Exercise Wheels for Dogs (Complete Guide)

By Britt Kascjak

Do you have a dog in need of a little more exercise? Have you ever watched a hamster running on its wheel and wondered: do they make giant hamster wheels for dogs?

If so, good news! Dog exercise wheels are real, and they are a great tool for exercise. They might even be the next big thing in the animal wellness industry.

These large pieces of pet exercise equipment aren’t cheap, but they are a solid investment in your dog’s health.

Whether you are hearing about these for the first time, or have more questions to ask, this guide is for you!

Best Exercise Wheels for Dogs

Best Dog exercise wheel for Small Breeds

We recommend the GoPet Small Dog TreadWheel

Product Details

  • Cushioned, Durable Matted Surface
  • Running Area: 40″D x 12″W
  • Suitable for dogs up to 25 lbs

Who Should Buy this Dog Exercise Wheel

For smaller dogs, this exercise wheel offers everything that you need in a compact space.

The free-standing unit is suitable for use when you are home or when you’re away, making it a versatile choice.

Our Rating 

4 stars out of 5

Best dog exercise wheel for Medium and Large Dog Breeds

We recommend the GoPet Medium to Large Dog TreadWheel

Product Details

  • UV-resistant for outdoor use
  • Running Area: 60″D x 20″W
  • Suitable for dogs up to 150 lbs

Who Should Buy this Dog Exercise Wheel

A great option for the majority of dogs ranging from medium to larger dogs up to 150 lbs.

The durable matted surface is safe for your dog to use both while supervised or on their own. While the UV-resistant surface allows you to place the dog exercise wheel inside or out.

Our Rating

5 stars out of 5

Best Dog Exercise Wheels for Giant Breeds

We recommend the GoPet Indoor/Outdoor TreadWheel for Extra Large Dog breeds

Product Details

  • Easy-to-clean, UV and Mildew Resistant
  • Running Area: 82″D x 22″W
  • Suitable for dogs up to 150 lbs

Who Should Buy this Dog Exercise Wheel

Built to be stable for even the largest breeds, this dog exercise wheel is a great option for the big pups.

With plenty of running room, it will accommodate any dog. But, it will need a large space for storage.

Our Rating

4 stars out of 5

Buying Guide

What is a Dog Exercise Wheel?

Dog exercise wheels are a freestanding alternative to dog treadmills. Much like a hamster wheel, they are a large wheel-shaped tread that your dog can run on.

Unlike dog treadmills, a dog exercise wheel doesn’t need electricity. Instead, it only needs your dog’s power to operate.

This not only saves on money but also provides added safety for your dog. The wheel will only move as fast as your dog is able to move it. 

Can Dogs Use Exercise Wheels?

Not only can dogs use exercise wheels, but they are growing in popularity. They are available for breeds of all sizes and safe for dogs of all activity levels.

Unfortunately, the larger your dog, the larger the treadwheel. This means that they need more space for storage when not in use.

But, if your dog is smaller in stature, this is a great, space-saving solution!

The largest benefit to exercise wheels is that they can be used indoors and outdoors. Needing no power, there is far less concern about the elements.

It should be noted that they aren’t a substitute for walking or running your dog outdoors.

While they provide plenty of physical exercise, they don’t provide mental stimulation. This is where a more traditional walk is needed.

They are a great option for between walks outdoors.

Exercise wheels are also a great choice for exercise when the weather is undesirable.

Will Dogs Run on a Wheel?

Many dogs enjoy running on an exercise wheel. In fact, they are growing in popularity.

But, not all dogs are going to be comfortable running on a wheel.

If you’re considering introducing an exercise wheel for dogs in your care, training is key. This will allow you to introduce the wheel and build a positive association.

that being said, there is a clear divide between owners that like the wheel and those that don’t.

The final decision on whether your dog will use the wheel or not is unique from dog to dog. Put the effort into introducing your dog properly, but not all dogs will embrace the idea.

Are Dog Exercise Wheels Safe?

Many dog owners and professionals agree dog exercise wheels are safer than dog treadmills.

Why? They only operate with “dog power”, meaning that no electricity is used.

This means that the exercise wheel will stop when the dog stops, and won’t push any dog outside of its comfort level.

But, the wheel needs to be properly sized for your dog. It also requires proper training to ensure your dog knows how to use it safely.

Are There Any Negative Impacts to Using a dog exercise wheel

Like any exercise tool, there are risks when an exercise wheel isn’t used as designed. Especially if the wheel is too small for your dog.

An exercise wheel that is too small will cramp your dog during their running. This can negatively impact their gait, limiting how they move.

Over time, interfering with their gait can impact their joint and muscle development. This can have long-lasting consequences.

Another concern with exercise wheels is the risk of injury.

A standard dog treadmill offers plenty of clearance if something goes wrong. The same can’t be said for an exercise wheel.

One misstep can lead to an injury as your dog fails to get out of the way of the moving track.

While the track is dog-powered, it isn’t going to stop on a dime with your dog at that moment.

Finally, the constant pressure in the legs while running can lead to joint stress. This may not be seen in a healthy dog. But, dogs with joint issues and older dogs may feel the impact more.

Do Dogs Like Exercise Wheels?

Whether your dog enjoys using an exercise wheel will depend on how they are introduced to it.

Dogs introduced at a slow pace and allowed to adjust to the movement of an exercise wheel will enjoy it more. But, dogs that are thrown on a wheel and expected to run may find it to be intimidating.

