmill.  It became obvious it wasn’t going to work as I had originally hoped (where I would be pedaling away mindlessly while watching TV, and exercising the dog for hours as she would happily run on the treadmill unprompted); it was going to take a lot more work to make it stabilized for foot-pedaling, and Mabel was NOT going to walk on that treadmill without strong coaxing.

I figured we’d just make it a “proof-of-principle” and stop at that point.  We dangled a piece of salami from the front, and watched our poor confused little doggie try to maneuver to get it.  This was the resulting video.

While the project didn’t end up where I had (unrealistically) dreamed up, I think it was worth it just for making the entertainingly silly attempt.

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