Although, the size of the wheel is very important. A dog using an exercise wheel that is too small will feel cramped and dislike the experience.

Dog Exercise Wheels Vs Dog Treadmills

When deciding between an exercise wheel and a treadmill, there are a few things to consider

First, look at the size and energy level of your dog.

There are exercise wheels for larger dogs, but they don’t often keep up with high-energy dogs. These dogs are better suited for a treadmill.

If you can find an exercise wheel well-suited to your dog’s size, they do provide a more engaging core workout.

Exercise wheels need more space for storage. Much more. They also come at a higher price point than a comparable treadmill.

Finally, consider the long-term plans for your dog’s exercise equipment. While dog wheels offer a more in-depth workout, they don’t last as long as dog treadmills on average.

How to Train Your Dog to Run on a Wheel

Training your dog to run on a wheel starts by introducing the equipment as a positive thing.

Some dogs will hop right onto the wheel, ready to run. Others will view it from a distance, looking at it skeptically.

Set up the exercise wheel so that your dog can explore it with no pressure. This means seeing it, smelling it, and exploring it on their own time. 

To add a positive association, consider introducing your dog’s favorite treats or toys. You can throw them onto the wheel, encouraging your dog to climb on and off of it.

Over time, the mystery of the wheel will die out and it will become a normal sight. At this point, it’s time to start walking.

Using a high-value treat, lure your dog to walk forward on the wheel to reach their prize.

In the beginning, don’t make your dog wait too long. But, you can extend the time walking before a treat slowly.

Before long, your pup will be happily running on the dog wheel without your help at all!

Tips for Exercising an Overweight Pup on a Dog Exercise Wheel

Most overweight dogs will maintain a slower pace. This often isn’t the pace needed to burn the calories necessary for weight loss.

To get your dog moving, you may need to pull out the dog treats!

Stick with low-calorie treat options. Remember, the general rule of thumb is that your dog needs to use up more calories than they take in.

Try high-value treats like fresh chicken breast or small pieces of canned salmon.

Be patient during this process. Start with short, lower intensity workouts and start working your way up.

Discuss your plans with your veterinarian and be cautious not to overexert your dog. This can lead to injuries or ongoing medical concerns.

Most importantly, don’t forget the importance of your dog’s diet.

You can exercise your dog every day, but if it isn’t accompanied by a healthy diet, they won’t lose weight. The biggest piece of the puzzle is focusing on a low-calorie, highly nutritious diet.

Dog Exercise Equipment Alternatives to Exercise Wheels

Are you looking for exercise opportunities but not sure a dog exercise wheel is the right choice?


The first alternative is obviously the dog treadmill.

Also large in size and carrying a high price point, they are an investment. But, they are more budget-friendly than dog wheels.

They allow for a high-intensity workout indoors regardless of the weather outside.

Spring Poles and Flirt Poles

While treadmills and exercise wheels focus on cardio, these toys focus on your dog’s need to hunt.

Spring poles are a toy or rope that is attached to a strong spring. They encourage your dog to jump and catch the toy, hanging on and fighting the resistance.

Meanwhile, flirt poles are toys on the end of a pole that you hold onto. As you move the toys or ropes around, your dog will try to catch them.

These are a great exercise option, but not ideal for older dogs or dogs with joint problems.


While this isn’t a piece of exercise equipment, it is a great exercise alternative.

If there are trails or parks nearby, why not explore the great outdoors together? It’s a great chance to enjoy the natural environment around you.

Your dog will need to navigate uneven terrain including slopes and ledges.

They will also enjoy the mental stimulation of new sounds and scents.

You can level up your hiking experience by having your dog wear a hiking pack and carry some extra weight on your trip. 

Agility Courses

Many companies are now making agility equipment that can be set up indoors or outdoors.

These sets include tunnels, hoops, jumps, and weave poles.

Early on, they can prove a fun challenge for your dog. They work to exercise your dog both physically and mentally. Better still, they help to create a stronger bond between you and your dog.

If you find that you both enjoy the process, you may consider joining an agility club. This will allow you to work towards competitions. Your pet is likely to enjoy the off leash exercise.

Can a Small Dog Use a Cat Wheel?

If you have access to a cat wheel, you may be wondering if your dog can use it. Especially if you have a smaller dog.

Cat exercise wheels are less expensive, but this is due to their smaller size.

There are some cat treadmills that will work for toy breeds, but it will depend on the width of the wheel.

Dogs are generally broader chested than dogs. To determine if a cat wheel will look for your small dog, look at the width of their comfortable gait.

For most dogs, a cat exercise wheel will be too narrow, and it’s better to go with a dog wheel.

Final Thoughts: The Use of Dog exercise wheels

In this guide, you will learn about a variety of different dog exercise wheels. This includes wheels for all sizes and life stages.

Both the GoPet Small Dog TreadWheel and GoPet exercise wheel for Extra Large Dogs are great. But, they target a specific group of dogs.

The GoPet Medium to Large Dog TreadWheel accommodates a large variety of dogs. This is suitable for most pups, making it a versatile choice, regardless of your dog’s breed

There is no one size fits all when it comes to choosing the right exercise equipment for your dog. Always take owners should take into account the age, size, and physical fitness level of their pet when purchasing a dog wheel or manual treadmill.

When in doubt consult a vet on on the best exercise regime for your pet.

Photo of author
Britt Kascjak
Britt Kascjak has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering, and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. Her ‘pack’ includes her husband John, their 3 dogs – Daviana, Indiana, and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx.